Saturday 18th July 2015
Festival in a pub
Today we are in Enderby; a village on the south west outskirts of Leicester. Here we find the Dog and Gun pub and a day of music providing an opportunity to support the work of Leicestershire charity Loros. Blessed with hot sunny weather, the stage is providing a constant supply of music and entertainment for all the family.
The line-up opens with The Enderby Brass Band – one that traces it origins back to 1895; the tunes they are playing are, however, are a bit more up to date.
The first singer of the day comes to the mic; this is George, famous for his guitar showmanship and previously known for being the star of Purple and the Rains band.
The day is being organised by Kieran Kirby, who used to play rhythm guitar in the one-time band Cabrillo Beach, a great favourite of mine. An image flashes back into my mind:
Kieran is on stage accompanying singer Abbi Vials. She is singing and has a beautiful voice and his playing is quite impressive. I get myself a pint of real ale from the bar in the performance area, a large courtyard which acts as a sun trap.
On to the stage comes Jonezy, a local artist with an impressive track record of appearances and music releases. With this high-energy stage act and set of beat-driven rap songs, he is putting on a very upbeat show, which is going down well with people of all ages. Jonezy works through his own songs: Fight Back, Mental (with its powerful rhythms and compelling lyrics), Story Time, Break A Sweat (from his new album ‘Stories‘) and several more. It is still early in the afternoon but he is ramping up the volume with his stomping hip-hop tunes.
Who is that woman? A lady with long black hair takes to the area in front of the stage to dance. So, he’s got a new fan already! Jonezy asks the crowd to sing along to his cover song Monster; he brings the microphone over to two girls sitting on a bench in front of me and holds it in front of them. They sing well and seem to know the words. I enjoyed his performance so much, I decide to get myself another pint of ale.
The sun is hot, I have a beer in my hand, I am enjoying good music and I feel like I am on holiday. A band called Stetson (at least that is what I think I heard when they were announced) plays a set of popular cover songs; I think ‘good to hear all these old songs getting an airing.’
On stage ska and reggae band The Mixtones are filling the courtyard with the infectious rhythms of the Caribbean. Really good stuff. Is that Peter Hinds I see on stage? I remember him from his solo performances at various venues in Leicester. Is that Kieran I see playing the guitar with them? “Well, what a multi-talented guy he is”, I say to the person next to me.
I see that the crowd has got bigger by this time in the afternoon; many more people have arrived. The stage empties and various new musicians bring in their guitars and plug them into amplifiers; the drummer is placing cymbals on their stands. It seems to take a long time but eventually Kieran comes to the microphone and asks everyone to give a big welcome to Aztec Temples.
The atmosphere changes as the group of young men get into their song; big bouncy rhythms are filling the afternoon air; families stop talking and look at the stage; children stop running round and stand still. The first full electric rock band of the day is pumping out a set of stomping beats and I see people tapping their hands on the tables in time with the rhythms.
The lead singer, Conor holds the microphone as he pours into it the sounds of his ample vocals; I think ‘Well, he has got a good voice!’ Connor looks very cool in his dark shades, I think. This band is good; I lean across to a friend and say “These guys are fantastic”; he replies “Yes they certainly are.” I take a long drink of my ale and begin tapping my feet in time with the music. I am thinking this is the best afternoon I have had for ages.
After all the excitement of Aztec Temples my friend suggests we go to the barbecue stall and get some food; we both order the biggest meal available, a feast of meats served in a huge bun. The lady behind the counter tells me that the meat is from animals grown on an organic farm just up the road. I take ages to chew my way through the huge portion and have to get another drink to wash it all down.
The afternoon brings a succession of singers to the stage, all of them are good at what they do. Now a new band starts up; I look at the lead guitarist and singer and think ‘I know that chap from somewhere.’ I am racking my brains to put a name to the familiar face on the stage, playing the guitar and singing songs by the Beatles. I go over to Kieran and ask “Who is that lead singer in the band? I know I have seen him somewhere before.”
Kieran smiles and says “Really Trevor! Surely you know the famous radio presenter Tony Wadsworth?” The penny drops; I feel stupid; many times I have photographed one of Radio Leicester’s best known interviewers doing outside broadcasts with singers in the area round the Clock Tower. “It’s the beer you know”, I say to Kieran, “it dulls the brain.”
We leave the party and make our way round the corner to the bus stop; it’s time to move on to another gig, another round of bands and yet more music. But, I think to myself, as the bus winds its way back into town, I will remember that one most. It was quite a remarkable experience.