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Black Deer Pageant

Black Deer Festival 2023 – Festival Review

Black Deer Pageant
Eridge Deer Park, Kent
Sixteenth-18th June 2023

2023’s version of Black Deer Pageant, the boutique competition of Americana set within the idyllic environment of Eridge Deer Park in Kent actually proves to be one thing particular.

Typically, strolling right into a competition offers a really feel for what’s to come back. A dusty observe leads by means of a wild flower meadow as individuals of all ages haul their weekend belongings in the direction of the competition gate. There’s a small queue for the world however everybody’s chilled and there’s a laid again vibe.

Stetsons and cowboy boots abound as we go away The Backyard of England for a world of Americana. Rows of Harley-Davidsons rejoice the long-lasting bike’s a hundred and twentieth anniversary, and the odor of barbecues fills the air. The country Arkansas Porch Stage echoes with acoustic sounds of the deep south because the viewers sit baking within the afternoon solar.

Black Deer Festival 2023 – Festival Review
Luke Elliot

Heading deeper into the positioning, Haley’s Bar affords some shade. An escape from the warmth? No, it’s extra like a sweatbox. On stage although, Luke Elliot‘s trying outrageously cool in a black go well with. He’s new to me however very spectacular; the sound of darkish gothic Americana with echoes of Nick Cave. Principally it’s sluggish and brooding however he speeds issues up for William Inform, a doom laden story of William Burroughs capturing his spouse.

Someday actor Damian Lewis isn’t trying so cool within the sauna-like Ridge Tent. Doused in issue 50, he had thought he was taking part in outdoors. There are self depreciating jokes about “gingers” as his solar repellent melts and begins to trickle down his face. Musically he’s very nice however the tone modifications when he dedicates a tune to his late spouse. He’s received an honest voice too, so there might even be a profession forward.

CMAT‘s on the primary stage. She’s good leisure. Glam nation, nation pop, nation piss-take; it’s arduous to say, however she’s received an important voice and an infectious self deprecating method. Far From Saints take themselves a bit of extra critically; Individuals with token Welshman Kelly Jones, theirs is a delightful country-tinged rock sound. At instances it’s paying homage to present, extra laid again Kings Of Leon. They actually burst into life as their set culminates with rocked up covers of The Ronettes, Be My Child and Tom Petty’s American Lady.

I final noticed Friday night time headliners Nathaniel Rateliff And The Evening Sweats 4 or 5 years in the past. They had been a refreshing amalgam of nation, rock and soul with a nod to gospel too. Musically a bit of tough across the edges however brimming with ardour. Tonight, they’re way more restrained. Technically they’re most likely higher however they’ve misplaced that fireside that made them particular. In the direction of the top, vitality builds towards the inevitable Son Of A Bitch they usually do get an important reception. Possibly it’s simply me that’s a bit of underwhelmed.

Black Deer Festival 2023 – Festival Review
Nathanial Rateliff and The Evening Sweats

Saturday’s scorching, hazy and sticky and Katherine Priddy‘s our self proclaimed lazy Saturday fundamental stage opener. She’s blessed with a type of pure English voices and delights with songs drawn from English literature and Greek mythology. It’s all very laid again however sitting within the stunning environment of Eridge Park it really works.

Typically youngsters have an excessive amount of vitality. Whereas most of us are wilting within the warmth there’s exercise a lots in The Younger People space. There’s typical competition fare like tie-dyeing, craft workshops and storytelling however way more in addition to. How about climbing and abseiling from oak bushes, ascending a climbing wall or using a zipper wire? There’s a skate park too with workshops to design your individual board. It’s all refreshingly completely different.

Immediately we’ve received a blues and soul afternoon on the primary stage. Cardinal Black and The Teskey Brothers might hail from reverse sides of the world however each have related musical DNA. Soulful vocals are punctuated by blues guitar that’s in flip soulful and gutsy, with The Teskeys including a gospel really feel at instances. Each acts are effectively obtained though there are occasions once I’d desire a bit of extra guitar and rather less vocal warbling.

Black Deer Festival 2023 – Festival Review
The Teskey Brothers

Individuals are drawn by the weird or the prospect of witnessing human discomfort, and Black Deer has it’s personal tackle public struggling. I’m one among 1000’s drawn to The Dwell Hearth Stage by a chilli consuming contest. Our 10 contestants munch their approach by means of varieties of accelerating depth. Tears circulate, legs shake, faces redden with soothing milk and sick baggage at hand as we cheer on our favourites. It’s like a C21 model of attending a medieval flogging on a village inexperienced. Am I allowed to say it’s nice leisure?

For these of us concerned with truly consuming meals, The Dwell Hearth Stage showcases demonstrations of top of the range out of doors cooking. Elsewhere, there’s a wide range of meals shops with loads of alternative. Costs are fairly costly however high quality appears to be good. For the non carnivores I’m instructed that there are vegan choices at nearly each outlet.

Bonnie Raitt‘s rightly thought to be a blues icon, her distinctive voice and trademark slide guitar instantly recognisable. Her Saturday night time efficiency merely oozes high quality. She’s backed by a be aware excellent band with significantly spectacular guitar but it surely’s noticeable that her personal fretwork is restricted to brief tasteful slide breaks. She will get an important reception which even raises the deckchair brigade on the again to their toes.

Black Deer Festival 2023 – Festival Review
The Pretenders

From one icon to a different: Bonnie and Chrissie Hynde could also be solely a few years aside in age however they’re worlds aside when it comes to vitality and presence. Bonnie might exude style and expertise however Chrissie merely oozes rock’n’roll charisma. Tonight, The Pretenders are the very best I’ve ever seen them. There are not any frills, they’re merely a uncooked rock band offering excellent backing for Chrissie’s distinctive voice. We get classics Again On The Chain Gang, Discuss Of The City, Don’t Get Me Flawed, and Child spliced between more moderen fare with the highly effective Hate For Sale and biographical Junkie Stroll specific standouts. It’s an actual triumph.

Amanda Shires is one other act new to me. She’s additionally very spectacular; commanding stage presence, a voice that strikes between fragility and actual energy, and strident fiddle prospers. Her band’s gifted too, delivering a set that veers between rock’n’roll, energy ballads, pure nation and even a cool model of John Prine’s Saddle In The Rain. Maybe although, that alternative is sick suggested; it sadly heralds the arrival of rain.

Because the rain intensifies the crowds diminish, with many heading for house. Those that stay make for the tents, producing packed venues with an important environment. Within the Ridge Tent, Elles Bailey walks on stage to the sound of The Stones. It’s a becoming accompaniment. She’s a consistently shifting imaginative and prescient in orange who epitomises the spirit of rock’n’roll with a set melding nation, blues and rock. We’re handled to an hour of impassioned vocals backed by a band that gives the look of looseness whereas being as tight as they arrive.

Launched because the voice of nation, Drake White‘s one other performer new to me. Drake and his band truly serve up nation with a hearty dose of southern rock. I’ve no concept what their recorded output’s like however reside there are echoes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackberry Smoke. Following Drake, and shifting genres, Joanne Taylor Shaw’s been maintaining the spirit of blue rock alive for nearly 20 years. Together with her flashing mane of blonde hair, vocals that vary from soulful to uncooked and rasping, and lightning guitar work, she delivers a shocking hour lengthy efficiency.

Outdoors, Lucas Nelson And The Promise Of The Actual are battling the weather. I’m positive many would disagree however a few of the songs are a bit of too “nation” for my style. What’s past dispute is that Promise Of The Actual are an important rock band imbued with an actual rock’n’roll spirit. Don’t simply take my phrase for it, ask Neil Younger.

Black Deer Festival 2023 – Festival Review
Steve Earle

Saturday introduced us two icons, Sunday brings us a 3rd. Steve Earle walks on stage because the heavens open as soon as once more. The 75 minutes that comply with deliver basic after basic. The Devils Proper Hand, Guitar City and I Ain’t By no means Glad come early. Later, there’s an emotional cowl of his late son’s Harlem River Blues. All this earlier than we get to The Galway Lady and the inevitable Copperhead Street. It’s simply his voice, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica however for me Steve Earle’s efficiency towers above the whole lot else this weekend. It’s time to go, something that follows will really feel like an anti climax. What higher strategy to go away a competition than with the sound of Copperhead Street ringing in my ears.

In 2023 Black Deer has delivered once more. It’s received an important chilled vibe, it’s set in an idyllic location and attracts an actual combine of individuals. There are spectacular services, few queues, completely no litter and a great vary of actions and meals. In some ways it’s the proper boutique competition, and that’s with out the music. When you think about some distinctive performances you will have one thing particular.


Black Deer competition may be adopted on Fb and their web site


Phrases and pictures by Trev Eales. Extra work by Trev on Louder Than Struggle may be discovered at his creator’s profile. His pictures portfolio is right here

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