Port Eliot Festival, St. Germans, Cornwall
Thursday 25 – Sunday 28 July, 2019
The blackthorn has blossomed and, on the water, the cormorants are now displaying their white thigh-top courtship feathers – a sure sign the shagging season is upon us. Time, then, to announce the line-up for the Caught by the River stage at Cornwall’s Port Eliot festival – the tenth time this most remarkable blend of entertainment and enlightenment has been erected by the wondrous Cornish waterside. Come join us, friends, for this most glorious “Décima” – as ever by the sweet tidal flow of the River Tiddy.
Caught by the River’s Port Eliot tent may not have seen actual frucking on the dancefloor, but it has taken rock ’n’ roll – a term synonymous with coital action – and combined it superbly with the natural world. The CBTR stage is the only place you can get Andrew Weatherall pumping-in-your-face at 2am and, also, mesmerising talks and audio installations from such esteemed wildlife documenters as Chris Watson and Professor Tim Birkhead. The setting is amazing – looking out across the water and down to the big old railway viaduct. The water surges, the heron flies, the beer flows…
Port Eliot is the place where the CBTR website come to life. In past years we’ve had live music from Gruff Rhys, Cate Le Bon and British Sea Power, among many others. This year the attractions will range from the spellbinding musical powers of Aldous Harding to the great Jon Savage talking about Joy Division and Manchester. There will be also be contributions from CBTR regulars including MC John Andrews and in-house DJ Stephen “Spoonful” Parker.
Food, amplified music and a fully-stocked beer bar will all be available. 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 wunderbar festival. For information on the rest of the programme, please visit www.porteliotfestival.com, where you will also find the box office.
The acts taking to this year’s Caught by the River stage are as follows:
New Zealander Aldous Harding is one the most powerful performers to have emerged anywhere in the last decade. The 2017 album Party took her into clear view, acclaimed in end-of-year polls by everyone from MOJO magazine to Rough Trade Shops to Air Cadets quarterly The Hangar. The album was produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, who is certain of Harding’s quality: “She is, technically, a phenomenal singer… She absolutely knows what she wants to do with her voice. It never feels like showboating.” Now, with her new album, Designer, Aldous migrates all the way from NZ’s South Island to the Cornish riverside. Do not miss – lest you be the damn-most lick-chicken fool of all eternity.
Pip Blom is both an alt-rock band from Amsterdam and the 20-something woman who fronts them. As if to confirm the Pip-pop lineage, her father was a member of Dutch John Peel radio faves Eton Crop – credentials underscored by Pip Blom’s roughed-up melodic guitar charges. Their sound hints at both early PJ Harvey and early Lemonheads. The Blom were signed to Heavenly Recordings after a thrilling A&R tag-team relay enacted by means of motorbike; supports with Franz Ferdinand and The Breeders were lined up. Come on down. Motorcycles optional.
New Zealand’s Tiny Ruins specialise in a beguiling chamber-indie quietude – like Mazzy Star sent back to the 19th century for a Grand Tour, down across the Alps to Venice. The band’s delicate sense of melancholy centres on the incantatory prettiness of Hollie Fullbrook’s vocals. New album Olympic Girls sees them on fine form, while their CBTR slot here starts a Kiwi / Dutch / Kiwi sequence that, with Tiny Ruins, Pip Blom and Aldous H, should see an ever newer Zeeland…
Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou
Over the years this most delightful duo have taken their folk-music rebirth on tour with Tori Amos, Damon Albarn, Richard Thompson and Beth Orton – and also enjoyed live performance at the maximum-security women’s prison in Rennes. The NME said they combine “Fairport Convention’s folk with Fleetwood Mac’s pop sensibilities”. Most recent album Fair Lady London was recorded in a Sussex castle, while their touring itinerary has taken in tin-roof tabernacles and a canal barge.
The Bristol beat boffins of BEAK> are co-piloted by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, superbly aided by Billy Fuller and William Young, who’ve played with Robert Plant and Moon Gangs, respectively. Such is the traction in the trio’s compelling Krautrock-ish groove you’ll be forgiven for thinking that Can have beamed in from the Cologne afterlife. BEAK> have played well received shows alongside Arcade Fire, The Horrors, Savages and the celebrated audio-visual artist Chris Cunningham. Rolling Stone magazine was all a-quiver over the 2018 BEAK> album that is known only as >>>: “Formidable… downright funky… The track ‘When We Fall’ could be the pastoral Brit-folk nightmare for a Wicker Man reboot. Cold, weird, retro and ready for a chase sequence….”
Welsh studio sage David Wrench has worked with musicians including Hot Chip, Frank Ocean, David Byrne and FKA Twigs. With audiobooks, he teams up with vocalist Evangeline Ling to create electro-grooves that swing between strange revelation and wild exuberance. The Quietus website describes Wrench as a “benevolent disco-fingered wizard” and Ling as “a startling combination of Mark E Smith and Björk”. Debut album Now! (In A Minute) draws on Aphrodite’s Child, Marilyn Manson, Faust and The Fall. Of course it does!
This ensemble are named after the title of Derek Jarman’s garden diaries. The music-makers include Jack Cooper, formerly of Ultimate Painting and Mazes, and William Young of BEAK>. Their debut EP, Nature, was released on the esteemed Bella Union label, while their inspirations wing from Alice Coltrane’s rhythmic vigour to the pastoral chimes of Fairport Convention.
Author and cultural jump-lead Richard King is best known for his independent-music history How Soon Is Now?, alongside his lyrical record-shop memoir Original Rockers. Now Richard’s new book, The Lark Ascending, lays forth a history of the British countryside, charting the relationship between music and landscape. A deft Arcadian arc is plotted from Wales to the Thames, from Vaughan Williams to Kate Bush. Richard will be in conversation with writer and editor Emma Warren.
Ru Callender – Eels, death and The KLF
Ru Callender is one quarter of Callender, Callender, Cauty & Drummond Undertakers – a partnership with Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and The KLF. The foursome are now overseeing a vast work of public memorialisation whereby your ashes can be interred in a brick and become part of The People’s Pyramid in Toxteth in Liverpool. In a previous life Ru held eel-fishing rights on the rivers around Port Eliot. Ru will be in conversation with Roy Wilkinson, author of the family-rock memoir Do It For Your Mum.
Emma Warren and Haseeb Iqbal
Emma and Haseeb will discuss DIY music culture across the generations. Writer and Caught by the River linchpin Emma grew up on 1990s rave and worked at legendary dance magazine Jockey Slut. Since then she has worked as a writer, editor and radio broadcaster, on subjects from Britain’s canals to electronic dance music in South Africa. Haseeb is a spoken-word poet and DJ, working at the centre of London’s new jazz scene. At Port Eliot, Emma and Haseeb will be talking about Emma’s book Make Some Space, which documents the histories surrounding the ad-hoc London venue Total Refreshment Centre.
Gabriel Gurnsey is one half of Factory Floor, the London-based duo known for their blend of dancefloor propulsion, guitar and avant-garde electro-impulses. But Gabe’s debut solo album //Physical// takes a new fork in the road, leading us to warm grooves, at once minimal and lush. There are suggestions of Manc funk-theoreticians A Certain Ratio and techno-minimalist legend Richie ‘Plastikman’ Hawtin, but there’s also a warm lubriciousness, as with the album guest spot from New York sax great Peter Gordon. The Boz-Mogg Brexit wankers have given us a winter of discontent. Now for the summer of our disco tents…
Liverpool’s delightful Stealing Sheep have been before to the Caught by the River stage at Port Eliot, and such is the profundity of their pop music that it’s a true joy to have these three young women back. So striking is their mix of electronics, keening harmony and (occasional) future-fresh morris dancing that they seem like the missing link between Shirley Collins and Janelle Monáe. “Always beautiful… sometimes disconcerting,” said the Guardian of the band’s 2015 album Not Real, released by the hotdog Heavenly Recordings. The trio’s new album, Big Wows, steps on further still, full of hooks and self-assurance. It’s their most pop-packed collection yet – gunnel-full with the funk to have the whole tent jumping down by the river.
International Teachers Of Pop
Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer are also the musical mainsprings behind Moonlandingz, the multi-massive collective who’ve laid waste to popular song aided by such accomplices as Fat White Family frontman Lias Saoudi. Now, allied with vocalist Leonore Wheatley, they pulse forth as International Teachers Of Pop. Jarvis Cocker and Moloko frontwoman Róisin Murphy took them out on tour and now they bring their scurrilous synth spoolings to the Cornish estuary.
Few are those who’ve worked closely with both David Attenborough and Cabaret Voltaire. Chris Watson was a founding co-creator of the Cabs’ experimental Sheffield synth-scapes. Since then he’s established himself as a leading wildlife sound-recordist, winning BAFTA awards and working on TV documentaries including the BBC’s Life Of Birds. At Port Eliot, Chris will present Surfing The Silver Tide, an extended audio creation that follows the dawn chorus down from Shetland to Cornwall and Port Eliot.
Jon Savage is <the> key commentator on the British musical counter-culture from punk onwards, renowned for his extensive music journalism and books such as Sex Pistols history England’s Dreaming. At Port Eliot Jon will discuss his new oral history This Searing Light, The Sun And Everything Else – a history of Joy Division that draws on three decades of wide-ranging interviews. Jon will be in conversation with poet and The Importance of Music to Girls author Lavinia Greenlaw.
Roy Wilkinson’s Pop & Nature Quiz
Now in its 128th year at Port Eliot, Roy Wilkinson’s pop-and-nature quiz has become an institutional inquisition on both bands and bandicoots. The author of the British Sea Power-themed family / forestry / music memoir Do It For Your Mum will be accompanied by DJ interjections from Stephen “Spoonful” Parker, the Terminator X of the Cornish Riviera. Prizes will include a pair of tickets for next year’s Port Eliot.
Poetry Hour – with Will Burns, Lavinia Greenlaw and Rachael Allen
Caught by the River poet-in-residence Will Burns will be reading alongside the novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw, whose six collections for Faber have included T. S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prize-shortlisted Minsk (2003), Costa Poetry Award-shortlisted A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde (2014) and this year’s The Built Moment. Also royally juicing the word-wheels will be Cornwall’s Rachael Allen, poetry editor at Granta. Rachael’s debut poetry collection, Kingdomland, was published by Faber & Faber earlier this year.
Halifax sisters Esmé and Sidonie Hand-Halford – ably assisted by pals Henry Wade (guitar) and Alex Stephens (keys) – have set the indie airwaves booming with their sun-kissed lo-fi sound, one that sometimes suggests Californian alt-rock more than their home in Calderdale. Their 2018 debut album, Silver Dollar Moment, was released by Heavenly Recordings. “A garage-rock masterclass,” said the Guardian. Expect echoes of the Pixies and the Breeders, plus a touch of Orange Juice and Tracey Thorn’s Marine Girls from this fabulously fresh trio.
Working Men’s Club
Forming a Calder Valley one-two with The Orielles, WMC are a taught teenage guitar/bass/drums group from Todmorden in West Yorkshire, punching forth with compelling snatches of Gang Of Four, Television and Parquet Courts. They benefit from terse sung-spoken lyrical blasts that suggest a teenage Mark E. Smith. And their frontman comes equipped with the remarkable name of Sydney Minsky-Sargeant. In these young hands the joys of exhilarating post-punk abrasion are re-cast anew.
Luke Turner & Spaceship
Luke Turner, journalist and co-founder of the music-and-arts website The Quietus, will be talking about his 2019 memoir Out Of The Woods, an intricate mediation on desire, art, music and the trees. Luke will be backed with a live soundtrack from Spaceship – aka West Yorkshire-based field recording, portable synth and found-sound artist Mark Williamson. Out Of The Woods has been saluted by the respected backwoodsman Brett Anderson of Suede: “Unflinching on relationships, the nature of obsession, lust, masculinity, faith and lost innocence.” The Guardian newspaper was in accord: “Turner’s memoir succeeds at many levels… This is a book to get lost in.”
Will Burns and Hannah Peel
Will Burns is best known as the Caught by the River poet-in-residence. Hannah Peel is renowned for her many fascinating musical projects – both as a member of The Magnetic North and, in her own capacity, playing Blue Monday on a hand-held antique music-box or composing space-synth fantasias for full brass band. At Port Eliot, Will and Hannah will give a live performance of their recent collaborative album Chalk Hill Blue – a moving and meditative mix of electronica and spoken-word lyricism, looking at human frailty and butterflies. Prior to their performance, Will and Hannah will talk about the record with Max Porter, author of the novel Grief Is The Thing With Feathers — which was shortlisted for the 2015 Guardian First Book Award and won the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize — and this year’s Lanny.
Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry
A discussion based around the book Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry, which, to quote the publisher Ignota, “brings together 30 contemporary voices exploring the territory between the occult and the subversion of patriarchy”. There will be readings from the poets Rebecca Tamás, Rachael Allen, Will Harris and A K Blakemore, together with discussion of the themes in the book.
DJs Jack Sellen, James Endeacott, Heavenly Jukebox, Danny Barrett, Citizen Helene, Pete Fowler, The Orielles, Martin Nesbitt, Jon Savage, Emma Warren, Stephen “Spoonful” Parker, Jonny Trunk, Jon Tye & Frances Castle play in the bar through the day and 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.