Charisworth Farm, Blandford Forum

The loss of a child is something that no family should have to go through, and the Newton family were devastated by the loss of eleven-year-old, Ted, from a rare form of bone cancer in 2010. His brother, musician and firefighter, Tom, decided that Ted’s death would not be in vain and put together a small festival back in 2011 – thus “Teddy Rocks” was founded at his local pub, the Greyhound in Blandford to raise funds for children’s cancer. It’s now 2022 and the festival has grown to an unbelievable size and has found its permanent home at Charisworth Farm in Blandford. Apart from a two-year break due to the pandemic, the Newton family have worked tirelessly, continually raising money to provide financial and emotional support to children and families undergoing treatment for cancer. In 2014, “Teddy20” became a registered charity and to this date, the festival provides huge sums of money to continue its inspiring work.

So after two years off, the festival returned to Charisworth Farm with a small army of loyal volunteers to put together what is being billed as one of the best festivals yet. When the event first started, you would have thought it to be impossible for some of the billed artists to perform in a field just outside of Blandford. This year’s festival features multiple stages; the Ted Newton (Main) Stage, Vocalzone Tent, Bigman Big Top, Comedy Tent and a further two stages in the Merry Woodland Area. Alongside the Teddy Raves dance tent, there is a mouth-watering host of various food stalls, fairground rides, bar areas, axe throwing, bull riding and a host of different festival stalls.

It all started with a warm-up on a fine Friday evening with a variety of acts to choose from. You of course cannot see everyone performing, but there is a handy clash-finder on the Teddy Rocks website to help guide you through the weekend’s programme. My first band of the weekend were Bristol Based band, Sun Spot who provided the early birds with some palatable, electronic-fused tunes which floated atmospherically around the audience, before Bournemouth’s Erica Drive turned up the volume somewhat, with some finely written emotive rock tunes. The band dressed in their finest summer wear and gave their all during their half-hour set, which acted as a swan song for the current line-up of the band.

Sun Spot
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Erica Drive
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Sometimes it is admirable to throw caution to the wind and just take a wander around to see what you discover. Clash-finders are excellent for the eccentric organisers among us, but what I love about events like this is unearthing the next generation of talent. Wandering around the site, we found the excellent Becoming Branches, showing off their beautiful vocal harmonies along with local legend, Mischa Weston-Green, singing a heartfelt set of his fine-tunes. Feisty Dorset singer/songwriter, Shannon White showed off her creative streak with some of her original tunes, as well as a popular cover of The Clash’s “London Calling”.

Galaxy Thief impressed on the Vocalzone Stage as their new frontman Rhys Messenger made an excellent debut, showcasing his strong vocal range and infectious personality. The band are still one of the tightest sets of musicians out there currently and the quartet performed effortlessly, with a great mixture of crowd-pleasing covers, scattered amongst their impressive originals.

Galaxy Thief
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After a couple of pints of my favourite festival cider, Cranbourne Chase, it was time to head back to the Vocalzone Stage to see Hampshire four-piece, Saints of Sin. These guys are no strangers to big stages and their tent was virtually full of expectant fans. Kicking off with crowd favourite “Heart Attack”, the band soon had the whole tent bouncing. Playing a mixture of their own material along with a couple of choice covers from Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” (yes, you read that correctly!) and the highly entertaining “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson. Front Man Rui whipped up the excitable crowd, while bassist Ash, along with guitarist Sparxx provide some clever dance moves. Drummer Josh kept everyone in time with his impressive stick work. With new material on the horizon, it’s worth keeping a close eye on this outfit.

Saints Of Sin
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I eventually took a trip over to the Bigman Tent and right in front of me were 1970’s chart heroes, The Wurzels, an English Scrumpy and Western band from Somerset. The huge tent was rammed and there were people of all ages singing along enthusiastically to their unique, West Country anthems. Pete Budd and his band, despite their years, are still able to push the envelope with tunes like “Farmer Bill’s Cowman”, “Oh What a Beauty” and the classic “I Am a Cider Drinker” sung to the tune of “Una Paloma Blanca”. The onstage banter is priceless and these guys know exactly what a crowd like this need, and delivers everything expected of them and more.

The Wurzels
The Wurzels 123456789

A quick dash back to the Vocalzone stage allowed me to see the mighty Black Water County, who arrived on stage to a huge roar from the crowd. The band appeared at the festival, recently having headlined a brilliant show at the O2 Academy just down the road in Bournemouth. The band have come a very long way since forming over nine years ago. They are so at home on a festival stage and bring so much energy to the party; the crowd know just what to expect and has brought their dancing shoes. The band’s Celtic infused punk is utterly infectious and their creativity brings to the stage so many great songs, which take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the life and times of this very popular band. Each member brings something unique to the table and it’s hard not to enjoy all they have to offer.

Black Water County
Black Water County 12345

That closes the first night of Teddy Rocks and we older music fans need to pace ourselves as it’s going to be a very busy weekend with a full programme of music on offer on Saturday and Sunday. Also, the main stage opens with the promise of some wonderfully distinctive visual effects. See you all tomorrow…

PS…. As I am far too much of a diva to camp overnight and my house is about twenty minutes from the festival site, I opted to return home. Upon returning to my car, which was parked at the bottom of a steep grassy hill, I found that my front-wheel drive, one litre Ford Focus could not make it up the hill. It just could not get any sort of grip on the wet incline, fish-tailing each time I tried. After a walk back to the festival and a quick word with a security official, site manager Matthew Felton returned with his team and a four by four pick up to willingly help me. It was no trouble for Matthew and his team to drag me up the hill and onto the hard-standing farm road. To those guys and all the security team, I would like to give my sincere thanks for all their valuable help.



Words & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures by Lynn Burt

Black Water County