I must admit I had been looking forward to this year’s Deerstock Festival for a while now. This was the third reincarnation of the festival at its new-ish home out in the Nottinghamshire countryside, nestled between Bingham, Radcliffe-on-Trent and the main A46 to Newark at the Newton Cross Country Course. It is run by a whole team of helpers and largely for charity, but the main players in this wonderful little bash are the husband-and-wife team of Jed and Pat Southgate who painstakingly organise the whole festival.
Once again this year Deerstock took place over three days, starting on Friday afternoon and culminating in the headline act on the Sunday night. This year saw the introduction of a new stage housed inside a marquee instead of the truck we had last year and which was dedicated to the memory of a good friend and musician Roy Stone who sadly took his own life last year. The rear of this stage had an enormous banner with ‘The Roy Stone Foundation’ on it, which is a charity set up in his name to gain awareness of mental health issues.
The start of Deerstock is always a low-key affair and one of the best days for me as it’s not too busy and it is laid back. With festival goers arriving all the time for camping, it gets busier as the night progresses. This year’s festival also sold out for camping months ago, so it was starting to fill up quicker than last year as the first act graced the Roy Stone.
Brad Dear was on last year and made a good impression so he was back again for another stint of wonderful acoustics. All the first few acts were confined to this stage with the main stage not opening until around six o’clock. After Brad had completed his set, it was the turn of another young but seasoned Dearstocker Paige Seabridge who also gave a great account of herself after being helped out halfway through by a couple of party-goers from the crowd sporting a parasol and a long green snaky type thing in aid of cooling her down.
Again on the same stage, Brian Stone gave another good performance before Bainy, the MC, for this weekend and all the ones past, opened up the Main Workaway Stage and the introduction of the first act on it who are called the Belle Airs.
The Workaway Stage was sponsored strangely enough by Workaway, an organisation built around a team of culture seekers and innovators, who are passionate about travel. By developing Workaway they inspire others to travel the world and find their true potential. Workaway have seen thousands and thousands of volunteers connect with people and projects in other countries and make a real difference both on a personal level and to the communities they visit.
Back on the Roy Stone, Joel Sarakula played a good set before it got really hot with the introduction to Deerstock of Nottingham’s Motormouf. Motormouf is a hip-hop hippy who travels the galaxy armed with a loop pedal, a microphone, quick fire lyrics and beatbox vocals as his weapon of choice. He got the crowd up and dancing before they headed off again over to the Workaway where the night ended in fantastic style with two highlights of the festival for me.
Firstly, Luna and the Moonhounds dished out their own brand of trippy rock in expert fashion, throwing in a few covers for good measure but the sound was just awesome considering they have only been together for a short while. Following them one of last year’s headliners returned to finish the night off. Funke and the Two Tone Baby blasted his way through his set with the usual Bonobo antics and a little help from Paige Seabridge for good measure. Before that there were good sets from Sea Monster Eyes and Cut Bone on the same stage and John Dhali and the superb Unknown Era. It was a brilliant end to the first night, although the sounds from the Guerilla Stage out in the field could be heard well into the early hours, so it didn’t quite end there!
When we rose early on the Saturday morning, the dirt track out to the road was littered with party-goers both asleep and awake which was proof that it went well down in the glade. It all kicked off again on the second day in full sunshine with Black Thorn on the Roy Stone, which was followed by sets from Adam Clarkson and Melleor & Chantelle before Jon Gibbons exploded the laidback vibe with a blistering set.
Over on the Workaway, Black Rose Garden started things off followed by another Nottinghamshire band, the wonderful No! Disco whose own brand of indie pop went down well. With the Montells also doing the Workaway justice, it was time for more local sounds with the mainly covers band the Bountones, whose set it has to be said was pretty much perfect.
Over the field again, Just Ben was on the Roy Stone and got himself a helping hand from Roy Stone’s brother, Tony ‘Doggen’ Foster of Spiritualised, on a few numbers as emotions ran high and a few tears were shed.
Lorna then worked their laidback magic on an appreciative crowd with a gem of a set before the night on the Roy Stone came to a conclusion with non-stop dancing with the help of the two-man Whiskey Stain who were just awesome, a cross of blues and danceable rock, and a band I have seen many times now, the reggae/surf/ska-dub tinged Stuck in Second.
After the Boutones on the Workaway, former Deerstockers and indie dance act These Skies and Northwich’s Rock/Ska merchants Dirty Vertebrae both undertook great sets.
The end was near on this stage but not before Doggen gave us a spellbinding set with help from KT Ana, Just Ben, Baron Lewis, Tiger Lillie, Simon Boswell and the evergreen Kev Bales on drums. Last of all, and to bring the night to a close. old rockers Eddie and the Hot Rods proved they are still far from old even though, and I’m sure they won’t mind me saying, they have been around for what seems forever. As well as being expert musicians, they are also really nice guys and let me take a few photos too which was a thrill for this photographer.
Again the sounds from the Guerilla could be heard well into the morning hours. A quick mention about that stage. Early on, well before dawn anyway, saw another set of considerable note from the brilliant Luna and her Moonhounds which included a mesmerising Led Zeppelin cover.
Sunday began with another scorching day on the thermometer. although it was forecast that there was a chance of rain later. All the stalls and food counters around the perimeters were set up a little later than planned which gives a good clue as to the beverage consumption the night before.
If you thought Sunday was to be a laidback affair, you would be proved very wrong. On the Workaway Mancunian heavy/dirty rock blues band the Kingdom started things off with a great set. They were followed by North Nottinghamshire punk outfit the Outlines who also did themselves proud. After this, there was a magnificent set from another North Nottinghamshire/Chesterfield band Resistance 77, who were formed in 1980 and in their own words are an “observational” punk rock band that write songs about things about what we see and experience and who also go on to say “we are all lovely chaps.” Indeed they are a very nice bunch of athletic types. In continuing the heavy theme Nottingham’s hard rockers Fahran dished out further sonic mayhem to the continually growing numbers, and are another bunch of great lads.
The day’s events on the Roy Stone began with Jake Smallbones Band from West Yorkshire, and it was followed by Cats Charis, who complete with a double bass, also went down well also.
It was only a matter of time until the punk element filtered on to the Roy Stone and it happened in the shape of the Fanzines, who went down well and provided a wonderful set in front of a very busy audience. The punk theme wars were won for me by the next act, Headsticks, who came from Stoke. They played a cracking, animated set, which was again well received in the packed marquee and it just kept getting better.
A massive ten out of ten to this year’s festival. Well done, Deerstock.
One of the highlights of the festival, Diablo Furs came on straight afterwards. The four-piece punk outfit from Nottingham blew the crowd away with some great anarchic sounds.
After some Pistols style antics from them, we headed back over to the Workaway to see the Lagan. Hailing from all parts of the country from Cornwall to Lancashire, they played a heady mix of Irish Folk/punk/rock/ska.
The comedy for the day came around 6;30 p.m. when The Bar-steward Sons of Val Doonican hit the stage. Sweetchunks Band, who came all the way from Southampton, brought their own unique brand of folk to the Roy Stone, and the event came to a climax on that stage with a fantastic half hour or so from Bristol’s Mad Apple Circus, who brought with them a blend of horn-fuelled ska/hip-hop/jazz and Latin grooves.
We headed off to the Workaway for the last time to catch last year’s favourites Blackballed. The Mancurians again enthralled the crowd in front of the stage and looked like they really enjoyed it too. The whole event was brought to an end by Dreadzone, with their own blend of dance and dub.
The entire event was MC’d by Bainy Bain and his able friend Andy Haines, who brought their own combination of humour to events, and also in dribs and drabs fellow Deerstock co-ordinater/schedule maestro Dave Allen on the Roy Stone.
Highlights for me during this year was the energetic and anarchic set from Diablo Furs, the brilliant tight set from Luna and the Moonhounds (and also catching them on the Stage in the Glade), Finke’s energy and friendship and his set on the Workaway and also on that stage Resistance 77’s set. Motormouf was a pleasure to behold along with Lorna, Whiskey Stain and Headsticks. As always, there was some great guitar playing from Doggen which brought a few tears on the Roy Stone with his joint effort with Just Ben.
Photos by Dave Goodwin