Red Rooster Festival, Euston Hall 5-7 June 2015
Last year’s inaugural Red Rooster Festival was my favourite one of the year. A chilled, small festival set in beautiful grounds with some top notch music.
Based at Euston Hall close to Thetford, just over the Norfolk-Suffolk border in the grounds of the Duke of Grafton’s estate this festival features Blues, R’n’B, Country Blues, Americana over two stages with plenty of space for camping and chilling.
The weather by and large was superb. There was on early morning storm at about 6am Friday which didn’t last long and some chilly nights but the days were full of warm sunshine. Last year’s shortage of food outlets was addressed with eight or nine food stalls now comfortably catering to the crowd of 2,500 or so, as well as coffee and ice cream stalls, clothes shops, a corner shop and a veggie stall too the food situation was great and the queues for the most part fast moving.
There were plenty of nice touches around too, wooden games, even two sets of poker cases on baize tables in the woods. I like the thought and the trust shown by the organisers doing this and the respect that they still all appeared to be there at the end of the festival too.
Musically things kicked off on Thursday afternoon with a Norwich night, DJ78 starting proceedings with his usual impeccable selections before and between the live acts of The Thinking Men, Feral Mouth, and to close the night’s live music, the always wonderful Vagaband who had the whole tent dancing.
Over the Friday and Saturday night we were spoilt for choice with music from 11am onwards on the main stage – this year angled along the length of the big top – and the Little Red Rooster stage which had moved along slightly from last year, closer to the lake (or “Blues Swamp”) and had a Jack Daniels bar, hay bales and logs for seating and various games like coconut shys entertaining the children. I spent quite a lot of time at this stage especially on the Saturday enjoying the largely acoustic acts, the sunshine and the relaxed, easy company.
On the main stage the bigger names included the likes of Ian Siegal, CW Stoneking, the genre hopping Kitty Daisy and Lewis (I loved their rocksteady numbers with Jamaican trumpeter Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton), Big Boy Bloater, Black Kat Boppers, Son of Dave, Marcus Bonfanti, Chessboxer (who played both stages), The Rumble and a whole host of others that I probably missed whilst in other areas of the site. On the Little Red Rooster stage I saw the excellent Danni Nicholls (twice), Chistina Kulukundis, Lucy Kitt, and my personal favourite set of the whole weekend … the lyrically exceptional Robert Chaney who brought some Southern darkness into the sunny setting. I was spellbound by the tales and the delivery and had no hesitation in buying his CD afterwards. His set wasn’t without wit either, and he was joined for the final two numbers by Laura Tenschert and her incredible vocals. I love hearing an artist for the first time who completely blows me away with their talent and their evocative songs. This was such an occasion, and the intelligent songwriting and mood of The Cyclist was epic in its tragic Long Black Veil mood. 1960s Greenwich Village, Townes Van Zandt, Dylan, Florida = Robert Chaney. Magnificent.
The main stage headliners CW Stoneking drew a large crowd whilst on the smaller stage Hannah Lou Clark was followed by a surprise and unbilled act called CC Adcock who had the late night Roosters dancing as long as he was allowed to play. This was another festival highlight.
There were so many other great acts too, the likes of The Blues Kitchen Gospel Choir who performed in the stall area by the fountain, people who played at the campfires at night, like Steve One Bloke Mandolin, and some perfect late night music selections by the djs, and everything on the main stage was compered by the brilliant Paul Mills.
The festival has grown since last year, at least double the number of people from then but the vast grounds are easily able to accommodate them and nowhere felt crowded. The one complaint and one thing that does need expanding though would be the portaloo situation which couldn’t cope with the rise in numbers with day ticket arrivals on the final day of the festival. The site will need at least double the number of portaloos and some urinals like the ones used at Harlequin would make the situation infinitely better. This is a new festival though and they are learning and will sort this out, I have absolutely no doubt about this. All in all though it was another fantastic event and I enjoyed myself immensely. The music was excellent and had variety whilst all being suitable for the theme, the vibe was nicely relaxed and friendly, security were friendly, and the company superb, spent with friends old and new I don’t think I have laughed so much in ages. Highly recommended festival which is ridiculously good value for money. I’d still love to see Earl Harlem/Hank Jd Sleek next year though, he’d be perfect.
Many thanks to all at Red Rooster, Karen at Orbit, all the bands, crew and amazing company.
I caught the last two or three songs of the set by Lucy Kitt. She really impressed me with her playing and her gorgeous voice. If Harriet from the Sundays had done country blues it may have sounded a bit like this, a good mix of influences from the likes of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young makes a super sound here. Gorgeous.
Review and photos (c) all rights reserved Shashamane