St. Leonards Farm, Ferndown

Featuring: Hunted By Elephants, The Howling Tides, Mike Ross Band, Cardinal Black & Scarlet Rebels

It’s hard to believe that this year at St. Leonard’s Farm in Ferndown (Near Bournemouth, Dorset) the Loverocks Festival is celebrating it’s sixth year. After spending last weekend at the Download Festival at Castle Donnington in Derby and facing some biblical weather and a hideous amount of mud, it’s a pleasure to come here to see the sun shining and not a drop of mud in sight. This festival has some of the best facilities, being on a campsite there are of course showers and flushing toilets. The event boasts two purpose built stages supplied by Simon James of “SJ Hire”, along with an impressive lighting rig and sound system. The festival has an intimate friendly feel, without being too small and regulars all meet up year after year. It boasts plenty of quality food vendors and stalls, along with a well stocked bar full of thirst-quenching Ciders, Ales and Lagers. Organiser Jim Love and his team have certainly been pro-active this year in making a few subtle changes to further improve things. He has also been out and about scouting for acts; this year features three days of new bands to the festival, along with a host of returning classics to enjoy.

Opening the weekend in some style are London quintet Hunted By Elephants, an old school traditional Classic Rock band injected with a large amount of Blues – Think of a cross between Thunder and Led Zeppelin. The combination of melodic keys and guitar, coupled with infectious rhythms along with the powerful vocal by frontman Apostolos. The band deliver a fine set including “Keep On Giving Me Loving” and “Let Me Be”, which really lays down the benchmark for the night ahead. The audience show plenty of enthusiasm, really enjoying all what they have to offer while basking in the late afternoon, early Summer sunshine.

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Next up are another new band on me The Howling Tides featuring Rob Baynes (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Hayden Kirk (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Adam Brewell (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Steven Herbert (Drums). Some of you may recognise the bassist Adam who recently toured with Saturday’s headline band These Wicked Rivers. The Midlander’s show themselves to be on fine form and clearly want to make their debut here a memorable one. The two guitarists show off their creative skills and light up the place with some beautifully sounding riffs, while the ultra tight rhythm section show their imposing worth. Tracks like “Blue Moon” and set highlight “Fortune Never Favours me” gives the audience just what they want. These four schoolmates have clearly hit a rich vein with their Blues meets Stoner style along with their significant energetic performance.

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The polyphonic Mike Ross and his band are up next, opening with some poignant effect-fed slide guitar; which fills the warm evening air with the sound of opening number, the epic “Leviathan”. With Darren Lees on drums and Lindsey Oliver on Bass we are treated to a Blues masterclass that shows off Mike’s seriously diverse skills. Mike is one of those musicians who never stands still and is always pushing the boundaries of his creativity. He is one of those under-rated musicians that once you discover him you never look back. As well as being a fine musician and instrumentalist, he is also a born entertainer who thrives in front of a crowd. This evenings set includes “Seabirds”, recent totally infectious single “Ugly Brain” and atmospherically harmonious “None of Your Business”. Tonight’s large crowd are the potency that the band need and their fervour drives the trio to new heights. The final number “Ran Through Here” is a smouldering piece of work from 2014’s “Spindrift” album that shows some particularly impressive vocals. The three musicians leave the stage with a huge amount of positive noise and if you are reading this and have not seen Mike live, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Sitting on this site in-between bands is just such a pleasure. As well as being gifted some warm pre-solstice weather, I am sat on a comfy chair on grass surrounded by friends, musicians and like-minded music fans and there are no shortage of conversation starters. There are also plenty of food and drink options, with the only struggle deciding what to indulge in ?! The sound technicians are having a bit of a struggle with getting the next act’s gear up and running; they seem to have an urgency about themselves, however the rest of us are just chilled out enjoying just being here.

There is a thumbs up from the stage and Welsh Rock band Cardinal Black take to the stage with a huge Dorset welcome from the excited audience. The band have built themselves a CV of achievements including hometown gigs at Cardiff Castle, tours with Myles Kennedy, a tour with Guitar icon Peter Frampton, Major Festival appearances across Europe and next month they head to the USA for a run of three gigs. Their chilled out Bluesy Rock is just perfect for a balmy solstice eve evening like this. Kicking off with “Tell Me How It Feels” the crowd are immediately onside, with the exquisite guitar expertise of Chris Buck and the soulful vocal of Tom Hollister. We all cannot fail to be mesmerised by these wonderous creations. Songs like the smooth “Terra Firma and the uplifting “Where Do You Go” drift blissfully across the heads of the audience. The cohesive band with their textured keys coupled with the timeless basslines, hypnotic drum patterns and indulgent guitar solos prove the reason why they are so highly rated. Backing vocals by Tay Cousins compliment Tom’s, who just seems to effortlessly nail every note. It’s a thrill to have had them here and oh how they delivered.

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Tonight’s Scarlet Rebels headliners need no introduction in these parts, with the new third album “Where The Colours Meet” due to be released on 16th August. These South Wales rockers return after their successful appearance here in 2021 with several gigs in Southampton and Bournemouth, their fanbase on the South Coast has seen a distinct upturn. Opening with one of the tracks from the new album “Divide and Conquer” the band start off proudly showcasing the first track from the new album. The song lyrics attack the business fat cats and government policies which have caused so much suffering to families in the UK over the last couple of years. Vocalist Wayne Doyle is not your usual brash frontman; he is passionate, honest and sings his songs with integrity.

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Single’s “Grace” and “Secret Drug” show the band’s infectious radio-friendly rousing choruses and Chris Jones’ irresistible guitar lines. Though the new songs are not yet fully imbedded with much of the audience many of the older songs are; “These Days”, “Save Me” and “Let Me In” are the band anthems that uplift the crowd and get them singing along. Their performance this evening validates them as worthy headliners and kickstarts the next chapter for the band. After previous top 40 positions, this record could well take them on a successful journey.






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Article by David Chinery (Chinners)
Photography by Lynn Burt
Additional Media & Photography by Becky Crowthall-Brown

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