Weather warnings were in place as we left a relatively sunny north London and headed for the Blackdown Hills in Somerset for the first independent Strummerville festival. We had set off early on Thursday the 16th of August and, as the blue skies lost their colour the heavens duly obliged and opened, a scenario all too familiar in this year’s festival season. We, One Eyed Wayne, were due to play the campfire stage at 8pm, a stage set up for bands that had featured in the Strummerville charts over the previous twelve months or so. It was to be the worst of the weather but up first was Sean McGowan, no relation to the great Shane but it was a very worthy performance- just him and a guitar and, with a Billy Bragg swagger he was a strong commanding presence. With songs drawing on his personal experiences, ranging from his time living in Southampton to tales of bullying, he held the stage and avoided lyrical clichés. You could do worse than at least giving him a listen.It was our turn next and we did ourselves proud on a cheeky sloping stage as the crowd stood firm in the driving rain… Not much was open that night but if you were prepared to remain soggy there was always the entertainment of the campfire stage even if the campfire itself was having a difficult time.
The first independent Strummerville festival to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of legendary Clash man Joe Strummer
We managed to catch Nimmo and the Gauntletts, a five piece from our neck of the woods, Kilburn. They were edgy and very tight but for me carried just a little too much 'rock'n'roll high school' attitude. I could be wrong but then you can't like everything. Cheap beers and dry clothing back at the tent proved to be too tempting so off we trudged in the glorious mud some 20 minutes or so back to the ranch. It proved a long night sleeping on a deflating mattress with the sizzling static sound of driven rain on canvas accompanying the enthusiastic merriment of some late night arrivals. ‘Twas grim the next morning, but hundreds more turned up and out came the sun.
On Friday, the first act on the main stage was Frank Turner on his lonesome; it turned out he was straight off to Beautiful Days afterwards to do a full turn. The boy sure can belt them out. He had the dedicated dancing in their wellingtons and all was as it should be. Caught Archive 45 back at the campfire stage spitting out their Sham SLF impressions, good for what it was but it just raised a teenage smile.
Was going to check out Reverend and the Makers but after witnessing a small boy running towards the stage shouting out the lyrics decided to go the Jonny Appleseed stage to catch The Crowns from Cornwall who were getting a great response from the audience. It was now about 7 in the evening and Johnny Appleseed would have been well impressed with the amount of cider drunk. Fitting for a band such as The Crowns taking a punk approach to songs with the smell of the drunken sailor, a sort of 'if the Pogues were the men that couldn't hang the Levellers'. A great straw in the mud band!
Funnily enough it was The Men They Couldn't Hang up next but after the energy of the Crowns we stayed for another cider but were worn out, so left the music for the day. Back at the tent we could hear the Jim Jones Review breaking the decibel record and should have gone down but its nice to get your wellies off.
On Friday, the first act on the main stage was Frank Turner on his lonesome; it turned out he was straight off to Beautiful Days afterwards to do a full turn. The boy sure can belt them out.
Saturday 1.45 pm Glen Matlock. Hard to write criticism of someone with such a great pedigree but this time I actually felt quite sorry for him. I've seen him before with just guitar at close quarters and he was great but this time the new songs could have been anybody, couple that with a few guitar problems and it don't make for a good show. And God bless 'im I even heard some dodgy chords in God Save The Queen.
All was made up for with the mighty Beans on Toast and didn't he put on a spread. A voice that sounds as if it’s been dragged over concrete then left out to dry like lizard skin, a brand new woodbine harvester. And his songs were great, sordid with dirty fingernails giving the middle one to the man, but ain’t life funny. The band did some fine country cooking too!
Good to see Topper Headon walking round looking well, happy to spend a bit of time with anyone that wanted that time. It was a shame that the festival had only shifted about half of its 5000 ticket allotment but that made for a comfortable space, and the organisers and stewards couldn’t have done more to make this festival great. I flitted around, a bit of Gaz Brookfield, a bit of Dub Pistols, Dreadzone,Alabama 3 from a distance, just getting stoked up for The Pogues.
They hit the stage hard in fiery form banging out the big guns, any order doesn't matter, Shane as in as good a form as you could have wished fag, pint, swagger YEEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!, just occasionally leaving the stage and leaving the vocals to Spider. I took off, shoes ripped off my feet by the thick cloying mud…it was always risky booking ground in a water meadow, Only one sock down in the end dignity intact. Smashing!
Back at the tent the fire was ablaze, funnily enough the only one we had seen all festival, so out came the guitars and we made some new Facebook friends Walton stylee.
The last day was a floater. The Farm played their good song, KT Tunstall did it for me, Badly Drawn Boy didn't turn up (always knew he was sketchy) then the big collective Mick Jones, Pete Wylie and members of The Farm. Pete did quite a lot of his, the Farm played their good song but guess what? The Clash at times sounded as if they were back in town. If Joe was above he would have felt the love.
The future is written.
If you liked this, check these out
Click here for more articles about The Clash
Click here for more articles about Music in Sabotage Times
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook