Three factors determine a good music festival: the weather, the food and the music.
Last year I made the mistake of dropping into Guildford first then catching a bus. Not this year, I went straight to Godalming by train, which meant I only had to drop down to the river from the station, though I did miss the pleasant walk along the river
I dropped into Godalming Parish Church lit a candle and writ a prayer card for my lovely friend Annie.
From the church I could hear the music, and it sounded good.
I entered from the path that runs down through the churchyard, only to find a fence across the path and a lad rattling a bucket. I slipped through a gap, and the lad gave me a flyer.
I queried why the fence. The answer was an example of unbelievable crass stupidity,
The fence was across what was deemed to be a Fire Exit. There are two others ways in walking along the river, and a third way in. To label the exit a Fire Exit, they needed something on which to hang the sign hence the fence. Were there to have been a mass panic exit, for example bombs going off, people would have got entangled in the fence.
A further problem. This entrance led from not only the graveyard but also the town. All afternoon, I would see people head down the path, see the path blocked with a fence, and then head back up. Whether they tried another way in, I do not know, but is served to empathise the fence should not have been there.
Last year, a lot of excellent food stalls, including a hog roast. Sadly not this year. A Caribbean stall, a Thai stall, then the usual disgusting burger and doughnut vans. There can be absolutely no excuse for letting in these type of stalls, when locally there are good food suppliers. The Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage in Guildford wanted a stall, either no one got back to them or else they were refused.
No acoustic stage in the cloisters. Last year, having discovered the acoustic stage in the cloisters, I bounced back and forth between change of acts.
As last year, the main stage the bandstand. As last year, nothing to say who was playing when. Ironically there were posters around for Sunday, but nothing for Saturday. The flyers showed who was playing, but, as I later discovered, in reverse order of play.
First on, The True Deceivers, only I thought they were Sheelanagig. I only discovered my mistake when I bought a couple of CDs and looked at them later. I must have caught their act about halfway through. A kind of rootsy folk. They were good and a good start, and an indication of what to expect later.
I thought as changeover for next act, I would pop to Café Mila for lunch. Sadly not much left. A pity they did not have a stall, even if it meant closing shop for the day with a sign saying at Staycation.
Sadly, I missed nearly all of the next act, Left Step Band, and only caught their closing number. A pity as if this was typical, they were good.
Now a long break, well at least 15 minutes to set up the next act.
The Majestic, reggae. I found them a bit bland. Even Bob Marley did not seem to lift them. I decided to go to Café Mila for afternoon tea. They were still playing when I came back, but now far better. Maybe they needed to warm up. I had a chat with one of the guys later, and suggested they may wish to try The Barn in Farnham.
Alternative Dubstep Orchestra were amazing. A mix of avant garde rock, ska (reggae) and salsa. In many ways they were like a cut down, avant garde salsa band, with brass, strings, guitar, percussion and vocals. Way over the heads of everyone, thought I. I was proved to be wrong, or at least proved wrong in CD sales, and a lot of people came over and praised them. They had come all the way down from Birmingham.
They opened with Power, the long version, not the short version on their CD.
If nothing else had been worth seeing, Staycation Live Music 2013 would have been worth it just for Alternative Dubstep Orchestra, and of what they played, it would have been worth it for their amazing rendition of the Dionne Warwick classic Walk on By. A pity Walk on By is not on their CD Alternative Dubstep Orchestra.
Sheelanagig were weird. Imagine a band playing at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland and you get the idea. And yet they proved to be very popular, and a big demand for their CDs. Their gig at Beautiful Days festival 2011 gives an idea of what they are like.
As with last year, few seem to know of bandcamp, or if aware, do not use. One said they would not use as wish to see their music spread organically. That is exactly what bandcamp facilitates. If you like the music, for example like what you heard at Staycation Live Music 2013, with one click can be shared with mates, e-mailed or embedded in a blog.
The day finished earlier than last year, around 7-30pm, but with a continuation in various pubs around the town.
I came away with half a dozen CDs.
- Hell or High Water
- Lies We Have Told
- The Majestic
- Alternative Dubstep Orchestra
- Cirque Insomnia
Compared with Aldershot Live Music Day last Saturday which was dire, Staycation Live Music 2013 was a breath of fresh air.
Minor gripes to one side, food, blocked path and no acoustic stage, Godalming Town Council are once again to be praised for putting on an excellent free music festival. The location by the River Wey could not be better.
This is the third Staycation Live Music, and it is rapidly acquiring a status as one of the best free music festivals.