A year ago Phil Turner was making Kentish Cider in his shed. That seems a lifetime ago as his award-winning cider goes from strength to strength, and nothing illustrates this more than the enthusiasm which he and his wife, May, have in giving something important to the county: their inaugural music festival held on a sunny Saturday in October.
Phil and May are music lovers and regular visitors to Glastonbury, and so they decided to combine their two great loves of good music and good cider, and bring them to Kent in the shape of the Harvest Music Festival. Held at Loddington Farm and comprising a list of new young talent, the Festival was a huge success, and hopefully the start of a regular date in the diary for music lovers and new talent alike.
From the moment festival-goers arrived at the venue it was apparent that everything had been thought of. The entrance was lined with Glasto-style flags leading to a beautiful locally-made wooden sign making sure that you knew this was Harvest 2015! There was an array of wonderful local beers, and of course cider, and stall after stall of really high quality and well-priced food to make any palate happy!
All that was left was the music. There was a Main Stage and a Chill-Out tent. The Main Stage would be filled with the advertised line-up, whilst the Chill-Out tent would act as a great place for acoustic sets from a host of local young singers.
First up was Daniel Glover, a young acoustic guitarist that Zoe Ball has called “stunning”. He impressed earlier in the year with his ‘Heavy Mind Sessions‘ EP, and was a great way to open the Festival. Early attendees were immediately drawn in by his clear vocals, and the only shame was that there were not more people to enjoy this fantastic young talent! He would later close the Festival with an acoustic set in the Chill-Out tent.
Daniel was followed on stage by Lee Golledge who, complete with flip flops, brought the surf to Kent with his great mix of original music and covers. He quickly had the festival-goers in the palm of his hand, as he covered Zac Brown, Jack Johnson and Newton Faulkner, as well as mixing in some great sounds of his own. Lee is a local guy with his own recording studio, and apart from a great set, made sure that the sound was of a really high standard over the entire day; this was something lots of people commented on. The Turners, with Lee’s invaluable help, really nailed the quality at this Festival!
Hackney’s Moth Trap had made a day of their visit to Kent and fresh from the Meantime Session Stage at OnBlackheath brought their sound to the Harvest Music Festival with some style. Lead singer Talia quickly warmed to the task of bringing their combination of synth and acoustic music to the growing crowds, and was rewarded with enthusiastic approval. Talia and Bernard started as an acoustic duo, and this new band venture seems to be winning fans all the time. I’m sure this is not the last we will see of them on the Festival circuit.
The Devil’s Cut Combo then changed direction completely with their vintage mix of early R’n’B, Boogie-Woogie and Rockabilly. The crowd had been whipped into an expectant mood by a local Salsa band, who entertained while the stage was set for Rob Hillier and crew to get everyone into party mood with their driving infectious sound, which saw some enthusiastic dancing in front of the Main Stage. Meanwhile, local young singer Eliza Lewis was doing her best to ignore the revelry outside and bring her acoustic set to the packed crowd inside the Chill-Out tent, including a lovely rendition of her new song, ‘Apart’, and a stripped back cover of The Killers’ ‘Read My Mind’.
This meant that by the time Milly Mae, a band from Ramsgate in Kent, hit the stage with their heady mix of R&B and Soul and Funk covers, ranging from Ella Eyre to a crowd-pleasing cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall, the Festival was really hotting up and we even had some revellers trying to get on stage and sing along.
Next up was probably the high point of the Festival for me as Rudy Warman and The Heavy Weather hit the stage. I had sat in the Chill-Out tent and watched as Rudy warmed himself up with a series of yoga stretches and several big gulps of coconut water, and so was not really prepared for the way these three Folkestone brothers were going to raise the roof of the wonderful barn-like Main Stage the Turners had installed. From the moment the scarf-wearing Rudy had growled ‘Are you ready, cos we’re ready’, to the backbeat of his brother’s drum and bass guitar, and teased the crowd into a higher level of expectation, to the conclusion of a set with real stage presence, you had the feeling that this is a band that might become a Festival favourite. I look forward to seeing them perform again soon, and will be keeping an eye out for forthcoming gigs.
The evening concluded on the main stage with The Pearl Harts, another act fresh from success at the OnBlackheath Festival in London, bringing their own brand of punk style rock to the stage. It has to be said that there were parts of the mixed age crowd that looked a little bemused, but I’m sure that Kirsty and Sara, who apparently met whilst touring with other bands, took some new fans away with them, and the highlight for me was probably their new single, ‘Skeleton Made of Diamonds’. The song was inspired by a friend of theirs surviving an horrific accident, and is all about strength in the face of adversity. The Pearl Harts finished off in true Rock’n’Roll style by trashing their stage and exiting with a slam of the door!
And that was that for the main stage and for the Harvest Festival 2015. All that was required was for the Festival to finish as it began, and be acoustically serenaded by Daniel Glover in the Chill-Out Tent as the revellers made their way home, happy and already looking forward to next year. I’m told the Turners are already hard at work thinking of how to make it bigger and better in 2016. Personally I can’t wait to see how this Festival will grow!
Steve Holley is a live music enthusiast from London. His son Max is a singer-songwriter. The inaugural Harvest Music Festival took place on October 3. For further information about next year’s festival, check out their website.