Words by Ed King & Ceri Black / Lead pic of The Flyover Show – by Rob Gilbert
“…I was thinking, Michael. If you got some speakers and a little wooden stage, we could really make this a party. And if it goes well we could always do it again next year. Maybe even charge.”
With the trenches of Glastonbury baking behind us, and Bestival sprinkling glitter onto the summer’s event horizon, there are still a few festivals worth a stop, look & listen. And being Midlanders we have a better stab, logistically speaking, of getting our backpacks and Birkenstocks out across the UK – with some so temptingly close to home it would almost be rude not to.
So if you’ve been living in a hole – synthetic, figurative or literal – and haven’t had a chance to see what’s where and when on the calendar, here are a few suggestions to get your festival summer started.
Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul @ Moseley Park 8-10.07
Having only begun in 2010, Mostly Jazz has already been on quite the journey. Popularity and controversy of acts performing over the three day event have been on the up, with last year’s headliners, Public Enemy, being the arguable zenith of both.
But this year’s announcements will not disappoint an ever hungry Mostly Jazz crowd, as George Clinton, Average White Band, Grandmaster Flash and De la Soul all perform in the fashionably middle-class suburb – with Mostly Jazz ‘stalwart and curator’, Craig Charles, DJing on the Saturday. There’s also a healthy local contingent, including Call Me Unique and Trope, who are both well worth some attention.
Tickets are priced from £42 for a day pass, and after being recently described as ‘…a Birmingham institution,’ value for money doesn’t seem to a problem. With a vibrant line up, locally sourced food stalls, and onsite Purity Brewery fuelled bars, Mostly Jazz‘s high-spirited atmosphere kicks off our suburban summer with a bang.
For more on Mostly Jazz, visit www.mostlyjazz.co.uk
Big Family Festival @ Dunton Hall, Sutton Coldfield 30-31.07
Not often you get to see Rastamouse headline a Greenfield event.
Big Family Festival launches this year, taking over the grounds of Dunton Hall in Sutton Coldfield for the weekend of 30-31st July. And it is exactly what it says in the tin – a big site festival that’s been programmed with a firm focus for children. We kid you not about Rastamouse, who appears supported by De Easy Crew (naturally) and a host of his CBeebies cohorts, no doubt looking to broaden their portfolio should Tony Hall get another sudden rush of blood to the head.
The rest of the bill is packed with kid friendly acts, including tribute performers from Katy Perry and Beyonce to Michael Jackson and Bob Marley (OK, not that kid friendly) alongside a range of stay & play activities and games based learning. There’s also a The Gruffalo Storytelling, The Tin Man Dance Academy, a comedy tent, an outdoor cinema, the Ibiza Ghetto Blaster and a Jedi Training Academy – the last two of which, I’ll put money on attracting a somewhat older crowd.
Tickets are reasonably priced too, with day passes ranging from £29 for adults, £15 for children (10-17yrs) / £8 (5-9years) aged five to nine. Under fives are free, which considering the raison d’être is either Father Christmas generous or a little fiscally daft.
For more on Big Family Festival, visit www.bigfamilyfestival.co.uk
The Flyover Show @ Hockley Flyover 20.08
The Flyover Show returns to Birmingham, once again set to ‘transform the grey space beneath the Hockley Flyover into an oasis of cultural expression’ in a one-day festival of music, arts and dance.
Headlining The Flyover Show 2016 will be legendary jazz/reggae guitarist & composer Ernest Ranglin, who ran Studio One and Island Records back in the days when you’d really, really want to. Further acts confirmed are Basil Gabbidon, Eska, Call Me Unique, Juice Aleem, Knox Brown, TrueMendous, Reuben James, DJ Winchester, YounGod, Decip4life, Amerah Salah, Jae Dot Sosa and Trope. Soweto Kinch will also be playing both with his own band and alongside headliner Ernest Ranglin – who is adding The Flyover Show to his ‘farewell tour’, following dates including Glastonbury Festival, The Barbican, Montreal Jazz Festival and Istanbul Jazz Festival.
Always inclusive, always fun, always free. And with an A road roof should the August’s skies turn, The Flyover Show is a welcome sight back on the city’s event calendar.
For more information on The Flyover Show, visit www.uprize-cic.com/theflyovershow
Shambala @ ‘a country estate in Northamptonshire’ 25-28.08
If you’ve not been to this Mac daddy greenfield affair then 1) shame on you, 2) buy a ticket for Shambala 2016, and 3) buy it quickly. Without a doubt the most fun you can have whilst dressed as a shoal of fish, circa Shambala Festival 2014, this truly homespun festival endevour is a benchmark in both style and content.
With a cracking approach to production, and a line-up that represents a vast, huge, wondrous array of all things audio (a bit like the record store loins from which it came, no pun) this is the way your three day benders should be.
Plus the brains behind the bash have kept the site capacity to 15k, or so I believe, meaning you’ll never have to worry too much about being lost in the crowd. Oh, and Sister Sledge are headlining this year. I’ll say that again… SISTER SLEDGE ARE HEADLINING. Holy sing-a-long Batman, get me Skiddle Tickets on the laptop.
For more on Shambala, visit www.shambalafestival.org
Moseley Folk Festival @ Moseley Park 02-04.09
The only bad thing about the Moseley Folk Festival is it means (cue Game of Thrones theme music) winter is coming. A week before Bestival and on the same weekend as End of the Road, Moseley Folk is one of the last leaves to fall on the perennial festival flower. But it’s not a bad way go.
On the upside it’s right in your backyard, figuratively for most and literally for some. Which I suppose you could see as a either good or a bad thing, depending on how seriously you take you resident’s association. But picking up the reigns left by the adventurous yet unsustained L’Esprit Manouche festival, Moseley Folk has established its beautiful suburban setting as a well-groomed event site – paving the way for a cornucopia of acts who have found their way to the Private Park. And gaw’d bless ‘em for that.
This year sees The Levellers, The Coral, The Proclaimers, The Jayhawks and Billy Bragg on top of the bill – with a healthy second row coming from Phosphorescent, Oysterband, Songhoy Blues and Benjamin Francis Leftwich. There’s a load more on the line up also worth a stop, look and listen – including Steve Tilston, Laura Gibson, Treetop Flyers and Chris Cleverley. Plus a duet show from Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) and Jessica Hoop; an offer is so tantalizing I may be making it up.
For more on the Moseley Folk Festival, visit www.moseleyfolk.co.uk