Halls Road Farm, Lychett Matravers

Wonky Donk

The sun is once again up early and shining brightly at Halls Farm and today it has a very good reason…………Love is in the air!! The Wonky Donk Festival this morning had its very first wedding where Jamie & Maria Parker-Harris tied the knot in this beautiful countryside location. Also; Ellie Cowley is here with her friends having her Hen Party, ahead of her wedding with Wille and the Bandits bassist Matthew Brooks. There is also is a rumour that one of the stage crew Robert Worsfold will propose to his girlfriend Lexi Riversong live on stage later today.

Pete Read

Wonky Donk: Pete Read 

Musically things start off gently with some acoustic goodness from Wonky Donk regular “Honest” Pete Read, who eases us all in with some tunes suitable for those of us a little worse for wear from over indulgence last night. As the customary hair of the dog kicks in, a bit of old school Americana comes our way in the form of Newton Abbot’s “The Hot House Four”; who are certainly the best thing to come from there apart from possibly Trago Mills. They create a really lovely sound that takes influences from lots of different areas.

Wonky Donk

Wonky Donk: Hot House 4 12345

The Paper Trains are no strangers around these parts with Si, Nat and Jb pulling a sizeable crowd. They are basically an Americana string band made up of Banjo, double bass and acoustic guitar. They kick off with “Cocaine” and have no trouble creating a minor foot stomp, which creates a bit of a dust cloud from the parched ground. The very infectious and my favourite tune “Gone Fishin” keeps up the stomping before a song “The Gambler” made famous by Kenny Rogers gets the people singing and their hands clapping. There is something really hypnotic about listening to a banjo in a field in the summer; or maybe Si Fisk has mystic powers, or is it that they are just so God damn good.

The Paper Trains
Wonky Donk: The Paper Trains 1234

Ruby & the Roughcuts are a man down as their drummer had a previous pressing engagement. This does not stop them though; they pull out all the stops and find a suitable stand-in, nothing gets in the way of Rock n’ Roll. The band are on fine form and treat the sun-blessed audience to a nice mixed set including opening with a bit of 50’s surf in the form of “Sex Wax”. Miss Ruby (or Judy to her friends) and the band create a little buzz with their Rockabilly influenced tunes, that get the crowd moving despite the near-stifling heat. The title track of their debut EP “Roughcut Man” is a notable highlight, before the band leave the stage to plenty of applause.

Ruby And The roughcuts
Wonky Donk: Ruby & The Roughcuts 123

Robert Worsfold takes to the stage next to introduce the Trav Cats-but one minute, he has another plan and invites his girlfriend Lexi Riversong to the stage. He gets down on one knee and pops the question, and of course she says yes! See the video of the proposal here.

Wonky Donk
Wonky Donk: The Trav Cats 12345

This puts everybody in such a feelgood mood that the arrival of the Trav Cats heightens this already fantastic atmosphere. Their fans had all for some unexplained reason got dressed up as pirates and the mosh pit looks like the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. The band deliver like they always do with Darryl and Chris singing their hearts out to tunes such as the autobiographical “We’re Not a Band” and the stomping “Wolf Man of The Old Bull and Bush”. Uncle Graham on drums and Lee on double bass both have constant mischievous smiles on their faces. While Stompstick/washboard player Phil and harmonica player Mike add their skills to this uniquely balanced band. They end with an excellent version of Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” and leave the stage to continue their hectic weekend of drinking and socializing.

Wonky Donk

Wonky Donk: Surfin’ Dave 12

The continuous rolling schedule abounds and no later than two minutes after the Trav Cats have finished, Surfin’ Dave and the Absent Legends take to the next stage. The Poole based three-piece band fuse together a mix of punk, surf, garage and rockabilly to create an eclectic mix that works really well. Surfin Dave and his band of Mike Cullen (Drums) and Mark Riley (Bass) run through a host of really enjoyable originals as well as a crowd pleasing cover of “Buzz Buzz a Diddle It” by Matchbox.

The Jimmy Hillbillies have the pleasure of playing a song for the first dance for the wedding couple Jamie & Maria Parker-Harris. The couple move to the front and start dancing to “The Blue Moon of Kentucky”, surrounded by the crowd who all applaud them and wish them well. The band then up the pace with “Beautiful Day” and the dancing really gets started. Harry Cobeans and Ski Daddle inject loads of energy into their performance and are rewarded with a fantastic audience reaction. They at times climb down off the stage and join the audience, going as far as their microphone leads will let them. Their mix of bluegrass and country is just perfect for this festival – they mix Harry’s expertly played mandolin, with Banjo, accordion drums and bass. Their unique style takes on popular tunes; reshape and rewrite the lyrics to create something really entertaining. The wedding reception continues and the “Chicken Train” gives us all the chance to create a long conga train all around the site.

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Wonky Donk: The Jimmy Hillbillies 123456789
Wonky Donk
Wonky Donk 123456789

Hawkeye’s very own parody band “Milk Machine” are up next and each year they play their hilarious re-worked tunes, which are welcomed by the crowd with open arms. Hawkeye’s on Double Bass along with Andy Jack Ratt (Mandolin), Taff Morse (Guitar/Vocals) and the Crowman (Washboard). The tunes include Radiohead’s “Creep” which is tuned into “Sheep” and sung by Welshman “Taff”! There are also reworkings of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, New Order’s “Blue Monday”, Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the UK” and The Waterboys “Fisherman’s Blues”. These guys are really talented musicians and you have got to admire their skills in musicianship and also the tongue in cheek way they perform them.

Wonky Donk
Wonky Donk: Junco Shakers 1234567

The Junco Shakers from Southampton are a band that encapsulates the whole roots style of music, bringing together modern ideas and traditional music styles. Frontman Ben plays a washboard laid down on a keyboard stand, with a pair of brushes to create a really different style. This coupled with acoustic guitar; double bass and an expert harmonica player, makes for one exciting performance. The tunes include “Digging My Potatoes” and the very upbeat “Champagne Charlie”, which the crowd all clearly enjoy. These guys are really impressive and have all the right ingredients needed to entertain, and entertain they certainly do.

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Wonky Donk 123456

From Holland are “Familie Batenburg”, a five-piece country and Bluegrass band, who are making their Wonky Donk Festival debut here this weekend. These guys certainly know how to party; and whether singing in Dutch or English it did not matter, as the friendly crowd kept on dancing to their bluegrass-influenced music.

Bournemouth’s “Harpin’ On” follow and frontman Little Dave shows us his accomplished skill’s on the harmonica. The band power through a host of great original tunes including a new one called “Done & Dusted”, as well as a proficient crowd-pleasing version of “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys.

Wonky Donk

Wonky Donk: Harpin’ On 123

After the Wonky Donk warm-up gig at Freestyle on Wednesday; this is the second time I get to see Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls, who once again have had to use the skills of Hawkeye on bass as their own bassist could not make it due to a foot injury. This band is something really different, dark but uplifting. Their tunes have absorbed a huge amount of influences from all over the world to create music that is very intriguing. Jo’s infectious personality grabs your interest in between songs and her voice is just so variable, using different styles with different tunes. “Rag and Bones” features an infectious Violin while other tunes include a mandolin and washboard along with Tim’s skilful guitar accompaniment. They are one of the few bands over the weekend that earn themselves a well-deserved encore due to the huge enthusiasm from the crowd.

Wonky Donk

Wonky Donk: Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls 

You cannot help yourself from being excited about a Quinns Quinney set, but tonight it’s a Quinns Quinney set with a difference. They have been rehearsing some new material and tonight is one of the first airings of their new tunes. They guys have once again decked themselves out in ridiculous clothes and make-up. After sampling their customary Cheese board they hit the stage to one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. As soon as they start the crowd start bouncing so much they create a huge dust cloud in the air from the dry land. The new tunes come in the form of the “Oompa Lumpa”‘s theme mixed with The Simpsons, a weird mix that strangely works well. There is a radical acoustic combination of The Prodigy’s “Breathe” with White Town’s “Your Woman” and The Dandy Warhols “Bohemian like You”. The crowd, of course, are loving every word Rob Farrington and his merry men deliver, and even despite resting the famous “Tractors on Fire” the band put in one of their best performances I have seen them play.

Wonky Donk
Wonky Donk: Quinns Quinney 123

Tonight’s headliners Black Water County have been working towards tonight’s headline set with a steady stream of festival performances over the last couple of months. They want to show Hawkeye that they are truly ready for this with a performance to remember. After being whipped up by Quinns Quinney the crowd are more than ready for them and the band bound on stage with a tidal wave of energy that radiates across the whole site. They play a host of tunes old and new, keeping the momentum really high throughout.

Wonky Donk
Wonky Donk: Black Water County 

With new tunes like the feisty “No Regrets” (Or Rugrats as BWC call it) and the beautifully sentimental “If Only you were Here”, they prove they are not just one trick ponies that just write tunes about drinking. The highlight is the encore where the band invite the Trav Cats guitarist Darryl on stage to play a plastic toy tambourine. Drummer Andy Smooth treats us to a fantastic version of Dizzee Rascal’s “Bonkers” and I mean fantastic-the vocals are awesome!! Tim and Shan bravely dive into to crowd and dance with the audience before heading back to the stage to take their bows. A truly memorable set from a band who used every ounce of their energy, putting in one top class performance.

Wonky Donk

Wonky Donk 1234

So that’s Wonky Donk over for another year and it exceeded all expectations with virtually everything so much better than last year. If you cannot wait until next year then why not try the Acoustic Movement festival here at Hall’s Road Farm in Lytchett Matravers, Friday 16th and Saturday 17th of September. It will have the same friendly atmosphere with reasonably priced tickets; even some of the same bands, just a little quieter………….see you there!!


Band Links
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1523647477 (Pete Read)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/940661495952465 (Milk Machine)
https://www.facebook.com/batenburg.hellbillie (Famille Batenburg)


Words & Videos by Dave “Heavyweight” Chinery
Pictures by Jon “Lightweight” Musselwhite

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