Whitebottom Farm, Stockport
“Following the success of last years Blackthorn music festival, it is once again being staged to give the very best undiscovered musicians a chance to showcase their talents and work with more well known acts.
This is a music festival for everyone regardless of age, situated through Etherow Country Park in the beautiful setting of Whitebottom farm, providing a safe and friendly atmosphere to listen to music, socialise and camp, yet only 30 minutes from Manchester centre. Indulge your three senses with great music, mouth-watering food and stunning surroundings”
Blackthorn Festival is back again and I couldn’t be happier. This is my kind of festival, with its great food, great drink, great setting and the way it gives up and coming acts the chance to perform with quality established acts, it’s everything I love.
This years line-up (see above) is insanely good and features the musical stalwarts that are Dodgy and Reverend and the Makers alongside a feast of new talents including the likes of PUPPET REBELLION, No Hot Ashes, King Kartel and The Tapestry to name but a few.
Located 30 minutes away from Manchester city centre in the picturesque grounds of Whitebottom Farm, I cannot think of a festival that takes place in somewhere as beautiful as this as the picture above show. For those of you camping it will be a beautiful place to live for the weekend and boy am I jealous of you.
Food and Drink:
One of the unique things about Blackthorn is the attention to detail they take with everything. This is evident in the food and drink they have on offer. Many festivals serve crap generic food coupled with warm, often flat beer but the guys at Blackthorn do things different. Whether you love your meat or stick to the veg Blackthorn will have something for you on their mouthwatering menu. The menu itself offers everything from Chargrilled Aberdeen Angus Burgers, Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Brisket Sandwiches with Fries, Mozzarella sticks or Potato Skins to Spanakopita, Mezze or Hummus with, of course, a beautiful salad. Should you choose to revel in one of the many cold beers they have on offer and feel a bit sloppy the morning after they also have a range of delightful breakfasts on offer. You can “Restore yourself from last night’s revelry with a healthy breakfast of yoghurt fruit & honey washed down with a freshly squeezed juice or virtuous smoothie or what the hell just go for a full English & strong coffee! I know which I’d choose.” Not only will I be taking the music in greedily I will certainly be gluttonous with the food too.
For me to write about every good band on at Blackthorn would take me an age because, frankly, the whole line up is absolutely quality so to make things easier for us all I’ve highlighted 5 bands a day that you need to see.
The opening day of the festival sees some excellent bands grace the Blackthorn stages setting the tone for the rest of the weekend.
A sign of how strong the line up is this year is lies in the fact that a band like Polkadodge can open the main stage. Polkadodge are headliners in their own right. Residing in Sheffield John, Martin, Tom and Paul have a chemistry that stems from being great friends and that shines through in their music. Bringing tracks like the excellent ‘Borderline’ and my personal favourite ‘Laughing in Spanish’ Polkadodge are going to be an explosive start to the weekend an will doubtless win themselves a whole new army of followers. They make a floor filling indie music that it’s impossible not to dance to that I’m sure will get you dancing and set up the rest of the day nicely. These guys are the next big thing out of Sheffield. The lads are on at 18:00 so make sure you get there early and check them out… You won’t regret it!
Next up are King Kartel. Based in Manchester (despite not all hailing from there) the lads are gonna bring their Brit Pop/Madchester inspired tunes to the party and it’s gonna be a riot. Their ‘Not Done Fighting’ E.P is a must hear. It’s a 4 track monster which wears its influences (Oasis, Stone Roses etc) on it’s sleeve and possesses a massive amount of swagger. My highlight from the E.P is ‘All Talk No Trousers’ with it’s Ian Brownesque vocals and soaring melodies it’s gonna sound quality on the Blackthorn Main Stage. They take the stage at 21:00 when everyone will be have a few beers inside them, be warmed up and ready for some action which King Kartel will bring and then some!
Sandboy are festival veterans having already played Latitude and Leeds festivals so expect a polished, accomplished set featuring beautiful, melodic songs. Sandboy are a band on the verge of making it big and hopefully Blackthorn will be the platform for it to happen sooner rather than later because they deserve it. One listen to tracks like ‘Miles Away’ and ‘China Town’ is all you need to see the talent these guys possess. The melodies and rhythms are spot on and lead singer Neil has a voice that will melt you. Sandboy are deservedly the main support for Dodgy and their talent and experience are gonna combine to put on an unmissable set.
Horses On The Move
Technicolour Country is the genre that Horses On The Move use to describe themselves and I must say, It’s bob on. I’m a HUGE country music fan and have all the time in the world for bands and artists like Horses On The Move. Taking to the Acoustic Stage at 18:30 HOTM should be on your festival itinerary. It’s peaceful, It’s easy going and It’s timeless, music for the purists. 2 musicians at the peak of their powers, Lucy and Damien combine with aplomb. Tracks like ‘Secret Pantomime’ ‘Viva Mancunia’ (what a track name) and the amazing ‘Cautious Carol’ prove that HOTM are destined for big things. Their set is sure to be a beautiful one and you’d be a fool to miss it.
What do I say about Dodgy that hasn’t already been said? Indie Legends Dodgy headline the opening night of Blackthorn and it’s gonna be a singalong of epic proportion. When you can bring tracks like “Staying Out for the Summer”, “If You’re Thinking of Me”, “In a Room” and of course “Good Enough” you know you’ve done something right in your career somewhere because some bands can only dream of making 1 single of the type of quality that Dodgy consistently poured out. It’s not just the “Big 4” tracks that Dodgy can bring to the party either there are some hidden gems amongst their back catalogue too. Highlight of the Friday at Blackthorn is bound to be the singalong to ‘Good Enough’ and I and surely many more people will be reveling in nostalgic indie Dodgy will provide.
Saturday at Blackthorn is absolute musical perfection for me! There is 6/7 of my favourite artists playing on the bill! It’s as strong a line up as you could want. Many of the bands playing on the Saturday I have blogged about before and will continue to do so because as up and coming artists go some of these guys are the best of the bunch so expect some bias (sorrynotsorry).
No Hot Ashes
No Hot Ashes are one of the most talked about bands in Manchester at the moment and rightly so. Their recently announced headline show at Kraak, Manchester with an amazing support of The Velocets and Jordan Allen and backed by the amazing Mr Peeps and Merc Clothing is, no doubt, going to be a real “I was there” moment in years to come because No Hot Ashes are heading for the stratosphere. ‘She Burns’, ‘WOB’ and ‘Cigs and ‘PG Tips’ are infectious, foot tapping classics (available for free on Soundcloud, don’t mess about and get them downloaded!). The arrangements on the tracks are what you would expect from a band who have been plying their trade for many a year but No Hot Ashes make it seem easy. They are already an assured band with an assured sound getting better all the time and you MUST get there early to see them on the Main Stage for what will be another “I was there” moment.
I have to confess that until researching the bands on at Blackthorn I had never heard of Rum Thief, now though, I can’t get enough. Uber talented, Rum Thief originally spent the best part of a decade drumming for bands but in true Dave Grohl style booked himself in to a recording studio, lay down all the instruments and vocals and produced the AMAZING ‘Clouded Mind’ E.P. (FREE on Soundcloud but is a priceless listen!) All 5 tracks are superb and for me to pick a favourite or the stand out tracks would be impossible! My suggestion? Download it, savour it and then head over the Main Stage at 14:45 and watch him SMASH it!
Manchester is currently producing a batch of top quality folk/acoustic artists and Tom Barrow is one of the best of the bunch. With a back catalogue of just 4 tracks it’s definitely a case of quality over quantity. His debut E.P (free on soundcloud) is a top quality listen showcasing all of Tom’s talents with his vocals sounding crisp and fresh (I could listen to them all day). Tom’s songwriting is also second to none, telling a story with every track. ‘Schoolyard Games’ is a triumph of a track reminiscing on youth whilst ‘Stuck in Shudehill’ is about a late night in Manchester that we will probably all relate to. ‘Tipsy’ is an emotive track about a past girlfriend and ‘Space to Rent’ is a cheeky little number that will have you toe tapping in no time. His set is on the Acoustic Stage and is my tip to be one of the best of the day. Tom is also in The Mantells, another band well worth checking out.
David Liversidge is a singer songwriter based in Manchester who excels in making beautiful acoustic pop melodies. Known not only for his self penned tracks but his covers of Fleetwood Mac (his version of Everywhere is magical) that will give you an added incentive to attending his set. His voice is beautiful, his lyrics are poignant and his set filled with fun and effects, he is basically unmissable.
PUPPET REBELLION are the best band coming out of Manchester at the moment. Fact. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or through WordPress will know that I adore this band. My Blog post on them can be found here https://emergingnorth.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/puppet-rebellion-manchesters-future/ and basically sums up exactly how I feel about the lads. PUPPET REBELLION bring everything they have to their shows and this will be no different. ‘Pirouette’, ‘Green Eyed Monster’ and ‘Chemical Friends’ are gonna be raucous (their loyal allegiance of fans will make sure of that). They take to the Main Stage at 20:35, make sure you are there.
Reverend and the Makers
Sometimes bands don’t get the credit they fully deserve and Reverend and the Makers fall in to that category. 4 Quality albums and and 7 years on Reverend and the Makers have still got it in abundance but still don’t get the credit they merit. Live they are frantic, it’s no hold barred madness with the band smashing it on stage and the fans smashing it (and breaking everything too, including, I heard at a recent show, the floor). Their 4 albums have been consistently quality and their Twitter is an absolute delight with John real talking about EVERYTHING! I’m a huge Rev fan and eagerly anticipate their set. Headlining the Saturday, this could be the highlight of Blackthorn for many and it’s sure to be an epic set.
Special Mention also to The Tapestry, Maisetto and John Mackie who are all superb and shouldn’t be missed!!
Looking to rock at Blackthorn? If so then Matchstickmen will be the band for you. Hailing from Liverpool these guys know how to rock! It’s 3 parts rock and 1 part grunge which combine to create a maelstrom of noise. Pounding drums, shredding guitar, jarring bass and vocals reminiscent of Pearl Jam, Matchstickmen are going to rock the main stage. Mosh pits, singalongs and devil horns here we come! They play the Main Stage at 17:00.
Championed by BBC 6 Music, Xfm and BBC Introducing Manchester, Faitala are a quirky 3 piece band from our very own Manchester. Their music reminds me of Metronomy with its electronics and its eccentric vocals and melodies and it sounds great. ‘Plush’ is their standout track for me and I’m sure it’s gonna sound great on the Acoustic Stage. They are festival veterans already with appearances at Liverpool Sound City, Dot to Dot Festival and Tramlines Festival under their belts and I’m intrigued and looking forward to see what their set will be like. Check them out at 14:30 on the Acoustic Stage.
With a nod to my earlier confession of loving Country music I introduce to you Richie Syrett. Americana/Folk/Country It’s an amalgamation of the 3 with superb melodies and a voice that will stop you dead in your tracks. Sometimes performing solo and other times (including Blackthorn this year!) with his band The Signets, Richie will blow your socks off live. I’m relishing seeing him in all his glory with his band (and harmonica, I’m a sucker for an harmonica!). The thought of him performing ‘Sway’ with full band on (in a perfect setting for his music) a farm is something I’m relishing. A real dark horse for best set of the weekend in my eyes! He takes to the Main Stage at 14:00.
Doug Perkins and the Spectaculars
Rockabilly Ain’t Dead… Ain’t that the truth! Doug Perkins and the Spectaculars are a little piece of 50’s Rock and Roll inspired magic! I love these guys. It’s a bit Cash and a bit Presley and It’s bloody catchy. They are going to tear the roof off Blackthorn with their Rock n Roll tracks and unconventional covers, It’s gonna be a ball! I’ll be the one Quickstepping and Jiving down the front… see you there! Main Stage 15:00
Kings Ov Leon
I have to be brutally honest and say that usually I am not a fan of tribute bands, especially those who cover one of my favourite all time bands but for Kings Ov Leon I will make an exception because, well, they deserve it… They are awesome. It’s not hard to see why they have performed some prestigious gigs because they bring a proper live show reminiscent of Kings Of Leon. This will be the perfect way to close the festival, a proper singalong to proper rock songs that we all know and love and its a given that the lads will smash it up and we will be signing Use Smebody all the way home.
Getting to Blackthorn has never been easier. Leave your car at home, have a drink and take advantage of the excellent bus facilities they have put on offer. More details here http://www.smithsofmarple.com/blackthorn-music-festival-2014
You’d be a fool to miss Blackthorn this year. I mean come on, It’s £40 for a full weekend of the best up and coming music mixed with some established classics, quality food and drink and a festival in some of the most picturesque surroundings you could want! Click the link http://www.blackthornmusicfestival.co.uk/tickets/ buy your tickets and join us for a weekend you won’t forget.
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