Day 3: Waking up to a beautiful sunny Sunday morning with Big Chill Radio playing Dudley Perkins’ ‘Flowers’ and a full day ahead of awesome music listening pleasure, I almost felt as excited as a teenager – would it last?
Ledbury is a little quiet on a Sunday and if you’ve missed the “big breakfast” at The Retreat (formerly known as The Bull for the over 30 year olds), the Market House Caf?© seems to be the only alternative that’s open. Today it’s full Americans ‘on tour’ of Hereford and Big Chill Festival goers that are after a change of Festival grub. Whilst the veggie breakfast was nice enough, to be honest, my mind is elsewhere as apart from some waitress buttock cleavage that was a distraction, Sunday is what we’ve been waiting for. It’s not like the past two days didn’t have any high quality artists to see, it’s just that the new booking policy seems to have tried to cram as old/new Big Chill artists all into the one day.
Now that won’t bother the guys who cheered at the end of the Shhhh! Headphone Party at 5am this morning as they’ll be asleep all day. I listed some 20 acts that FLY Global Music has featured in the past and the chances of catching all of them on one day is obviously a non-starter, so let’s take it slow as someone might say.
So Sunday starts almost the opposite to Saturday with Taylor McFerrin and “some improvised hip-hop joints, I hope you’re OK with that?” And I can saw that the incredibly sparse crowd were as McFerrin combined beat boxing, Wurlitzer, Ableton, laptop and other bits of kit to provide the increasingly large audience with a 60s soul influenced “vision of future hip-hop”. And talking of audience, as he’s singing, it that Jose James is a silver suit as Soul-Jazz Record bag? Indeed it is and we both agree how, at times, Taylor’s voice sounds like his Dad’s inclinations (that’s Bobby McFerrin you know). You’ll recall Taylor helped out on the ‘jazz’ tracks on James’ last album Blackmagic and James’ himself is taking time out from his Facing East: The Music of John Coltrane Project this afternoon to sing with Nicola Conte’s Jazz Combo in the Revellers Tent. Stay tuned for a follow-up to our Who Knows The Secret? with Jos?© and an interview with Taylor as he’s got a new EP coming out called Broken Vibes (it should be available on download sites like OKPlayer I’m told) and thanks to both Taylor and Jose for their help on the day.
By now Natty was finishing his set in the Revellers Tent “with my sound” which was very Sunday Chill for the lunchtime session so I make my way to Stac’s sound check in the Paradiso. Now were were hoping at the Stac In-store for the Turn That Light Out) album launch that she would be performing before Norman ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ Jay but he had already finished his short-ish set after a 12.15 start! Apparently he’s not happy and looking at some of the acts on the main stage to come before the other terrible enfant of pop (Lily Allen) turns up, I can see why.
Anyway, back to Stac and her 6-piece band, the ever increasing crowd were treated to the best parts of the album including ‘Balls Bounce’ and ‘Same Old Thing’. Even though I did flit off to catch a little of Andreya Triana who, after helping out Bonobo with his Black Sands has her own debut out Lost Where I Belong out on Ninja Tune on the 23rd August. Dashing back to Stac (and there is a connection as Bonobo remixed the single ‘Balls Bounce’ way back), it was good to see Gilles Peterson in the house (tent) and the band were in full flow for ‘All or Nothing and ‘Whoops’. Talking of Gilles, it would be great to have Stac do a Maida Vale session for him but the promised interview didn’t happen as, ever the opportunist, Dom Servini had her signing CDs of Turn That Light Out to sell to the increasingly demanding crowd.
Never mind as I can bring you the exclusive news that BBC Radio 1 Gilles Peterson avoided the Blue Note Caf?© vegetarian schnitzel burger and went for the Reggae Reggae Source burger because “I’m hungry mate”. Well he was due on the Starburst stage for 2 hours shortly so I can’t blame him for dashing off plus I wanted to see Nicola Conte with his band (and by coincidence, last seen here on FLY with Dom Servini DJing at Emanative‘s gig at London’s Favela Chic, see review HERE). I’m pleased to report that Conte and band were fantastic as they played tracks mostly from the Rituals album including ‘Karma Flower’ and there was a cover version of Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 hit ‘Ode To Billy Joe’. The whole set was cool as Conte himself but the real highlights were Jos?© James singing ‘Stolen Moments’ and closing on a killer version of ‘Caravan’.
Along with trusted Lieutenant Janine (see of Dingwalls fame) at the front of the crowd, funnily enough Jos?© and Conte turn up to check out the start of Peterson’s set (hey, it’s all one Big Chill happy family on this side of the field) and for the next two hours it’s like Gilles takes the hill to a musical other world except when he’s asked to tone it down; did I hear him right? Love can’t turn around as Donald Byrd might of said but it so happens that I met in the crowd my new living and confidence coach and have a photo contact at one of the major national newspapers – can it only be Gilles’ fans that are so eclectic? Not only that, I bump into Neal (of Sounds Of The Universe) and we both get excited that Jos?© has the navy ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ record bag on his shoulder (goes well with the silver suit) and Neal tells me he’s DJing himself at the forthcoming Limetree festival (see links below).
I can’t wait to get back on the wheels of steel myself after all this inspiration (but Daniel Wang set the standard pretty high yesterday, see Saturday’s review HERE) so I wander around for a bit of Alice Russell in the Chill X tent (packed as you’d imagine) and the live version of Ashley Beedle & Darren Morris’ MAV!S to a less than full Revellers tent. That was a real shame as the live experience brought alive the album that I never got to grips with until now (full review coming soon) but special mention to John Turrell (who was later in the Chill X tent himself as part of Smoove & Turrell).
Of course, I’m missing loads as usual like Paul Morley talking about Michael Jackson, Terry Callier, the Mad Professor, Greg Wilson, Dam Funk, Appleblim, Joker so settle on catching some of jazz-funk legend Roy Ayers (doing a greatest hits set) and then Gregory Issacs doing the same thing over on the main stage. Both were brilliant and whilst both a now rather old, they certainly both know how to entertain a large crowd.
By now I’m flagging a bit and after The Bug, it seemed to me the place went a bit mental as people realised the end was nigh and soon we’d all be packing up and heading back to the outside world – a thought that wasn’t too appealing so once more unto the bar I say.
I was thinking about a setting out an in depth conclusion on the first Festival Republic assisted Big Chill Festival as it has always been a unique event of true beauty. I’m sure Melvin Ben and his team realise this and with Katrina as advisor, I’d imagine the teething issues of this year with be ironed out and next year will be as good as ever – I’m certainly looking forward to coming back.
Saturday review HERE
Friday review HERE
Photograph of Gilles Peterson on Big Chill’s Starburst Stage by Leon Harris
Festival Republic presents The Big Chill, 5th to 8th August 2010 Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Malvern Hills, Ledbury, Herefordshire. www.bigchill.net
The Guardian, 10th August 2010 Big Chill Festival 4/5 James Smart www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/aug/09/big-chill-review
Limetree Music & Arts Festival. A return to how festivals used to be 27 – 29 August, 2010 Limetree Farm, Grewelthorpe www.limetreefestival.co.uk
Sounds of the Universe is the record shop in Soho, London, associated with Soul Jazz Records. … www.soundsoftheuniverse.com 7 Broadwick Street, London W1F 0DA tel: 020 7734 3430
14th Aug 2010 Jazz Chronicles with Simon S, Martin Gordon (Brownswood) and Gerry Hectic at 60 Million Postcard, Bournemouth 3-8
www.myspace.com/60millionpostcards [next Saturday 4 September 2010 and Saturday 2nd October 2010]