By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 31 Jul 2012 16:30:00
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There was a special atmosphere at Deershed festival. This North Yorkshire music weekend puts a big emphasis on being a family friendly event and succeeds hands down. Led by Villagers, School of Seven Bells and Los Campesinos! the music is stunning. The food is yummy and all in all it just feels right.

Beth Jeans Houghton celebrated the number of toddlers perched on parents’ heads in her set on the main stage whilst the following band Los Campesinos! bemoaned their own failings in this department. I bet the Cardiff indie band will long rue not painting their faces and dressing up a la BJH and the Hooves of Destiny. Yet it isn’t the only reason marking the Baldersby Park, Topcliffe festival out as very different to the normal live music jamboree.crowd

It is such a chilled and friendly affair. The delicious chocoholic drinks go down every bit as well as the beer. Kids and parents alike join in with the monster making arts and crafts classes. Monsters were the theme for this year and a giant octopus squatted on its many haunches in the centre of the impressively spacious site. Over at the camp site the rows and rows of tents are overlooked by two giant eyes. Is that a monster lurking in the trees? Friendly of course.

I entered on Saturday to the familiar uplifting riffing intensity of Woodenbox, a Scottish band that can’t keep away from this part of the world. How lucky and grateful are we for it? From the big top to outside and it was great to see Treetop Flyers elevated to the main stage of a festival. These men in hats are currently on the up and up with their laid back Americana sounds. They’ve just recently returned from recording a debut album in California. An unfortunate prolonged stop over in an American airport was inspiration for a new song with a good festival chorus. Altogether now, “shoop.. shoop.” Everyone joined in. Out in the sun Treetops powered through a big moody finale, “Haunted House.” I hope there are no haunted tents on the site.

After digesting a gorgeous pizza we had a peek in at Teesside’s own Patrick Monahan entertaining the kids in the big circus tent. Hilarious he was too, his humour transfixed little ones and grateful grown ups alike. The Staves followed later on the main stage. These three sisters perform the most delightful vocal harmonies in their lush countrified folk offerings. Real charming company they are with songs that contain acoustic guitar, ukulele and even whistling. “Mexico” was one of their many outstanding songs.

The Staves

In the more intimate Far from the Lake stage Rachel Sermanni silenced the whisperers with “Eggshells.” Afterwards she thanked everyone for their respectful silence, “this is lovely, thanks for listening so well.” The young Scottish singer then introduced “The Burger Van Song,” which is from her days of having to work in a burger van at the Highlands Show. Amongst all the orders of venison burgers one sour faced customer put sugar instead of salt on his chips and blamed Rachel who now exacts her revenge by raging at him through this song.

Rachel saw a fox the night before in the middle of Glasgow, the perfect introductory note for the splendid “Song to a Fox.” Rachel Sermanni will be playing the Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough in September.

This is a just a brief snapshot of some of the wonderful bands playing in the middle of God’s own County. It was the first weekend of the school summer holidays, the sun was shining and for once there was not a rain cloud in sight. What more could you possibly want?

Beth jeans Houghton

There were loads and loads more thrilling acts to follow that Saturday and the following morning. The School of Seven Bells were electrifying, Villagers entrancing and Los Campesinos! wooed far more than their big cult following. Beth Jeans Houghton certainly knows how to work a crowd and her mass participation stress relieving screaming went down a real storm with the little kids.

All in all I am sticking Deershed in my diary as a must go to event next year when I will be looking forward to another top weekend out in North Yorkshire.

Robert Nichols @rob_fmttm

Photos by Tracy Hyman -


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