Barefoot Festival 2017…

Now, personally, I haven’t camped out at  Festival all weekend for 6+ years, so this weekend was a particularly exciting one for me.
Not only was I going to be camping out alongside the rest of Siobhan Mazzei & Band, some good friends from The Brandy Thieves, TC Costello and muso’s alike of Leicester, but I was also going to be performing as part of Siobhan Mazzei Band on Friday, and as Homeless Shakespeare on Saturday. Not just double, but triple excitement!

After setting up camp at the tape-bordered Barefoot Wildbunch camping area (they called it the band camping area, but we’re more fun than that), the Friday night was in our grasp! I head over to the band tent, treated with some top blues rock from The Midnight Honey, who also treated us to a Tom Waits cover (something I was particularly happy to hear from the first band I saw all weekend)!
The Saturday had a lot on, as besides from the music, they also have a huge cabaret tent, which featured burlesque, circusry, magic from Colin Skinner, bollywood classes, and the audio-visual time capsule that is The Vixen Trio. There was a lot to see and little time to see it in, luckily enough it was a 60 second walk between the tents and everything was conveniently timed out for what I wanted to see.
Siobhan Mazzei Band were on at 7, so we collected our stuff to setup & rock the place… Which, we did! We managed to sell some CDs as well as adequately warm up the audience for The 40Hertz Band, Idle Empire and The Brandy Thieves (the initial cause of the swampy, muddy ground left behind by their panting audience, after the DJ of course).

Barefoot Festival 2017
Me, Siobhan Mazzei, and Les Hayden with our wolf tails for Mythical Creature fancy dress on Saturday

Now, I know the Friday sounds hard to follow, but the Saturday did so in true style. I awoke to beer, greenery, friends and wildlife (No I didn’t mean wildlife when I said greenery), so it was already off to a great start. I head over to the band tent early to drop off my guitar and get some food (this must have been the most affordable festival I’d been to – everything was pretty much normal prices as far as food stalls go!).
After a well needed nap, I took to the stage with a setlist I would soon ignore & freeform the setlist, which worked well! It was a lovely honour having to have the 20+ Wildbunch slowly emerge from the campsite to come watch me, so a huge thanks to them for their humble support! As I played, there was a group of kids that mid set taking full advantage of my interactivity, and soon had me playing something I was trying to avoid doing in front of a family audience – Without Me by Eminem. Following that, a lot of originals, and for once minimal puns, my set was over. A success with no swearing and post-performance praise, and with my last song my duty for the weekend had swept away, so quickly I almost felt the pre-emptive taste of hungover regret.

So, I was free and ready to take on the rest of the weekend with a full stomach of beer, disaranno and Iron Bru. The music that followed me was also fantastic, with my first experience seeing Kenneth J Nash with a full band, Jesse Wright Band, TC Costello and his impossible-to-complete drinking game, and the last band I saw on the Saturday, the incomparable Goldwater, who had people moving from the bottom to the top of the festival dancing spectrum (would’ve been short a moshpit if it wasn’t for me & Siobhan too. We’re glad others joined in, not much of a mosh pit with 2 people, more a consensual fight).

Barefoot 2017
Me, Magician Colin Skinner, and Goldwater frontman Grant Decker being all street and urban following their sterling set.

Once the band finished, the charismatic chaos continued as the DJ would mashup some of the most obscure combinations of songs I’ve ever heard in my life, people wold flail and spin relentlessly, Colin Skinner (by this point, draped with golden wings) blowing people’s minds with mere decks of cards, and the personal highlight of the evening – The Brandy Races. The tournament of 3 rounds of racers in children’s pedal cars, and one race for the ultimate winner (it was me. I won in a digger. Sadly the other winners didn’t want to take part so I won by default, which is only half winning, but I still won). Taking place upon the slippery, soaked mud pit outside the band tent, the races were as intense as they were messy as I’m sure Joe Tapely of the Brandy Thieves, decorated in a luxurious fur coat, would have laughed over as the overseer of the races. I believe I raced a naked woman too.

What a weekend. I enjoyed every last second of it, I didn’t mean a single nasty person, I properly felt a part of what was going on and it was marvellous! So, in hoping they find and read this, the biggest, most sincere thanks has to go to the staff and organisers behind Barefoot festival, from the litter pickers and stewards to the sound engineers and food vendors, a huge thanks to all of you!

Anyone who’s looking for a family friendly festival, with the perfect balance of responsible play and unconditional partying, a different fancy dress theme each day, for paint fights, for great music and entertainment, great food and opportunities to discover something new, for great people and community vibes, and for some great views, be sure to keep your eye on the Barefoot Festival website to get your tickets for next year!

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