Along with the first scorching summer weekend of the year came an even better Acoustic Festival , packed full of great live music, unusual performances, music workshops and even an early morning Zumba class!

Situated in the heart of Staffordshire on the grounds of Uttoxeter race course, this wonderful festival complements the surrounding area. The first benefit we noticed was the convenient ‘park where you camp’ style arrangement which saves the relentless carrying of luggage from car to campsite, which is an absolute delight, especially for all the campers that have children.

Once set up, we made our way into the festival arena and what a sight it was, the first thing that greets you on the entrance is a MASSIVE purple bus with the breakfast club written on the side of it, with smiling people ready to invite you in with a cure for your headache from the night before, these are the things that make you come back time after time. The giant top hat also had the lure about it due the fact it was somewhere to get some much needed shade, especially as it turned out to be the hottest weekend of the year.

The main stage was ideally located next to the real ale tent, so without much hesitation we went inside for a look at what local ale was on offer and to try a few pints, there was another stage inside which was nice because you could stand in the shade inside the ale tent drinking some of the finest ale around and watch two acts at the same time.

Walking around the site we got roped into doing a drum workshop which was so much fun, lots of strangers all linking together in a musical fashion and what fun it was for everyone involved. There were lots of different stalls selling lots of different things, from ukuleles to woolly hats which I don’t think many people would have needed with this amazing weather. 

At the other end of the site was another staged tent called the ‘Festival Eye’ which had a food stand at the back of it selling all locally cooked food, very nice it was too. It’s such a nice idea because you didn’t have to wander away from listening to the music just to get something to eat.  The other venue that was on offer which was our personal favourite was ‘The Dome’ tent which for the 21st century hippies, and had a lovely feel to the place.

The festival had so much to see and do and just walking from stage to stage, you were stopped by artists wanting to sing you songs, Morris dancers jigging about with sticks and even a wizard with a puppet dragon. There were so many artists performing on so many stages you were spoilt for choice but here are some that we enjoyed;

John Dignam – a tight knit four piece band made up of guitar, violin, double bass and mandolin, at first glance it looks like four strangers met outside and said “fancy being in a band?” but then they started playing and the mismatch came together  to form a great sound, and from the crowd gave a worthy response.

Radio Mary – playing in the real ale tent, Radio Mary provided an upbeat, toe-tapping performance that perfectly complimented the local ale.

The Move – The headliners for the Friday night and they totally deserved the slot because they produced an excellent performance that got the crowd dancing and singing along, the highlight of the set was a beautiful rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine” also the old classic “Blackberry Way” which was a hit with the crowd and got many people out of their camping chairs.

The Black Pig Border Morris Dancers – They were one of the two Morris dancing groups which were at the festival this year and provided entertainment with their amazing brightly coloured outfits and crazy hats along with the other rival Morris dancing group the BUMS which were very different because all they were wearing was black and white, it looked like they had cut up lots of newspaper, and stuck it onto their clothes and painted their faces like a checkerboard.

Chris Woods – this guy was an absolute crowd pleaser, he was playing in the Festival Eye tent which was fully packed with people of all ages young and old; he played like he had been playing for years and his voice wasn’t in bad condition.

King Hammond – many people were two stepping to this band with the ska/reggae feel all over the place, little children jumping and parents skanking out like they were back on Brighton Pier.

Adrian Nation – A mellow sound with low tempo sounds providing a chilled out feel in the dome, with many people sipping on beer in the sunshine, enjoying and watching the world go by with the music whistling through their ears.

Joan Armatrading – Funky back in the day and still funky now with the moving and the grooving from the woman herself, when she is not ripping it up on the guitar that is, she attracted a massive crowd on the Saturday night headlining the main stage. The band were so musically on the ball and all of them not just playing the music but also feeling the music as you can see it in their faces. She was so funny in between songs making funny remarks and commenting on heckles from the crowd. She had a very dry sense of humour which contrasted her playing and also singing.  She did a lot of new songs from their new album which is out now.  She was definitely the highlight of the weekend with many people going to the festival for that reason only.

Joe O’Donnell – funky Irish jig band with a brilliant lead singer who also played violin like I have never seen before, it was wonderful music for the real ale tent with many people in the tent  enjoying the combination of music and ale.

Fred’s House – a young four piece band with a twist, not only was it nice to see a young female lead singer along with two acoustic guitarists and a bass player, they all played a bit of the drums too.

Polly Money – amazing voice, the voice of an angel, she played and sung like she was in her bedroom with no nerves at all, calm and playing in the dome just gave her that intimate feel, all of her songs had so much emotion in them.

Rusty Shackle - they are a five piece band with a combination of guitars, violin, banjos and drums, they were like a love child of Mumford & Sons and Biffy Clyro and played amazing. They did a hilarious song were the lead singer sang in French then the backing singer sang the hokey-cokey and a cheeky girls song.

The Animals – Classic, which sums up The Animals, they played amazingly and were one of the loudest groups of the whole weekend, they played the old favourite of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ which went down a storm with the crowd.

Yet again The Acoustic festival of Great Britain delivered a wonderful weekend, high class acts superb facilities and the weather to match, same again next year? Don’t mind if I do.


Article by Jaz Wilson