Wonky Donk Festival

Halls Farm, Lyctchett Matravers

12th & 13th July 2013

Wonky Donk 2013

It’s one of the hottest weekends of the year and it’s mid way through Dorset’s festival season. That can only mean one thing in Lytchett Matravers, Wonky Donk Festival 2013!

After a humorous half hour spent putting up a broken tent by two middle-aged men, we make our way to the arena. Dreamed up last year by one Hawkeye Hoolihan and his band of willing volunteers, the festival due to its popularity has swelled to a two day affair.

Wonky Donk

One middle aged man and his tent (the other holds the camera) 

The opening act Drew Allen doesn’t actually take to the stage until at least 5pm. The vibe of the whole event seems to be one of “chill” (as in relax)! Having caught Drew Allen live in a band recently I now witness him alone, up and personal. It’s early evening as the early birds gather under a large awning to witness the first act. Among his many confidently delivered numbers is “Simply Ridin’ The Storm” – there’ll be no storms this weekend! A great albeit chilled start.

Drew Allen
Drew Allen 

Sofi Reed soon follows and early on is beset with sound problems. “Mr. Solo”, the new single is shamelessly plugged once sound is resumed. Sofi’s soft vocals and gentle picking also go down well in the early evening sun. Punctuated by a couple of covers, most notably Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” she ends with “Happy Pig”. Not particularly apt with the hog roast slowly turning across the way! Over to the main stage we head for Black Sheep who deliver a bass-heavy sound with fiddle. While they don’t disappoint they don’t excite, becoming purely like background music (sorry chaps)!

Sofi Reed
Sofi Reed 

As with all festivals there’s always room for some good ol’ fashioned humour. Step forward Bonsai Pirates-Aaaar! Featuring none other than Bob Fletcher; yes he, and the band come on and make a bold statement-Pirate attire,Pirate songs!! Humorous ditties are the order of the day as these guys keep everyone smiling with songs like “What’s A Boy To Do” and “Tattoo”. Set highlight is the rather apt “Waving My Arms At The Ocean” as the band have us laughing along to them.

Bonsai Pirates
Bonsai Pirates 

The Rock Shandies follow soon after with their simple folk sound, gentle vocals and clear instrumentation. They are somewhat of a departure from what went before but are enjoyed in equal measure.

The Rock Shandies
The Rock Shandies 

Following them are the legendary Cash Converted. Now I’m no Johnny Cash officianado but this band are simply great. Clear, confident vocals are bettered only by a great Clash cover midset. The band get the first real crowd movement going and the sing-alongs begin.

Cash Converted
Cash Converted 1

The Jack Ratts are up next, a six piece folk rock band who deliver more crowd pleasers aplenty. Sugar Hill is popular while the singer produces a great crowd-surfing moment! It’s Pogues-esque in places with a touch of Pirate Rock. A couple of new songs are debuted tonight, “Molly Magee” and “New England” which are well received by this now wild crowd. As the penultimate act and last act on the main stage this evening they go out with a bang before we head over to the acoustic stage for Carter County (Cash Converted offshoot) who gently take us into the early hours. With a few ciders in us the only problem left is to navigate the donkey poo whilst climbing the hill to our sad looking abode for the weekend!

The Jack Ratts
Jack Ratts 1
Carter County
Carter County 

Saturday – After a good lie in and a “breakfast” of custard creams, crisps and energy drinks, we head back down the hill for a long day of more music. Pete Read who we’ve had the pleasure of listening all morning from around 7am!! to in the artists campsite, opens up. Chilled, heartfelt tunes break us in although the “Jacket” song is somewhat draining. He ends his confident set with his take on “Monkey Man” – it’s great hearing it played this way. “Honest Pete Read” – entertaining!

Pete Read
Pete Read 

Full Flights Little Band follow with a little “Luck o’ the Oirish”. The three piece play simple but effective songs and a few covers including the legendary Eddy Grant number “Gimme Hope Joanna” which is great.

The Full Flights Little Band
The Full Flights Little Band 
Victor Cheuti
Victor Cheuti 

When Victor Checuti takes to the stage this reviewer has an early afternoon nap, such is the gentleness of his songs. Chilled, laid back acoustic numbers as the temperature rises and well received. David McKenzie takes his 2nd bow of the weekend, (last night standing in on guitar with Cash Converted) and once again we are treated to more simple acoustic songs with more than a dash of Mike Scott (Waterboys). Resplendent in his kilt the man delivers some great vocals.

Dave McKenzie
Dave McKenzie 

First up on the main stage are Surfin Dave and the Absolute Legends. The three piece are the heaviest on the bill so far and have more than a passing nod to the Stray Cats. The vocals are confident, as are the bass and guitar. “Exchange and Mart” is an early highlight but when they play “Mexico” there’s a power cut. Undaunted they play three more songs acoustically before reluctantly exiting the stage.

Surfin' Dave
Surfin’ Dave 

It’s at this point that the whole festival site loses power. With a one hour delay proceedings move to the acoustic stage where despite this minor hiccup, everyone still manages to enjoy themselves with a cracking unplugged set by The Jimmy Hillbillies who keep up the momentum with a fantastic set full of highlights such as “Cripple Creek” and “Chicken Train” with some rather great Hoedown dancing by Ski Daddle. With the heat rising this reviewer takes yet another mid-afternoon rest break before returning once power is returned for The Admiral Shineysides. These four happy-go-lucky guys seem to accentuate this great small festi vibe. They open with an original composition called “Moonshine” before playing a set of covers “their way”! Alex Cope(vox) delivers some great harmonies with more than a nod (to this reviewer) to Paul Heaton. Seven Nation Army is one of many highlights before they leave the stage both physically and emotionally drained.

Jimmy Hillbillies
Jimmy Hillbillies 

Moving to the other stage we encounter one of the weekends highlights, the appropriately monikered “The Ace Trio”. This three piece Rock n Roll/Rockabilly band deliver some quite excellent covers and ‘mash-ups’. Among the crowd pleasers is an excellent rendition of The Zutons “Valerie”. They are rewarded with some enthusiastic dance moves from one or two of their fans. A truly quality band with a great sound.

The Ace Trio
The Ace Trio 

Back on the main stage Mischa is joined by two “stand in” Merry Men. Andy Stock is seated and plays slide guitar while the multi talented Alex Cope takes a turn on drums with Bournemouth’s Jack Grace on Bass. There’s a certain beauty to the whole ad-lib attitude to the songs, hidden only by Mischa’s now constant crowd banter. Tonight his voice has a “gravelly” feel but works well in this arena. “Away From the 9 to 5” is rather apt since Mischa recently quit his day job to concentrate on his music. A few popular covers are well received including “Ring of Fire” and “No Woman No Cry”. More banter and shambolic playing (in places) is well received and they leave to good applause. When the Boot Hill Allstars take to the stage we know we’re in for a show. This Somerset collective include three buxom ladies who know how to party, wasting no time entertaining us in the pit area. “Don’t Get Caught” is one of a number of highlights in their set as they really get this crowd dancing.

Mischa
Mischa 

As the light fades Milk Machine take to the stage, featuring none other than Wonky Donk main man Hawkeye and compere Taff Thomas (He’s Welsh don’t you know!!). They play some laugh a minute covers with some unusual but funny lyric changes. “Blockbuster” becomes “Fat Bastard” while they take on Radiohead’s “Creep” among others. More laughs follow despite announcing this will probably be their last ever show.

Milk Machine
Milk Machine 

Southampton’s Doghouse Blues Band are welcomed onto the stage by the Wimborne Rock ‘n Roll Town Crier Chris Brown who immediately champions them. These Hillbilly’s entertain us with good original songs and free glo sticks! Another power cut doesn’t daunt them as they too carry on acoustically. It doesn’t last as they give a great account of themselves.

And so to the headliners. Quinns Quinney are new to me but make an instant impression. Imagine a skiffle version of the Polyphonic Spree slimmed down somewhat and you’re somewhere near. They open with the frankly crazy “Arabian Nights” then follow on with their take on some classic covers. No-one is spared – Foreigner, Erasure, 2 Unlimited, Five, Britney….. This band are perfect festival closers and whip up a frenzy in the crowd, inducing some wild dancing. They go at it full tilt for almost an hour before leaving the stage just before midnight to long, loud applause.

Quinns Quinney

Quinns Quinney 

This small but perfectly formed festival has grown to a manageable size without losing any of it’s very warm and friendly appeal. The organisers did a fantastic job and it was clear that everyone in attendance had a really great time. Plans are already going on to continue this for a 3rd year.

Wonky Donk

Wonky Donk 

Videos





Many more videos from the Festival can be found on our YouTube page.

Review by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures, Videos, and Custard Creams by Dave “biccie and a gig sir?” Chinery(Chinners)

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