Red Rooster Festival 1st to 3rd June 2017
It’s such a pleasure to be returning to Red Rooster Festival, it’s an event that has quickly built up a fine reputation as a unique and special festival. It’s certainly no surprise to learn that the Festival is totally sold out. Indeed, the moment you arrive at the unbelievably impressive setting you can feel yourself becoming relaxed and care free. Certainly from the start to the end of the weekend you have a festival crowd determined to have a good time and enjoy the music… and there’s certainly plenty of music to enjoy.
The first act we see is Angelina, a two piece group playing country flavoured rock but with a bit of blues added to the mix. As demonstrated with song titles like “Dark Heart”, they have a slow and moody edge to their sound. It’s interesting to hear how up to the weekend they had been rehearsing in the kitchen. It’s an early reminder that Red Rooster is great for introducing new acts.
Case Hardin bring a bigger band and naturally a larger sound. It’s perfect for a sunny afternoon as they bring strong melodies and a rocking Americana style. It has a more Californian feel and brings to mind the likes of Tom Petty. The set dips with a couple of slower ones but it’s when they add a Stones influence and some keys that the band really shine.
After that we wander over to the Little Red Rooster Stage. You would be very hard pushed to find a cooler small stage that this at any other festival. The Hot Rock Pilgrims are playing some very appropriate bluegrass tunes.
Their laid back sound is played to an appreciative crowd. That traditional feel is kept going with CC Adcock and Steve Riley, delivering country tunes with only an accordion and guitar. It wouldn’t necessarily be to our taste but when you know they have flown in from Louisiana then at least you know it’s genuine. They also bring a bit of ‘True Blood’ swamp juice to the festival but sadly not at this point the hot sultry weather.
Musically, things do hot up with Big Sandy And his Fly-Rite Boys who bring a nice change of pace to the festival. They’re immediately in tune with the atmosphere of the event as they describe it as the “Red Rooster Drinking Festival”. Their rockabilly music lifts people’s spirits even further. It’s not long until the crowd are dancing and jiving inside and outside the tent.
It’s a sign of how far the festival has come that they have a legend like Nick Lowe on the bill and he’s not even the headline act. He brings a real sense of class and not surprisingly delivers a set full of quality pop/rock songs all played by just him and his guitar. It’s a real testament to his song writing skills. It is certainly a fact that no one will play a better song than “Cruel To Be kind”. Except for perhaps the man himself when he delivers an inspiring “Alison” to a mesmerised crowd.
Cale Tyson has the difficult job of following that and it probably helps that he has a very different style and sound. Given he comes from Nashville it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a country flavour but it also owes a lot to early seventies rock. It’s a big band sound and helps to get the evening’s entertainment going.
They warm things up nicely for Friday’s headliner Nick Waterhouse. This sees an infusion of soul in to the proceedings with the benefit of some girl group harmonies and bursts of saxophone. It brings a more varied tone to the headline set and kept the tempo upbeat so people can carry on dancing. It ends the evening on a high…..well for some, for others there is more fun to be had by listening to the tunes being played by DJ’s over at the Howlin’ Woods Stage.
We may be tired when we eventually wake up on Saturday morning but the promise of great weather and music soon has us hitting the stages again. There certainly can’t be many better ways to start the day than waking up to sunshine and the funky sounds of Errol Linton. We heard their sound drifting across the festival site and are immediately drawn to the main stage. Their good time, soulful R & B music acts like a snake charmer to draw people out of their slumber and over to see the band. The reaction of the crowd says it all, not many acts will get a mainly hungover crowd whooping and dancing before twelve at a festival.
The name Kentucky Cow Tippers tells you pretty much all you need to know about that band. Not unexpectedly they play a trad country based sound. All fiddle and banjos. The main surprise is that they all look like they are about 15!!
Lunch time sees us heading back to the Little Red Rooster Stage for Jess Morgan. It’s a stripped back and tender sound. A pure voice and acoustic guitar to settle anyone still suffering from that morning after feeling. The set is delivered with a nice confident and engaging approach.
In total contrast, John E Vistic are far, far more rock and roll. Dapperly dressed in black suits, white shirts and black hats they offer up a real dirty rock sound. It has the hallmarks of bands like The Stones, Quireboys and maybe the Black Crowes. It’s low slung rock n roll with a touch of debauchery. They also benefit from being fronted by the brilliant Mr Vistic who is equal parts Jim Jones and Nick Cave. A fantastic band and certainly our discovery of the festival.
The Hanging Stars keep the guitar based sound going but these are far more jangly and it’s all a lot more wholesome. It suits the sunny weather and has a bit of big West coast America feel to it. There’s a hazy, dreamy sense to the songs which brings to mind The Byrds or Big Star. Once again the whole dynamic changes with the next act.
Let’s face it, a band with the name King Salami and The Cumberland Three where never going to be a bunch of shrinking violets! But even the name doesn’t adequately prepare you for the tour de force that this band and King Salami in particular deliver. Their set is full of rock n roll showmanship with a sound based in rock n roll but also throwing in a bunch of other influences including punk, swing, surf, funk and rockabilly. It’s a spectacle deserving of being a headline slot.
The variety of the festival then continues to be demonstrated by us next stumbling on The Dirty Strangers delivering a simple but effective slice of old school acoustic, boogie, rock n roll. It follows the well-trodden path of the original acts like the Rolling Stones through to The Crybabies.
Then we see Danny And the Champions of The World definitely delivering one of the best sets of the afternoon. They bring a real sense of soul to the festival. They really are quite unique combination of country, Americana, rock and Motown Soul. Not surprisingly it gets the whole crowd clapping, singing and dancing along. They really create an awesome good time atmosphere.
The soul vibe is then kept going by Barrence Whitfield and The Savages. Again, they bring guitars, sax and keys to make things funky and keep the crowd on their feet.
Once again, the increase strength and pulling power of the festival is shown by the final night headliner, JD McPherson. An awesome artist who has done so much to bring fifties rock n roll music right up to date and accessible. He delivers a blistering set of rock n roll numbers that have the entire crowd bopping and singing along. Although with huge tunes like “Bossy”, “Let The Good Times Roll” and our personal favourite” Fire Bug”, it’s pretty impossible not to dance along to them. With a collection of extremely talented musicians they bring the festival to a fittingly jubilant end.
So once again the Red Rooster team deliver another blinding festival. Amongst a pretty crowded market they continue to deliver something unique. It’s possibly the friendliest festival out there with very limited security presence. It just isn’t needed as you just feel immediately safe, secure and at home from the moment you arrive… it attracts lots of different people but they are all just there for a good time. It has retained its small and friendly approach and resisted the desire to succumb to commercial pressures. As Mr McPherson said let the good times roll and we are already looking forward to Red Rooster 2018!