TALENTED Lancaster beatboxer Jack Bee opened up the main stage at Kendal Calling on Friday, bagging himself a management deal off the back of his performance.
The Lancaster district was represented across all stages in fact, as well as in the crowd, at this year’s festival which took place at the stunning Lowther Deer Park near Penrith.
The Feud, The Convulsions, Slamboree, Ginny Koppenhal, Freear, Molly Warburton Trio, Nancy Kent and Ottersgear were all on the line-up over the weekend.
As well as the vast array of music, comedy, theatre, dance, food, real ale and good vibes, the site setting and landscape also plays an important part in making this festival distinct and individual.
Surrounded by low peaks and rolling countryside, the site undulates to form little arenas and enclaves, with the ancient oak trees dotted around providing natural shelter during what were thankfully short rain showers.
Bizarrely, with the weather being so temperamental, I managed to come home with a tan.
The site was bigger this year, with The Woodlands Stage and Tim Peaks Diner creating extra dimensions to the festival with a tranquil wooded area complete with kissing gate and a full scale timber diner, curated by The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess.
Friday afternoon saw myself and fellow festival goer Graham Seward enjoying a couple of Hawkshead Brewery’s finest Cumbrian Five Hops ale, before we headed over to the main stage to see The Correspondents, who, although good, are probably suited to a more intimate venue.
DJ Yoda and the Tran-Siberian March Band followed with a great performance featuring a funky band and Yoda’s trademark delve into the vaults of underground crowd-pleasers from his record collection.
Scroobious Pip came next with his new band, which showed the singer’s rockier and heavier side, before he joined his compadre Dan le Sac in the Glow Dance Tent for a full-on electronic set.
We perused the festival site from there on in, our best intentions in following the line-ups often being waylaid by “things that got in the way”.
By that I mean, for example, the sound of loud laughter coming from the Soapbox comedy tent, a random and frenetic performance by Jazz Hands – featuring three drumkits, a double bass guitar, a saxophonist and a crazy guy with a cowbell – and quite often the warmth of the campsite campfire, which burned all weekend.
Other non-musical highlights included Jeremiah Weed, a wooden carving of a man with a guitar, the Tibetan Kitchen, the “tapestry” history of Kendal Calling, the rainbow over the campsite on Sunday afternoon, and the cheese, ham and pineapple toasties.
Surprising quality performance for me was “Mr Grime” himself Dizzee
Rascal, who headlined the main stage on Saturday night.
It was a footstomping show with some great covers and filler songs, spectacular visuals and guest performers.
Our renditions of “he’s just a raascal” afterwards were echoed by The Lancashire Hotpots on Sunday afternoon, who, judging by their Facebook messages and Tweets later, had made a huge impression on the crowd.
“You don’t get this from Shed Seven”, was one of the funnier ones, for me at least.
Some top flight comedians won’t get as many laughs as these guys did.
Another surprise quality performance came in the guise of Beans on Toast in the Calling Out tent on Sunday afternoon.
The singer-songwriters raspy social commentary was severely cutting and clever, but with enough sense of humour to take the edge off the reality of it.
On the Monarchy, he said something like: “If you want to be king, you need to re-build the Kingdom”.
Well worth checking out.
James were outstanding as headliners on the main stage on Sunday.
They’ve stealthily built up a solid repertoire of songs over the past 30 years, and I must admit I was quite taken aback by how many I knew, and how good the songs actually are.
About half an hour of “not too bad on first listen” new material was sandwiched between their favourites, with songs like Sometimes, Born of Frustration, Come Home and Tomorrow bringing the crowd together for a good old sing-along.
Frontman Tim Booth’s vocals more than hit the target, and James were a worthy and well-picked Sunday night headliner.
For me, Out To Get You, and a stripped down version of Sit Down both did their jobs in making the hairs on the back of my neck crackle and my eyes blink back those festival tears, and the set ended on a high with Laid.
Heading back to the tent on Sunday night, I stopped in at the Solar Songsmith Stage to catch Ottersgear, who had either already been on or had morphed into a band called King Twit, who were great nonetheless.
Although my mobile phone had long since died by then, my own batteries have been fully recharged by the sights, sounds, smells and setting of Kendal Calling.