Port Eliot Festival, St. Germans, Cornwall
Thursday 27 – Sunday 30 July, 2017
With the summer on the horizon, it’s time think about the Caught by the River stage’s return to Port Eliot festival, and those amazing Cornish vistas that make for one of the most spectacular festival sites in Britain. This year — our eighth at the festival — we’re kicking things off a bit earlier, with a fully-programmed stage opening on Thursday evening. We continue to feel blessed by our setting at Port Eliot, down by the gorgeous tidal expanses of the River Tiddy. It’s a rare spot, looking out across the water and around to the arches of the big old railway viaduct. Here, passing gulls are answered, for one weekend only, by intoxicating music and fascinating talks.
Port Eliot is the place where the Caught by the River website comes to life. In past years we’ve had live music from Gruff Rhys, Ryley Walker, Cate Le Bon, Jimi Goodwin and British Sea Power, among many others. This year the sounds will range from the wild space jazz of The Comet Is Coming to the delightful folk-pop precision of This Is The Kit. Dancefloor legend Andrew Weatherall returns to blast the tent flaps wide open with a marathon DJ set. Poetry will sound out and happily addled minds will again contemplate the secret history of maggot-vending machines and how birdsong might lead to better brain surgery.
As ever we’ll do our best to live up to this location, with our main, tented, stage set in the lee of the old quarry. Food, amplified music and a fully-stocked beer bar will be yours for nothing more than money.
And don’t forget, we are just a part of this wonderful festival. For information on the rest of the programme, and a look at photo galleries from previous years, pay a visit to the Port Eliot website, where you will also find the box office.
The Caught by the River attractions at Port Eliot 2017 are as follows:
The Comet Is Coming
In 2016 this London / Alpha Centuari trio’s debut album was nominated for the Mercury Prize – impressive crossover for a kru who draw on the far-out sounds of Sun Ra, Frank Zappa and the BBC Radiophonic Workshops and whose members are known as King Shabaka, Danalogue The Conqueror and Betamax Killer. Song titles such as ‘Do The Milky Way’ and ‘Slam Dunk In a Black Hole’ preview the glorious cosmic clatter they get from sax, synths and drums – a brilliant brew of jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic rock. Get ready to space-rock to Uranus and beyond.
These Latinate loonies are a joyous force of nature – a galvanising mash of 1970s rock, psychedelic grooves and infectious Cape Verde bop that could get a two-legged tortoise dancing better than Bez. Fumaça Preta (pronounced Foomassa Pretta – meaning Black Smoke) started as a studio experiment when Alex Figueira, a Portuguese-Venezuelan producer and percussionist, invited some old friends to join him in a tiny analogue studio in Amsterdam. Since then they’ve astonished audiences worldwide with their energy, charisma and an impressive subcortex-slaying smorgasbord that takes in free jazz, metal shredding and such totally tropical musical sensations as tambú and funaná.
This Is The Kit
This Is The Kit’s quality is hinted at by the people who’ve produced their records – including The National’s Aaron Dessner and PJ Harvey’s frequent collaborator John Parish. Centring on the talents of Hants-raised, Bristol-based frontwoman Kate Stables, This Is The Kit motor along on a smart blend of folk music and alt-rock. But their instrumentation and composition is more distinctive than that, occasionally suggesting an indie-rock Cole Porter. It’s no wonder that Elbow’s Guy Garvey took time out to extol on the group’s behalf, mystified at how their 2012 album Wriggle Out The Restless wasn’t nominated for the Mercury Prize. The band recently signed to the wunderbar Rough Trade Records and are now working on a new album for this esteemed label — due to be released in July of this year.
Hooton Tennis Club
Signed to Heavenly Recordings and hailing from Chester and Ellesmere Port, these blithesome alt-rockers swing sweetly with some 21st-century modulations on Pavement, Guided By Voices, Randy Newman and Big Star. Their recordings have been produced by Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice and, furthering the Cheshire-Scouse axis, by Bill Ryder-Jones, ex of The Coral. The Guardian wrote in praise of HTC’s “lovely, languid Teenage Fanclub-ish music.” Stand ready for the E-Port’s most righteous attraction since the National Waterways Museum.
The Cornish Celtic fringes should suit this Welsh master of poised, angular latterday folk music. He’s worked closely with members of Super Furry Animals, while his 2015 album In The Pink Of Condition was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize. He says his collage-style approach to music-making was influenced by watching his father edit Welsh-language radio interviews on a Revox tape machine. A new album is due on Heavenly Recordings this summer.
Alongside Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, Raf Rundell is one half of the big-brained and rude-as-funk dance nuttahs 2 Bears. Now Raf steps out in alternative guise as Selfie Boy – an infectious mix of fun and fusion that crams in elements as disparate as Chicago house, The Fall, Super Furries-standard psych-pop and Raf’s extensive collection of field recordings of late-’80s road-resurfacing machinery. Selfie Boy will be playing live on the CBTR stage. Raf will also play an additional, separate DJ set under his own name.
Hampshire woman and BBC 6 Music regular Rozi Plain has taken her mellifluous pop-folk on tour with Devendra Banhart, KT Tunstall and James Yorkston and she has played joyous festival sets from Glastonbury to Iceland Airways. Her albums have featured contributions from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and members of Francois & The Atlas Mountains. Rozi is also a member of This Is The Kit, also playing on the CBTR stage at this year’s Port Eliot.
Jeb Loy Nichols
Raised in Missouri and now living in a remote small-holding in the Welsh hills, songwriter and novelist Jeb Loy Nichols has been called “the high priest of country cool” by Rolling Stone magazine. His 11 albums of gorgeous latter-day country soul have also included a blend of blues and roots reggae created with On-U Sound legend Adrian Sherwood. Jeb’s latest record, Country Hustle, was hailed as “The Right Now Sound For A New Millennium” by the website The Nashville Scene.
These Spanish live wires and their exuberant garage pop are a must-see live experience, with frontman Diego García liable to play half the set down among the audience while generally coming on like a wired Iberian Jonathan Richman. They signed to Heavenly Recordings after touring with another of this weekend’s Heavenly all-stars, Hooton Tennis Club. Key influences include The Monks, 13th Floor Elevators and Marc Bolan. They only know one place to go – too far.
A Love From Outer Space
The esteemed DJ night that Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston brought to gluten-free Stoke Newington is now transplanted to riverine Cornwall. Once again, we’re honoured to have teflon don Weatherall beaming in live and direct. With Sean J coming on 808 Sancho Panza, expect a mind-bending mid-tempo framework that will include disco delights, cosmic glints of kosmische, thunderous dub-sonority and intrepid post-punk bombast, all churned up with with proto house, aceeeiid and other pumping-in-your-face variants – over a mammoth four-hour set.
Halifax sisters Esme and Sid Hand-Halford – assisted by pal Henry Wade – have set the indie airwaves booming with a sun-kissed lo-fi sound, one that sometimes suggests California before their home ’hood of Calderdale. Expect echoes of the Pixies and the Breeders and a touch of The Beach Boys and Tracey Thorn’s Marine Girls from a trio still in their mid teens.
Simon Fisher Turner: Bergeresque live
Musician and film maker Simon Fisher is charisma and charm incarnate and his life story reads like an art-crazed Billy Liar. Fans of 1980s independent music will know him as The King Of Luxembourg, but he has also recorded film soundtracks for Derek Jarman, hung out with David Bowie, worked as van-driver for Adam And The Ants and been a successful child actor. At Port Eliot Simon will present ‘Bergeresque’, an audio-visual tribute to the late writer, novelist and painter John Berger.
Straight out of Bahrain, this multi-instrumental quintet formed in the Persian Gulf in 2009. Now splitting time between the UK and home, they’re making a name with their exotic psychedelia. Their raison d’être is experimentation as they draw influences from across the world and utilise a collection of instruments from Nepal, Thailand, Turkey, Japan and Tanzania.
The boldly-named ensemble Britain are a box-fresh duo from outrageous Preston – one young woman and one young man subtly blending elements of dream pop and post-punk by means of guitar, synth and drum machine.
Red River Dialect
This Cornish five-piece specialise in violin-powered folk music somewhere between The Waterboys and The Dirty Three. They’ve shared bills with Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman and Hiss Golden Messenger. The USA’s National Public Radio channel said they conjure “that moment when British bands like Fairport Convention were starting to play with the psychedelic textures of their homeland’s traditional folk music”.
This six-string and lap-guitar player is from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Since 2008 he’s been releasing largely instrumental music and touring everywhere from Istanbul to Los Angeles. He’s perfected his self-styled “psychedelic Appalachia” since his teens and has shared a stage with like-minded folk including the fellow Fredericksburg musician Jack Rose, for whom he fashioned the artwork for the posthumous release of the Luck In The Valley album.
Once again John will act as mighty master of ceremonies across the CBTR stage at Port Eliot. Gentleman, angler, writer and supplier of armoured fighting vehicles to Super Furry Animals, John is also a dealer in what he calls “vintage fishing tackle for the soul”.
Sophie McKeand is an award-winning poet and the current Young People’s Laureate for Wales. Her poetry has been published in outlets including Poetry Wales, Tears In The Fence and Dark Mountain. Her first full-length collection, Rebel Sun, is out from Parthian books in May 2017.
Writer, raconteur and CBTR regular Mathew is head of publishing at unbound.co.uk. Last Christmas Mathew’s 87-year-old father gave him his copy of Rupert Gunnis’s book Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851. This extraordinary book is 548 pages long and contains over ten thousand entries. Mathew hoped it might open the door on an art form he had yet to enjoy. But do books have the power to make you enjoy things you’ve previously ignored? Can you enjoy reading a boring book?
Hollie McNish has published three collections of poetry – Papers, Cherry Pie, and Plum – plus one poetic memoir, Nobody Told Me, for which she won the 2016 Ted Hughes Award. She tours the UK extensively, while her poetry videos have attracted millions of views worldwide. Her interests included migration studies, infant health and language learning. She has given performances for organisations as diverse as The Economist, MTV and UNICEF.
Poet and critic André Naffis-Sahely was born in Venice to an Iranian father and an Italian mother, but raised in Abu Dhabi. His poetry has featured in The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt), and his nonfiction writing has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman. He is also a literary translator and his translation of Beyond The Barbed Wire: Selected Poems of Abdellatif Laâbi received a PEN Translates award. His debut collection of poetry, The Promised Land, will be published by Penguin in 2017.
Poet and Londoner Mona Arshi worked for a decade as a human-rights lawyer for Liberty. She won the inaugural Magma Poetry competition in 2011, while Pavilion Poetry published her debut collection, Small Hands, which won the Forward Prize for best debut collection in 2015. Her second collection of poems will be published in 2019.
Melissa Harrison’s first novel, Clay (Bloomsbury, 2013), was selected for Amazon’s Rising Stars programme and went on to win the Portsmouth First Fiction award; her second, At Hawthorn Time (Bloomsbury, 2015), was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award. Her non-fiction book Rain: Four Walks in English Weather (Faber, 2016) was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Melissa lives in South London with her husband and her rescue dog, Scout.
David Keenan is a writer, music journalist and music maniac. His acclaimed debut novel This Is Memorial Device is a compelling evocation of the driven dreamers who populated the bands of post-punk Britain. Irvine Welsh: “It captures the terrific, obsessive, ludicrous pomposity of every music fan’s youth in an utterly definitive way.” John Niven, author of Kill Your Friends: “Dream-shaped, intoxicating and brilliant. A hymn to small-town energy and intelligence. An anthem for ‘shroomed youth.” David will be talking about his novel with the writer, broadcaster and CBTR regular Emma Warren.
Cosey Fanni Tutti
Performance artist and musician Cosey Fanni Tutti is best known for her time in the avant-garde groups Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. Cosey has challenged the boundaries of music over the past four decades, including as part of COUM Transmissions, whose Prostitution show at the ICA in 1976 caused the Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn to declare Cosey and her collaborators “Wreckers of civilisation”. Her autobiography, Art Sex Music, was published by Faber this year.
Birmingham-born Zaffar Kunial’s poetry pamphlet was published by Faber & Faber as part of the Faber New Poets series. His poem ‘Us’ was collected in the Faber anthology The Map and the Clock, edited by Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke. In 2014 Zaffar was the Wordsworth Trust poet-in-residence in Grasmere. He lives in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
Roy Wilkinson’s pop-and-nature quiz
Roy Wilkinson, author of the acclaimed family/forestry/British Sea Power memoir Do It For Your Mum, will present another example of his CBTR music-and-nature quiz, with DJ accompaniment from Stephen “Spoonful” Parker. Expect shouting and questions on both fishermen’s maggots and Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain.
Sara Baume was born in Lancashire and grew up in County Cork. Her fiction and criticism have been published in anthologies, newspapers and journals including The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Stinging Fly and Granta magazine, while her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Here she will be talking about her second novel, A Line Made by Walking – previously a Caught by the River Book of the Month.
Taking inspiration from Waterlog, Roger Deakin’s seminal account of wild swimming, Joe Minihane set himself the goal of swimming in every river, lake, lido and bay which Deakin visited. These excursions into wild swimming also served as a way of soothing the disquiet that life had brought him. They culminated in Joe’s book, Floating: A Life Regained, which was released by Duckworth Overlook this year.
Ceri Levy in conversation with Pete Fowler
Ceri Levy is a filmmaker, writer and activist. Perhaps best known for his 2009 Gorillaz documentary Bananaz, he is currently engaged with his on-going film project The Bird Effect, an extensive documentary examination of birds and the people who watch them. He has collaborated on three books with the graphic artist Ralph Steadman, including Extinct Boids, which documented, in memorable audio-visual style, the birds we have lost to extinction. Cardiff-born Pete Fowler is a musician, illustrator and toy designer, best known for his striking imagery for Super Furry Animals and his various Monsterism creations. The two will discuss the creatures born of their imaginations, and goodness knows what else.
The DJ arm of Heavenly Recordings has played records, one after the other, at festivals, clubs, gigs and parties since 1990. The HJ gang are resident at The Social on London’s Little Portland Street. At Port Eliot they will be ably augmented by Stephen “Spoonful” Parker, Martin Nesbitt, James Endeacott and Richard Hector Jones. To this day every single one of them believes in magic.
Ted Kessler’s My Old Man
Ted Kessler is a music journalist who has worked extensively for Q and the NME. In 2016 Canongate published My Old Man, a book of paternal reflections edited by Ted – recollections of fathers from people including Tilda Swinton, Rod Stewart and the sons and daughters of Leonard Cohen and Ian Dury. At Port Eliot he will talk to Ceri Levy and Squeeze’s Chris Difford about their dads (the former’s, amongst other things, a childhood friend of Dylan Thomas).
Arboreal with Emma Warren, Zaffar Kunial and Fiona Stafford
Emma Warren has been writing about music since she and her friends set up Jockey Slut magazine in mid-’90s Manchester. She’s a CBTR stalwart, regularly writing about Oxleas Woods, a small patch of ancient woodland in south London. Emma with be talking trees with the Midlands-born poet Zaffar Kunial and with writer and Professor of English at the University of Oxford Fiona Stafford, whose book The Long, Long Life of Trees was published by Yale University Press in 2016. The talk takes its name from the collection Arboreal, published by Little Toller in 2016.
Stephen Cracknell, of Memory Band fame, presents a unique selection of spoken word and field recordings from the archives of the British Library and beyond.
Esteemed Underworld frontman Karl Hyde will be reading from his book I Am Dogboy, published in 2016 by Faber & Faber. Karl will also be in conversation with Caught by the River co-founder Robin Turner, editor of I Am Dogboy. The pair will be talking about music, art and the narrative in Karl’s book that takes us from his school days and synth-pop pre-history to Underworld’s classic 1994 album dubnobasswithmyheadman. Underworld recently played their biggest ever UK headline show – a quarter century after their first releases.
The 78rpm Orchestra
Operating from a 12-by-six shed in Cornwall, The Arcadia 78rpm Orchestra play old gramophone records. The idea came from a conversation between Stephen Parker and John Andrews on the riverbank at Port Eliot five years ago, and now can be seen in action at festivals and parties in the southwest. Come and marvel as 90-year-old technology roars into life with anything from Hank Williams to Fats Waller.
The Papas and Mamas
If you’ve ever been a fan of Saint Etienne, Birdie, East Village,The Dolly Mixture, Thee Hypnotics or The Dreaming Spires, then this indie supergroup are going to be right up your street.
DJs: Stephen ‘Spoonful’ Parker, Martin Nesbitt, James Endeacott, Richard Hector-Jones, Heavenly Jukebox, and Danny Barrett – until late every night.
On site: Devon’s acclaimed Drift Records shop and CBTR workshops from Pete Fowler, Nick Hand, Jon McNaught and Super Fly Guy.