Charisworth Farm, Blandford Forum

After last night’s little episode, I opted for a much closer and much flatter car park for a much quicker exit tonight. Once parked, myself and the Rock Regeneration team made our way onto the festival site to find the first of the day’s entertainment. The festival not only has a great line-up, but it is also a fantastic way of catching up with musical friends. I couldn’t walk more than fifty metres without bumping into an old friend or a friendly musician who wanted to chat about their performance, new releases or just catch up. It’s such a close-knit, safe and friendly festival that I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone. Everybody on site, whether staff, performer or punter, is treated with the utmost respect. I also have a lot of respect for Tom Newton and his team for recruiting the right sort of people to run the festival. Whilst I am talking about festival organisers, I must just show some enormous respect for local promoter, Dom Patience, who booked the vast majority of the acts for this festival, which is no mean feat. This as well as recently becoming a first-time father. Dom, I appreciate everything you do for the local music scene and the hard work that you have put into Teddy Rocks. He is surely an unsung local hero if ever there was one!

Right, let’s get started on Saturday’s musical offerings. It was going to be a very long day, however, the sun was shining and I was doing what I love. The first act to infect my ears was local electronic duo, Terminal Days whose lineup features former Greyside/Marble Tides vocalist, Brandon Moss, alongside Joe Grist on keyboards. The duo created a gothic nostalgia with dark synth melodies and soaring vocals; think a gloomy Pet Shop Boys meets White Lies. Brandon is a wonderfully expressive singer with a fantastic vocal range and along with Joe’s creative musical accompaniment, you can’t fail to be impressed with songs like their single “The Rain” and the epic sounding “Lucia” (which has an instantly recognisable, possibly 80’s sounding melody which I can’t place – it’s driving me mad!).

Terminal Days
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I ventured over to the Woodland Stage for some bluegrass and roots from Bournemouth ensemble, Dr Beatroot before a quick dash over to the Bigman Stage to catch Cherry Morris’s fine band, Pharaohs, who gave a great account of themselves with some noteworthy originals that seemed to be greatly appreciated by the crowd.

Dr. Beetroot
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The Pharoahs
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The next band on the Bigman Stage are Skinny Knowledge, who were all here last night and were now sporting hangovers, so hidden behind their sunglasses they belted out tunes from their wonderful debut album “Don’t Turn Out The Lights”. Frontman, Andy Smooth, needed to shake the hangover as he had another performance later on with Green Day tribute band, Dookie, as they recently lost their original singer. Andy has stepped in with a moment’s notice and just a thirty-minute rehearsal this morning (more on that later).

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Elsewhere, young Russell Starmore was showing off his melancholy psychedelia, performing tracks acoustically from his latest album “The Death Canvas”. Another new band that I wanted to catch was Mad Simple, who were formed after frontman Craig Barker’s former band The Vixens split. They showed us their wholesome twin-guitar with a collection of well-crafted original tunes, along with their best and final song called “Higher Ground”.

Russell Starmore
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The wonderful Ted Newton Stage was situated in a prominent position, right in the middle of the arena, and was now open for business. As with previous years, it has been rigged up with an array of production features to make each band’s performances stand out even further. The first band I caught on this stage was fully independent, Nottingham four-piece, As December Falls, who captivated their audience with a set of enduring tunes in the afternoon sunshine. Singer Bethany Curtis stalked the stage, belting out some impressive vocals and was ably backed with some uplifting guitar work. They performed material from their two full-length records, including “Nothing on You” and their latest single “Go Away”. The band return to Dorset in November, when they play a headline gig at the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth.

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After a spot of lunch which consisted of an amazing hot chilli burrito and a customary pint of Cranborne Chase cider to wash it down with, I went in search of the next band. While there are a lot of local acts that I already know on display here this weekend, I always hope that there will be some new discoveries. I found my first in the form of Los Angeles hard rock band, Dead Sara. Honestly, I’ve never heard of them before, let alone seen them live. They arrived on the Vocalzone Stage with tonnes of attitude and raw energy. Vocalist Emily Armstrong has a frighteningly powerful vocal delivery; think of the power of Courtney Love with the tone of Patti Smith. Song by song, the band win over the audience with their incredibly powerful delivery. The very rudiments of their music bring together a host of historic influences to create something quite special and really memorable. Siouxsie Medley impresses with her creative guitar work, accompanied by an impeccably tight rhythm section. A set highlight was the ruthless “Mr. Mr.” which shows the band firing on all cylinders. The crowd showed the band lots of positive support as they left the stage after a fantastic display.

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At this festival, one of the bands of the weekend is always The Bottom Line; not only does their lineup feature guitarist and festival organiser, Tom Newton, but they have validated themselves with a host of great support slots, major tours and releases. The pop-punk outfit was making some serious waves before the pandemic hit and this is their first show this year, so they were eager to get out of the starting blocks in style. Their energy was incredible and they boasted the largest audience of the weekend so far who lapped up everything that they had to offer. Callum, Tom, Max and Matt were firing on all cylinders and gave the audience the full double barrel treatment with tracks including “Happy”, latest single “Broke” and an explosive ending with “Reasons”. This saw some site shaking and jumping from the excited audience, before the band left the stage to rapturous applause.

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Up next on the main stage are Terrorvision, and frontman Tony Wright took to the stage in his ultra-tight silver trousers and a David Bowie t-shirt. After a warm-up show in Barnsley the previous night, the band were more than ready to rock. As well as the usual four-piece band, they brought a three-piece brass section with them to further bolster their sound. The crowd are of course treated to a string of their big hitters, including “Tequila” which features a confetti cannon, “Alice what’s the Matter” and the ever-popular “Celebrity Hit List”.

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I sadly had to miss the final quarter of an hour of their set as I had to quickly dash over to the Bigman Stage to see Andy Smooth’s Stars In Their Eyes moment with top UK tribute to Green Day, Dookie. I’ve personally know Andy for a long time and this was a really big deal for him and something he has wanted to do his whole life. When I first saw him, he was almost unrecognisable with his eyeliner and Billy-Joe Armstrong wig. To complete the look, he even had the Green Day replica guitars. Of course, he smashed it. It was an amazing performance to a packed tent, blasting out a string of hits including “Welcome To Paradise”, “Know Your Enemy” and of course “American Idiot”. Rumour has it that the band have asked him to do some more shows with them in the future.

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Dub War are a band that was formed in 1993 by Benji Webbe before he formed Skindred in 1998. The band disbanded in 2010 and reformed again in 2016. Over the lockdown period, the band recorded a new album called “Westgate Under Fire”, which is due to be released in August. The band also features Mikee Gregory (drums), Jeff Rose (guitar) and Richie Glover (bass). They arrived at Teddy Rocks after a couple of warm-up dates in Chester and Guildford. Anyone who has seen Benji perform before knows just how unpredictable he can be; his attitude is blunt, however, his motives come from the heart. As the band gets going, a teenager slumped on the barrier got a ticking off from Webb’s sharp tongue for not enjoying himself (he looked much livelier for the rest of the gig). The band delved into their back catalogue, with a host of hard-hitting songs, which touched on subjects such as racism, domestic abuse and politics. The band’s unique sound entraps metal with flavours of ska and reggae, making it so easy to dance to. With the song’s catchy choruses, even members of the audience who have never seen Dub War before picked up the words really easily, even on the first run through. Benji managed to turn some technical problems into an opportunity to exert his showmanship with a rant about Boris’s lockdown rules and even a tongue in cheek dig at the sound engineer. The emotive “Cry Dignity”, a slower number, was a highlight, while the encore took us to new heights with a cover of “War Ina Babylon” dedicated to the Late Rankin’ Roger of The Beat. This was a welcome part of the set, coupled with an impromptu version of Status Quo’s “Caroline”. The band did not want to leave the stage and the crowd did not want them to leave either; this was definitely one of the many highlights of the weekend.

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Finally, it was time for this evening’s headliners, The Eagles of Death Metal (I can confirm however that they are not eagles and they don’t play death metal!), a band that has suffered their own challenges after playing a sold-out concert in Paris and finding themselves at the centre of a devastating terrorist attack. Somehow, the band have found the strength to continue, and their charismatic lynchpin, Jesse Hughes, arrived like a true American showman on stage on a motorbike, dressed in full Evel Knievel attire. They sure knew how to make a bold entrance, tearing into phenomenal opener “Only Want You” as the rest of the band showcased their impeccable musicianship, whilst being dressed in hand-crafted stage finery too. Jesse soon addressed the crowd declaring, “We are the Eagles of Death Metal and we came to shake our dick tonight”. There’s no getting away from it; these guys are all entertainers of the highest calibre and Jesse’s revolving door of musicians is clearly picked for their high credentials.

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The band gave us the full two-barrel treatment with an emphatic set full of highlights, including “Want You So Hard (Want You So Good)”, “Cherry Cola”, “Anything ‘Cept the Truth”, along with the track that the band once played with Irish legends U2 in Paris, “I Love You All the Time”. The senses were overwhelmed by smoke-filled bubbles, pyrotechnics, confetti and the sound of American rock n’ roll. The band even threw in a cheeky David Bowie cover of “Moonage Daydream”, claiming the legendary artist must have written the song for them. They left the stage with plenty of noise coming from the Teddy Rocks crowd, who by the feel of the atmosphere have fully enjoyed the second day down at Charisworth Farm.



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

Eagles Of Death Metal