Cerne Abbas Brewery, Dorset

The Barnstomper Festival is situated in the beautiful Dorset countryside on the site of the Cerne Abbas Brewery, which is overlooked by the iconic Cerne Abbas Giant. Now in its third year; it is run by Simon Guy and Bradley Hutchings-Clarke (of Black Water County) and their dedicated team, who have pulled together one of THE musical line-ups of the festival season. This includes the reunion of one of the area’s favourite live bands The Cropdusters, who have got back together after a long hiatus.

The weekend is blessed with some wonderful late Summer sunshine and as you arrive into the courtyard, you can just feel the friendly laid back atmosphere oozing from this place. The festival features as its name describes one straw-covered barn with a huge well-constructed stage; along with a smaller acoustic stage. There is the brewery bar; which is stocked with all your heart could desire in beers, ales, and ciders. Add to this camping facilities, clean toilets, a few reasonably priced catering options and you can’t help but think this is a great place to spend the weekend.

The music kicks off on Friday afternoon with The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show who are still frustrated about not playing Boomtown Festival. They start things off with their trio of musicians, entertaining with their original tunes. It’s a much more laid back affair than their full band set-up and frontman Mark leads, through a host of infectious numbers including “Float Your Boat”.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show
The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show 

After an almost instantaneous changeover, the music on the main stage kicks off with West Country starlets the Boot Hill Allstars, who immediately get the party started in their own unique style. You can’t help being drawn in with their really danceable tunes which include one called “Kalsarikännit”; it’s a Finnish word that means sitting at home in your pants while getting drunk, which apparently is what banjo player Flounder Murray does when he’s not performing. There’s another about Politian Dominic Cummings and the pandemic, where the band put a positive spin on the events; along with reworked covers of “Jolene” and “Rasputin”. The six-piece with their Country/Folk stylings with an unashamed injection of Punk is a welcome addition to any festival.

Boothill Allstars
Boothill Allstars 12345

With the first few ciders going down well and the place filling up nicely, it’s difficult not to be thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Add to this a collection of the wonderful Wiltshire/Dorset/Hampshire festy crowd who seem to grow each year and are the friendliest of people. I am chatting and catching up with many people I have not seen in ages and The Curst Sons who on the smaller stage provide a wonderful backdrop to this. While my attention is not fully on them, I’m aware of myself being drawn in by their two guitar stomp-stick sound and after seeing them plenty of times in the past I even start to pick out some of their tunes I know….51 years old, 4 pints in and I can still multi-task!

The Curst Sons
The Curst Sons 1

Bristol band Imprints are like wound up springs full of pent up energy, they are still possibly one of the most energetic bands on the scene today. They hit the stage at 100 mph and after a long pandemic=forced hiatus they are back and ready to entertain. Andy Truckle (lead vocals & guitar) and Vince Martin (violin & vocals) lead the crowd in a danceable frenzy. They have a knack of creating appealing, melodious violin-lead tunes that just get into your head and radiate down to your feet and now with the addition of keyboards to bolster their sound; make one big beautiful noise. The foot-stomping starts in earnest with tunes including “Run To The One You Love” and the slow-building “Secret Carriage”. Vince even finds time to climb down off the stage and run through the crowd while still playing….a class act and a band very worthy of their place on the bill and thankfully this is not the last of them we will see tonight.

Imprints 1234

Next up is Dorset’s Black Water County who are a band I have personally watched since they formed and I’m very proud to see how far they have come. Their evolvement has been miraculous and their huge step up to their latest album was also impressive. They played some amazing live shows in the past and with emotions running high tonight; along with the return of singer Shan after a bereavement, anything can happen. The 5-piece are additionally joined tonight by Imprints Vince on violin. The festival family in the barn give the band a warm welcome and singer Shan the strength she needs. With Punk-tinged songs like “Start Something New”, “There Will Be A Day” and stomping crowd favourite “One More Beer” the band give everything they have. Andy Truckle from Imprints joins the band onstage for a fantastic duet with Shan on “Sir Terry Cool” (apparently one of his favourite songs). The band put in one of the best performances of their lives, eclipsing anything gone before and setting their benchmark for future shows. The crowd whip up a cloud of dust from the straw below their feet while dancing and the band fires confetti cannons high over their heads, celebrating the return of Blackwater County and live music in general.

Black Water County
Black Water County 123456

Tonight’s headliners are Coco And The Butterfields; a band who I have been aware of for a while, but until tonight never had the pleasure of seeing live. The five-piece from Canterbury featuring Dulcima Showan on violin/vocals and Tomas Twyman acoustic guitar/vocals; show within moments of hitting the stage what a class act they truly are with the most beautiful harmonies, coupled with some really impressive musicianship and stagecraft.

Coco And The Butterfields
Coco And The Butterfields 1234

They absolutely wow the audience with a host of original tracks that tackle real life-relatable matters like “Monsters”, the uplifting “Battlefields” and the beautifully infectious “Scarecrow”. They are certainly not just another Folk band, they have a plethora of unique influences that make them a must see band for any live music fan and end the first night of the Barnstomper on a high.


Videos, Pictures and Words by David Chinery(Chinners)
Additional written content by Ross A Ferrone

Barnstomper 2021