Ramblin' Man Fair 2017 - Saturday
I love coming to this festival, it has a grown-up, friendly and relaxed atmosphere all weekend. Last year that was helped by a brilliant line up and fantastic weather.. on paper the line up isn't as good this year (but there are still some Must See bands) and the weather is pretty dire today...
..so here we go...far less queuing shenanigans to last year, get the wristbands, get in queue and get in...
First stop: Coffee! We sit down with another couple we didn't know from Adam and within 30 seconds we're talking about music ..(see it's friendly, grown-up, rock 'n' roll! )... apparently the Friday night was good with everyone being on top form but particularly Saxon who tore the place up.
The Nile Deltas come onto the Rising Stage, with Whitesnake's Neil Murray standing in on bass to play some very good modern day rock, then it was over to the main stage to see ex-World Superbike champion James Toseland fronting his band. Now, as a Superbike and Moto GP fan, I wasn't sure what this was going to be like, we've all heard these bands that have celebrities on guitar or whatever and it's usually just a hobby... but Toseland were excellent! James is front and center as a good vocalist and disappears behind a keyboard occasionally too - this is his day job now (apart from the odd bit of Moto GP punditry) and he's bloody good at it. The girlfriend was upset that he never had "his guns out" but she took lots of photos for her own private collection anyway and supped her Elderflower Gin and Tonic (Grown-up Rock 'n' Roll)
Another drop in to the Rising Stage via the Real Ale tent (Grown-Up Rock 'n' Roll people) see's Xander and The Pirates, playing some crowd pleasing blues rock and firing off some blistering guitar solos. It's a testament to their singer/guitarist that it was only near the end of set when he raised his arms above his head that I noticed he only had one hand.. playing with a hook on his right hand! (hence the band name I assume). Very impressive.
As the heavens opened, it was time to seek refuge in the Outlaw Country tent, via the Four Roses Whiskey bar (Grown-Up Rock 'n' Roll) and watch Whisky Dick. If James Hetfield had grown up in Texas and only had access acoustic guitars, this is the band he would have formed instead of Metallica. They were having fun and cranking out hardcore acoustic (with some excellent overdriven solos) songs such as "Train Robbin', Gun Totin', Dope Smokin', Guitar Pickin', Mother F**kin', Goodtime Band"..'nuff said.
I ventured out into the rain to watch the wonderful Bad Touch on the Rising Stage, whilst my better half decided to stay in the tent and watch the shouty, country punk of Ghoultown ("They were good, you should have stayed".. apparently). However Bad Touch are one of my favourite new bands and they didn't disappoint, drawing a good size crowd of rain soaked individuals singing along to country rock tracks like the superb "99%"
Time for a bite to eat (Black Pudding Scotch Egg with Sweet Potato Fries (Grown-Up Rock 'n' Roll)) and catch Glenn Hughes on the main stage. He still has a fantastic voice but for me the set really didn't get going until final 2 songs of Black Country and Burn which both brought the damp crowd alive.
A bit more Trooper ale, a quick listen to Dokken (I only knew it was them as it was in the schedule..it didn't look like or sound like the Don Dokken I remember) then into the Outlaw Country tent again to see the two bands that I had been waiting to see since they were announced : Dan Baird's Homemade Sin and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band.
The awful news was that Dan Baird would not be performing as he had been taken to hospital the previous day as he has Leukemia, but he told the rest of the band to carry on as a three piece. With Dan's trademark hat front and centre stage, Warner E. Hodges, founder member of Jason and the Scorchers, guitarist in Homemade Sin and slightly older Dave Grohl lookalike took the reins in a fantastic, spontaneous show with Warner making it up as they went along. The Dan Baird, Georgia Satellites songs were sung with extra passion tonight and a rousing Jason and the Scorchers rendition of "Country Roads" left everyone smiling : They did you proud Dan - get well soon! (apologies for crappy photo.. I was too busy singing!)
Kenny Wayne Shepherd doesn't belong in the Outlaw Country tent, and said the word "Blues" about 29 times as if to prove the point, but frankly we wouldn't care if it was a circus tent, beer tent or one of the nearby Civil War reenactment tents (WTF?) when he's this damn good. Noah Hunt has one of the most distinctive voices and it suits the KWS style of blues rock perfectly. Owning most of the KWS back catalogue, I know he's a great guitarist but seeing him up close tonight for the first time, I thought he was simply stunning. He makes guitar playing look effortless. Stevie Ray Vaughan is an obvious influence, from having the original Double Trouble drummer on stage with him to playing The House is Rocking to ending with a stunning Voodoo Chile ... a great end to day one.
We ventured out into the rain and Extreme were still playing on the main stage (Kid Ego) but they didn't have the same appeal as a nice, dry, warm bed so we went for that instead (Grown-Up Rock 'n' Roll).
NR (Photos (C) Sandy Wilkins - used with permission)