It’s almost beyond belief that Deerstock is in its sixth year this year. Every year it gets better and better and the variety of the bands grows, with this year being no exception.
The bands kept on coming and coming and the fun and ale were overflowing. If you didn’t know, Deerstock is a charity family music festival set in the Trent Valley, bringing together national and local bands. To date it’s raised £55,000 for various charities.
As a ‘not for profit’ run entirely by volunteers most of our bands and artists are asked to play for expenses, but also to talk to national bands about supporting their favourite charities in return for a headlining set. Charities supported in the past include UNICEF, Alzheimer’s Society, Help for Heroes, CALM, Reach, The Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund, and The Roy Stone Foundation.
The festival is set over three days starting with the Friday night bash which started somewhere around two o’clock and included the second showing of Festival favourites Luna and the Moonhounds on the Main Stage: a female fronted five-piece from the UK whose sound is best described as psychedelic blues rock, heavily inspired by the 60s and 70s. The Friday night was headlined by more festival faves Dirty Vertebrae and on the Roy Stone stage the highlight for me was seeing Motormouf again with his unusual brand of hip hop beat boxing. 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, and darned good at it he is too.
The weather held out on Saturday until around five or six pm when the heavens opened and it lathered it down from then on. I was met by my old schoolmate Roy Bond, magician extraordinaire who bamboozled the crowd – and me, for that matter. I wish I had his talents because I could have magicked him away before we ended up in the drunken state we finally got to.
A good time was had and the Saturday actually began with young Alex Bradfield on the Roy Stone with a blinding set from such a young talent. Following him later came Blue Vulture, Tazer and These Skies. Blue Vulture are headed by Deerstock compere Bainy Bain and are a local band, as are These Skies, who play a fusion of electronica, indie-rock.
As the day went on the weather got hotter until around 5pm it changed suddenly and the rains came with a vengeance. But they are a hardy crew, this Deerstock crowd, and a little rain didn’t deter them seeing great sets from The Boutones, Whiskey Stain, Doggens All Stars and The Zongo Brigade. Whisky Stain are a two piece R&B/blues/rock outfit who are picking up gigs faster and faster, and the All Stars are a makeshift band headed by Nottingham musician Tony ‘Doggen’ Foster and his mates who peaked with a superb rendition of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’. The Roy Stone Stage played host to some superb music with a mind blowing set from Power Ranger-clad Dandilions which had me in bits, Texan Jonathan Terrell putting on a fine show, and Skalinskis heading the night off with their own brand of ska/reggae.
Sunday started the way Saturday had in the bright sunshine but this again changed and we had rain once more, but we weren’t one bit bothered by now. The Main Stage kicked off with an acoustic duo by the name of Waiting for Jack, and slowly turned into the home of punk later on. Terminal Rage had a great set, before the highlight of the whole show for me – Diablo Furs – hit the stage. They were on the Roy Stone last year and this time they made great use of the extra space on the main stage in a frenetic set ending as usual with kit all over the place and the band on the deck with their instruments strewn about willy-nilly.
Unknown Era and Headsticks, both coming back for seconds after last year, carried on the great sounds before Transglobal Underground came on with a unique world sound incorporating a bit of reggae, Indian sitar and other global sounds. On the Roy Stone Stage the night ended with Under a Banner, Fox the Pirate and Inner Terrestrials headlining. The whole event this year ended with punk rockers Ruts DC giving us nearly an hour of nostalgia and magical music.
The event had all the usual stalls it is famed for with, for 2017, the addition of a cider cavern. The whole affair went a tad smoother than last with the back-stage crew fronted by Dave Allen doing a sterling job with the schedule and the sounds. After hours lovers were catered for with the Guerrilla Stage down the track in the trees which had artists playing into the early hours.
All in all this year was a huge success and the music a little more diverse than last which was a refreshing change and the charities Reach, PAS (Patient Advocacy Service) and Nottingham’s Women’s Centre were all helped by the cause.
Deerstock is becoming the country’s best little festival and attracting attention all the time but in a way all the folk who come to this wonder in the Nottinghamshire countryside are not boasting or bragging about it because we want to keep it that way and enjoy it all for ourselves. Can’t blame us, can you?
Photos by Dave Goodwin