Cursus Music and Cider Festival, Canada Farm

Ferocious Dog

With the Summer music festival season well underway we make our way to Canada Farm in Dorset for the Cursus Music and Cider Festival. Due to lots of other pre-arranged events this weekend we can only make it for the Saturday night of this three-day festival.

The festival is based within the historic Dorset Cursus which runs through the festival site hence its name, it’s situated on a fairly high plain with fantastic views of the countryside all around. It has a very chilled feel to it with a host of families, along with the four-legged canine friends sitting around enjoying the tasty food from the “Made in Dorset” catering. There is also a reasonably priced bar which caters for all tastes, including a huge selection of local ciders.

Festival favourites The Sweetchunks Band fronted by Stuart Blakelodge are already onstage and raising plenty of laughs, along with their tankards. Their parodies and comedy timing are always spot on and despite it still only being early, they have pulled a sizeable crowd who all seem to have huge smiles on their faces.

Ferocious Dog

Next up is The Lagan, a folk/punk band from London who have earned themselves a great reputation for their energetic live performances. This afternoon is no different and as the band take to the stage peopleís feet begin to move. Combining fiddles and mandolins with the traditional raw materials of Punk the band set us off on a journey through their repertoire of tunes. We are treated to great original tunes like the ruckus “Let’s Do It Again” and the thoroughly addictive “Immoral Support”, as well as a couple of traditional covers including “Star Of The County Down”. You cannot fault the band’s musicianship and huge amount of energy that they invest in their execution. It’s clear that both the crowd and the band enjoyed every minute of the set.

The Lagan
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Next, to the Cursus Festival stage are Lobster; a six-piece reggae band from Birmingham and with the blessing of glorious sunshine over the festival site, there is no better thing than listening to well-executed reggae in the sun. Like UB40 before them, this young band takes their influences from the heart of Jamaica. It’s hard not to be impressed with the band’s supreme musicianship with them excelling in all areas; particularly the keys, bass, trumpet, and Spud’s well-delivered vocals.


Long before Will Varley takes to the stage the crowds started gathering to make sure they got a good spot for his much-anticipated set. As Will makes his way to the stage the welcome from the crowd for this highly rated singer/songwriter is amazing and by the smile on his face, he clearly appreciates it. There are very few solo artists that can hold a festival crowd’s attention and from the start, he does this with relative ease. His sharp wit, along with his glorious original songs take you on a proverbial rollercoaster ride. From the heart-breaking “Man Who Fell To Earth”, to the hilarious “The Self-Checkout Shuffle” and the uplifting “King For A King” this guy has it all. The 90-minute set just flew by with so many highlights, with each and every member of the crowd giving Will a loud ovation as he left the stage.

Will Varley
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Tonight Ferocious Dog open their busy festival season for 2019 and after releasing their latest album “Fake News & Propaganda” the band have been propelled to a new level that they could have only dreamed of. It’s a rare treat to get them playing in Dorset, with the last time being when they were guests of the Levellers back in December 2016 at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth.

The place is absolutely packed and from the moment they play their first note the place erupts, as a mass of bodies bounce freely up and down. The amazing atmosphere in here tonight is one of pure celebration and the band totally feed off the audience reactions. The ever-smiling Ken Bonsall is a guy with a huge heart and really wants to make a difference, believing in the power of his songs. There is a real depth to the band’s songwriting and if you look further there is a message to be found in each one.

Ferocious Dog
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The band’s momentum is relentless; they play each song like it’s their last with huge tunes like “Crime and Punishment”, “Traitor’s Gate” and the hectic “Bedlam Boys” keeping everybody dancing. There is a lovely touching moment when banjo/mandolin player John Leonard brings his daughter onto the stage. Though seemingly slightly embarrassed at first, she is clearly proud of her Dad’s work.

The rhythm section of Alex Smith (Drums) and John Alexander; coupled with some impressive fiddle work from Dan Booth are clearly the ever-present solid backbone of the band, coupled with the ever popular Les Carter on guitar. The band try and leave the stage but the crowd is having none of it and they are enthusiastically encouraged to return. The band, of course, do return with a stunning extended version of one of their finest tracks “Slow Motion Suicide”, which sends the crowd into a frenzy and John Leonard in all the excitement tries his hand at crowd surfing. He coasts across the crowd and is safely returned to the stage before repeating it again. Wow…what a performance, the band succeed here on all levels and this is only their first festival of the season…..just wait until they are fully warmed up….

Set List
Ferocious Dog
Cry of the Celt
Black Gold Miner
Crime and Punishment
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
Too Late
Freeborn John
Bedlam Boys
Fake News
Traitors Gate
Criminal Justice
Paddy on the Railway
The Glass
Quiet Paddy
Hell Hounds
Mairi’s Wedding
Black Gold

Slow Motion Suicide






Words & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures by Jon “Captain Birdseye” Musselwhite

Ferocious Dog