Last But Not Least

Sadly, Rob was unable to accompany me on the first part of this year’s tour. So I set off alone to play Shindig’s last but not least great festival…

Relaxed Pace

The ride to Shindig is now familiar but with subtle variations each time. The first part follows the well-ridden path to Glastonbury: climbing steeply out of Bath, then following the old railway line, through the Two Tunnels, to Wellow. From here, there are some nasty sharp climbs but the scenery is beautiful and traffic minimal.

Traveling solo, I could set a relaxed pace and take my time. Paradoxically, that always seems to get me where I’m going more quickly.  Which is appropriate to one of the themes of the tour: that we all need to slow down and do less.

Hills Aplenty

Re-joining the disused railway, the way through Radstock and on to Midsomer-Norton is mostly flat and – again – traffic free. Here, I deviate from my Glastonbury route, heading further West to cross the Mendips. There’s no easy way to scale those hills but this one’s not too bad – even with tent, clothing and guitar on board.

It always feels as though the hard part of the journey is behind you once you leave Glastonbury behind. However, it’s actually only about half way. And there are more hills to cross. Thankfully, this time I avoided the aptly-named High Ham. And though there were hills aplenty, nothing was too much of a struggle.

What Next?

Arriving early evening at the Shindig site, I was directed to the artists’ check-in. This entailed a lengthy walk past the crew camping, to which I then had to return once wrist-banded. Oh well, it was dry and everyone was in good spirits.

The festival was billed as the ‘last ever’ Shindig. We’ll see about that. It seems the venue – which is superb – is going through some changes, so perhaps that has prompted a hiatus while the organisers decide what to do next.

Dance, Drink and…

In any event, it was – once again – joyous. The small size, beautiful location and mix of live music, comedy and DJs make for a great party. Everyone lets go and gets swept along in a colourful feel-good weekend of dance, drink and dr… other stuff.

Apparently, one night there was some unrest over people making too much noise in the crew camp site (?!). I was out for the count and slept through the whole thing. So, as far as I was concerned, all was thoroughly amicable.

Funky Grooves

For two days, the sun shone and everyone languished on the lush grass. Then on Sunday the heavens opened and it rained. And rained. There was even a violent thunderstorm around midday, which caused the power to be temporarily off. It also meant the PA at the Hobo stage, where I was to perform, had to be taken down.

So, my gig was cancelled. Not a terribly auspicious start to the tour. But at least Rob hadn’t made the journey in vain. Having said that, I had enjoyed a great set on Friday, playing drums for The Berry Collective’s funky grooves, spontaneously augmented by the wonderful Marick Baxter on flute. So, all was not lost.

Welcome Rest

The ride home, as ever, was a little more arduous – following four nights with minimal sleep, maximal dancing and a modicum of intoxication. I was treated to a restful and very welcome lunch, half way, at my brother’s new home in West Pennard. Before once again tackling the dreaded Mendips.

This time, there was some rain. Which was heavy at times. But with a warm bath and hearty dinner waiting at home that wasn’t much of an inconvenience.

Onwards & Upwards

It was nice to think I’d played the first and last Shindig festivals (the first on drums with Plucky Purcell and percussion with Thompson’s Lovechild) but perhaps a little disappointing not to have performed as a Band named Brian. Now I was ready to greet Rob and prepare for our Fringe appearance and the rest of the tour.

Onwards and – quite literally – upwards!