For one reason and another I was unable to get to Harlequin last year, nor indeed the previous year so this was my first visit to the new site. I must admit I was quite surprised at how much it has grown, I was discovering new nooks and crannies throughout the festival. Although much larger in surroundings and attendance it has retained its magical charm and appeal with this family-friendly event being safe, relaxed and inclusive with lots of great local and national acts playing over several stages with sound systems like Rebel Lion playing into the night in the woods.
Over four days and four nights I heard some great music in fantastic company and experienced some extremes of temperature too. Saturday lunchtime brought the traditional downpour but what I was not prepared for was how cold that night would be with temperatures dropping to below 8C. The sun shone in the morning though and it was soon dry, everyone kept their good spirits.
The well stocked bar was cheap and well-staffed too … I developed quite a taste for the Burston Cuckoo which at £3.40 for a pint was really good for a festival. The choice of food was also good and reasonably priced … the breakfasts at Coyote Moon were perfect and the beautiful surroundings inside the huge yurt hosted an open mic curated by Chuman … Yve Mary B, Peter Turrell, Mari Joyce, and Dr. Clyde all played extra sets here, as well as an extraordinary Sunday night performance from a hastily assemble Olinski Onsomble [sic] which had moments of weirdness and brilliance.
Hot Raisin made probably the most rock ‘n’ roll entrance, due to various problems on the journey they arrived fifteen minutes before their set and rolled under the netting to the stage like the assault course round of the Kryton Factor, opened their beers, soundchecked and started their set on time and were brilliant.
Tallowah were regular visitors to Harlequin but with an altered line up with former percussionist Jack now on vocals and guitar they have been re-born as Slim Pickings and headlined the main stage on the Friday night, and were one of my highlights along with Organisms, Hank, Feral Mouth, Alden, Patterson & Dashwood, Dr. Clyde, the Raisins et al. I enjoyed hugely seeing Feral Mouth again, it’s been ages since I last saw them.
On the Nomad stage Phoebe Troup was in dungarees (as was I!) and opened the music on the Friday. I spent most of my festival at this stage and caught the likes of Birds of Hell, Maya Law, Of the Clay, Jay Tucker, Miniature Universe and many others here. I also had the pleasure of seeing again – for the first time in a few years – Mel Pout (father of Jack). We had a great catch-up chat and I enjoyed his set a lot, playing guitar and banjo which he later told me he’s only been doing for four years, which is staggering. He certainly has a talent for what he is doing in music now.
As well as activitities for children in the woodland glade, the healing area, there was also a tent for talks and presentations. I attended the one on the climate by Piers Corbyn (yes, brother of Jeremy) which was interesting and thought-provoking and prompted some lively debate.
A hugely enjoyable if tiring four days but crucially off-grid and out of the Matrix but it passed really quickly. So much good music, good company, and special memories. At the close of the festival the sky appeared like this … as seen from outside the Coyote Moon cafe.
Big thanks to Pedz, Sam, Rob, Jerry and everyone I had the pleasure of hanging out with.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017