Sunday, July 06, 2008


GuilFest 08 - Learn something new every day

I had to check with my newbie boss as he hails from down under - the middle flag represents the Australian Aborigines. I've no idea if the Aussies do a good steak - I had a massive packed lunch to get through earlier in the day instead.



GuilFest 08 - From The Jam

Just like last year when I say From The Jam in Reading, this was an enjoyable set. All the songs I wanted to hear were here - in fact, FTJ are really on a permanent "greatest hits" tour as the set list was almost identical. If you look at this list, drop the encores and swap "Strange Town" for "Life From A Window" then you will have what they played in Guildford. Which makes me slightly sad - although you want them to keep playing the hits, you want them to write some more songs to perfom to get away from being a tribute band to themselves. Of course, anything new they DO write won't necessarily work - it isn't 1977 anymore.

From The Jam



GuilFest 08 - Funny Hat

What's the world coming to when people are having to pay to wear bollards on their heads instead of simply stealing them off the streets. It's the beginning of the end.



GuilFest 08 - Comedy Tent

Ian CanterburyPierre Hollins

Michael Fabbri

Paul F Taylor

Robin Ince

Colin Cole

Paul Kerensa

This is a photo off Paul's website as I ... err... forgot to take a photo.
I must have been laughing too loud. That's it.


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GuilFest 08 - Boss Hoss

"All the way from Berlin, Mississippi!" Well, not exactly, as the band started up 4 years ago in Berlin, Germany.
That nation seems to have a thing for C&W music - remember the German Eurovision entry in 2006, Texas Lightning (declared honorary Texans by the Texas Senate)?

If you're a fan of Hayseed Dixie then their style of music should be pretty familiar - perform regular hits in a country and western style ("we have both kinds, country and western"). The big difference is that the former look like a bunch of moon-shiners whilst the latter wouldn't look out of place at a rodeo.

Their set didn't shake my faith in Hayseed Dixie as the best purveyor of this style of music. Hoss Boss seemed too practiced and not spontaneous enough (maybe festivals aren't good for that, especially today when attendence was low) and I didn't particularly like the lead singer (reminded me of a rat-faced troublemaker from a western).

Track list:
# Stallion Batallion
# Rodeo Radio
# Hey Ya (Outkast)
# Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
# Yee Haw
# {missed the title}

Boss Burns (Alec Völkel) does vocals and plays the washboard

Hoss Power (Sascha Vollmer) does vocals and plays acoustic guitar

Russ T. Rocket (Stefan Buehler) plays electric guitar

Ernesto Escobar de Tijuana (Tobias Fischer) does percussion

Frank Doe (Ansgar Freyberg) plays drums

Hank Williamson (Malcolm Arison) plays mandoline, washboard and harp

Guss Brooks (André Neumann) plays acoustic bass



GuilFest 08 - Funny Sign

Well, I found it funny.


Saturday, July 14, 2007


GuilFest 07 - Squeeze

After the Theatre Tent, Samantha and I watched a token small band - it was a music festival. :-)
"Moon Unit" were apparently ‘retro-futurism with a contemporary touch’, whatever that is. The problem with small bands in general is that you don't know the songs and usually they are a small band because they don't have anything that makes them stand out. They do help you pass the time, though, until you can move onto something else ... like Magerita slush puppies. Yum.

Soon after it was time for the headlining band, Squeeze. Everybody knows at least a few of their songs so you can sing along but I don't really like their singing style or song contents (post Cool for Cats).

So, in summary, GuilFest for me was 6 comedians, 2 bands, two plays, and a lovely curry for lunch. And it didn't rain. was £40 for the ticket worth it? Overall, yes. £3.50 for beers? Definitely not.



GuilFest 07 - Theatre Tent

The theatre tent was a well organised affair - several rows of straw bails for the punters, a stage in the middle and a large backstage area to the rear. Samantha and I sat down towards the end of the local Prankster's Theatre Company's rendition of Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (a shortened version thereof) so we could wait for the much more interesting-sounding "Stage Combat Demo and Workshop" from True Edge.

The first half was a series some set pieces to show of their skills followed by a second half of improvisation based on audience input. Their acting abilities were varied - Captain Jack Sparrow wasn't too bad; Romeo and Juliet were passable - but then we weren't there to see that. The swordfights were quite fast although they didn't have the advantage of camera angles to add more excitement. Reminds me of the Dr Who Confidential TV programme where you see the-making-of which never looks anywhere near as scary as the finished product.

More enjoyable was the improvised work where two stunt fighters (the middle pair in the photo below) would take on a string of suggestions from the audience and play them out as one continuous fight. I was surprised how vicious the very young people sitting so sweetly amongst us could be!



GuilFest 07 - Another successful GuilFest (Number 4 for me)

Today was a lovely day out - the weather stayed fine and the temperature didn't get too cold by 11pm.
Nobody nearly collapsed from sunstroke this year although somebody did get sunburnt - it's surprising how effective a constant breeze can be at dehydrating the skin. It's like the sun and the wind conspire - the former hides behind clouds from time to time so you don't notice it while the latter makes sure you have no moisture left to protect your skin.
My schedule was to live in the Comedy Tent for the afternoon and then pass the time somehow in the evening - the music line-up didn't really appeal (none of the acts from my childhood/teenage like Blondie or The Stranglers this year) but there are dozens of bands on spread amongst the many tents/stages.
The Comedy Tent this year was in a different position and open on one side - in the past it had been open on three sides which allowed for a nice through-draft to keep the air moving. This time, though, it felt pretty warm and the acts sweated more than was expected from facing a GuilFest audience.
I had a bit of a shock when I say the MC, John Mann - he looked just like Martin Davis (MC from previous GuilFests). Well, a Martin Davis that has REALLY let themselves go in a Keith Richards sort of way, anyway.
First act up was Stan Stanley with quite a short set. Seemed a bit nervous but managed OK - the afternoon audience at GuilFest is quite different from a normal gig. For starters there is no under-18 bar. There was supposedly a ban on swearing but the f**king Aussie later on couldn't get the concept.

Pete Firman is a magician that does comedy. In his act he managed to demonstrate a few simple tricks, such as the vanishing handkerchief. Most people believe this to be done with a false thumb but Pete went on to show that the trick is actually much more complicated than that - in fact it is all done with a handkerchief snatcher. A line from the handkerchief runs under the jacket and trousers (which Pete helpfully removed) to bands round the knees; a simple exercise of the legs extracts the handkerchief from view. Tada!

The advantage of being a magician - as I've reported from previous GuilFests - is that you get to invite lovely women from the audience to assist. In this case, helping the magician stab himself with needles a la Geek (circus geek, not techy geek).


Finishing off the first half was Roger Monkhouse, a very likable comedian, telling jokes about being a white middle-class parent of a teenage child -  easy overlap with a lot of the audience. His conversational style was that of a slightly baffled man, not necessarily unhappy with the world but learning how to get on with life's changes. Would definitely want to see his act again.
After a break we were back for more comedy, starting with Daniel Townes, a young and cocky Australian. Highlight was the story of his deportation from America after landing at LAX en route to Canada. Not sure why he was deported but his encounter with immigration was amusing, if a little unbelievable.

The music today was supplied by punk musician, Paul B Edwards. You might have heard his hit single "I Predict A Fry-Up" under the name of the Kaiser Chef.Paul B. Edwards:

Has more of an Internet presence than most comedians - I assume most don't have the time or inclination to run a website, or even a MySpace site.

MySpace URL 

Headlining was Junior Simpson, the only act I knew to be almost famous. He was quietly confident, relying on years of practice, and had a good range of comedy to rely on, pulling from repertoires aimed at general audiences as well as the brothers.
What I enjoy about black (and Asian) comedians is the insight they bring into their family lives and how similar and different they can be to mine.
For example, Junior related how in the past they would call the family to the TV whenever a black actor was to be seen, hopefully in time before the character was dragged off to the cells.
Or how he thought that being able to beat your child (punishing, not abusing) was something that was lacking from modern life. TV programmes with mothers being hit by their 4-year old children and asking what they could do just seemed bizarre to him. Being only a year apart in age, I can understand where he is coming from  :-)

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Saturday, July 15, 2006


GuilFest 06

It's now the third year running we've been to GuilFest but this time we dragged Samantha along too. Guilford is only an hour down the road for us and the festival tickets are a lot easier to get than for Reading Festival (and cheaper).

GuilFest is Reading Festival for the "Radio 2 Generation". The festival-goers still appreciate the music but they also realise that there is more to life, like bringing your kids along or being able to sit in comfy chairs drinking beers YOU took in with you. Imagine that - a festival where they don't strip-search you for contraband like bottles of water. And they still manage to sell loads of beer.

We've been lucky - GuilFest has been gorgeous weather every time. I'm sure it will rain sometime we decide to go but for the moment we'll enjoy the clear skies and warm sun (although not TOO much, eh, Sue?)

First stop after the St John's Ambulance tent was a Comedy Tent - not THE comedy tent, we quickly realised, but some mish-mash of entertainment (stand-up comedy, karaoke, etc) in a marquee packed with Nintendo DSes. Weird layout having Kevin Dewsbury (below) talking to an audience standing the other side of 20 kids playing on tony screens, although I'm sure he's worked in worse places. Although he was funny, you felt too far away for it to work - not the same atmosphere, made worse as he had to filter out certain subjects due to the young audience (who weren't listening anyway). It's not that I need to hear blue jokes - I don't - but it does knock the comedian off his stride. One advantage of the kiddy barrier, though, was he was too far away to effectively target anyone.

Kevin Dewsbury

After Kevin finished, we moved on in search of the REAL comedy tent which was in full flow by the time we got there. Danny James was compere and introduced the 3rd act as I settled down to watch.

Danny James (Compere)

James Branch was very good - professional with a tight performance and I recommend you look out for him in the future.

Next up was Steve Day, a rarity being a deaf comedian. We didn't need to make any allowances for this and he wasn't after any sympathy although it made good material for him. He did say that it was a nice change for him to see the audience (it being a daytime gig in an open-air marquee) - usually when his wife asks him how a gig went, he has to say "as far as I know, I stormed it" (clue: he's 70% deaf). It was interesting when he touched on the politisation of deafness, a world where it has become important for some to show if you are "Deaf" or "deaf" and where friends of the deaf are more likely to take offence than the supposed targets of humour. Sue learned this when she took a Sign Language course a couple of years ago - I find it kind of weird but as a member of an oppressed minority myself (D&D player) I can sympathise and understand.


Steve Day

Tom Stade was on a roll - he looked confident and out to enjoy himself (no idea if this was drug-assisted or not). I'm sure I've seen him at Jongleurs in Reading before and recognised some of his act - basically the anti-women stuff. Good observational work and well described so that you could easily picture a "significant other" crossing her arms and delivering the laugh that meant the "Gates of Hell had just shut behind you". Obviously, I had to use my imagine a lot to create this image - Sue doesn't bother with the preamble... Also the only comedian I've come across that started off his act taking the piss out of Wolverhampton - a place he initially thought was in the middle of a fitness campaign or sports festival from the number of track suits he saw being worn. Anyway, I picked up his CD afterwards for a £5 - bargain. It had to be a fiver as us British are too tight to pay a tenner for anything  :-)

Tom Stade

Beware of Tom Bell - he is by no stretch of the imagination funny. I spent a lot of the time while he was on just staring at the floor waiting for him to finish and depart. Only act to get heckled for being boring. The compere afterwards got really defensive about it - he suggested perfectly reasonably that if we didn't like an act we could just walk out and come back later. Yes, but I was comfortable where I was and I knew Tom Bell would go away eventually so I sat it out.

To be fair, there were some good ideas but they needed better treatment - maybe this was all new stuff and he was testing it? For example, one day he looked into the bathroom mirror and saw his father's face looking back, implying that with age you will come to resemble your parent. The twist was that in reality his father had built a false bathroom wall and bricked himself in so that when the glassless mirror was looked into, it really was his father staring back. The delivery really lacked polish.

Tom Bell


Six o'clock is kick-out time in the Hush Puppy-sponsored comedy tent so I'm forced to go and find something else to do, like watch some bands. Kosheen were soon to start (I'd already missed six other bands and singers - only 3 left now) so I slowly walked my way to near the front, navigating past walls of folding seats and fields of blankets. Sian Evans has a lovely voice and I was starting to really get into the dance/electronic music. The nice part of festivals is forcing yourself to listen to a whole set of music that you wouldn't normally touch.

Sian Evans, Kosheen

Gary Numan plays heavy rock (or dark wave industrial metal depending on what album reviews you read) and I found his set entertaining although his voice never sounds like what you'd expect for the genre. In years long gone, I did buy "Tubeway Army" and "Replicas" (admittedly both second hand) but never really got into his music past the hits. I think the same applies now - the songs they played were OK but apart from "Cars" and "Are Friends Electric" there was nothing I went away thinking that I must listen to again.

a-ha headlined Saturday so I strolled off to look around at other bands (Sue wanted to see them more than I did so I left the camera with her).

On the Ents24 stage were Blue Öyster Cult and I stayed for a few songs before drifting away - definitely a show for fans only. Maybe I'd drift by later for their "hit" :-)

I watched a couple of small bands at the LiveClub stage - Toledo Steel and Occasional Rascuedos.

Toledo Steel were a group of teenagers from Brighton who made me smile - the lyrics were bit naff but you could see they loved what they were doing and that really helps make you want to stay around (unless you've just turned up at the end of their set...). Loved the drummer, bashing away in a oversized Mad Hatter top hat over a big grin.

Occasional Rascuedos started kitted out in ponchos and Mexican hats, belying their Lancashire background. Apparantly, according to their Myspace their music is "in the style of guacamole with Platanos fritos as the "funk", crunchy nachos as the "rock" and a crazy mole of chocolate and chili as all the other types of influence stuff." which obviously matches well with their songs about girls in Blackpool that look like supermodels and talk like dockers.

Time was moving on so I navigated my way back to Sue and Samantha to catch the remainder of a-ha's set. They were pretty good so I could have watched them instead of checking out some other bands but I felt I would have short-changed myself if I had just stuck to the Comedy tent and main stage. None of the bands on this year were on my "must see" list but the day was good one none the less.

A-ha on stage

Morten Harket


Sunday, July 17, 2005


GuilFest 05 Comedy Tent

Bit of a change to the published line-up so no Pierre Hollins (a pity as he was brilliant last year); also started late, finished early and removed the hour interval so 6 comedians instead of 7.

Martin Davis (MC)

"Groan", I thought. "Not you again". Luckily we also had Alfie from last year (sans green mohican), the kid who wanted to be a policeman so he could have a license to kill. Can't wait to see what Alfie comes out with next year, although it does mean I'll have to sit through Martin Davis to find out.


Christian Reilly

Christian wasn't bad at all although his Wookie impression for his Star Wars musical needs a lot of work. Of course, it is hard to be good when the benchmark is Phill Jupitus but Christian's Tommy-Cooper-with-a-cough just didn't cut it for me.

His "Batman" theme tune was a lot better.



Jovanka Steele

Californian comedian who was here last year although I didn't see her then. I'm sure I've heard her act before, though, as some of it sounded familiar - or maybe they are easy targets like how to pronounce Leicester Square. I did enjoy the idea of French people covering their ears and admitting they could speak English rather than listen to her taught-by-a-Texan French accent.

Nick Revell

The trouble with writing these things up later on is that you forget what some people did.

Tim Clarke (MC)

So ugly and not particularly funny that I didn't bother taking a photo of him. Pretty useless as an MC too. Have a stock photo.


Dougie Dunlop

If you closed your eyes, you could think you were listening to Billy Connolly. Thankfully, the similarity ended there as Dougie did not spend half the time laughing at his own jokes.



Danny Butler

One of the obvious benefits of being a magician is that you can, without much fear of refusal, pick drop-dead gorgeous girls out of the audience and have them stare into your eyes. What a bastard. And his tricks were naff. Mutter, mutter...

Seriously, though, he was quite funny although if I had chosen to see a magician I would have liked some more interesting tricks - the rope that you cut and reconnect is a bit old hat (even I know that one). 

Jack Cowley

I had mixed feelings about his performance.

Highlight - after a bit of a rant by Jack about terrorism, somebody way at the back queried if Jack knew the relevance of the guy on the comedian's T-shirt and what he had done. After some verbal sparring, the heckler walked off. Jack then had a spark of madness and said "shall we go and follow him?" Needless to say, half the tent got up and followed Jack out of the tent in hot pursuit (to no avail).

Apparantly, if Jack was a suicide bomber he wouldn't want 72 virgins - who wants 6 dozen innocent women who don't know what to do? No, Jack would much prefer to trade them in for one good old slut who could show him exactly what to do.

I must be getting old as I was slightly surprised by the number of people in the audience who wanted to take advantage of the offer of a joint. Jack found a volunteer to roll one up from Jack's supplies and pass it round. Political protest? Maybe. Comedy? Not really.

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Monday, May 17, 2004


GuilFest 04

Haven't been on the guest list for a gig for MANY years. Managed to save a tenner by getting in with Sue at RUSU's "360" to watch the Buzzcocks. They aren't really on tour, just doing the occasional gig every few months so I'm impressed they are playing here at all.
Non-stop punk music - no chatting between records, just loads of energetic music. Quite a few I recognised (and some I didn't), opening with "Boredom", "Harmony In My Head", "Promises", "Noise Annoys", "What do I get?", "Ever fallen in love?", "Oh shit", "I Don't Know What To Do With My Life", and a bunch of others before ending with "Orgasm Addict".
Another band added to my have-seen list before they pop their clogs (last year I caught The Undertones at GuilFest)


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