Tag Archives: liberation day

Guernsey’s Summer Festival Season 2017

Jupiter and Okwess at the Vale Earth Fair

Jupiter and Okwess on the Castle Stage at Vale Earth Fair

With the autumnal weather setting in and music events moving back into the island’s indoor venues, I think its safe to say as we move into October that Guernsey’s ever-growing summer festival season has come to an end.

As with every year it seems more and more events are labelling themselves as festivals or have that feeling of big, outdoor, events that typifies the British and European style of music festival; from the long running likes of the Vale Earth Fair to the House On Herm events or the food and drink ‘festivals’ that often feature live musical entertainment.

This year’s festival season began, as it is prone to, with Liberation Day on 9th May.

The Recks

The Recks

While the Vale Earth Fair were part of the now customary street party in St Andrews, the ‘official’ side of the celebrations in St Peter Port came in the form of LibRock 2017 on the Albert Pier.

Like last year this event showcased not just big names like The Devotees, The Recks and Clameur De Haro, but also gave a chance to some of the island’s younger bands to appear in front of a bigger crowd, namely Unclassified and Problematic.

Read my review of LibRock

The Guernsey Literary Festival was next on the list and that featured a night of live music and poetry at The Fermain Tavern before Guernsey Arts Commission‘s Arts Sunday took over the St Peter Port Seafront.

Tantale on the BBC Introducing Guernsey stage


As it has every year Arts Sunday featured about as much live music as it was possible to fit in from the young performers of The School of Popular Music and the Thirst Music School, to a selection of established performers staged by The Vault, to the BBC Introducing Guernsey Stage that was curated to showcase some of the artists featured and championed by BBC Introducing in the islands including Blue Mountains, Buff Hudd, The Recks, Tantale and Thee Jenerators.

Read my review of BBC Introducing Guernsey at Arts Sunday

The first of the big, fully fledged music festivals of the year came at the end of June with the 13th happening of the Chaos Weekend (generally these days shortened to simply, Chaos).

Heave at Chaos 13


After a few up and down years this year’s felt very much back to its past prime with a few visiting headliners such as Graveyard Johnnys and Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove, sharing the stage with the best rock bands Guernsey has to offer like Heave, Static Alice and SugarSlam, while The Peace Tent showcased everything from New Zealand folk duo Great North to the doom rock of Brunt to Flexagon‘s brand of psytrance.

Read my review of Chaos Voodoo 13

While I skipped this year’s Sark Folk Festival in favour of the British Summer Time event in Hyde Park featuring Green Day, Rancid, The Living End and more, the big live music events continued throughout July with the Sound Guernsey School’s Out Party, the School Of Popular Music Summer Showcase and a Vale Earth Fair Fundraiser before the main event itself.

Honest Crooks at the Vale Earth Fair

Honest Crooks

This year the Vale Earth Fair was marking 41 years and did so with one of the most stacked line ups in some time. The main stage was headlined by Chali 2Na & Krafty Kuts, Jupiter & Okwess and Jah Wobble & The Invaders of the Heart with the local side represented by The Recks, Robert J. Hunter, SugarSlam and more. Meanwhile outside the Vale Castel The Honest Crooks headlined with Lifejacket, Near Bliss and more.

Read my review of the Vale Earth Fair

In past years the festival season has really come to an end with the Vale Earth Fair but last year and this its extended well into September, not only is there Smaashfest but the Sark Roots Festival has quickly grown into something that feels like an established event.

The Surfin' Birds

The Surfin’ Birds

This year the event grew from last year’s first to feature a mix of bands from Guernsey and Jersey along with visiting acts from the UK and even New Zealand highlighted by Buffalo Huddleston, The Honest Crooks and The Surfin’ Birds.

Read my review of Sark Roots Festival

With plenty more going on besides, from The Rocquaine Regatta to the North Show and more, its fair to say summer in the islands is about as packed as it can be with events with a strong musical presence that serve to highlight quite how spoilt we are for new music in the islands.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LibRock 2017 – Albert Pier, St Peter Port – 09/05/17

The Recks

The Recks

Once again live music was at the core of the Liberation Day celebrations for 2017.

As well as events all over the island the ‘official’ part came with Centre Stage Guernsey’s LibRock 2017 on the Albert Pier on the St Peter Port seafront with music from The Devotees, The Recks, Clameur De Haro, The Silverados, Problematic and Unclassified.

My review of the show was published in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 13th May, you can read it below with an extended version underneath that, and you can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Liberation Day press cutting 13/05/17

Full Review

The Devotees

The Devotees

Liberation Day has changed.

I remember a day of the St. Peter Port seafront being packed with people, plenty for everyone to do (yes including the controversial ‘fun’ fair) and a real atmosphere and feeling that ‘everyone was here’.

As I made my way along the seafront from North Beach this year though this was not the case. All there seemed to be as an ‘attraction’ were a series of stalls selling locally made gifts and novelties, most of which you can see any given Sunday in the same place over the summer.



Thankfully though something else existed behind this celebration of arts and crafts mediocrity – on the arm of the Albert Pier there was the chance of something genuinely celebratory…

As with last year Centre Stage kicked off their LibRock event with a pair of younger bands.

Unclassified were making their first foray into the world of big public performances and, with their harmonies and varied instrumentation gained the attention of those gathering on the pier.

Though it seemed a little masked by nerves, singer Louise Madden had a good sense of stage presence that grew as the set went on ending on a high point medley of songs including Blondie’s Call Me and Queen’s We Will Rock You.



Still young but more experienced, Problematic continue to come on in leaps and bounds and demonstrated that again.

Frontman and bass player Harvey Falla showed a nice streak of presence and performance which was excellently counterpointed by guitarist Harvey Page looking aloof and cool behind his shades, in just the way a teen rock ‘n’ roller should.

With original songs standing up along side covers of the likes of Slaves and Royal Blood the trio made a big sound with some great raucous moments and hints of real power.

The rock n roll continued, in a slightly different vein, with The Silverados slick, fun, rockabilly-pop.

Monty McMonagle of The Silverados

Monty of The Silverados

While they took a couple of songs to warm up (both literally and figuratively I imagine given the north-east wind) they were soon rolling along well and started to get the first few memebers of the crowd dancing.

Their best moments came with excellently reworked versions of Eurythmics Sweet Dreams and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars before climaxing with The Stray Cats Rumble In Brighton which always suits a sunny seaside show (though I didn’t see any actual rumbling tonight) and as ever guitarist Monty McMonagle’s was a twang-tastic highlight.

With the beer tent finally open and the crowd starting to ‘warm up’ a little, Clameur De Haro brought their eccentric brand of hillbilly rock to the stage.

It didn’t take long for the growing crowd to start filling the space in front of the stage and for more to get dancing, with many singing along not only to the classic rock covers from the likes of Queen, Black Sabbath and Van Halen, but the band’s own songs too which they seem to have custom-built for a fun and rowdy singalong.

Bob and Rich Klein of Clameur De Haro

Bob and Rich of Clameur De Haro

Clameur De Haro are perfect for a day like this and, in their own slightly ramshackle way, provided one of the two highlight sets.

Since their return at the end of last year The Recks had struggled somewhat to rediscover what I can only describe as their ‘mojo’ but tonight, following an outing at the Reasons festival in Jersey a couple of weekend’s ago, it was all back.

The five piece meandered their way through their set of typically ‘schizophrenic psychedelic’ sounds that spanned everything from indie rock to latin rhythms.

Lovers In The Night started it out and got the audience dancing and singing and that only grew more as they played through both well-known songs like recent single Low Life and In The Garden and brand new songs She Ain’t No Revelator and Parisian Stupor.

Richey Powers of The Recks

Richey Powers of The Recks

The new songs managed to catch the imagination right away with Parisian Stupor bringing those latin rhythms to the fore in a way that at once sounded like one of guitarist/banjo player Gregory Harrison’s solo songs and a Recks song rolled into one in the best of ways.

While the cold weather may have removed a bit of the sweaty, visceral thrill The Recks have often brought to The Fermain Tavern, they reached a crescendo with Train Wreck, Valentine and Lights re-staking their claim as one of the best bands the islands have to offer.

After the traditional fireworks veteran favourites The Devotees hit the stage with a bang!

Chris Dean of The Devotees

Chris Dean of The Devotees

Unfortunately the bang was one of the stage amps blowing a fuse, but, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing from the crew (who did a great job all day), things were soon back up and running and Chris Dean and his band treated us to a rousing set of songs spanning from The Who to Pulp and back again.

For the crowd who stayed out braving the cold it may as well have been a festival as they jumped around and sang along with glee.

For the final salvo the band were joined on stage by Sons of the Desert’s brass section for some expanded tracks including a great take on The Who’s 5:15 from Quadrophenia, Chelsea Dagger and Parklife while The Jam’s Town Called Malice brought Liberation Day 2017 to an upbeat close that almost made you forget the disappointment of the rest of the official ‘celebrations’.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Live Music on Liberation Day – 09/05/16


Equilibrium on the Albert Pier stage

Every year on 9th May the island of Guernsey comes together to celebrate the island’s liberation from occupying Nazi forces in 1945.

A big part of these celebrations has become the live music that takes place around the island in pretty much any venue capable of hosting it. For the 2016 Liberation Day I headed into St Peter Port where the ‘official’ celebrations were taking place to experience 8 hours of non-stop live music.

My review was first published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 14th May – you can find an easier to read version below the cutting – and you can see my photos from on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here.

Liberation day music review scan - 14/05/16

Full review

It seems more than ever music was part of the Liberation Day celebrations in 2016 with gigs pretty much everywhere they could be all weekend, from a storming night of hard rock at The Fermain Tavern on Saturday to Market Rocks on Sunday to Vale Earth Fair’s annual all-dayer at The Last Post on Liberation Day itself (and countless gigs all over the rest of the island). With St Peter Port being the traditional focus of festivities plenty of music was on offer there too so I headed down, first to Castle Cornet, during the afternoon, then later to the Albert Pier.

The Crowman and The Fiddling PixieThe Crowman and The Fiddling Pixie

The Crowman and The Fiddling PixieThe Crowman and The Fiddling Pixie

With the music getting going at three o’clock the morning’s rain had begun to clear by the time The Crowman stepped onto the stage in the castle’s middle ward. Starting off a bit slow he seemed to pick up after breaking a string on his acoustic guitar, though this didn’t stop him playing two more songs on the same instrument without batting an eyelid before switching to the banjo.

As ever the performance was as lo-fi as they come and, while I’m not sure all in the steadily growing audience quite got it, The Crowman and the Fiddling Pixie got some feet tapping and heads nodding and got a good response to their songs. A particularly nice moment came with the addition of Lemmy and Philthy Animal Taylor to their song Mystery Train.

The music continued round on the Castle’s South Battery with a very well-played but a bit too quiet set from guitarist Chris Taylor before a slow and soulless run at a selection of ‘1940s style’ songs from vocal trio Les Blondettes and an mp3 player (or CD player, or similar). The phrase that sprung to mind was ‘it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’, I’ll let you work out quite how this performance fitted that statement.

Buffalo Huddleston

Buffalo Huddleston

Back on the middle ward I had a chance to catch a couple of songs from Buffalo Huddleston who, as ever, had drawn a big crowd and were sounding great, though the audience were a bit more sedate than I’m used to seeing for them – maybe something to do with the rigidly enforced alcohol free zone stretching as far as the castle for the day.

A bit of awkward booking meant I had to split my time between the two stages at the castle to also catch some of The Space Pirates of Rocquaine’s set. Being short Lisa Vidamour meant the performance was maybe a little more sedate, but none-the-less Mark Guppy, Tim Corbett and Jess Nash carried the vocals excellently while the whole band played a great set despite fighting a lack of on stage monitors.

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

As they played the sun even came out for the first time that day and, with their originals alongside a cracking cover of Billy Bragg’s You Woke Up My Neighbourhood, they brought a real sense of fun to the afternoon.

While the music was rounding up Castle Cornet it was just getting going on the Albert Pier with Equilibrium kicking off things off with a tightly delivered set of pop, rock and pop-punk songs.

This was my second time seeing the band (who it transpires are all only 14 years old!) and, while they were still a little on the polite side, they seemed much more confident and at home on stage, largely un-phased playing to a few hundred people.

The lead trio brought a great presence to the songs with some fantastic harmony work on Dancing On My Own, while the bass player had some impressive, if understated, moments and if they continue on like this and can add some more originals to their set they will worth keeping an eye on in years to come.

Matt and Marcas of The Secret Smiles

Matt and Marcas of The Secret Smiles

After a few years of seemingly being a bit on-again/off-again The Secret Smiles presented a united front here with a set of 60s/90s folk-indie hybrid sounds that perfectly complemented the now warm evening sun.

Frontman Matt Ward strikes the quintessential image for this type of thing, somewhere between Dylan and a Gallagher (or maybe a more Liverpool based equivalent) complete with 12-sting acoustic guitar and confident swagger.

As the set went on some more raucous elements started to come out, particularly on To The City, but throughout their were hints of The Stranglers, The Jam and others in amongst the lighter tones where the melodies led the way.

It all culminated in their final song that combined everything that had come before perfectly and had the feel of what could be a great single and went down very well with the now big crowd on the pier leading to an encore of New Order’s Blue Monday.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

With the crowd nicely warmed up and the earlier bad weather and power cut seemingly forgotten, Honest Crooks hit the stage to continue their now year and a bit long ascent. Their upbeat ska-punk was spot on for this event and James Radford really looked the part, and seemed far more confident, in shades on the big stage, much more so than at other venues.

With lots of top-notch original songs rubbing shoulders with covers from Sublime, Gentlemen’s Dub Club and more their music, that contains a non-self-consciously political streak along with an upbeat sense of fun, had people dancing and singing along throughout before an encore was demanded that came in the rather brave form of Sublime’s Date Rape! (thankfully I don’t think many were listening to the lyrics)

Following this performance I’d say Honest Crooks have taken the spot of Guernsey’s premier summer party band, and really they only just seem to be hitting their stride.

Element 6

Element 6

Following that was going to be a challenge for anyone and, while their set of pop-rock covers was pretty well delivered, Element 6 were facing quite a task.

Their performance was solid, as you’d expect from the now well experienced function band, but their funk-reggae take on The White Stripes Seven Nation Army was a misstep from which they never really recovered for me, though they did get a good number singing along to the hits.

As several thousand pounds were detonated in the sky above the castle, Sons of the Desert were setting up on stage and, as the fireworks finished, they launched into a great set of highly skank worthy ska. The nine-piece band captured the feel and style of the musical excellently with Colin Leach and Chris Pearson leading from the front and involving the energetic crowd from the off.

Sons of the Desert

Sons of the Desert

For a band like this it would be very easy to stick to the mainstream classics but, while all the big hits of Madness, The Specials, et al appear, room is made for more left field choices such as a track from the Tokyo Ska Orchestra and a ska’d up Nirvana cover that were great to hear and helped round off the day in excellently, partying style.

Not only was the selection of music on offer for Liberation Day 2016 impressive but also served to show the breadth of talent Guernsey has for this particular art, far more than our 60,000ish population really should have.

From upcoming youngsters to longstanding veterans there was something for all tastes and from all ages with a real sense that people can do whatever they want with their talents, which is a great message to take away from a day celebrating liberation.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lord Vapour, To The Woods, Lifejackt and Gregory Harrison – The Fermain Tavern – 07/05/16

Gregory Harrison

Gregory Harrison

With a three-day weekend for Liberation Day this year the sheer amount of live music going on over the three days was huge. My musical weekend began at The Fermain Tavern where three varied but heavy rock bands took to the stage across the course of evening, following a lower key acoustic opening.

That acoustic kick off came from Gregory Harrison accompanied by his double bass playing friend. The addition of the double bass to Harrison’s usual deep and soulful acoustic rock did bring a new musical depth, but, given their lack of rehearsal time before the show meant they stuck with the more down beat material from Greg’s repertoire. This somewhat compounded the lack of engagement from the mostly distant audience most of whom stayed chatting around the back of the venue.

None-the-less Greg and his bandmate played very well and with a brand new track rounding off the set did, eventually, up the energy in their music and in the room getting a highly positive reaction from those who cared to listen.



After a fairly long break from a Guernsey stage (they did play a show in Jersey a few months ago), Lifejacket were back tonight and their time away seemed to have increased the intensity pouring from all three members of the band.

Coupled with this heightened intensity of performance came a now familiar but at times slightly reworked set of songs that drew a crowd down in front of the stage from the off.

While band leader and frontman Andy Sauvage very much focused on the songs as Lifejacket played, bass player John McCarthy provided something of a visual focus, but I have to say my only real criticism of Lifejacket tonight, particularly in comparison to the later bands, is the lack of audience engagement and showmanship during the set.

If Lifejacket were a band to focus on the technical side of their music as they play, from the off it was clear (as if I didn’t know already) that To The Woods were very much the opposite – particularly in the case of their larger than life frontman, Robert ‘Bobby’ Battle.

Bobby of To The Woods

Bobby of To The Woods

Starting the set with a new song, and dotting a few more throughout, its clear they aren’t a band resting on their musical laurels as the new numbers all develop on their grungy formula, one even brought to mind the likes of Pearl Jam from rhythm section James Ogier (bass) and Dan Garnham (drums) as Battle raged over the top in his own inimitable style.

As the set went on mosh pits and attempts at stage diving came and went, while Fire even encouraged a bit of a shout-along (though Bobby isn’t quite Freddie Mercury yet, despite his poses). The crowd did begin to drift a bit towards the end hinting that possibly To The Woods do the opposite of Lifejacket in coming across as too much about the personality as they perform – though they certainly have the songs to back it up.

A special mention has to go to Dave Riley (formerly a bandmate of Bobby in Iron Cobra) for possibly the best/worst stage dive and crowd surf the Tav has seen to date.

After a bit of a protracted break, during which much of the audience drifted away, Lord Vapour launched into their set with a wall of fuzzy, phase-y noise that just about coalesced into a slightly too loose version of their sensitively titled song, Sugar Tits.

Lord Vapour

Lord Vapour

With Island Man they seemed to get back into a nice groove for a few songs before the lead breaks and jams grew and grew to the point where the structure of any songs fell apart.

As this happened, and midnight neared, they once again began to lose many of the audience and, while there were some great riffs and impressive moments from all three members that showed a great potential, it was hard not to see their stoner grooves as becoming unstructured noise with guitar posing from Henry Fears and Joe Le Long’s vocals descending into an uncontrolled wail.

With a few calling for an encore after a bit of a break Lord Vapour rounded their set with what may or may not have been a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady that closed the show off on an odd note given the very impressive performances that had come before.

You can see more of my photos of the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A summer of music in Guernsey 2015

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

As we head into autumn and all the outdoor music of the events seem to be rounding both nationally and in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, I thought I’d take the chance to look back over a packed summer of shows highlighted by the islands’ three big festivals, but with a lot more besides.


The first big outdoor event took place as spring turned into summer back in May, as Guernsey celebrated the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day. Along with the traditional cavalcade along the St Peter Port seafront and events in all the parishes, live music formed a cornerstone of the event with the Vale Earth Fair putting on their now annual show at The Last Post in St Andrews and the JT Rocks ‘mini-festival’ taking place on North Beach.

The Recks on Liberation Day 2015

The Recks

Being a show of two halves JT Rocks showcased some of the best talent the island has to offer in front of a big audience, with the first half of the event featuring some of the islands’ top original bands in Asylum Seekas, Buffalo Huddleston, The Recks and Static Alice.

The second half of the show, meanwhile, presented two of the top cover bands from Guernsey in Fade2Grey and King Rat & The Soul Cats.

Read more about JT Rocks on Liberation Day here


Moving into June and the annual Arts Sunday event featured a wealth of live music including the first BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage featuring Rentoclean, Buffalo Huddleston, Blue Mountains and Chloe Le Page.

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

June was rounded off by the first of the big festivals, Chaos. Taking place in a few fields up at Pleinmont and featuring a broad mix of local and visiting acts.

Though somewhat scaled back this year, Chaos offered something of a return to its old atmosphere alongside the music.

This included headliners Robert J. Hunter, Stormbringer and FlashMob with highlight sets across both the main stage and The Peace Tent from Buffalo Huddleston, To The Woods, The Electric Shakes and Lord Vapour.

Read more about Chaos XI here

The same weekend as Chaos Guernsey’s Robyn Sherwell took to the BBC Introducing Stage at the Glastonbury Festival representing BBC Introducing in Guernsey.


The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

A week after Chaos, July got going with the second big summer show, Sark Folk Festival.

Having sold out in minutes last November there was a huge sense of anticipation and the festival certainly didn’t disappoint with more international acts rubbing shoulders with bands from around the Channel Islands.

Highlights of the folk festival included Robert J. Hunter, The Recks, Buffalo Huddleston, Clameur De Haro and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine while The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers delivered an inspiring, semi-busking, set.

Read more about Sark Folk Festival here

As the month rolled on BLAKALASKA released their debut EP with a show at The Fermain Tavern featuring an astonishing performance by Falenizza Horsepower while the Vale Earth Fair headed down to Rocquaine for their annual stage at the Rocquaine Regatta with Toby Falla, The Space Pirates, Ukuladeez and French visitors Les Matous.


Richey Powers of The Recks

Richey Powers of The Recks

August started out with The Recks completing a mini-tour of the Channel Islands with back-to-back shows in Sark, Guernsey and Jersey as they warmed up for an appearance at Boomtown festival in the UK, following outings earlier in the summer at the Isle of Wight Festival and Jersey’s Folklore.

This was followed by a weekend of big gigs at The Vault with the return of Gay Army one night and Stone Em All launching their new EP with a show alongside Lord Vapour the next.

Guernsey’s annual traditional summer shows also featured a wealth of live music this year including The Recks and Buffalo Huddleston putting in great sets at The North Show.

For the 39th year the Vale Earth Fair took over Vale Castle for the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend to present what was one of the best of their festivals I’ve attended. The main stage was headlined by hip-hop legends Jungle Brothers while my highlights came in the form of Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons, Thee Jenerators, Lifejacket and Of Empires rounding off my 2015 festival season on a real high.

Read more about The Vale Earth Fair here

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnson

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons

With other festivals and big shows including Chateau Du Son, Dynamicz, Elevate and Smaashfest, amongst others, 2015 has possibly been the biggest summer yet for music in Guernsey with some big names appearing at all the events.

Once again it seems the summer really belonged to Buffalo Huddleston with storming performances in Sark and at Chaos, as well as at other shows including Jersey’s Folklore festival and packing local pubs like hasn’t been seen in a long time.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

JT Rocks on Liberation Day – North Beach, St Peter Port – 09/05/15

The Recks on Liberation Day 2015

The Recks

Saturday 9th May in Guernsey saw the island celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of the Occupation during the Second World War. Along with the traditional cavalcade along the seafront and all sorts of other things the evening was given over to live music on the JT Rocks stage organised by Centre Stage.

The first half of the evening was dedicated to original music from the islands with Asylum Seekas, Buffalo Huddleston, The Recks and Static Alice, before the fireworks and two of Guernsey’s most celebrated tribute style acts Fade2Grey and King Rat & The Soul Cats.

You can see my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page and my review, which was printed in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 16th May, is below:

Liberation Day 2015 review scan - 16:05:15

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Liberation Day At The Last Post – 09/05/14

The Space Pirates at The Last Post

The Space Pirates at The Last Post

For the last few years The Vale Earth Fair have taken on duties of organizing live music for the St Andrews Liberation Day celebrations around The Last Post. As I arrived, in time for the first act, it seemed things were going as they often do for shows like this with a couple of bands having pulled out at the last-minute and a few acoustic acts rustled up to fill the gap.

First on stage was RentOClean’s Dan Guilbert, starting off with a jam like series of short songs riffing on a reggae-ish blues sound with freestyled lyrics. As this began to wear a bit thin he warmed up and delivered a few songs all with something of a reggae flavour whether they be Bob Marley or Johnny Cash covers. While the dub-y vibe soon out stayed its welcome for me, Dan played well and got the ball rolling the day and he seemed to go down well with the small crowd.

Chloe Le Page

Chloe Le Page

Chloe Le Page was up next and was the first to suffer adverse effects from the day’s strong wind but, none-the-less, she continued to build on her reputation as a good young acoustic guitarist and singer. With a mix of originals and acoustic covers she began to up the ante of the music a bit and displayed a great confidence on stage and, though the audience was still small as most stayed out of the wind at the back of the pub, Chloe made an impression on those who stuck it out round the front.

The first act of the day to gain a reasonable size audience was Matt Ward with his selection of indie and new-folk covers and originals. As always Matt brought an authentic presence to the stage for the songs he sang which went down well with the growing audience and continued to up the ante towards the full bands to come even though his set was cut slightly short thanks to the effect on the blustery weather on Matt’s voice.

Buffalo Huddleston were the first full band of the day and their summer sounds helped fight off the effects of the cold wind and even got a few moving as the road outside The Last Post filled up. The full line up of the band has really helped them instantly get over to new crowds and particularly helped them cut through the outside sound today.

Buffalo Huddleston

Buffalo Huddleston

As ever the band were consummate performers with Jull-z, Mike Meinke and Becky Hamilton’s vocals all bringing something different to the sound that really does help to make something that spans genres like few others. Less of the mid-set selfies next time though, maybe?

Shows like this seem custom-made for The Space Pirates of Rocquaine as their acoustic folk rock has enough of a sense of knowing fun and some interesting references for the grown ups while youngsters just seem to like to dance to them.

This may not have been their tightest set thanks to the sore throat of Lisa Vidamour but it didn’t really seem to slow them down as they treated us to songs old and new and rounded things off with a rendition of their take on Sarnia Cherie which has never been more apt than on Liberation Day.

Edith's Head

Edith’s Head

Edith’s Head made a rare appearance as the day continued and brought the dancier end of their sound to the day that got many, especially of the younger part of the crowd, dancing in the street. As ever each member of the band displayed some excellent musicianship with Colin Falla and Brett Stewart standing out in getting the dancing sounds going and Sue Mahy’s vocals completing the sound in their uniquely soulful way.

The music outside was rounded off by Stalk The Lantern (who I won’t review as it would be hard for me to be impartial) and things then headed inside The Last Post as the main road reopened and Static Alice commenced the music there.

Static Alice

Static Alice

Much like last weekend at the Chaos Star Wars Day show they mixed covers of the likes of The Sweet and AC/DC with original alt-rock songs and delivered them all with a strong confidence and presence that soon had people dancing and really got the evening part of the Liberation party going very well, even if the lounge bar of The Last Post isn’t really ideally suited.

Unfortunately it was after Static Alice that I had to head off so I missed RentOClean and Thee Jenerators but I can only imagine the party continued in full swing as things didn’t look likely to slow down any time soon as I headed out into the evening.

You can see more of my photos from the day on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Liberation Day at The Last Post

Buffalo HuddlestoneFor Liberation Day this year I decided to head out of town, where the ‘official’ celebrations take place, and go up to The Last Post in St Andrew’s where the parish and pub had organised a comparatively relaxed street party with the Vale Earth Fair Collective providing a selection of live music.

The afternoon was predominantly made up of solo acoustic acts and Matt Ward set the scene for this with his selection of originals and covers of indie and alt-folk classics. While there were only a few there early for Matt he seemed to go down well as people began to arrive at the pub which was basking in sun, despite strong winds which didn’t yet seem to be dampening any spirits.

The Doomsday ProjectThe Doomsday Project were up next and, while they may sound like they should be playing something heavy, the young four-piece played a great bunch of pop-punk covers alongside a few originals. I don’t want to come off as patronising, but I’m probably going to, as, for their age and experience the band played a solid set with frontman Rusty clearly having something of the showman to him that could help see the band develop into ones worth watching over the next couple of years. Today they played to their crowd of friends and family and so went down well, but many others also commented that they are looking forward to seeing this young band grow.

Jack McGahyWith almost a year of solid gigging under his belt now Jack McGahy took to the stage this afternoon with a strong confidence that made for an entertaining set. Jack’s easy manner on stage, combined with some great songs, held the attention of many milling around the closed road outside The Last Post as he variously made us smile and laugh and appreciate his playing and songwriting.

Buffalo Huddlstone, aka Mike Meinke with Sarah Van Vlymen and Becky Hamilton, were up next and, despite a couple of sound issues, played one of their regular very good sets. Having played so often recently its hard to find anything new to say as this act put in great performances time and again and, once again, this was the case with the summer-y sound keeping the feeling of the cold wind at bay.

The always eccentric Crowman was up next, aided by his fiddling Pixie, Emma, and a mini-Crow on harmonica this afternoon, and as ever his set was delivered with his usual passion and unique invention. His set of psychobilly inflected garage-folk seemed to catch the attention and imagination of some experiencing him for the first time, while most who’d seen him before are already firm fans and, despite a few sound issues out front, his set went down well.

UkuladeezMy afternoon rounded off with the Ukuladeez and, while I’d be lying if I said I was a fan of this band, their summer-y, jangly, hipster-folk was a great sound for a sunny afternoon and many, especially the youngsters, enjoyed their set and danced along.

Above all though, all afternoon up in St Andrew’s had something of the relaxed feeling of simply having a good time in the sun that the rose-tinted spectacles of memory tell me is just what Liberation Day should be and, while I was defeated by the strong winds and headed home early, I think this out of town parish has found a great recipe for celebrating this special day for our island.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the afternoon on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The John Wesley Stone on Liberation Day

If you’ve read my previous entry about Liberation Day 2012 you’ll have seen that one of my highlights of the day was the atmosphere and goings on at The Last Post in St Andrews.

Part of that involved some live country-skiffle type sounds from The John Wesley Stone.

Despite being down a drummer the band played a set which got feet tapping in the lat afternoon and evening despite the overcast skies and drizzle most seemed content relaxing in the pubs closed car park and enjoying their day off to mark Guernsey’s liberation.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Liberation Day 2012 – some rambling thoughts

Liberation Day 2010 (but it looks similar to 2012)

Why do we still mark this day after 67 years, and do we celebrate it in the best way?

So first off, for those reading this not from Guernsey, Liberation Day on our island (and in Jersey and Sark, though theirs is a day later) celebrates and commemorates the end of five years of occupation during the Second World War as the islands were the only part of the British Isles to be invaded and controlled by Nazi forces.

So, every year in Guernsey we have a public holiday on May 9th and the seafront in St Peter Port is closed for a number of both, supposedly, celebratory and commemorative happenings, but, in recent years, there has been a shift in these events and they seem to have left many, myself included, feeling disconnected from the actual meaning of the day.

I’ll come to those later, but firstly why do we still mark this day and should we?

I think yes, we certainly should still mark this day and while the living memory of the occupation years may be slipping away, it is still important for both the identity of the island and for the maintenance of our democratic culture.

It is in the memory of remembrance of the occupation that I think there is an issue with how the day is marked.

While there is a church service and military and civil official parade in the morning on the day, and this is important to mark the respect for those who lost their lives fighting for our current freedoms (both in the Second World War and since), this event fails to engage many on the island, myself included and therefore doesn’t transmit the meaning of the day.

Aside from this the St Peter Port seafront is taken over for the afternoon and evening with some entertainment and many stands representing local organisations and charities and seemingly an over abundance of places to buy food.

While this is fine, and I think local charities should be promoted where ever possible, there was nothing to engage one with the meaning of the day and it just felt like someone had decided to put some stuff out in the open where it normally isn’t and include a few old-school fair ground rides for the kids and a ‘1940’s style’ band for the older folks.

So I have to admit I didn’t spend long in town and the highlight of my time in town was bumping into people I’d not seen in a while and having a chance to hang with friends in a relaxed environment.

Live music on Liberation Day 2010

It may be I was less cynical back then, but, up until 2005 (the 60th anniversary of the liberation) I remember the day in town being a much more celebratory and free affair, and not just because people could drink a lot where ever they wanted and there was a big fun fair on the North Beach.

My memory is that there was genuinely something for everyone going on in Town and it was the place to be on the day whether it was for a few hours in the afternoon with the family or staying in all day for a huge amount of live entertainment, from parades to live music and just having a relaxed good time.

Away from St Peter Port though, things still seem to have a bit more of a genuine spirit to them.

I headed up to The Last Post in St Andrew’s where the main road had been closed allowing children the freedom to play in the street and people to mill around and chat in a relaxed way without the worry of being run over, and the pub car park had live music for all to enjoy for free from local band The John Wesley Stone, whose country-skiffle sounds seemed to be going down well despite the over cast skies and occasional rain.

I think it is this genuine-ness which has been lost from the ‘official’ events in St Peter Port with them feeling distant and trying to appeal to everyone and reaching few in a meaningful way, while the simpler and more small scale events such as those in St Andrews or on The Bridge make a much more meaningful connection of celebrating our freedom.

The John Wesley Stone on Liberation Day 2012

Even the music event in the evening in St Peter Port comes across as forced these days and only there because it is what people expect, while in years past it has seemed genuinely celebratory and interesting (though I want to make it clear I don’t want this to discredit the musicians who are all talented and make some great music).

Moving forward, as we head for the 70th anniversary of our liberation, I think it is still important that the day is marked, but it seems to me a major overhaul is required of the ‘official’ end of the celebration to include a genuine sense of the island’s identity if the day is to mean anything for generations to come.

I also hope the real meaning of the day, that it is to celebrate the freedom we have from oppression (though this is still an ongoing battle in other ways), is still taught to the island’s youngsters as if we forget what was fought against we run the risk of repeating it – after all, if we can’t learn lessons from history then we are doomed as a race.

Hmm, that ending is a bit gloomy… all that said, I had a good day, but it was because I got to spend time with some great people, free in a society that accepts us for who we are, and listen to some great music, not because of any of the ‘official’ things going on.

Take a look at some videos and photos from The John Wesley Stone’s performance.

Note: Sorry for the slightly outdated photos, pics from Liberation Day 2010 taken by me but property of BBC Guernsey.

Tagged , , , , , ,