With the small matter of a wedding evening to attend I (Ross, Chinners erstwhile assistant) miss Friday evening’s entertainment. Luckily I didn’t go mad the previous evening which means an early start with a view to catching all of Saturday’s live-action (or so I thought)?! The journey to Cerne Abbas seemed straightforward enough – my co-pilot Chinners said “I know the way, you won’t need the Sat Nav”. After chatting for an hour or so it dawned on us we might just have missed a turning or two?! Detour taken we arrive having missed openers Kipper (apologies). We manage to catch half the set of old/regular favourites the Jimmy Hillbillies. We know this band well & know what to expect. A shorter set than we’re used to means no “Chicken Train” today – and with a stage so high, leaping off it avoids any unnecessary injury. They get the party started and leave to good applause.

The Jimmy Hillbillies
The Jimmy Hillbillies 123456

The sun is shining as we head to the acoustic stage to catch the diminutive Siobhan, who delivers a more than pleasant offering of covers and originals. Her vocal delivery is confident while gentle, occasionally rising high. Her vocal layering and harmonies are just what’s needed while chilling in the courtyard with our first drink of the afternoon.


Back over on the main stage Monkey Bizzle is tuning up for a soundclash of beats while dropping the bass. Their lead ‘toaster’ takes centre stage with confidence and some quirky lyrical ramblings. One track stands out with a line that goes “Hey, I’ll see you next Tuesday” which gets one enthusiastic punter up on his feet and patrolling the area down the front. It’s Socio/Political; sweary even, but these guys are on it this early in the day. They depart to decent applause as I head back to the acoustic stage. Next up is “AJ Symmonds” with his harsh, gravel-throated delivery and heavy picking style. It’s a little lost on my delicate hearing but one standout song catches my ear in the form of “Last Night”, which is his best and most heartfelt song.

Monkey Bizzle
Monkey Bizzle 1

So back I head over to the main stage to catch a band I am certainly familiar with. The Wessex Pistols have been entertaining audiences far and wide for a few years now and once again don’t disappoint. They immediately bring the fun element to the fore, with a wonderful Britpop medley. It’s hard not to smile throughout their set as they simply know how to entertain. Too many great covers and reworks to mention but they have put smiles on faces, despite the sun disappearing.

The Wessex Pistols
The Wessex Pistols 123456

Back over on the acoustic stage, Shannon White delivers a fine set of covers and originals. ACDC and The Clash’s “London Calling” are early highlights and despite her youthfulness, she keeps this mid-afternoon crowd well entertained with minimal banter between songs.

Shannon White
Shannon White 

The mainstage now plays host to a band playing only their fourth gig to date. “Skinny Knowledge” are the brainchild of one Andy L. Smooth. What we witness today is a hand-picked band high on confidence with the goods to match. OK so it’s not Cow/Punk or Hillbilly, but it’s a great amalgamation of all things Rock and modern-day Punk. Andy wears his Green Day influences heavily on his sleeves, but this isn’t no Pop/Punk re-hash – these guys have the songs and boy do they deliver. We even get a more than decent Nirvana cover as Andy belies the lack of banjo’s onstage. From where I’m standing this is their selling point, they are far and away the act of the day (IMO).

Skinny Knowledge
Skinny Knowledge 1234

Back across we head to see acoustic pairing Hansel and Gretel. Once again it’s covers heavy but these guys don’t waste time on idle banter, instead rifling through a stellar set with songs from many decades. Their covers of Duran Duran and Madness are obvious crowd-pleasers but they clearly love what they are doing, judging by their onstage antics.

The main stage now plays host to one of the area’s Premier live acts – Lamma and the Guys and Girl from Pronghorn get the party in full flow with their popular brand of Cow Punk. These guys are seasoned pros and always pull a crowd – today sees them pulling a large percentage of paying punters, who sing along and dance with wild abandon. A mid-set virtuoso performance from drummer Tony Viagra precedes the popular ‘Soldiers Tale’ as the throng move as one. They depart us on ‘The Cullen’ and leave to huge applause. Back over on the acoustic stage a hugely excitable ‘Wob’ is doing his very best to encourage crowd participation, amid wild bouts of crowd/artist banter. His enthusiasm is infectious and at no point is there any let=up. “Fishing” is a standout cut while ‘Hands, Space, Disgrace’, complete with accompanying banjo hits the nail on the head after a difficult 18 months. After a truly excitable performance, he too leaves to great applause.

Pronghorn 12345

It’s back over to mainstage for the penultimate act. Brighton’s Noble Jacks are a breath of fresh air. The vocals are clear and audible (with a slight whiff of Mark Chadwick), during a set of original compositions. Both bassist and guitarist (I feel) are anti-fashion in attire, while the singer has the looks and wardrobe of a confident frontman. Said bassist is smiling throughout as this now well-watered crowd really starts to respond. “Trip To The Ford” is a mid-set highlight while “Runaway Train” (apparently a true story) is great despite its longevity. One cannot fault this quartet who arrive as 2nd headliners and I feel have garnered a whole new audience. Unlike tonight’s headliners, theirs is a cleaner, more precise sound, and I for one will look out for them in the future.

Noble Jacks
Noble Jacks 1234

I have been like an excited child waiting for Christmas all weekend, having The Cropdusters back on stage is such an exciting proposition. They were the band that brought many of us of a certain age together, back when the band first started they pulled a very diverse audience. It did not matter if you were a punk, skinhead, mod, rocker, indie kid or like myself a goth(shh!!), you all went to see The Cropdusters who just seemed to be the live band to see. If it were not for them, many of the bands today would not be around for example Pronghorn, Hoedown At Hanks (now Jimmy Hillbillies), Hawkeye & Hoe (formerly The Hood & Ivor & The Engines), and many more I’m sure.

Lead singer Shaun Morris with a glint in his eye and his fist in the air leads the band onstage to a triumphant welcome from the excited Barnstomper crowd. Kicking off with John Henry and with the momentum of Michael Case’s pulsating bass and Fi’s driving fiddle; the crowd erupt into a mostly 50-something moshpit, which was full of smiling faces. With each tune the band played it took us on a journey of rediscovery and some of the discovery, there certainly has never been another band like The Cropdusters. “Gold Against The Soul”, “You Were The Pilot”, “Just Poppin Out To Fight A War! and the banjo(tastic) “Jamit O’Reily” all pushed us oldies upon the boundaries of our capabilities with our unfashionable Dad dancing.

The Cropdusters
The Cropdusters 12345678910

The Cropdusters are a precious band for some of us and the band’s legacy is important and with each regeneration, there is always some nervousness that it would somehow tarnish the past. Personally, I think tonight’s line-up with its many tweaks and changes, did the band’s legacy proud. There was a moment of respect for The Men They Couldn’t Hang vocalist Stefan Cush who died this year sadly of a heart attack, when the band paid homage to his memory with a version of “Rabid Underdog”. Their finest part of the set by far was the staggering four-song encore, where the band up their game with “Hard Times”, “Banjo Hill”, “Yesterday’s Cakes” and the stunning “Southern Life”. Singer with Cash Converted Bethan Shergold (who Plays June Carter Cash) is brought on to duet with Shaun on the last four numbers and does an amazing job, adding another great dimension to these treasured songs. Wow-what a night, it’s been emotional and I’ve loved every minute of it and thankfully the rumours are true this is not a one-off gig for The Cropdusters.

So that’s possibly the last outdoor festival of the season and what a one to go out in style with. It’s been one of my favourite events of the year and many congratulations must go to Brad and Simon, along with their team for putting on such a great event……I’ll have some more next year if you’ll have me……



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


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