Julian’s Bridge Meadows, Wimborne

HenFest

Day 2

Sadly on the second day the sun is shrouded by a thick layer of cloud and rain showers are forecast for most of the day. This does nothing to dampen the spirits of the festival as it has grown from yesterday’s single stage, adding a “Freestyle Guitars” sponsored acoustic stage. This as well as an additional arts and crafts with a very welcome home made cake stall. As well as raising much needed funds the festivals aim is also to raise awareness of the need for everybody to carry organ donor cards. Without this Kate and many people like her would never have got their lifesaving organ transplants. If you want to be an organ donor, get yourself over to the http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk and sign up.

There is another fully packed day of music and my day kicks off with Bournemouth’s “Buffalo Go”, a 5-piece Alt/Rock band, who with their duel vocals and twin electric guitars show some real promise? Their Metal-infused Grungy sound clearly take some inspiration from American band The Wonder Years, but from this performance that’s no bad thing. A slightly hungover Catherine Burke is up next and performs some of her delightfully personal songs about trips across the UK. During her set the rain starts to fall and Catherine is delighted to see her audience doubles within seconds of the heavens opening.

Buffalo Go
Buffalo Go
Catherine Burke
Catherine Burke

Steve Perry aka “Citizen Perez” brings his witty kazoo and acoustic guitar set to the main stage. He takes the audience on a little journey around Europe with songs supposedly in French and Spanish. As much as his songs are entertaining, his really engaging mid-song banter is worth the ticket money any day. He is clearly slightly mad but you cannot fail to be lured in by his infectious smile and warm charm. The short set includes the beautiful “So the Story Goes” and a cheeky stripped down Disco’s Out (Murders In) number “Back to The Start”.

Citizen Perez
Citizan Perez

Black Water County bring a massive injection of energy with their 5-piece Folk/Punk/Rock, imagine a mixture of The Pogues, The Dropkick Murphy’s and ‘Flogging Molly’ and you will come somewhere close to their sound. In their white shirts and black waistcoats the band whip up the audience into a dancing frenzy with numbers including “Johnny was a Rambling Man” and a slightly risky “Parson’s Daughter”. The band create a huge depth of sound with some expertly played banjo and fiddle, coupled with some spot on drumming. They end on a high with Tim and Shan jumping down into the audience and dancing with them, while the rest of the band carry on. After several years together and a few changes this band have really grown into something special and know how to entertain any festival crowd.

Black Water County
Black Water County

With everyone catching their breath after such an energetic set “Jenny Wren”, a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer came on stage and inspired everyone with a beautiful version of “Over The Rainbow”. Then if proof was needed that organ donation really works Will Pope performed on the main stage just two years after having a transplant himself.

Will McNicholl
Will McNicholl

Will McNichol, along with his drummer Luke Selby was possibly one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend. Will’s unique style and expertise with the acoustic guitar is just breathtaking to watch. He seems to play with no ease and is a sheer joy to watch. Will’s exemplary guitar work was matched to a very high standard by his perfect rhythm partner Luke Selby. There were songs such as “Oscar’s Philosophy”, “Mississippi Blues” and a stirring version of “Ain’t no Sunshine”. The set ended with an African-inspired track where Will astonishingly got a piece of card and put it under his strings in front of the saddle to create a completely unique sound. This gained a massive amount of adoring applause from everyone in the audience.

My old friend Tom Clements was up next and despite only having 20 minutes on stage, performed a handful of numbers from his new album “Roots, Morals & Other Life Choices”. Tom during his performance makes some really clever use of a loop pedal, a tool he has mastered to really enhance his live performances. The layered sound on songs like “The Road” and “My Addiction” makes him really stand out from the crowd, and by the sound of the energetic applause at the end the audience really enjoyed it.

Cordaelectra
Cordaelectra

After a raffle which included many prizes including weekend tickets to Reading Festival, there was a presentation of thanks to two key members of Gail Stuart’s team. Jane Preston and Hilary Shaw who worked tirelessly were presented with two large bouquets of flowers in way of a thanks for their hard work and support of the event. Cordelectra; a very talented 3-piece all girl string ensemble then took to the stage to entertain. Combining Violins and Cellos their very different interpretation of modern Pop was quite a world apart from anything else seen here today, but fitted in well with the more traditional bands.

Kadia
Kadia

In a stark contrast Kadia, another 3-piece Cello-fronted ensemble were up next. The popular Bournemouth-based band are spending most of their Summer touring a variety of festivals throughout the South. They keep very faithful to their Folk roots with plenty of local and nautical tales included within their songs. The Hen Fest crowd were treated to a nice reworking of the classic “Raggle Taggle Gypsy”, an original set in Cornwall called “The Beast of Bodmin Moor” and a set-ending fun-filled Pop medley of skilfully played Pop tunes.

Soulhole
Soulhole

As the sun started to go down over this beautiful riverside field, the sky was a fantastic mix of colours with red, pink and orange giving way to the darkness of the night. These surroundings, this music and the inspirational people just made you feel lucky to be alive! The music continued with “Soulhole”, a six piece band that has Funk right at the centre of their mandate. Fronted by accomplished musician, the large haired character of Jordan Digby; who with his father formed the band just over 2 years ago. The band have recently gone through extensive line-up changes and are still trying to install the chemistry the band enjoyed with the first line-up. The new songs “City Cats”, “Bottle It Up” and “A Bit of your Funk” are all showing that the band are well on their way with their new direction.

Sons
Sons

The award to the furthest travelled band today goes to Sons who have travelled all the way down from Bristol to be here today. As penultimate band on the main stage they were on a mission to get everybody up and moving to their music. This was certainly no problem as their big sound of soaring melodic guitar soon had people out of their seats and on their feet dancing. With their new single “Help Me” the frontman Jordan, coupled with his sidekick the tiger-faced Alex Brown; impressed with their vocal skills and guitar work.

Empire Affair
Empire Affair

The final band of the day were Empire Affair and this gig would mark a massive landmark within the band’s history. Neil Tallant the band’s frontman has; after much hard soul-searching, decided to leave the band in favour of an acting career. He is already lined up to play Danny Zucco in Grease at the Pavilion in Bournemouth in July. The band really ended this festival in style with a fantastic, energetic crowd-pleasing set full of highlights. The set included a great re-working of Lana Del-Ray’s ‘Video Games’; and also their ‘ear worm’ of a song called “Tornadoesî, which got everyone singing along with its completely infectious chorus. The band vow to continue and find a replacement for Neil with auditions starting shortly.

I cannot praise this festival enough for having everything needed to make the punters weekend fun packed. From what I saw everyone in attendance enjoyed every aspect of the event. The amazing news is that the festival raised over £9000 with every single penny raised going to the Charities; The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital’s. The festival also gave a new awareness of people adding themselves to the organ donor register. Though long this review was a pleasure to write and an account of a festival that I feel is so far one of the best I have attended over the Summer, and I for one will be back next year to help continue the Hennessy familyís fantastic work.

HenFest
Henfest

Videos



More Videos from this gig can be found on our You Tube page.

Links
http://henfest.org.uk
https://www.facebook.com/HenFest

Words, Pictures & Videos By Dave Chinery(Chinners)

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