Cerne Abbas Brewery, Dorset

A prior musical event in Wareham, prevented us from attending on Thursday so our Endorset adventure started on Friday afternoon. “The Calm before the Storm” – well we knew the weather was changeable but little did we know what to expect in deepest Cerne Abbas under the shadow of the famous giant.

Friday began with little fuss, my co-pilot Mr. Chinners successfully navigated us straight to the venue. Parking was found and in we went to catch Millie Watson opening the Wildcat Stage. Her mesmerising, layered vocals and lyricism cover a wide range of topics. All things Anti-Tory seems to be the running theme of the weekend and Millie is no less vocal on the subject, notably on a song titled “Fuck The Tories” (which apparently) isn’t just about them. “Hollie’s Song” however is her set highlight as we witness this rising star talent.

Millie Watson
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Over on the Desmond Dekker stage compere, sometime comedian and musician Grant Sharkey takes centre stage (with band) and opens with more Anti-Tory vibes; before settling down with some eclectic songs covering a range of subjects. It’s a tad spoken word/ranting for my liking but he holds court with a large, late morning crowd. “Fucked Up in a Field” pricks my ears up, which may just be relevant this weekend with copious amounts of cider sales and a storm brewing?!

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Pye Shoppe bring a humorous vibe to the Wildcat Stage as more punters arrive. “AK47” is their standout track as these multi instrumentalists err on the side of fun with their performance. Influences are varied but they put smiles on faces with their exuberant performance.

Pye Shoppe
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Caffeine is taken on board early as we head back to the Desmond Dekker Stage for Abdoujaparov. For those not in the know, they are fronted by none other than George Leslie Carter aka “Fruitbat” from Carter USM. It’s a paltry crowd but they don’t disappoint. “George” is an early highlight, written about himself (Fruity) apparently, while “Beer Scooter” seems somewhat apt. Les (lead vocal) attempts banter with this crowd between numbers and an unfortunate string break, but it’s all too polite. Luckily their set doesn’t lack any confidence as they breeze through a forty minute set. “Fingers in Their Brains” is new to me, as is “Everything is Free”, but older songs like “Maria’s Umbrella” still hit the mark. They depart to good applause and the fan-boy in me has a photo with the band post/gig.

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The Youth Play bring the youth (sic) to the Wildcat Stage and mesmerise us with some modern day shoegazing. Shimmering guitars, snare-heavy drumming and Mexican vocal tones hold our attention for the end of set we manage to catch. Their penultimate song, a fast instrumental elevates their sound before an even faster number to finish. I don’t catch any titles but this may just be a “ones to watch” moment. They take the plaudits from their small army of young fans and parents smile broadly.

The Youth Play
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Back on the Desmond Dekker Stage are Lazy Habits, London-based Rap artists with a wonderful brass section. The vocals are confident and audible but their output is lost on me so we adjourn for sustenance.

Lazy Habits
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We return for the second half of the set from Johnny Cash tribute Cash Converted. These guys know their way around this legend’s back catalogue. Johnny is played by Mark Carter and June Carter Cash played by Beth Shergold and along with their band deliver an on point set to a large appreciative and enthusiastic crowd.

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Back to the Desmond Dekker Stage we go for Black Kat Boppers. These guys are no strangers to us having seen them a couple of times in their native Southampton. Their Rock n’ Roll/Rockabilly, multi-crossover vibe is infectious and in singer Roy Phillips they have a frontman with huge confidence and boundless enthusiasm. They get this crowd moving early doors with their great stagecraft and musicianship, without creating a wall of sound. They pull off a decent cover of “Brand New Cadillac” and I can feel the double bass reverberating in my chest. Their set ends and they depart to great applause from the well entertained crowd.

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Back to the Wild Cat Stage we head for Bournemouth’s finest purveyors of Dirty Rock n’Rock; The Electric Shakes. Their line-up has been fleshed out with the addition of 2nd guitarist Jordan Gray and Basha back on the skins. And it looks like they’ve had a wardrobe update too which matches their newer 70’s Rock sound. Most of their set is well known to me but there are one or two newer songs in the set. And with Steve Lynch (lead vocals/guitar) doing a double shift with his other ensemble playing this weekend, he is in fine voice. I still prefer to hear the shakes in a small venue but they are equally comfortable in al fresco surroundings. They garner a great response from an (almost) local crowd.

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On the Desmond Dekker Stage we have Two Tone royalty in the shape of Rhoda Dakar. She simply brings the vibe right down with Ska sounds and some slightly awkward panto. She opens with the classic “007” but her set is littered with frankly too much chat. I can’t believe it’s nerves, this is the artist who gave us “Do Rock Steady” in her band The Body snatchers. Her set is a mix of covers and originals and while Morrissey’s “Every Day Is Like Sunday” doesn’t woo me her rendition of Bowie’s “Man Who Sold the World” is altogether much more pleasing. That said the years have been kind to her voice and she is backed by a great band, despite the bass being a tad heavy for my liking. They depart a long set to good applause.

Rhoda Dakar
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A late afternoon lunch is taken, credit to the caterers – great spicy vegan burgers!! We head over to the Wild Cat for the 2nd half of the set from Neo-Rockabilly trio Red Hot Riot. They put together interesting reworking’s of covers including “Tainted Love”, “Jonny B Goode” and a rampant Stray Cats Classic “Rock This Town”. This youthful trio win me over almost immediately and I kind of wish we’d caught the whole set. Oh well, one’s to look out for…

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Back to the Desmond Dekker Stage we go and making quite an entrance with their New Orleans style funeral March are the self-proclaimed “Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop n’ Stroll” ensemble The Urban Voodoo Machine. Frontman, Norwegian born Paul Ronney-Angel along with his band have performed previously at a host of major festivals and their unique music cabaret always raises a few eyebrows with the unique costumes and multi-influenced tunes that take on a whole host of relatable subjects.

With tracks like controversial “Johnny Foreigner” and new number “Little Jimmy & The Wrong Crowd” the band entertain with their fine multi-level instrumentations. “Help Me Jesus” sees the band joined onstage by the talented pairing of local musicians Millie Watson and Steve Lynch with assistance on vocals and percussion. These guys are a colourful addition to this line-up and have certainly gained themselves some new followers after this afternoons showing.

The Urban Voodoo Machine
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The Highliners are no strangers to this festival and make a welcome return. Decked out in pink braces and pink DM boots and the odd pink instrument, these London funsters are totally on it with their wild antics. Ok so they had a big hit back in the day (Henry the Wasp) for those too young. But tonight we get some real gems in the form of “Mini Cab”, “Leave Me Alone”, “Bin Man’s Doll” and “Shit TV”.

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Headliners on the Desmond Dekker Stage are none other than The Beat featuring the late Rankin’ Roger’s son “Rankin’ Junior” on lead vocals. The band give an energetic performance of hits and a sprinkling of some newer material. They have pulled a huge crowd and the cries of “Rude Boy/Rude Girl” throughout gets everyone onside early doors. We have somehow missed the start of their set and join the throng during “Twist and Crawl”.

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New composition “Control” precedes better known classics like “Ranking Full Stop” which has this crowd a swaying! “Big Shot” gets the punters jumping while Junior dedicates “Carry the Flag” to his late Father, the vibe in the room comes through with real emotion. “Rough Rider” is dedicated to the Rude Girls and “Hands Off She’s Mine” is a set highlight. To finish we get an ‘extended version’ of “Mirror In The Bathroom”, (a 12″ version if you like) which keeps a few punters (me included) guessing as to where it’s going, but in the end it’s the perfect crowd pleaser. Junior exits stage right as the band jam to the finish – and that folks was Friday done.



Review by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Photography by Mathew Rayner

The Beat