The Good Life Experience, Hawarden, Flintshire
Friday 14 – Sunday 16 September, 2017
It is with much happiness and excitement that we share the full lineup for our stage at this year’s Good Life Experience. Our final festival engagement of the summer is the brainchild of Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, Cerys Matthews and Steve ‘Abbo’ Abbot, and takes place on the Hawarden Estate, Flintshire, 14-16 September. The Caught by the River tent is back and better than ever for our fourth year on site, featuring a jam-packed daily programme, plus a book and record shop. You can get your tickets here – and don’t forget that our readers get 10% off using code CBTR2018.
Props as always to Roy Wilkinson for the marvellous artist bios which here follow:
The Fernweh are a Liverpool-based group who formulated their masterplan while sitting on a hill at Glastonbury Festival and discussing the majesty of Fairport Convention. Their band name is a German word translating as “wanderlust” or “a yearning for far-away places” – the kind of horizon-gazing perspectives manifested in their love for wide-eyed, folk-inflected 1960s British pop. Influences include Delius, Oliver Postgate, The Zombies and Kes author Barry Hines.
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.
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”.
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.
Greg Wilson is a legend of UK DJ culture. Growing up above a pub on Merseyside, he began DJ-ing in 1975. Since then he has commanded the decks at key nightlife locales from Wigan Pier to the Haçienda. Along the way he introduced the UK to New York electro-funk and introduced a young Norman Cook to the art of scratching. Greg has worked closely with groups including Manchester’s Ruthless Rap Assassins and in 2014 launched the multi-media label Super Weird Substance. In 2010 Radio 1’s Essential Mix show selected Wilson’s own mix as one of 10 classics to span the show’s entire history. In 2015 DJ Magazine presented Greg with their Industry Icon Award.
Rough Trade Books
Rough Trade Books is a publishing venture in the mould of the pioneering independent record label, bringing the same original spirit and radical direction to the world of book publishing. The RTB slot at Good Life will feature Salena Godden, Thomas Morris and Richard King – authors writing for this punk-fresh publishing house.
Salena Godden’s Pessimism is for Lightweights, published by Rough Trade Books, is a collection of 13 pieces of courage and resistance, inspired by protests and rallies. Its poems are written for the women’s march, for women’s empowerment and amplification, and salute people fighting for justice, taking into consideration sexism and racism, class discrimination, period poverty and homelessness, immigration and identity.
Thomas Morris – whose debut story collection, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing (Faber and Faber), won the 2016 Wales Books of the Year, the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, and a Somerset Maugham Prize – will be reading from his upcoming Rough Trade Books pamphlet A Short Story About The British Education System And The Seven Kids Who Tried To Change It.
Richard King – author of How Soon Is Now? and Original Rockers, and longstanding CBTR contributor – will read from his upcoming Rough Trade Books short story The August Fawn. In the late summer of 1978, Allen Ginsberg and Arthur Russell left the building they shared in New York City to spend a week together in the Catskill Mountains. The rest of this story is a work of fiction.
This zoologist, broadcaster and bestselling author has featured on the BBC’s Springwatch, but Lucy’s wit, verve and massive sense of fun safely remove her from the more orthodox modes of TV nature commentary. After all, Lucy is the founder of the SAS – the Sloth Appreciation Society. Her enthusiasm for the natural world’s more astonishing fringes has taken her around the world. At Good Life this will be reflected in what should be a compelling and gloriously gung-ho talk based on her recent book The Unexpected Truth About Animals.
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”, and which she will discuss with Dave Simpson at this year’s Good Life.
Celebrated wildlife sound-recordist Chris Watson has one of the great unlikely recording histories, having worked with both Sir David Attenborough and the seminal Sheffield electronic group Cabaret Voltaire. Chris has worked extensively for the BBC – from the Springwatch and Autumnwatch shows to Radio 4 wildlife specials. He has also released numerous solo and collaborative albums, a mix of field recordings and electronic music. At Good Life, Chris says he will present,“A watercourse sound journey from Penycloddiau, a mountain in Flintshire, to Ynys Enlli, aka Bardsey Island.”
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.
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 jam wagon – one piled high with hand-picked components from The Beach Boys, King Tubby and Syd Barrett. Exhilaration is guaranteed.
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’.
Since leaving The Coral to pursue an inspirational solo career, the Wirral’s Bill Ryder Jones has made records that move from spellbound independent pop to Italian literature – the latter on his interpretation of the Italo Calvino novel If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller. The album West Kirby County Primary was in MOJO magazine’s top ten albums of 2016, and he has been praised by fellow artists including Richard Hawley and Noel Gallagher. The Guardian described him as “a magical, colossal talent.” This charming multi-instrumentalist, producer, string-arranger and composer is truly an artist to behold.
Jeff Towns and Ceri Murphy present “Edward Thomas in Wales”
Actor / performer Ceri has given triumphant performances at Edinburgh Festival, while Jeff is renowned for his festival books van, Dylans Mobile Bookstore, a regular feature at Good Life. At this year’s festival, the pair combine to salute the memory of the poet Edward Thomas, who was killed in the Battle of Arras in the First World War. Jeff and Ceri will be highlighting Thomas’s connections with the country he celebrated in his 1905 book Beautiful Wales.
Joe is a travel writer based in Brighton. Between 2012 and 2015 he retraced the journey of Roger Deakin’s highly influential wild-swimming book Waterlog, with Joe swimming his way across the UK from Scilly to Scotland. Joe’s journey is recorded in his book Floating: A Life Regained, which he will be talking about at Good Life.
Writer, radio producer and birdwatcher Tim Dee has written several nature-themed books, including the acclaimed ornithological memoir The Running Sky. He recently edited the new wide-ranging environmental collection Ground Work, which includes contributions from Helen Macdonald, Marina Warner and Adam Thorpe, among others. At Good Life Tim will be in conversation with Caught by the River regulars John Andrews and Will Burns, talking about Ground Work and mankind’s varied impact on the planet.
This softly-softly renaissance man was once singer for the independent group Hefner. Since than he’s written albums about the East Anglian Witch Trials, Britain’s lost lidos and the new town of Harlow. He currently releases records via the Caught by the River label Rivertones focusing on Thankful Villages – the places to which every enlisted soldier returned alive from WWI. At Good Life Darren will be talking about his Thankful Villages project, as well as performing songs from it.
Hailing from County Mayo in the resplendent Emerald Isle, Seamus released his debut album on Fence Records, home to artists including King Creosote and James Yorkston. Since then his music has lit up the radio waves from BBC 6 Music to Radio 3. His distinctive approach to song-based storytelling also found an unlikely home at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, for whom Seamus helped fashion an opera-derived installation. The Irish Times: “The ghostly wallop of these tunes will take your breath away.”
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.”
Master of Ceremonies is the inimitable John Andrews.