Feat. Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5, Gasp, Bombskare, Soom T, Lea Lea, Ciaran Mac & OB, Albaroma, The Twistettes, Sambayabamba, The Tinderbox Orchestra and more
FOREWORD BY WILL JOHNSTONE ~
Well… that’s me just got back from my important work with NASA. Now hurtling back to the grim incarcerating confines of the daily grind with a head full of eidetic memories of what was, and possibly – will always be – the best 3 days of my life. I don’t know how it could ever be possible to beat the sheer volume of exceptionally gifted musicians and DJs or indeed the epic comradery of all in attendance… We made a lot of new friends over the whole festival. My hat is well and truly off to the event organizers and the army of volunteers and staff, to the acts of course and all the wonderfully extrovert individuals who gave us a whole host of experimental stage shows and impromptu performances around the estate. For now though, I am in recovery and working my way into financial stability again after draining my resources on drink, but… in the words of Mr Schwarzenegger – I’ll be back…
I’m back – To every single one of you crazy-assed-campin-hippie-nut-bar-jakie-mess-jammers-clowns-n-looney-tunes in facepaint and costumes that graced the good gardens of Kelburn with us, I think I love you!! Yeah… all of you! We had quite possibly THEE greatest experience in living memory and met some seriously awesome people some of whom may well have changed aspects of my own perceptions of life forever and there were quite a few I will definitely speak to about future collaborations! We rocked the shit out of Kelburn for 3 days and nights, we danced, skanked, pogo’d, drank, smoked, fell, got up, thought I was gonna spew… didnt… kept drinking, ate a sausage, almost sharted ma frillies, took frillies off, made a flag, stopped to shout ‘Spence’ for a bit, drank, smoked, smoked some more, ‘na yer no gettin it back’, drank, drunk and drinker than drunk on almost every variety of cider in the known universe, shouted ‘Alan’ for a bit… people helped… dunno who Alan is but 99% of those in attendance at the Garden Party this year had a bloody good go at helping us look for him… lol… it was a very strange thing to witness, shouting Alan a bit only to have a hoard of mad folk start shouting across the campsite and car parks… (ps – if your name’s Alan and we fried your head by getting approximately 1500 people to shout Alan in the car park, we apologize profusely) …
…Then what did we do after that? eh… AYE, drank… a lot… and on the Sunday morning we contemplated the consumption of some rather warm three day old hot dogs swimming in a jar of partly congealed brine before realizing its probably actually better for one’s health to eat your own faecal matter than to relish in such abjectly obtuse foulness… as a floppy camel dangler dripping with the contents of what can only be described as a watery vial of man love that had been growing several strains of potentially life threatening bacteria in a tent hot enough to get you looking like James Brown in a duffel jacket hanging out in a sauna after a curry! One saving grace here for all involved is that Kelburn has an international array of top class food stalls with really reasonable prices and nice portions. There is truly excellent diversity for incredible food from all around the world. I wondered if it would be possible to try them all with only 3 days but I’d have gotten stuck in a ditch somewhere… and probably had to shout Alan to come get me… Our German Bratwursts on the Saturday though were fantastic.
I was seriously impressed with literally everything from start to finish across the board. The amount of mini gigs scattered throughout the venue and surrounding Castle grounds is hard to take in at first but you can just wander around under the stars or in the belting sunshine and fall into one tent and find one of the best rap artists in the country then into another with a string quartet playing classical renditions of rock tunes. There are also jam sessions that just seem to spring up everywhere just because of the sheer weight in numbers of musicians with DJs playing random mixtures of progressive, dub step, punk and grunge, blues, swing jazz, folk and polka and there are loads of experimental stage shows with comedians, kids shows, clowns, fire dancers, an actual circus this year and more secrets than the saucerful that Pink Floyd gave us in the 60’s. It is completely insane to see such levels of awe inspiring artistry in such abundant supply. Kelburn is a unique festival that airs undeniably the greatest line up of raw talent from the unsigned scene in Scotland whilst bringing international interest and unendingly immense collaborations between some many of the acts. To anyone who has never been, you must come and experience The Garden Party at least once before you die or all else is lost and you lose out on an inordinately colossal collective of creative arts enthusiasts and live performance aficionados. It really should be on the bucket list of everyone who has the ability to visit. Do it! Do it now! Get to the chopper!!
Kelburn is a communal gathering of integrated cultures in a celebration of worldwide music and art without boundaries. Ska, Punk to Reggae, Rap to Polka, poetry recitals to jam sessions, arts and crafts stalls, an assault course, Llama’s (note to Jay… although I couldn’t find one with a cape, I did manage to find one that looked a tad perplexed when I offered it a cape… which was nice, unfortunately though, that Llama is no longer available and under psychiatric evaluation in a local Llama mental health clinic) There are scenic walks in every direction around the forests and glen in the Kelburn estate with loads of things to discover if you’re adventurous from waterfalls and rock pools deep enough to dive to the infamous ‘Secret Forest Project’ to Samba drum workshops and of course the Kelburn Castle itself and surrounding walled gardens in a utopian, idyllic picturesque setting that according to David Spence “Makes you feel like you are on holiday abroad”. It’s hard to believe such awesomeness is right on our doorstep and to see so many of our good friends involved with the scene here such as the rhythmic genius of Damien Fraser famed for his work with SambaYaBamba who were absolutely incredible and whether you were performing, working, volunteering or just down to show some support or have an adventure, get smashed, or bring your kids to their first festival… You helped to create the most epic event because the whole experience involved your presence there. Without you, it just wouldn’t be the same. I feel a sense of replenishment and solidification of the infrastructure of the local music scene here in Central Scotland with massively inspiring news on the horizon after being able to personally meet and hang out with such a fine selection of artists and to witness such strong support from what must have easily been a capacity crowd.
I still can’t believe it actually happened. Secret hang outs, little impromptu gigs in the woods and glens and stumbling across random hippie commune tents at 6am where you have to crawl through the mouth of a dragon and into what felt like one of those 4th-of-July-cheesey-80’s-rock-montage-movie-scenes starring Charlie Sheen and that other guy at a party in an American troop tent back in Nam but with the only violence being me, Chris and Spence falling over each other in a Chad Hogan-esque beer-filling session while battering on about ‘spring break!’… and Alan… except in this tent it wasn’t 80s cheesy montage rock tunes by Sammy Hagar, the music was seriously shit-hot from the DJs in there. The people we met, fell over – and got tangled up in string with – were really cool people. I guess it was kind of like being in someone else’s trip and just observing their calamitous hallucinations while clowns, pirates and a guy dressed like a banana fall in and out of focus as the rabbit at the controls of their head flees the scene like a wee pleb that’s just panned in a window leaving you standing there scratching your head wondering if it actually happened or not.
It really is just the most amazing and totally bizarre festival experience. I can’t think of any other that would even compare in any way – shape or form. With the unique delights of the voluminously vast spectral scape – in all its majestic glory – that makes up the empiric stature of The Kelburn Garden Party you will actually be enchanted by its magnetism so wildly you may well feel that it’s difficult leaving it behind. You need to be there next year. I highly recommend it and I personally advise you to get your tickets booked in early as it will most definitely sell out again. I will also be expressing my personal highlights of the festival in a short series of collaborative live review articles with Grime-Time Gonzo Radio Presenter and New Hellfire Club Journalistic Enigma… Chris Herron…
To everyone who worked, volunteered and helped out this weekend and made our time at Kelburn such an epic experience, and to all those people behind the scenes who dealt with an army of festival revellers with consummate professionalism from start to finish, smiling the whole time despite dealing with a lot of high pressure situations (such a total bar overload!) lol. I just want to say you people deserve a medal and a whole lot of praise for a monumental job well done! There is though, one person above all else who deserves massive appraisal, one person who is of course… the man with the plan that is responsible for this immenseness – David Boyle – You sir are a living legend with the mannerisms and patience of a saint and what you have created here has inspired thousands and given rise to a genuine opportunity for the local music scene to thrive in a location that is truly second to none… Much love and respect to all of you.
CHRIS HERRON ~
The weird thing for me is, through the years, Kelburn has shared three very different incarnations in my life. As a child I was peripatetic, but despite my itinerancy I managed to spend large chunks of my childhood living at Keppenburn Avenue in Fairlie, this is the street right next to Kelburn Country Centre, and therefore, these days, the festival. At that age, about eight, Kelburn was very accessible to me, living right next door, and it was like a mystical enchanted world, a parallel dimension situated just behind the trees that lined the back of our row of houses. I’d spend regular weekends up there, climbing trees, stealing golf balls from the course, getting chased by highland coos, jumping in soft-play pits, eating ice-cream, assault courses, forts, play parks, petting zoos, forests, rivers, gorge-jumping, waterfalls not to mention the enchanted Secret Forest with its witch’s cottages, Chinese towers, logcutter’s cabin, crocodile swamps, troll bridges, giant’s dinner table etc. etc. – as you can imagine, a veritable phantasmagoria of stuff for an eight year old to while away the summers, sharpening his imagination, occupying his mind, and living out dreams. It left some rare happy childhood memories ingrained in my mind.
Flash-forward fourteen years, six years ago, 24 years old, before I was a music journalist and a radio DJ, I spent ten years slaving over the hot stove of the arduous catering industry, working in busy, high-octane restaurants, I had just moved back from a year in Spain and I was living in West Kilbride, so I secured a job at Kelburn Country Centre cheffing. It was nice work compared to the kind of cheffing I was used to, lackadaisical summer days catering for ambling tourists passing through the centre, cooking whatever took my fancy that day, I really enjoyed my job, it was one of the best chef jobs I ever had. I was there, then, when the genius Dave Boyle started brewing his idea for a festival on the grounds…
…So it was, the last days I was due to spend working at Kelburn (before I moved to a new job at Largs Marina) were spent cooking for the patrons of the first ever Kelburn Garden Party. Me and another chef took it in turns to spend shifts cooking large pots of curry, chilli, soup etc. for the heterogeneous mix of people that attended that first festival, crusties, hippies, punks, rude boys, ravers and rockers, you name it… When it was the other chef’s shift I was free to roam and enjoy the delights of the festival. Even back then, you could tell something special was aborning, you could almost feel it growing beneath the grass at your feet…
I attended most of the Kelburn events after that, and it just kept gratifying, and galvanizing, and growing, into a glorious gathering of gregarious Garden-goers. And then at twenty-eight I got my first journalism position, with New Hellfire Club Glasgow, and before you know it we’re going in on press passes! To go from a child playing in Kelburn, to an employee working at Kelburn, to a patron experiencing Kelburn to a journalist covering Kelburn, has been a wonderful personal journey for me. I never thought I’d be able to recreate that enchanted magic of Kelburn through the eyes of my eight year old self, but I was wrong, because the musical experiences I witness in my twenties, whether under the influence or not, at a Garden Party event are even more magical than my eight year old version could ever believe. This year, the event peaked, I’ve been to about 80% of them and personally this was my best one yet! It changed me, it was one of the best weekends of my life, and god knows I’ve had a few…so what is it exactly that makes Kelburn such an incredible experience? Well I’ll do my best to explain, but I’d like to lead in with a coined passage from the godfather of Gonzo Hunter S Thompson, which is appropriate, and the words of which kept repeating through my head the whole spectacular weekend;
“Strange memories on this night at the Kelburn Garden Party, five weeks later, Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. The Garden Party is a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of Time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
…History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. At Kelburn Garden Party there is madness in any direction, at any hour. If not at the Viewpoint, then at the Square Stage or down the meandering paths to the Pyramid or the Tall Trees or The Walled Garden. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
…And that, I think, is the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful musical wave. . . .” ~ HST.
Thompson’s words, that I’ve bastardised there, describe nicely the kind of dream-state you leave Kelburn in once it’s over. I counted up the acts on my programme guide from the gig, and approximately 135 DJs and bands played over two and a half days, that’s just the ones that are listed, random live performances sprout up like magic mushrooms left right and centre, as will happen when this volume of musically-minded talents are thrust together and conglomerated into one, ebbing, writhing, joyful mass. The ‘Making Things Happen’ and ‘Roberta Banana’s Chan Bang’ tents for example, at the Dandy Lion Café, are pools of pulchritudinous potential that host performances from 8pm onwards on the Saturday and Sunday, and it’s for anyone that wants to get up and play, all musicians welcome. I came across the MTH tent, staggering back from the circus, when the music emanating stopped me in my stumbling steps, it was Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5…
COLONEL MUSTARD & THE DIJON 5
I ended up spending the next few hours at this tent, dancing and drinking deliriously, as superlative act followed superlative act. Colonel Mustard are homegrown Scottish reggae musicians who never fail to galvanize a crowd, a shining moment was hearing the crowd chanting ‘junky breakfast, junky breakfast’ over and over along to the song of the same name, that song, which is a heroin addict’s comedy lament, is an earworm, and had us chanting junky breakfast for the rest of the night til’ the small hours. Piratey, wonderfully shambolic, raw talent with guitars, horns and drums dishing out catchy riffs and hooky chorus lines like they were E at the Hacienda! The frontman has some very funny onstage banter to keep you involved, constantly inviting the crowd’s participation. And the lyrics are cheeky and enough to make a gangsta rapper blush. If you don’t know them, trust me, they’re mustard, go check them out at one of their many live gigs… https://www.facebook.com/colonelmustardandthedijon5?fref=ts
I’m proud to count Gasp (or Brian) as an acquaintance, I’ve been to a few of his gigs, reviewed him, spent time at various Kelburns with him, and we’ve shared a bottle of gin or two on trains back to Glasgow. But most of all, I am a huge fan of his music, I tracked him down after hearing ‘Girl Called Glasgow’ which is easily my personal top track of 2014 thus far (though it wasn’t released this year, I just mean that I discovered it this year), if you don’t know it, listen to it on Youtube immediately https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqU0grPz8Z8 He played a surprise performance at the Make Things Happen tent with us in attendance and we went wild, especially when he played aforementioned hit song. Gasp is one of the top rappers of the Glasgow, nay, Scottish scene, with an ability to weave innuendos and metaphors that would make Oscar Wilde jealous, his flow is untouchable and coruscates with captivating line after captivating line. http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/2014/03/gasp-mog-livealbum-review-with-shadow.html if you’re a fan of hip-hop you have to get into Gasp!
Another astonishing bombshell in that tent was when a punk band took to the stage. I was surprised because Kelburn has all sorts of diversity in its musicscape, folk, Balkan, samba, hip-hop, Celtic, reggae, ska, acoustic, drum n’ bass, dubstep, funk, jazz, you fuckin’ name it! But personally I haven’t seen any rock music at the events, so imagine my shock when a punk band took to the stage…not just any punk band, a female punk band, not just any female punk band, a two piece female punk band, not just any
two piece female punk band, a fuckin’ rocking two piece female punk band!! The Twistettes https://www.facebook.com/thetwistettes were a breath of fresh air in the form of proper punk rock, like a psychedelically twisted version of The Breeders meets The Epoxies, the drums were thumping and thundering, and the front(wo)man’s vocals married impeccably with that grinding, bassy grungy undertone coming out of the guitar, ONE guitar, a bass guitar! ‘On The Radio’ was a hit with me, surfy, grimy, bubble-gum-punk, chewing out the rhythms and gobbing them at the delighted audience. The Twistettes were a fucking hit with me and I pogo’d til’ I dodo’d…that make sense? No…let’s move on then…
CIARAN MAC & O’B
Ciaran Mac and O’B were an unusual duo to behold, two lads, one playing acoustic guitar and rapping and the other rapping too. Can’t be easy to strum chords while rapping a not un-complicated flow of rhymes! But they did it, with witty humorous lyrics, catchy beat with the six string, and Ciaran Mac especially, having some serious skills on the mic, there’s more syllables in his rap than in your whole goddamm record collection! All right, slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean. There was something warm and endearing about their session too that stuck in my memory, I think it was the self-effacing way they composed themselves, seated, with an acoustic, as if round a campfire, and I can’t wait to see them again…
That was all on the Sunday, let’s backtrack; the Friday was bit of a write off, in that I sagely bought a weekend’s worth of booze down with me, in the vain hope that it would last me the weekend and I wouldn’t have to leave the premises for a booze-run. This was foolishly naive, I drank my weekend’s worth of booze in the three hours waiting for our press passes and in the several hours that followed, two bottles of bourbon, two bottles of red wine, and four two litre bottles of Strongbow, not to mention the pints bought at the bar (Kelburn’s exclusive cider is the nicest cider I’ve ever tasted anywhere, I think it’s brewed by gnomes!). For this reason the entire extent of my notes for the Friday is a big dirty muddy print, right there on the first page…
…One memory I do have of the Friday though, apart from all the hilarious falling over, is the inimitable AlbaRoma, who’s gypsy-punk, Balkan, folk, celtic rumblings will have you dancin’ like a maniac til’ you’ve sweated more pints than you’ve drank. Their music is a whirlwind of sound that will sweep you up in its vortex and spin you til’ it’s the world that’s spinning and not you. And then you fall over and vomit politely in your hat (because Kelburn is family friendly), but then they strike up another tune and that will lift you up and send you twirling off again like a spinning top, til’ you forget, and put your hat back on…damn! It’s moody, it’s fun, it’s politically charged at times, and above all it’s real, it’s damn real! AlbaRoma tour extensively, especially on the festival circuit, you must get out and see them, because if you have an ounce of decent musical taste in your entire body, you will love them!
On Saturday booze was scarce and was replaced with “medicinal supplies”, this allowed us more clarity to cover the bands and we took in quite a few as the oppressive heat beat down on us. As me and David Spence and Will Johnstone stumbled around the rocks of the gorges to cool down in the waterfalls, we received a call on the red mobile from our mate Damo, who informed us his band Sambayabamba were playing in ten minutes at the Monument Sessions, and we all know, with experience, SYB are not to be missed, ever! So we rushed across the river and up the valley at the other side to catch them do a cracking little session on a cliff edge by the monument (that sounds more dangerous than it was), right under the shadow of the fairytale-looking Kelburn Castle, adorned, as it is, in psychedelic graffiti, done by some artists in a community project from some years ago. I have looked upon that castle over the years in many a, shall we say, heightened state of vision and mind, and it is a beautiful structure to behold.
Sambayabamba I have reviewed a few times, http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/2014/06/a-whirlwind-tour-with-new-hellfire-club.html?view=classic and http://en.calameo.com/read/001382993d2f96b1d3c1d they are possibly the best samba band in Britain, or at least Scotland. You’d have to see them to appreciate just how an entire bateria of drums can explode in your ears and get you jumping up and down. Traditionally, they parade through the festival, collecting people as they go, so that by the time they reach their destination a whole army of festival-goers are trailing them, dancing and cheering. It’s an awe-inspiring sight, the train this year stretched halfway around the grounds of Kelburn, and then when everyone’s caught up, another marching samba band, Brass Aye?, comes drumming down the hill and they meet up at the Walled Garden, by the giant fallen tree, joined also by the Beastie Drummers and Tinderbox Orchestra where they have a battle-off, or bateria-off, everyone was going wild by this point. Bands like SYB, Brass Aye?, Tinderbox and Beastie Drummers, will excite, ignite, delight, and your mind’s wings will take flight as they regale you with their might, the might of a dozen drummers drumming, an orchestra serenading and a brass section blowing, quite a might, and quite a sight! It’s pretty hard to ignore, and it’s even harder not to move to, especially SYB who are infusing the traditional samba style with brass versions of Star Wars themes, hip-hop and everything from bangra to breakbeat! Their diversity seems to know no limits whilst always staying seeped in scintillating, syncopating Brazillian samba rhythms.
SYB are one of the most stimulating, stirring and sensational live experiences I’ve ever had, out of hundreds and hundreds of favourite live bands SYB remain firmly in my top ten! And they’re a samba band…which is weird…for me…I wouldn’t have thought even five years ago a samba band could hold such a coveted position on my extensive list of best live acts, but there you are, and if you saw them they’d be on yours too. The parade was on the Sunday, the Saturday was started off nicely with a wee Monument Session from maybe half of the band which we attended and everyone loved, wee kids were dancing around too, it was heart-warming, Kelburn is a child-friendly festival, babies and toddlers abound, at one point I was watching a DJ at the Viewpoint and a father was watching with his baby over his shoulder, the wee tyke caught my eye so I showed him how to rave, and lo and behold he started to copy me, waving his hands in the air, the father and everyone else was completely oblivious to this rare heart-touching moment for the Gonzo. I swear the whole sixty hours I was at Kelburn festival I must have danced for about twenty six of them, no exaggeration! I can’t help it, it’s too entrancing and enthralling, I am but a puppet to the rhythms and modifications of music, bound by only six strings to this world. I was crippled from dancing for days afterwards!
THE TINDERBOX ORCHESTRA
Another Kelburn favourite of mine is the Tinderbox Orchestra. Who we caught playing at the square stage – how to describe their sound…? Imagine…an alien spacecraft hovered down, deposited an orchestra in a beam of white light, then flew off at warp speed…the orchestra start to play, music from another planet greets your ears, that’s the Tinderbox Orchestra! From what I can gather from one of their members I accosted, they are an offshoot of a community project that brings arts and culture, especially in music, to the youth, allowing opportunities for talent to flourish. Their live set is colossal, climbing, soaring melodies that builds and builds and detonates in powerful outbursts of emotional and all-encompassing peaks and rushes. Tinderbox Orchestra’s sound is inspired, progressive and downright ground-breaking, they collaborate and develop their musical quest exponentially, they are on a mission to bring the most exploratory music around, and by God they’re doing it! The Tinderbox Orchestra are a must-see musical marvel, with the most noble of causes they continue to push the envelope of orchestral music into the stratosphere, from whence it seemingly came.
Bombskare played at the first Kelburn festival, when I was the chef, I’ve always been a huge fan of ska, even my son is named Rudy (Rude Boy). Amazed I was then, all those years ago, to be seeing a brilliant ska band playing live, in Fairlie of all places! That first time, I skanked my ass off for the first few songs, then I dehydrated, but as I went to leave the crowd and hit the bar, the frontman said through the mic ‘Hey, where are you going?’ ‘Who, me?’ ‘Yeah, come back here and show these people how to skank. Everybody copy this guy’. So that was it, the pressure was on, and I had to perform, skanking relentlessly for the rest of their set, which has a habit of getting very fast, so I literally nearly had a cardiac arrest by the time they finished up, but I did teach everyone how to skank, and skank they did! That was the first Kelburn, they played again this time on the Square Stage Saturday night, but there was no need to teach anyone to skank this time, because Kelburn is no longer just a gathering of locals in a field with a couple of makeshift stages, it’s a proper festival, full of people from all over the country, that already know how to skank and have been doing so their whole lives. Bombskare are good, traditional get-up-and-go ska music – Specials, Toasters, Madness, Skatalites, Bosstones, it’s all there. Ska music is the most fun you can have dancing to a live band and the legendary Bombskare are no exception!
There are so many different bands and artists at Kelburn, it’s impossible to go through them all in one article, nobody would ever read it – suffice to say, Kelburn is a melting pot of diverse creativities, cultures and characters, only at Kelburn can you be completely sober and still see a banana walk by eating a monkey, or have a giant pack of cigarettes come up to you and sell you some smokes, not to mention being randomly waylaid by passing squads of pirates, at one point I was smoking a joint and cupped it cos’ a police van drove by, but I quickly noticed all was not what it seemed, the police van was booming jungle music and semi-clad female police officers were raving on top of it, a drug person can be asked to handle almost any sort of trip, but this shit is wild.
At one point, late at night, Will, Spence and I stumbled ketamined through the mouth of a dragon where we happened upon a random rave, we spent most the night there, covered in string, and dancing in the belly of a dragon…this really happened! At another point, we were in the Saloon Bar (a Wild West themed bar in a fort) when this guy comes up with spoons and a wooden boombox and says ‘Mind if I play to you guys?’, ‘No, of course not, go for it’. He proceeded to sit down, and using said esoteric instruments, one hand doing the spoons, one hand keeping the beat on the box, played us a few songs, the weirdest thing however, was, seemingly by looking into our very souls, he started by playing a song from my all-time favourite band ever Pink Floyd, ‘Wish You Were Here’, as if that wasn’t enough, he followed it up with my mate, sitting next to me, Spence’s all-time favourite band ever, The Doors’ song, ‘Maggie McGill’, and he knew not what music we were into, in fact, I’m a mohawked punk, so no-one would ever guess my favourite band was Pink Floyd! These are the random and astonishing things that can happen to you in a cowboy bar at Kelburn Garden Party!
Another highlight for me, was when Spence, Will and I rolled and tumbled past the Viewpoint Stage about nine in the evening, in high spirits, and we happened upon an incredible tour de force radiating from the stage, it was Lea Lea. Her voice was the first thing you noticed, powerful, like Stevie Nicks, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Beyonce all rolled into one, sheer unadulterated power and energy. The music, a perfect blend of soul, electronic, reggae, dubstep, mixing with her vocals into a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster of a cocktail (i.e akin to having your head pleasantly smashed in with a brick wrapped in lemon). ‘Blew my mind’ is a phrase that is used all too often, myself included, and it would be a cliché understatement here to say that when she closed with a version of Led Zepellin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ it BLEW MY FUCKING BRAINS OUT! Seriously, the pink, blue and grey matter of my brains was sprawled across the verdant grass, I had an outer body experience, then when I came back I was pogoing fifteen feet into the air to Lea Lea’s astounding Led Zep cover, she nailed it magnificently, more so. Page and the lads would have been so proud to witness that. It will stay with me forever; in fact, she’s changed the way I hear one of my fave Zep songs forever! By the time she walked off the stage my jaw was at my feet, that was one of the most rockingest moments of my life, and as a patron of hundreds and hundreds of rock concerts, that’s saying something. I am anticipating the next time I catch Lea Lea live with great excitement and boundless joy.
Soom T & J Star
My last memory of Kelburn is the Sunday night; me and several friends were treated to what I consider to be one of the best, most banging, most beatific DJ sets I’ve ever had the great fortune to behold. It was Soom T meets J Star, mixing things together which you’d never imagine, from Madness, to Black Seeds, to DJ Vadim, even punk bands like The Slits! At one point they even mixed in my favourite, but relatively obscure, Beatles’ song ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, Beastie Boys ‘Intergalactic’ as well. The twists and turns were tactful, tantalising, triumphant, transcendent and thrilling! Everything they did shocked and delighted me, maybe it was the culmination of the entire weekend, but I was overwhelmed by the beautiful serenity of it all, the energy and buzz, the passion and jubilation, the rapture and euphoria, two hundred people worshipping one DJ! Everybody, and I mean everybody, was dancing, hard! When it finished, I could have cried at the loss, it was emotive and the crowd was very responsive. True happiness can be experienced in these situations, in fact it’s almost impossible not to achieve nirvana and ecstasy in this condition, the state of being that is, not the drug or the band.
And did I mention the food!? All sorts of exotic stalls set up, culinary delights with cuisine from all around the world, and even as a chef I can tell you, that bratwurst was the best sausage I ever ate in my life! Reasonably priced and heap-big portions to line the stomach of any average twenty four hour party person, fuel for the fun! You can even do some clothes shopping, Spence and I got ourselves two lovely materially exotic Nepalese shirts, two for fourteen quid, a bargain! From food, to music, to people, to organization, the whole thing, I felt, was an gargantuan success, more so than ever before – my gratitude to all the promoters, musicians, volunteers, workers and everyone in attendance, for coming together in one flash of light, illuminating our lives for three whole days of wonderment beyond compare, my admiration goes out to you – A very special thanks to David Boyle for making all this happen, we are at his service for giving the Largs area a much-needed jolt of life, defibrillator-style!
In the tranquil, pastoral, idyllic and salubrious surroundings of Kelburn Country Centre there is no better setting for such a bewitched and dreamlike event, like Will said, it’s one for the bucket list, if only once, but my bucket list entry no.22 reads ‘Go to every Kelburn Garden Party, every year, til’ you die!!!’. My only regret is that even I don’t possess the articulation or lexis to express the feeling of this event, nobody does! It’s an indescribable joy times a hundred googolplex! You’ll just have to “buy the ticket….and, um, take the ride” as the man said.
We still haven’t found Alan…‘Alan! Alan! Alaaaaaaaaan!!!…Alan?’ ‘Simmer down Anthony!’
Seeya’ in the pit!