Lytchett Matravers, Hall Road Farm
Last year a group of friends and musicians got together for a rural party in the grounds of an animal sanctuary in Lytchett Matravers near Poole, Dorset, the event was such a success this year has turned into a small festival called the Wonky Donk Festival. The name came from the fact that the animal sanctuary is home to some so called “Wonky Donkeys”, and some of the funds raised from the festival will go towards their up keep.
The festival is situated is a small valley surrounded by a stream amongst some beautiful rolling hills part of the wonderful Dorset countryside, the weather in recent weeks has been appalling with an unusual amount of rain for the time of year, despite this the festival organisers have worked tirelessly to prepare the site, with the ground being covered with lots of straw and sand to avoid everybody getting muddy, on arrival at the site revellers were pleased to find that wellies were not required. The forecast was that of sunshine and showers, with the stages undercover and various large shelters on the site no one was in danger of getting too wet.
All of the very reasonability priced tickets of £10 each were sold in advance with a few more available on the gate for people turning up on the day, as well as two small stages the main festival site contained a well stocked reasonably price bar with real ales, cider, and a mystery Wonky Donk drink that apparently packed a real donkey punch!! The entertainment got underway around 3pm with “The Jimmy Hillbillies” a ramshackle bunch of guys from the Deep South fronted by infamous local hoedown hero Harry Cotbeans from “Kentucky Fight Club” who provided some decent vocal accompaniment backed ably by his multi talented band.
The Jimmy Hillbillies 1
The clouds dispersed and the sun made a rare appearance sending some much needed warm rays across the valley. “Basic Blues Jones” plays an nice acoustic set with today’s in house Danish fiddle player Flemming Fiol, Who seems to pop up with virtually every band throught the day. As the next act “Slap Dash Picks” take to the stage with some stylish 50′s style music made by a duo performing with a beautiful pink double bass and a steel guitar, as most of the audience sat on the grass with their drinks, the quality easy to listen music floated gently around the valley creating a lovely chilled atmosphere.
Basic Blues Jones 1
Surfing Dave and the Absent Legends continued the party with some great tunes, but it is the Milk Machine featuring festival organiser Hawkeye Hoolihan that really get things moving with some great reworking of songs in their very own individual skiffle style, songs like R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”, Krafwork’s “The Model” and a hilarious reworking of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” changed to “Brumiestruck” giving a nod in the direction of our friends from Birmingham. A short sharp shower as the heavens opened for a short while did nothing to dampen everyone’s enthusiasm with Milk Machine’s set continuing at an even faster pace, the band seemed to be having a great time, as confirmed by the silly grins on all their faces.
Surfing Dave and the Absent Legends 1
Next “Cash Converted” arrived on the stage in style with Mike Carter taking on the great man’s persona, dressed in a sharp suit Mike and his band recreated some on Johnny Cash best known classics such as “Ring Of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues” which got the vast majority of the audience singing along in beautiful unison. Johnny’s wife June Carter arrived in the form of Beth Shergold who provided some excellent complimentary vocals for the remainder of what was a truly genuine reproduction of some of Cash’s best work.
As the light began to fade, the grey clouds gave way to a pretty pink sky which was an awesome sight before the night finally took over, the lights all over the site came on producing an altogether different atmosphere, it seemed at this stage that a whole lot more people arrived in front of the stage to see the penultimate act on the main stage “Quinn’s Quinney”, an eight piece band with their tongues set firmly in their cheeks, using a suitcase and a watering can as instrumental accompaniments. The songs were just hilarious and performed with an obvious influence from The Wurzels, the reworked songs included “Tractor on Fire” to the tune of Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” and Erasure’s “A Little Respect” with a great kazoo solo. The audience seemed to enjoy every minute and Quinn’s Quinney created a great party atmosphere getting a huge amount of revellers up off their feet dancing in the warm night air.
As Midnight fast approached the final band on the main stage was the much anticipated “Jack Ratts” who bounded on to the stage and continued where Quinn’s Quinney had left off, whipping the audience once again in to a pirate romping frenzy. The cider fuelled band create a very original sound taking influences from all over the world, from traditional English/Irish Folk to Eastern European and Bluegrass. The very fast paced energetic set lasted over an hour with the band leaving the stage to massive appreciation from the excited audience. The music continued until the early hours with an open mic session on the smaller stage.
The Festival this year was a resounding success and all involved should be congratulated for an amazing effort, reports are that next year the Festival could stretch over two days but keep to the same numbers to provide the same intimate atmosphere. All in all an extremely well planned and organised event that hopefully will continue and grow into an annual event much anticipated by all who attend.
Festival contact: Hawkeye Hoolihan
Review & Videos by Dave Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures by Jon Musselwhite.