Words by Matthew Osborne
The Mostly Jazz Festival kicked off on the long anticipated weekend of 2013 when summer finally decided to join us. There were excited rumblings all across the city, and I was spurred into good spirits by a hearty British Lions win against Australia early in the morning.
I say good spirits, it was mostly lager, and a lot had been drunk when my girlfriend, Heather, and I began the long walk to Moseley from Selly Oak; the unforgiving heat sapping every morsel of my energy, leaving me a sweaty, panting mess by the time we reached the festival. Although the on site beer tent offered a fine array of good ales (I noticed as I flailed around the sizeable crowd) so I solidered through and bought myself and Heather another drink.
This was typically bad festival decision making, so we stumbled down to the lake where you could watch the time-telling dandelion seeds float on the gently rising water vapour. Luckily this proved a good vantage point to catch a couple of the main stage acts lending themselves to the summery vibe, and it also gave me a good chance to people watch for a while.
The general make-up of the festival goers was not dictated by a particular type, and young kids dressed in the latest festival range from H&M were grooving alongside ageing couples who looked like they were surprised to have stumbled into a roaring orgy of revelry during their countryside stroll.
Alongside the, without fail, groups of middle aged professionals decked out in full disco/Hawaiian beach wear catastrophes. Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival’s message was clear; Come One, Come All. And the people had responded.
After more drinking, and a little rest after the irresistible groove of the Craig Charles Fantasy Funk Band (starring many legendary funk players voted for by listeners of his BBC 6 Music show, whose names I was too drunk or not lucid enough to take note of), I had pulled myself together enough to join the varied and colourful crowd gathered by the main stage, ready to stomp along to the peculiarly white funk of The Blockheads.
Minus Ian Dury, the fact that these guys are still touring has often been overlooked; but his replacement, Derek the Draw, cut an eccentric figure and proved more than capable of filling some big Doc Martens. And if he wasn’t enough, then the gurning sex-face of bassist Norman Watt-Roy proved as endlessly entertaining as his playful bass lines.
Handing over to The Yardbird stage The Blockheads gave way to Craig Charles, whose enthusiastic funk/soul DJ set received an invigorating reception from the crowd; all hyped up by both timeless tunes and the huge bouncing balloons that threatened to explode at any second and soak them with who-knows-what gungy liquid.
The night finished with Candi Staton, whom I knew little of and expected even less from. But Ms Staton did, however, provide a good set with more familiar tunes than I was anticipating – among them the 90’s dance floor smash You Got the Love, a rousing version of In the Ghetto, and of course the disco classic, Young Hearts Run Free.
And despite my head finally being up to speed with my proceedings, my feet had now begun to give out; plus I still had a long, long walk between Candi Staton and my bed.
I grabbed Heather and we began to stumble home, resolving to come back and conquer Sunday for more Birmingham Review fodder. To be continued…
For more on Candi Staton, visit http://www.candi-staton.com/
For more on The Blockheads, visit http://www.theblockheads.com/
For more on Craig Charles’ Funk & Soul Show, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0072ky7
For more on Mostly Jazz, visit http://mostlyjazz.co.uk/