Julian’s Bridge Water Meadows, Wimborne

HenFest 2016


Once again we are back in the pleasant Water meadows adjacent to Julian’s bridge, just outside of Wimborne town. The festival season is in full swing and this is the first of three festivals on this site in the next month. Hen Fest is not your typical charity event just about raising money, it started out a necessity to help save the precious lives of young people in need of organ transplants. Kate Hennessey the daughter of organiser Gail Stuart had Cystic Fibrosis and thankfully after a gruelling battle with sometimes painful treatments; got the gift of life in the form of a double lung transplant in 2012, and now lives a near normal life. The aim of the festival is to raise money to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust support the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals. The event is also about raising awareness, to people adding themselves to the organ donor register to help people desperately needing an organ transplant. If you feel so inclined you can go to this website and sign up in seconds. Last year over £11,000 was raised and the aim, of course, this year is to top that amount.

The festival opens on Friday evening just after a massive rain storm has threatened to put paid to the weekend’s events. However, as the gates are opened for the first of the revellers to arrive the dark skies thankfully lightened. This year the Hen Fest has two full stages: the main stage, “The Phoenix” and the freestyle stage. Hampshire band Boy And A Balloon open the event in a nice laid back way, with the acoustic trio performing a charming collection of original tunes that take a satirical look at life. With two acoustic guitars and a cello they draw a sizeable “early doors” crowd who are treated to “Ugly Side”, a hilarious (But True) tune about our partners bad Habits! A very listenable band that have many well written memorable tunes that get things underway perfectly.

Boy And A Balloon
Boy And A Balloon 

Will McNichol and Luke Selby are next on the Phoenix stage and these guys are certainly no strangers to Hen Fest, having played the event many times before. The awesomely talented duo take the audience on an instrumental journey around the world performing well-crafted tunes inspired by North & South America, Africa and Ireland. Will uses acoustic guitars coupled with loop pedals and various other magic trickery, including a piece of cardboard. This; coupled with Luke’s well-timed original drum parts makes for one magical performance, once again loved by every member of the audience.

Will McNicoll
Will McNicoll 

West Dorset lad Tom Clements is also back here once again, this time he has brought his full electric band with him. This gets the party really started with some true original rock tunes that really see the benefit of this full band performance. The freestyle sound system is sounding fine and soundman Dave really gets Tom’s band sounding perfect. With tunes like the new single “Ticking Clock” and “My Addiction” the expertly played twin guitars really make a positive impression on the audience who give a thunderous round of applause at the end of each tune. At the end of the set Tom’s guitarist Karl Hayman rushes over to the next stage to perform, also with the next band Dharma Blitz.

Tom Clements
Tom Clements 

Selby and the Dharma Blitz are a local Bournemouth-based band that feature a complete mix of experienced musicians, all who have played in other popular local bands before (Pachango, Fearne, Vida, Laura Goucher Band). This mix of influences and styles make one band that reaches out and celebrates music to the full. Right from the start the bands infectious sounds of brass; coupled with the electronic beats, live drums and guitars get people out of their seats and dancing. Singers Selby and Laura combine well in a highly original way. The tunes include the epic “Sundance Kids” and the positively uplifting “Honey”, which brings their exceptional set to a triumphant end.

Dharma Blitz
Dharma Blitz 

Next up on the Freestyle stage is “Attack on Mars”, a band made up of former members of The Worry Dolls who sadly called it a day recently. As the light fades the band are bathed in multi-coloured lights and smoke from the smoke machine to great effect. Their new more psychedelic/rock-less folk sound appeals to the large audience who crowd into the tent to see the band’s debut performance. Emma’s powerful voice shines on original tunes like “Lighthouse” and a great guitar-driven number “Read between the Lines”. The band end on a nicely reworked crowd pleaser “All the Young Dudes” to huge encore-demanding applause.

Attack On Mars
Attack On Mars 

Tonight’s headliners really need no introduction around these parts……..Disco’s Out (Murders In), a band that are a welcome addition to any party. Tonight they hit the stage in a very colourful and energetic way, getting everyone up dancing from the start. The ever smiling frontman Steve Perry in his oversized jacket and luminous face paint lead the band into a host great tunes. Their combination of infectious guitar riffs, 3 piece brass section and rib-crushing drums make for one totally unique set. Though missing one of their members Martin Roberts; the band show they are very worthy headliners, pulling out a truly memorable hour up on the main stage. They bring the first day of the festival to an explosive end.

Disco's Out Murder's In
Disco’s Out Murder’s In 

Videos




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

Artist Links
http://boyandaballoon.co.uk

Words, Pictures & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners)

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