St Leonards Farm Park, Ferndown, Dorset – 7th & 8th June 2019

Love Rocks

The first couple of weeks in June in Dorset is crammed with local festivals what with Wimborne Minster Folk Festival, Poole Harbour Boat Show, Gimmie Shelter Festival, Party in the Paddock and Loverocks. It’s hard to find time to experience them all, until this year the Loverocks festival staged at St Leonards Farm Park just off the Ferndown Bypass has largely gone under my radar due to all the other distractions. This year it is in its third year and I have made a conscious effort to check it out. The festival is put together by Jim Love and his team of very passionate music fans. The festival is whole heartily supported by the New Wave Of Classic Rock(NWOCR) and features many acts that are part of this ever-growing movement.

Day 1
The weather forecast for the weekend was not looking too good with plenty of rain forecast; but the Loverocks festival literally has it covered with a huge marquee which houses the main stage, a smaller acoustic stage and a well-stocked bar featuring plenty of tasty beverages from the local Ringwood Brewery. There are also outside several very reasonably priced food stalls which will keep everybody well fed. To my own disappointment due to several of my two son’s activities I am not able to see every band, which frustrates me as the line-up is so strong.

Mike West
Mike West 1

I arrive and troubadour Mike West is giving us the benefit of his enduring acoustic blues on the second stage while the main stage is prepared for the Hell’s Gazelles, who are running late due to heavy traffic. The band arrives about 15 minutes after they are due on stage and by a miracle, they literally fall out of their van and jump on to the stage. They are greeted with a warm welcome from the Love Rocks crowd and immediately get into gig mode, bringing forth masses of unbounding energy. This four-piece from Oxford perform as every rock ‘n roll band should. Frontman Cole Bryant brings some Bruce Dickinson swagger to proceedings; covering every inch of the stage, jumping into the audience and even performing on top of the mixing desk riser. Their sound is on the heavier side of the rock spectrum with some great guitar work, coupled with hard-hitting solid rhythms. Sadly due to their lateness, they had to cut their set short and only perform for around 20 minutes. Despite this, they certainly made a huge impression on the audience.

Hells Gazelles
Hells Gazelles 1234

Next up are Southern Rock connoisseurs Western Sand, a popular local four-piece band who continue keeping up the high momentum. The band has not one but two lead guitarists, with both Tyler Hains and Jimmy Bradshaw showing considerable skills on their six strings. They charm the crowd with some well put together tunes including “Whiskey Tripper”, the rip-roaring “Mississippi Queen” and closer “Nothing Left To lose”. The band show they are more than comfortable in front of a festival audience and I’m sure if they keep putting in top performances like this, they will soon be playing larger festivals. After a quick and efficient turn around Brighton three-piece, The Rocket Dolls take to the stage with their post/grunge/alt rock sound. These guys have just returned from a tour with Massive Wagons and show they are fighting fit. Their set includes a preview of a few great sounding new tracks from their forthcoming album, as well as a few classics which keep the audiences full attention throughout.

The Rocket Dolls
The Rocket Dolls 1234

It’s amazing that organiser Jim had got such a great line-up this far down South and one of the big draws of this festival is upcoming Welsh band Those Damn Crows. After a host of major festival appearances this year and a recent tour with Stone Broken they are certainly destined for great things. You can feel the excitement as they take to the stage and they are given a huge welcome by this enthusiastic crowd. This five-piece fronted by the ever smiling Shane Greenhall, all know how to entertain a festival crowd. They have energy in abundance; some fantastic songs and all excel in their own musical skills, which makes for one great show. The tunes all show a wide range of styles and influences, keeping things interesting. The set contains a good mix of older crowd favourites and a few new tracks off the soon to be released album. Songs like the brilliant “Blink Of An Eye” and the epic “Rock ‘n Roll Ain’t Dead” keep the crowd happy right until the last notes are played.

Those Damn Crows
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Day 2
The weather on day two seems to have mightily improved from yesterday and as we arrive there are plenty of people sat outside enjoying the sunshine, while inside Baleful Creed are putting the crowd through their paces and disappointingly they say their goodbyes just as we arrive. As we settle down for the afternoon the delightful Elles Bailey takes to the acoustic stage and delivers some beautiful blues that perfectly suit this sunny afternoon.

Elles performs some great tunes from her new album “Road I Call Home” and her vocals are something really special, a privilege to hear. While on the main stage next is Jack J Hutchinson and after a bit of pre-gig research, he is someone definitely worth checking out. He and his band have recently toured with Kris Barras and there has been plenty of positive praise for this guy. You only have to look at the man himself to see that he oozes rock n roll with his long hair, beard, cowboy-style hat, and shades. Along with his bassist and drummer he just uses his 6-string to thrill the crowd with a series of great tunes including new single “Justified”. Jack is no one trick pony, his music comes from all areas of the spectrum and he is indeed appreciated by the well-entertained audience.

Elles Bailey
Elles Bailey 1
Jack J Hutchinson
Jack J Hutchinson 123

Three-piece City of Thieves is the next band to grace the main stage and they come out on a mission, with plenty of energy and armed with some great tunes to get this Saturday evening party started. These guys from London feature Jamie Lailey on bass/lead vocals, Will Richard on drums and guitarist Ben Austwick who plays a smart looking Gibson Explorer. They give us their all with an inspiring, high energy set performing tracks from their album “Beast Reality”; including crowd favourite the powerful “Fuel and Alcohol”.

City Of Thieves
City Of Thieves 123

Up next all the way from Leicester are 3-piece Skam; a band that despite being a long way from home seem to have brought an army of loyal fans with them, who gather in front of the stage in anticipation of their imminent arrival. The certainly don’t disappoint and continue the high momentum set by City Of Thieves. The band’s infectious enthusiasm radiates into the audience, with Steve Hill (Guitar/Vocals) and Matt Gilmore (Bass) radiating the smiling faces their music thoroughly engages. Their no-nonsense, typically British rock music with its rousing guitar and motivating rhythms produce a memorable set; which includes some great tunes including “No Lies” and the epic “Massacre”.

Skam 123

I will put it out there that I am not a huge fan of tribute bands, the inclusion of Hells Bell’s and Just Floyd in this line-up is my only grumble about this festival. I do appreciate that there are plenty of people out there who do, personally I would always rather be watching new original bands.

Over the Summer I get myself to a whole range of different festivals and this is certainly one of the best organised with fantastic facilities. The rumour mill has already started on the line-up for next year and some of the names that are being mentioned would be absolutely awesome. I cannot praise the organisers enough for their efforts on putting this event on and look forward to attending once again next year.

Love Rocks



Words Pictures & Video by David Chinery
Additional Pictures & Video by Josh Chinery

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