Monday, 15 September 2014

6-7/7/2013 East Barnet Festival 2013

This is always one of the highlights of the year locally - apart from last year when it was cancelled due to flooding. The East Barnet Festival is a well established event that has been running for many years now. I go down there mainly for the wide variety of live music - and the beer tent of course! It's always a good event socially as well. There is live music from many different artists and bands spread over several stages and tents of varying sizes - something to suit everyone. The music ranges from rock and blues, jazz and even choirs. There are acoustic singer/songwriters on stages large and small. It's not all about music though - there is loads of other stuff going on too, from a dog show 'Paws In The Park', to a car show, funfair, many arts & crafts stalls, the Dance Tent, and plenty of food if you get hungry. The weather is superb! It's set in a nice scenic location with a brook running through the park, and it's free to get in. What's not to like?
The live music actually started on Friday with 'Big Band Night', but I didn't get down there until lunchtime on Saturday - just in time to see the rather amazing Sandra Grant
This self styled 'Saxophone Lady' has become a regular performer at this festival. As well as being a terrific sax player she also sings and plays the flute as part of her show. Sandra Grant's original music is a soulful mix of jazz and blues - not normally quite my cup of tea, but she is a remarkable performer with charisma and stage presence as well as musical talent. Usually Sandra has an excellent band with her, but unfortunately they weren't available for this date so she has to play solo with a backing track - still managing to give an engaging performance.

Next I catch a quick bit of the set from popular local singer/songwriter Tim Leffman
Next on the main stage is ukelele band Soup - not quite my thing so I take a stroll round the park to look at some of the other attractions - the popular funfair has a Ghost Train and the usual other rides, etc - all the fun of the fair!

Back to the music and a late change to the programme is the addition of 'The Barnet Boys' thrown together at short notice to fill a gap left by another band dropping out. The band contains well known local musos Mick Griffin (ex-The Germans) Dave Cox, and Tim Burbridge playing a variety of well known rock covers. The 'Only Goth in the village' seemed to enjoy them!
Also playing were local blues bands Hokum, and The Blue Dogs. Then it was reggae time with Joe Angel & Pamodzi. I felt like a break so I went to the nearby pub for a change from the beer tent. I'm back in time for the last act of the day. The is the ridiculously named Super Awesome Megastars - a band made up of tutors from the local music shop Sound Garden In spite of their terrible name the band are actually very entertaining!
That brings Saturday to a close, so it's off to the pub.

Sunday dawns and once again the weather is beautiful!
I try to get to the park early to see The Rockin' Bones - don't know anything about them but the name sound's some kind of rocking blues band. They turn out to be schoolkids playing pop/rock covers - can't win 'em all. Everyone's got to start somewhere...

I have a look round the arts & crafts stalls for a bit before heading back to the main stage. There I found Robert Hokum who played yesterday with his full band Hokum. Today he is playing a solo blues set. He plays well and has some classic blues covers in his set, but it really doesn't grab the attention of the crowd in the way an act on the biggest stage should - there is hardly anyone watching.
Looking for something more exciting I head over to one of the small stages. Here I find far more people watching and obviously enjoying the set of a bunch of kids called The Silver Manatees. They are a Beatles tribute act and they are really good! They have the look and sound down really well, and unlike the act on the main stage at the same time - everybody know's all the songs! And what great songs they are too.
This to me and everyone else I spoke to who saw them was the big mistake of the day - this band should have been on the main stage playing songs everyone loves instead of a solo bluesman playing obscure material to no one.

Back over on the main stage the next act was Spring Park Motel. They were quite lively in spite of looking very dull. Some decent original rock songs and worth a listen if not a look.
Next up was The Hamptons - another new act to me, but fairly entertaining if stuck back in the early 1980's.
Next it's blues time again, but of a more rocking variety from Roadhouse Dogs. This is their second or third time at the festival and they have some decent original songs - 'Guitar Player's Eyes' being the most memorable.
I get a tip that there is a good band playing in one of the tents. Here I discover local band Fused playing rock covers - they are pretty good.
I took a short video of them on my phone by accident while trying to take pictures.
Meanwhile, back at the main stage Doc Bowling & The Blues Professors are playing. They are quite good - one of the betters bands of the weekend. One of the guitarists appeared earlier fronting Roadhouse Dogs.
The 2013 East Barnet Festival is brought to a close by popular local mod band The Faith Stealers - not many people watching as they start their set....
 ...but people soon start coming down off the hill to enjoy their set of classic mod covers.
The band might not look very exciting, but the secret to their success is very simple - play loads of classic songs from the 60's and 70's that everyone knows and loves! It's not rocket science - but it works.
The Faith Stealers are probably not the best band of the weekend, but they are certainly the most popular one and create a great party atmosphere to finish the festival on a high note.

Same time next year then?

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