In this life we spend so much time with people who know the price of everything but the value of nothing. In these days when 3 days at a music festival can cost upwards of £200 can the reverse be true?
Something Else In the Dean is a small grassroots ‘Under the Radar’ music festival, held for the third time, at Elton Maize Mazes in the beautiful Forest of Dean . The festival has grown out of the Something-Else Tea Tent which makes an appearance at festivals up and down the UK.
The Tea Tent is owned and operated by Gail (Something Else) and her team. It offers quality Tea, Coffee and Cake as well as a place to chill out. Just as importantly Gail offers breaking musicians a stage at festivals, a great opportunity to gain exposure to new audiences. What started out as an end of season party for her crew has now grown into a a fully fledged small festival with a difference.
The festival takes place on a stunning site at Elton Mazes on level farmland near Newnham in Gloucestershire. The festival is Eco-friendly, the stages solar powered and is limited to 500 revellers. For those who attend it is a great way to have an end of season party. It is also probably the most laid back and friendly I have ever attended.
Costing just £40 for three days of music (inclusive of camping) it is also the most incredible value for money. You can even take your own beer onto the site but with a huge range of beers and ciders available from the bar at just £3 a pint many people don’t bother. Food on site is also great value. I was really looking forward to the weekend as was meeting up with others I had met over the course of the festival season and it was shaping up to be something of a ‘boys weekend’.
I took a slow drive up to the site from Dorset and arrived at about 2pm. After setting up my van and having a chat with the neighbours I took a wander down to the site, exchanged ticket for armband and then spent a couple of hours chilling out whilst waiting for the weekends drinking buddies to arrive. I even managed to leave enough space for one of my buddies to park his caravan next to my van. This was great because my pal and I shared breakfast cooking duties for our little group and we were even able to sit under the awning for a late night rum before bed. Unbelievably, despite it being the last weekend in September, the weather was gorgeous.
On site for the music you are really blessed. The main stage (in the tea tent) is all of 30 seconds walk from the second stage. The bands alternate between stages and once the party starts there is never more than a minute or two between acts. You might just have time to grab a bite to eat from one of the stalls or a beer from the bar if you are really really quick. On Saturday & Sunday there is even a 3rd Mini Stage inside the maze! This is largely for acoustic acts and almost unbelievably it sits between two heavily laden pear trees :) It is also striking that the site had no high fences or visible security guards. Sadly there were a couple of thefts on-site but I really hope this doesn’t lead to increased security in future years.
You might think that at a cost of just £40 the quality of the acts wouldn’t be up to much. How wrong you would be! Admittedly the majority of acts are unsigned musicians who release their music independently, by crowd funding and so on. Make no mistake though the line-up for the whole weekend was superb. I did see a couple of acts that I didn’t care for much but the vast majority were excellent.
Friday nights highlights for me were the inimitable Gaz Brookfield and longtime favourites Leatherat. Brookfield’s songs about love and life are always crowd pleasers. He has an incredible stage presence and I am sure he must have enjoyed the sound of the entire crowd singing every word of every song back to him. If you don’t yet know his music I urge you to check him out. Leatherat are regulars on the UK festival scene and have no less than 5 studio albums under their belt. Their brand of high octane folk-rock is sure to have you on your feet. I also really enjoyed the folk-rock-punk band the Leylines. This 5 piece were new to me but I will be keeping a close eye out for them in future. I also liked the Ska influenced Punk of AOS3. A superb evenings entertainment.
Saturday’s line-up was top quality too. I loved Skraelings, Muddy Summers & The Dirty field whores, New Groove Formation, One Eyed God, Skewhiff, Tarantism & Back to the Planet were all excellent. The vibe over the whole day was fantastic.
The quality continued throughout Sunday. You have to give a shoutout to Ned the kids Dylan. The confidence this young man shows is absolutely remarkable for one so young. He performs his own songs on acoustic guitar and on this occasion he was joined on stage by Les ‘fruit bat’ Carter (Carter USM) for a full band performance. This saw him jump the barriers and head off into the crowd for some audience participation. Speaking of Les Carter, he appeared with his new band Abdoujaparov. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and wasn’t sure I would like it as I confess I just never ‘got’ Carter USM. This band has a much more ‘Punk’ feel that Carter and was therefore much more to my taste. I must say I loved them. I also caught a brilliant set from Lukas Drinkwater (3 daft Monkeys). I was looking forward to Firepit Collective, Doozer McDooze and Funke and the two tone baby but sadly too much sun and too much cider had me scuttling off for an early night. What a lightweight. It would seem that it rained shortly after I went to bed but I was oblivious ;)
I was really sad to leave this festival. Time spent in a superb atmosphere with great mates, great music and a great vibe really is a priceless commodity in a world where the music industry is dominated by formulaic dross. This little festival is a true gem, so much so that just one day after it ended next years event is almost sold out.
It would seem that those attending recognise the value that Gail and her team provide is second to none and that real value doesn’t necessarily have a high price!
Firstly I want to say thank you to everyone who donated or sponsored me in my attempts to raise a bit of money for the Something Else Tea Tent Project. I should probably point out that this is a crowd funding project rather than a charity but it is something I am really passionate about.
It won’t have escaped anyones notice that it is increasingly difficult to get any kind of a break in the music industry. The likes of Simon Cowell have ensured that if you do not fit his mold of manufactured crappy music then your chances of making a living from you art as a musician are slim indeed. Gail Something-Else has given a huge number of new musicians a break by letting them play in the Tea Tent at festivals up and down the UK. For the last three years she has run a small festival in the Forest of Dean, the amazing demand for tickets for this small event meant that Gail has run three such festivals this year. It is now necessary to raise much needed funds to support the venture and to help Gail clear the debts she has accrued through this amazing venture. I salute Gail and everyone else involved for their efforts.
This past weekend I helped to raise money for the venture by having my body waxed. I am humbled and grateful to the friends and family who made donations online and of course to those who made donations on the day.
I have included a link to a video below. If you can see your way to sparing a donation for this great project you can do so here. http://tinyurl.com/lvecagz
Be warned I cannot Guarantee that there is no swearing on the video