soundCHECK 105 – June 30th 2011

In what might be one of the least sensational cliff-hangers in history, last week’s soundCHECK erected this rickety little totem of drama:

“My plan next week is to give you a rundown of this summer’s regional festival action. Whether or not that actually happens shall remain a hook of suspense that I’m going to leave swinging like a literary pendulum for seven days.”

Now, I shall take what was undoubtedly met with universal ambivalence, and inevitably always going to happen anyway, and shatter the literary tension. It’s time to make good on the plan and take you on a rummage around some of the regional music festivals that will be hoping to rub their grubby little mitts all over you this summer.

But first we proceed with what precedes us: Goldcoast. Hundreds, nay, thousands assembled themselves beachside in Croyde during early June to watch the likes of Seasick Steve, Stringer Bessant, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Ed Sheeran in a weekend that cemented Goldcoast’s status as a quality and culturally important event for North Devon.
What of the future?

Well, The Levellers-curated Beautiful Days takes the crown as the summer’s most hotly anticipated regional festival. Mostly because of a stunning line up that includes lots of names you should know. The festival takes place in Escot Park, near Ottery St. Mary, on 19th – 21st August. You can find out the facts at www.beautifuldays.org. Make sure you catch the wistful, bittersweet beauty of I Am Kloot, the wholesome loveliness of Idlewild-frontman Roddy Woomble and the jittery, cinematic walls of sound coughed up by The Strange Death Of Liberal England. The Levellers have booked Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine too! It’s their first festival appearance in fourteen years.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Sheriff Fatman!”

Then there’s Aeon Festival, which unfurls the following weekend (26th – 28th August) at Shobrooke Park in Crediton. The organisers are self-confessed purveyors of ‘cultural loveliness’ which, with a budget that prohibits the arrival of any major names, seems to be the USP of Aeon. That and the cool lakeside location and family-friendly ambience. Full line up details are available at www.aeonfestival.com. Every year there’s a fancy dress theme. This year’s is ‘Fairy Tales & Storytime’. Make of that what you will.

Sadly, however, there is a notable absentee among the festival listings this summer: LLAMA, which is normally held every June in Lynton and Lynmouth. In just eight years it has become one of the best free music festivals in the UK, hallowed for its scintillating atmosphere, stellar line ups and stunning coastal location. In fact, in 2010, The Guardian newspaper recognised it as the Best Free UK Music Festival. Thankfully, LLAMA’s no-show is a mere anomaly. They are taking a year off to plan how to deal with the growing popularity of the festival. It will return in 2012. You can read the full statement at www.llama.org.uk.

At the other end of the formality spectrum is the riotous DIY revelry of the bi-annual Beta Fest, organised by the admirably-industrious Tobias Matthews of Black Hole Promotions. (Seriously, someone buy that man a pint or two.)
Expect to see thirty bands play in The Palladium in Bideford across three days on a line up featuring some of the best underground bands you’ve never heard of punctuated by a clutch of North Devon’s contemporary best. I’ll be writing more about Beta Fest soon. That’s a definite.

I’m done with cliff-hangers.

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