Halls Farm, Lytchett Matravers

Wonky Donk 2017

Saturday morning once again delivers the bright dry weather we were all hoping for and for day 2 of Wonky Donk we have a whole load of great acts ahead of us to look forward to. The music is indeed a big part of this festival, but also the community of people that surround it. Over the years friendships have been forged; relationships have been made, marriage proposals and even a wedding on the festival site. It is the friendly nature of this festival that makes people return year after year. If you are a paying customer, a member of festival staff, a musician or a photographer it does not matter; everybody mixes with everybody else to create a wonderful atmosphere. Pete Read starts things off gently with some acoustic goodness and delivers a set which includes “Twisting the Night Away” and a nice version of Don Gibson’s (Who?) “Sea of Heartbreak”. Pete is a fantastic chap who absolutely loves his music and you can tell by the way he plays, he also is an avid follower of the local music scene and can be found at many festivals and gigs throughout the year.

Honest Pete Read
Honest Pete Read 1

The pace is upped next when “The Devils Damned String Band” take to the stage featuring a few familiar faces; the man of possibly a 100 bands (slight exaggeration) Bryan Andrews on bass, with Ben Munday on guitar, Ethan King on fiddle and Nigel Clelland on banjo. The four-piece deliver a fine slice of traditional bluegrass-style music with a set full of foot-tapping tunes including “Rain Burns my Soul”, the ever popular Ewan McColl’s “Dirty Old Town” and “Oh Lord Have Mercy on My Soul”. Next, all the way from the beautiful island of Guernsey are “Blue Mountains”; who are a traditional 4-piece taking inspiration from old time Folk, Roots and North American Appalachian. These very talented musicians create a beautifully atmospheric sound that radiates around the rolling hills of Halls farm.

The Devils Damned String Band
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Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains 123456

A young band from Southsea in Hampshire arrive on stage and immediately inject some youthful energy to proceedings. The four lads combine acoustic and electric guitars to create a hard-edged sound featuring a complete mix of influences. There is bit’s of Blues, Punk and Rock mixed together, which give for an exciting performance. They play a host of original tunes including the hard hitting “Money” and a rocked-up version (for the umpteenth time this weekend) of “Folsom Prison Blues”; which culminates with some fantastic blues harmonica, producing possibly one of the best cover versions of this tune I’ve heard. Word is amongst the crowd that “Shoot the Duke” have certainly put in one of the best performances of the weekend, and I for one agree.

Shoot The Duke
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To say band’s that have included family members has a chequered history is an understatement. “Jazz Wrann and the Ruby Welts” feature Jazz Wrann (Vocals/Guitar); her father Kevin Wrann (upright bass) and Mother Colette Wrann (Drum/Vocals), with the line-up completed with Glenn Hubbold playing Cajon and Alex Wilson on Blues harmonica. Apparently they have been known to argue on stage but today all seems peaceful and they soon get on with playing. Jazz has an astounding voice and lends it to an impressive version of “Jolene” as well as beautiful audience sing-a-longs on Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple”. I’m only disappointed by the lack of original material as I’m sure these guys could produce something really special.

Jazz Wrann and the Ruby Welts
Jazz Wrann and the Ruby Welts 12345678910

After their last great performance here, “Rough Chowder” return with their taste of Swamp Blues from the Bayou’s of Louisiana. Fronted by the redhead Cheryl McIlroy the band really gets people’s feet moving with this uplifting style which features accordion; washboard and acoustic guitar, along with bass and drums.

Rough Chowder
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“Sixteen String Jack” keep up this momentum with a great performance of high energy tracks featuring former member of the much loved “Jack Ratts” Andy “Sid” Jackratt who switches between Mandolin and Banjo while playing a stomp pedal. The band are completed with Tom on bass and Ethan King on fiddle. Andy adopts an Irish accent for the really upbeat “Barleycorn”, which includes some incredible fiddle work from Ethan. The band takes us back in time with Ernest Tubb’s (Who ?) “Saturday Night” before thrilling the audience with a great version of “Whiskey in the Jar” by some band called Thin Lizzy (Never heard of them!!).

Sixteen String Jack
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“The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show” (of which there are seven) turn up straight after “Sixteen String Jack” and continue with the live music jukebox on this beautiful sunny day. These guys wholeheartedly refuse to play covers and they really don’t need to as they have so many great tunes of their own. Kicking off with “Tightroping” from their debut album “Weeding out the Wicked” it seems that there is so much more to these guys than just another Folk band. There are lots of lovely influences from all areas including some obvious ones from The Beatles and some not so obvious ones from the likes of ELO. There is the customary sing-a-long during “I Read Magazines”, before playing the brilliant “Country Singer Theme Park Wonderland” which is slightly interrupted by a broken down Ice Cream van and members of Quinn Quinney use their combined force to help the van out of a tight spot. The band leave the stage to much appreciative applause from the wonky Donk crowd who all seemed to really enjoy Mark Lyons and his band of troubadours.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show

All the way from Spain “Moonshine Wagon” take to the stage to play the Wonky Donk for the first time and the crowd give the band a massive warm welcome. The three piece of Goiatz Dutto (Fiddle, Vocals), Joel Bruoa (Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals) and Bufunfa Nikolaiko (Double Bass, Vocals) really impress with the high energy levels which leads to some really frantic dancing amongst the crowd. The band mainly sing in English delivering some fine tunes including “Everybody Lies” , “Moonshine In Your Life” and the incredibly danceable “Gipsycho”.

Moonshine Wagon
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Jo Carley And The Old Dry Skulls have released an album called “Them Old Bones” since we saw them here last year. They have added a new player on Mandolin/Banjo to their live lineup and just seem to get better with each performance. The dreaded trio of “Jo, Tim, and Hawkeye” dig deep back into the darkness of time pulling influence from their musical ancestors of all era’s. You can hear The Clash, mixed with “Olde time musical”, Gothic and Country with a Punk ethos to make one really original sound. From the sinister “Black Flies” to the menacing “Contemplate Your Moves” the band create positive vibes from the gloom. The band end their set with the infectiously foot-tapping “Bother” which features some delectable and speedily delivered vocals from Jo.

Jo Carley And The Old Dry Skulls
Jo Carley And The Old Dry Skulls

The ever popular “Trav Cats” return once again to this site along with their army of fans for yet another triumphant performance. There’s whispers amongst the audience that this could well be their last?? The Skiffle come Rock band always seem to pull one of the biggest crowds of the weekend and as they start no-one is sitting down, everybody is up on their feet. The band’s infectious sense of fun is always there and with ever present smiles on their faces they energetically stomp their way through a thoroughly enjoyable set which includes many of their popular originals such as “Wolfmanî and “We’re Not a Band”; along with a few covers such as “Hotel Yorba” and the Talking Heads “Psycho Killer”, cleverly mixed with The Beatles “Get Back”

The Trav Cats
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There cannot be a single soul on this site that have not heard of the local legends “Quinney Quinney” before. These guys have built up a name for themselves by rewriting the words of other people songs in a very funny way to a skiffle style sound. They prepare for their set with the customary cheese board and word is that they won’t take to the stage until every last piece has been eaten and washed down with a few pints of festival cider! Lead singer ‘Rob Farrington’s clever use of the English language injects “Sandi Toksvig” into Britney Spears “Toxic”. There is also an amalgamation of “Love Machine” with “Ghostbusters” with a hilarious outcome. The revolving door line-up tonight features 7 players including stand up drummer ‘Big G’ along with mandolin, double bass, ukulele, acoustic guitars, watering can (yes you read correctly) and tambourine. They are so popular with the crowd that they are encouraged to return for an encore. Despite wanting to go to the bar to top up on cider they deliver one last song “Arabian Nights” before disappearing into the night.

Quinns Quinney
Quinns Quinney 12345678910

The headliners on the main stage are a band that have never played the festival before and not many people around these parts have heard of before……….a gamble by the festival organisers you may think, but the Wonky Donk organisers know their stuff and have done their homework….. The “Imprints” from Bristol hit the stage like a hurricane, I don’t think I have ever seen so much energy from a band before, they are all moving so fast even the photographers with their high tech cameras cannot keep up. With Andy Truckle on Vocals/Guitar, Vince ‘GingÈ’ Martin on Vocals/Violin, Annie Wright on Vocals, Tom Bangham on Bass and Tom Cornwall on Drums/Vocals they whip the crowd into a frenzy with a mix of high octane Folk/Rock. They don’t even let a broken violin string stop them, while Vince negotiates borrowing another from Goiatz of Moonshine Wagon the rest fill in with an impromptu cover while bouncing across the stage. Once things gets started properly again we are treated to epic original tunes like “Pirate & Thieves”, “Gallows”, “Ravens” and a cover of Charlie Daniels “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” which keeps the crowd dancing well into the night.

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Phew………….I am getting too old for all this ?? (answers on a postcard) I am absolutely shattered…. Well if Pete Read can last the whole weekend then so can I….What an incredible weekend of friendship, fun and fantastic music. Hawkeye and his team once again pulled off a wonderful weekend to remember. When I first attended this festival, I can remember thinking that much of the music was not to my usual taste and I would just go along for the craic; but with each year I have enjoyed and got more into the roots scene while discovering some amazing music. If you have never attended one of these festivals give it a try, I can highly recommend it…..just bring plenty of stamina with you as your feet won’t stop moving the whole weekend.

Wonky Donkers…

Wonky Donkers
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Words & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners).
Pictures by Jon Musselwhite.

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