It’s time to start going over the BoomTown district line ups for this year I think. I realise I’m late and they’re all now released but I still intend to pick out a few favourites from each as I have done previously.
I’m going to start with Whistler’s Green which was released yesterday. Not technically a district but it’s never wise to get caught up in technicalities with BoomTown, and with 3 stages in there, it’s as good as any place to begin.
As the name suggests, our main stage in Whistler’s Green is set to look like a big windmill. It hosts a mixed bag of artists, but perhaps most noticeable is a whole Friday of Funk & Soul.
With a festival that has such an underlying, though unintentional and unexplored, focus on movement, especially within the music, I can’t help feel that Funk & Soul has been noticeably lacking in previous years. Like much of the music at BoomTown, it offers a direct challenge to the static, uninspired and unengaged nature of crowds which I increasingly come across elsewhere around the country and, it carries that timeless element which those of any age can, and do relate to. I think that’s important, particularly in this new Whistler’s Green area.
Closing off the day’s proceedings will be Craig Charles, a man who has managed to reinvent himself into one of the most important ambassadors of Funk & Soul music today. If you’ve not tuned into his BBC 6 Music show than you’ve seriously been missing out.
Before him are a selection of bands who receive regular rotation on his show and are part of the modern scene’s vanguard. They also represent three of the UK’s leading Funk & Soul record labels: There’s a return for Tru Thought‘s soulstress Harleighblu; The Gene Dudley Group from the Wah Wah 45 stable, led by their ‘obscenely talented’ multi instrumentalist name sake; and from Jalapeno Records we’ve got Smoove & Turrell, The Allergies and Ephemerals.
Although I was late to the party for Ephemerals, missing their debut completely, they have become one of my favourite British soul bands. I met their drummer Jimmi Needles briefly at Glastonbury as he was deejaying after us on the Heaven Stage, but it was only recently that I made the connection. Their single You’ll Never See Me Cry was the first to catch my ear. I didn’t noticeably engage with it straight away but found myself hooked and constantly coming back to it for more. It was the follow up Everyday Killer that won me over totally though, it’s a sharp commentary on the consequences of our actions, both as individuals and society as a whole. Check it out.
The single to this track came with two wicked remixes. One by Gentleman’s Dub Club which I posted up on here a while ago, and the other from their label mates The Allergies.
Now The Allergies are certainly no strangers to BoomTown. They’ve rocked previous years at Funkington Manor, Poco Loco and The Boombox, but it’s great to have them within the context of a wider Funk & Soul line up. They shall be linking all of the other acts together and dropping their own ridiculously funky productions amongst their seasoned soulful selections.
The pair have been coasting from strength to strength for the last few years and their latest single with Andy Cooper from Ugly Duckling is one of my favourites yet. It’s been great to see their rise, both Rackabeat and Moneyshot are old friends of mine and I’ve had some of my favourite back to back DJ sessions ever with Moneyshot over the years. Although both, like me, are now based in Bristol, Moneyshot was living in Cardiff when I moved back there at the start of the last decade, and was resident DJ at the Hustler nights when I started up Higher Learning with Dregz and Ruffstylz across the street. If you haven’t listened to some of his genius mixtapes dating all the way back to those days, well then you should do so right after you’ve finished listening to the Craig Charles show (which of course should wait until you’ve finished this post). For now though, here’s one of The Allergies’ stand out singles from last year. Plus you can find a whole Funk & Soul (with a touch of Hip-hop) playlist, featuring all these acts and others at the festival, here.
As well as Funk & Soul there’s: a touch of Reggae with Prince Fatty & Horseman, First Degree Burns and Ben Russell & The Charmers; cross genre festival favourites Tankus The Henge ; legendary psychedelic dub act Banco De Gaia; one of Australia‘s best loved festival acts OKA, and on the Folkier side there’s: the legendary 3 Daft Monkeys; Rrradio Gee, an incredible ensemble of Folk musicians who have generally been overlooked by the Folk establishment in this country (not that they particularly mind I’m sure) and who are now based between Ireland and the south of Spain; Fitty Gomash, who helped to restore my faith in Folk events thanks to their Bristol based night, Blowin’ A Hooley. By far one of the most fun nights out in the city (and that’s saying a lot), refreshingly packed out with a young alternative crowd and centring around an anarchic ceilidh led by Fitty Gomash themselves. I had to get them in; Pronghorn, a long term favourite of the festival who cross the lines between Folk, Punk and Americana with their own Cowpunk concoction; and a man, who in my opinion, is one of the finest Folk singers to have emerged in recent years, Will Varley.
My opinion was cemented when I finally saw him perform a few weeks ago. He has a natural and engaging rapport with the crowd, similar to that of Beans On Toast whom he has toured with extensively (and who shall be back at The Old Mines this year), though perhaps a little more refined. His songs are deceptively powerful, whether they be about love, life or politics and he flows effortlessly from fierce to funny. This track still gives me goose bumps each time. As good enough reason as any to come and check out the area, but if Folk’s your flavour then you definitely need to check out the Floating Lotus stage. I’ll explore that in more detail later as I’ve rambled a little longer than intended for now. Plus here’s a YouTube playlist featuring a bunch of Folk & World acts playing at various stages across the festival.
There’s also a Whistler’s Green Spotify playlist available here.