Port Eliot Festival, St. Germans, Cornwall
Thursday 26 – Sunday 29 July, 2018
With the plums budding and the hedge sparrow singing loud in his quest for conjugal supremacy, let us contemplate the Caught by the River stage’s return to Port Eliot festival – those gorgeous Cornish vistas that make for one of the most spectacular festival sites in Britain.
This will be our ninth year at the festival – with the only stage in the world where you’re likely to get Andrew Weatherall pumping-in-your-face for three hours combined with an unforgettable lecture on Bavarian foresters teaching new songcraft to the bullfinch. We continue to feel blessed by our setting at Port Eliot – down by the wide expanses of the tidal River Tiddy. It’s a glorious spot, looking out across the water and around to the arches of the big old railway viaduct. The water surges, the heron flies…
Port Eliot is the place where the CBTR website comes to life. In past years we’ve had live music from Gruff Rhys, King Creosote, Cate Le Bon, Jimi Goodwin and British Sea Power, among many others. This year the sounds will range from Baxter Dury’s sad-shagger reportage to Gwenno’s bewitching Cornish-language alternative-history of the far southwest. In previous years our CBTR talks have ranged from the secret history of maggot-vending machines to how birdsong might lead to better brain surgery. There will be more of this stuff this year, including contributions from such CBTR regulars such as MC John Andrews, Pete Fowler, Emma Warren and Stephen “Spoonful” Parker.
As ever we’ll do out best to live up to this location. Food, amplified music and a fully-stocked beer bar will be yours for nothing more than coins of the realm. The much-loved Totnes-based record store Drift Records will again be on site.
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:
Exuding the rumpled charm of a brandy-rinsed Bagpuss, Baxter is Ian Dury’s son. His public entrance was made early on – Baxter is the young lad on the front cover of Ian’s New Boots And Panties!! album. But Dury junior is also a voice unto himself, as made clear by his breakthrough 2017 album Prince Of Tears, on Heavenly Recordings. As The Guardian said of the album: “Alternately funny, disturbing and genuinely touching… so good the author’s parentage scarcely seems to matter”. The album tackles failing romance with a pungent tale-spinner’s skill, taking in “Ferrero Rocher prostitutes” and “A turgid, fucked-up little goat.” Increasingly, Baxter seems to be nothing less than Britain’s answer to esteemed French pervert Serge Gainsbourg.
Avast! Behold this amazing trilingual siren, drawing us onto the rocks of true Cornish enlightenment. Gwenno Saunders is a Cardiff singer, radio presenter and sound-artist. Her frame of reference swings from the Super Furry Animals to mythical undersea Cornish kingdoms. After a 2014 Welsh-language debut solo album, her new LP, Le Kov, is sung entirely in Cornish and features a guest vocal from Super Furries frontman Gruff Rhys. The album is a rich and compelling mesh of pulsing electronics and incantatory vocals. With allusions to both the Aphex Twin and the sunken Brythonic cities of Lyonesse and Kêr-Is, Gwenno is cast as an Enya for the 21st century, stripped of any tweeness but full of far-western intrigue.
77:78 are a new project from Aaron Fletcher and Tim Parkin from Isle Of Wight funk-rock ferry-masters The Bees – a band best known for the irreducible 2005 track ‘Chicken Payback’, which seemed to be everywhere, one minute soundtracking a Sure deodorant advert, the next becoming a show theme for the Radcliffe and Maconie show on BBC Radio 6 Music. Signed to Heavenly Recordings, 77:78 steer an amazing jamwagon, one piled high with hand-picked components from The Beach Boys, King Tubby and Syd Barrett. Exhilaration is guaranteed.
A new venture from Welsh studio sage David Wrench, who had worked with musicians including Hot Chip, Frank Ocean, David Byrne and FKA Twigs. Now David teams up with vocalist Evangeline Ling to create haunted electro-pop. The Quietus website describes Wrench as a “benevolent disco-fingered wizard” and Ling as “a startling combination of Mark E. Smith and Björk”.
The Fiction Aisle
Led by Brighton pop polymath Tom White, also of The Electric Soft Parade and Brakes, The Fiction Aisle specialise in what they bill as “cosmic easy listening” – lush, intensely meditative pop music. There have been three albums on the group’s own Chord Orchard label, most recently 2018’s Jupiter, Florida. Expect cerebral and uplifting widescreen pop sounds.
This London-based group were formed in 2016, bringing with them touches of the Tindersticks, Lee Hazlewood and guitar-twanging spaghetti-western suave. They’ve supported Temples on tour and are due to record their debut album in 2018. Get there bright and early for some rich, widescreen lyricism and, quite possibly, a nice brace of cowboy hats.
Dads on Drugs
Dads on Drugs is DJ tag-team from two men with persuasive musical backgrounds. Geoff Barrow in a key constituent of Portishead and BEAK>. He also runs the Invada record label and has composed music for films including Ex Machina. Tom Friend is the proud owner and operator of the much-loved Bristol record shop Friendly Records.
Having evolved from the indie-rock roustabouts Pete And The Pirates, Teleman have taken their streamlined alt-pop songs and occasional hints of New Order on tour via support slots with Franz Ferdinand, Metronomy and Belle And Sebastian. Ex-Suede man Bernard Butler produced their debut album and they’ve been conspicuously supported by the great Marc Riley on his BBC 6 Music show. “Smart retro-futurist pop,” say MOJO magazine.
Halo Maud centre on singer / musician Maud Nadal, who grew up in rural Auvergne in central France and is now based in Paris. Singing in French and English, Maud specialises in dreamy, intoxicating psych-experimental pop and has been part of the live band for her fellow French pop psychonauts Melody’s Echo Chamber. Maud’s bewitching first release for Heavenly Recordings is the album Je Suis Une Île. For further perspective see the amazing, multi-woman video for her track ‘Baptism’.
Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey presents his solo project. Expect a swinging indie-troubadour vibe, with outbreaks of psych-pastoralism and the occasional cover of ‘Walking In The Air’ from Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman.
Michigan singer Anna grew up on songs from Disney and Carole King. Her debut album, Quit The Curse, was mixed by Collin Dupuis (Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen) – giving a lustrous sheen to a gameplan that centres on bright tunes tied to darker lyrics. The result is a subtle disruption of American pop dreams, with suggestions of Juliana Hatfield and Liz Phair.
As MOJO magazine said of this rich, orchestrated folk music: “Melodically sublime… Although Ghedi’s music is infused with tradition, it’s very much experiencing the present.” Born in Sheffield and growing up in Derbyshire and Shropshire, Jim’s soundworld is deeply rooted in a sense of place. The natural world permeates his 2018 album A Hymn For Ancient Land, released on Basin Rock, home to Nadia Reid and Julie Byrne.
Ground Control: Tim Dee in conversation with Gwenno & Philip Marsden
Tim Dee is a writer, radio producer and birdwatcher, and is the author of several nature-themed books, including the acclaimed memoir The Running Sky. Gwenno Saunders is a trilingual Cardiff musician, radio presenter and sound-artist, whose spellbinding new album, Le Kov, is sung in Cornish. They are joined by travel writer and novelist Philip Marsden, and together the three will discuss local distinctiveness in the British landscape – themes covered in Ground Work, the fascinating new prose collection which Tim edited.
From Tadcaster in North Yorkshire, Adelle is a novelist, poet and writer. Her debut novel, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, was inspired by the chaotic life of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar (writer of the 1980s stage play and film Rita, Sue and Bob Too). Adelle’s novel was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and was described by The Observer as, “A beautiful period piece of 1980s Britain, as funny and sad as anything by Dunbar herself.” In this Caught by the River slot, Adelle will read from the novel and talk about Dunbar’s life and times, as well as reading from a brand new work-in-progress.
Welsh guitarist Toby Hay specialises in beautiful instrumentals, set around his 12-string guitar, with titles that allude to place names, birds and brooks. His debut album, The Gathering, with its hints of Nick Drake, was conspicuously praised by the celebrated nature writer Robert Macfarlane: “This album – quick-fingered, deep-felt – opens landscapes in the mind’s eye. Place, memory, nature, loss and dreamed-of geographies are the subjects of this beautiful music.”
Andrew Weatherall and Justin Robertson
The imperishable dancefloor dictator Weatherall is renowned for his remix and production work for everyone from Primal Scream, Beck and New Order to Mark Lanegan and Fuck Buttons. His Caught by the River DJ sets at Port Eliot are equally legend – witness last year’s delirious co-production under the A Love From Outer Space banner. Justin “Lionrock” Robertson is another UK clubland great, working with musicians including Björk, Happy Mondays, Midlake and Paul Weller and ruling the roost at his own Rebellious Jukebox nights. Weatherall has become a mind-cleansing Saturday-night institution in this particular festival slot. The alliance with Robertson is sure to add to this glorious riverside rave lineage.
Oh yeah! These sauce-heavy Aussie dancefloor provocateurs specialise in locomotory beats and a fun-packed suggestiveness – like LCD Soundsystem presenting a disco remake of Carry On Camping. Live, as they will be in this Caught by the River slot, the quartet’s lubricious schtick is manifest – see the lean naked flesh and lacy boudoir finery displayed, respectively, by co-frontpersons Sugar Bones and Janet Planet.
Boy Azooga’s young Cardiff mainman Davey Newington has played drums for Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon. He also played triangle for the National Youth Orchestra Of Wales. Somehow his debut album – 1, 2, Kung Fu! on Heavenly Recordings – covers both these poles. It’s a feat of multi-instrumental pop virtuosity that moves from impressive filmic instrumentals to the melodic delights of prime Super Furry Animals and Badly Drawn Boy. Live, with his group, he acquires a wigged-out fervour that suggests a youthful Welsh take on Can.
Snapped Ankles are an East London art-rock collective. They take their name from the bones broken by Kathy Bates in the 1990 film adaptation of the Stephen King’s novel Misery. Their urgent, metronomic machine-funk conjures a compellingly claustrophobic Cold War Europe – full of puzzling aliases and hints of early Kraftwerk, plus the austere early-’80s prog-punk of This Heat. But a crazed carnival mood also features. Live, they’ve been known to dress as pagan moss monsters, playing homemade “log synths”.
Nabihah was born in London to parents from Pakistan. She has worked as a human-rights lawyer, undertook an MPhil in African history at Cambridge University, and has a black belt in karate. And that’s before we get to the propulsive basslines and the meditations on ancient Egyptian belief systems found on her 2017 debut album Weighing Of The Heart. She will bring all the above, with the possible exception of karate kombat, to her Saturday-night live-music slot on the CBTR stage.
Viv forged an undimming reputation with The Slits, her guitar helping power their dancehall-inflected post-punk from 1976 onwards. Viv’s acclaimed 2014 memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys was published by Faber & Faber and led to numerous captivating festival appearances. Now she has a frank literary follow-up, To Throw Away Unopened, which looks at family, identity and “human dysfunctionality”. At Port Eliot, Viv will discuss her new book with Adelle Stripe.
Poet Hollie McNish has delivered readings for The Economist, MTV, and UNICEF. Her early career saw her publish two poetry collections and one poetic memoir, Nobody Told Me, of which the Scotsman said, “The world needs this book.” The book also won her the Ted Hughes Award. In 2017 Hollie became the first patron of Baby Milk Action, the pro-breastfeeding campaign. Her latest poetry collection is Plum, which takes in fruit, flesh and contemporary society.
Michael Pedersen published his acclaimed debut poetry collection Play With Me in 2013. He was named a Canongate Future 40 writer and was awarded the 2014 John Mather Trust Rising Star of Literature Award and the 2015 Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. He is also known for the most compellingly gravity-defiant hair since the early days of The Jesus And Mary Chain.
Martha is a poet-in-residence for Caught by the River. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Glass As Broken Glass, was published by Rack Press in January 2017, and she is currently working on a full-length poetry collection. Further, a non-fiction book on sharks is due to be published by Little Toller Books. Martha has also worked as a poetry editor for Faber & Faber, and was co-founder and poetry editor of Cake magazine.
Poet Kayo Chingonyi is author of two pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (Akashic, 2016). His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 by Chatto & Windus. Kayo has completed residencies with Kingston University, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics and Royal Holloway University of London. He also has a show on Netil Radio, where he plays rockabilly to afrobeats via hip hop.
Rough Trade Books presents: David Keenan, Sophy Hollington, Salena Godden and Joe Dunthorne
Salena Godden is one of Britain’s foremost spoken-word artists, whose live performances and BBC broadcasts have earned her a devoted following. A collection of new poetry from Salena will be published by Rough Trade Books in the summer of 2018. Joe Dunthorne’s debut novel, Submarine, was translated into 16 languages and adapted for film by Richard Ayoade. This summer Rough Trade Books are publishing Joe’s short story All The Poems Contained Within Will Mean Everything To Everyone. David Keenan’s debut novel, This Is Memorial Device, was shortlisted for the 2017 Gordon Burn Prize. At Port Eliot he will present a new work, To Run Wild In It: A Handbook of Autonomic Tarot. The book is a collaboration with the artist Sophy Hollington, published by Rough Trade Books.
Mathew Clayton is a publisher and editor who lives in Sussex. At Port Eliot this year this Caught by the River regular will be talking about the idea of “the yeoman”, with reference to two books: Mildred Campbell’s 1942, 500-page study The English Yeoman (Under Elizabeth And The Early Stuarts) and a million-word diary written in the mid-18th century by Sussex shopkeeper Thomas Turner. Have no fear of any academic earnestness – Mathew is a raconteur full of charm and rascal-ish wit.
Hannah’s previous appearance on the Port Eliot Caught by the River stage sticks in the mind mesmerically – playing New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ on a tape-driven, hand-cranked music box. Since then she’s released numerous fascinating albums – solo, as part of The Magnetic North and with UK synth-pop pioneer John Foxx. The Northern Irish artist’s latest album is Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia, an extra-terrestrial fantasia that imagines an elderly Barnsley stargazer dreaming her way up into cosmos via DIY electronic sounds. Expect extraterrestrial magic by the Cornish riverside.
Stick in the Wheel
The debut album from this East London five-piece folk group was hailed as fRoots magazine’s Album of the Year in 2015. It was also a MOJO Folk Album of the Year. They’ve had four BBC Folk Award nominations since their inception in 2013 and are known for singer Nicola Kearey’s fierce delivery, plus an approach to folk firmly embedded in the genre’s traditional, working-class heritage. The Guardian: “The musicianship is razor-sharp, direct and fantastic.”
Erland Cooper is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and producer from Orkney. As the front man for Erland & The Carnival he has made acclaimed albums with guitarist Simon Tong, the latter known for his work with The Verve and Damon Albarn. As part of The Magnetic North, Erland was key to the hugely evocative conceptual albums Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North and Prospect Of Skelmersdale. Erland’s debut solo album, Solan Goose, is a mix of electronics and classical music – designed as a soothing antidote to life in a modern metropolis.
The Glass Aisle
A collaboration between Brian Briggs, former frontman with the indie-folk band Stornoway, and award-winning Welsh poet Paul Henry. They will perform tracks from their album The Glass Aisle, a mesmerising collaboration of songs and poetry set on the Monmouthshire-Brecon canal. The cast of characters will include poacher-fisherman John Moonlight and Guglielmo Marconi, who conducted his experiments for radio on the canal.
Since 2014 the Somesuch Stories website and biannual print edition have been publishing essays and short stories on contemporary culture, nature, sex and politics. On the Caught by the River stage, Somesuch keystone Suze Olbrich will present a showcase aided by Jessica Andrews and Eli Goldstone. Jessica is a novelist and writer. Her debut novel, Saltwater (due in 2019), explores mother-daughter relationships and identity. Eli Goldstone’s debut novel, Strange Heart Beating, was published by Granta in 2017. She is also Somesuch Stories’ sex columnist.
Poet Will was born in London and raised in Buckinghamshire. He never did finish his durned English degree, but that hasn’t stopped him becoming a Caught by the River poet-in-residence and one of Faber & Faber’s designated New Poets. At Port Eliot this year Mr Burns will draw on a captivating poetic range that reaches from love and mortality to black-headed gulls and seersucker suits.
Poet Emily Hasler was born in Suffolk but has ended up on the Essex side of the river Stour. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and received an Eric Gregory Award in 2014. Her debut collection, The Built Environment (Pavilion Poetry), moves between the local and the distant, the urban and the rural, the past and present.
Poet A. K. Blakemore was born in London in 1991 and has twice been named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year. Her work has been widely published and anthologised, appearing in journals including Poetry London, Poetry Review and Ambit. Her debut collection, Humbert Summer, appeared in 2015 and was awarded the Melita Hume Prize. Her second collection, Fondue, is being published by Offord Road Books in 2018.
Roy Wilkinson’s Pop-and-Nature Quiz
Now in its 127th year at Port Eliot, Roy Wilkinson’s Pop-and-Nature Quiz has become a timeless CBTR institution. The author of the acclaimed family / forestry / music memoir Do It For Your Mum will again ask questions on rock and rock pipits, with DJ interjections from from Stephen “Spoonful” Parker, the Terminator XYZ of the Cornish Riviera. Expect interrogation on both the wildlife of the Christmas Islands and Butch Trucks’s finest years in The Allman Brothers Band. Prizes will include a pair of tickets for next year’s Port Eliot Festival.
DJs: Stephen ‘Spoonful’ Parker, Martin Nesbitt, James Endeacott, Nabihah Iqbal, Richard Hector-Jones, Jack Sellen, Emma Warren, Heavenly Jukebox, and Danny Barrett – until late every night.
On site: Devon’s acclaimed Drift Records shop and CBTR workshops from Pete Fowler and Nick & Harriet Hand.
Get your tickets here.