Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Monday, 9 July 2012

Caversham Festival 2012

It's funny how being even a very tiny part of an event gives one a much greater feeling of interest and involvement. I was a programme-seller at one of the festival entrances - the festival itself was free, but there was a £1 programme, including a CD featuring the artists - and it was fascinating to see that small glimpse of the organised chaos that lies behind the scenes.

Caversham Festival 2012 was organised by Readipop - a music and arts charity based in Reading - with support from Churches Together in Caversham (CTC), as well as the many Caversham traders and small businesses who set out their stalls, literally, as part of the event. There was lots of music from local bands; the churches ran sports-themed activities, plus a couple of ginormous inflatable bouncy-castle-type-thingies, and started the festival with an open air service; and the stalls either sold stuff or sought to get people involved in their activities. It all felt very much a Caversham community event. I don't know how many people turned up - between showers and Murray in the Wimbledon final - but there seemed to me to be a real bustle about the place.

Unfortunately (in an entertaining way) when the churches set up a quiet tent in their area, presumably to give people a chance to chill out away from that bustle, they put it right next to the children's activity/sports area. It was the noisiest 'quiet tent' I have ever seen.

Since all the bands were local (apart from one import from far-flung Bristol) their quality was very much an unknown (apart from Amy's Ghost). On the other hand, with three different stages there was a good choice. Unfortunately I was programme-selling when Nicki Rogers played her set - I'm told she was very good; we saw her many years ago when she was just starting out and she was impressive then.

After I finished my stint, and had wandered past a couple of acts that really didn't appeal, I came across Private Jet on the Main Stage. Very Zeppelin-esque rock (my daughter hated the singer's seventies-style open sequinned top) played extremely well. Definitely a band I'll be looking out for in the future - I've 'liked' them on Facebook so hopefully I'll be notified of upcoming local gigs.

After Private Jets finished I wandered over to the Festival Stage to catch the end of the Subverts' set. The band were described as 'pop rock' so my expectations were low; it was a pleasant surprise to find really lively, well-performed, indie-style rock music. To be fair, they did play catchy tunes with lots of energy, so 'pop rock' really is a decent description - it's not their fault that the label is also applied to inferior bands.

Then I was back to the Main Stage for Amy's Ghost. Lots of percussion, keyboards and cellos combine with Amy Barton's distinctive vocal style and beautifully-crafted songs to give a remarkable and enjoyable performance which I can't even begin to pigeon-hole.Your best bet is to click on the video at the top of this post to see a slightly out-of-date glimpse of them live. Very entertaining, the show even came with its own post-modern, deconstructionist moment when the keyboard/percussionist threw a drum off the stage and moved over to one side before carrying on giving it welly.

By this point I was getting very tired, so I wandered around a bit trying to find my teenage daughter, whilst enjoying Dead Maids' music coming from the Festival Stage and what I assume, from the timing, was Dolly and the Clothes Pegs on the Floating Stage. I finally found her in the littley's play area, sitting on a dragon. She wanted to stay chatting so I headed home, thoroughly knackered but having had a good day.