THE REVEREND PEYTON'S BIG DAMN BAND
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band may not be big in size – but it sure is in spirit. Described by MXDWN.com as ‘a twenty-year-old bourbon in a room of vodka Red Bulls and PBRs’ - this Americana-styled, country blues trio has its roots deeply entrenched in Brown County, Indiana.
The band is made up of Josh ‘The Reverend’ Peyton, his wife, ‘Washboard’ Breezy Peyton and Ben ‘Bird Dog’ Bussell. So big it ain’t – but its output has been massive.
With seven albums and one EP to their name and a punishing touring schedule of over 250 dates per year (after selling all their possessions in a garage sale), the band embodies a certain down-to-earth Midwestern work ethic and asceticism.
And they play from the heart. ‘All the songs I write are 100 percent true, I don’t make stuff up and I never have,’ Peyton has said in previous interviews. ‘I feel like I got to directly be involved in a song… Maybe if I played a different genre of music I’d feel like I could get away with making stuff up, but this style of music is too honest; you can’t lie to people because they’ll see right through it.’
In fact, everything about this band screams authenticity. From The Rev’s 1930 steel-bodied National guitar, to Breezy’s washboard (which she plays using golf gloves with thimbles attached) and Bird Dog’s drum kit that includes a five-gallon plastic bucket fitted with drum hardware, there is a down-home rock-and-roll flavour that exudes a distinctive charm.
They’re also potentially the only band in the world with a bucket endorsement deal.
Although now principally headlining gigs, in 2009, they toured opening for Clutch, and then went on to join the 2010 Van's Warped Tour where they received the Best Band of Warped Tour award.
‘We come from the same tradition that Charley Patton and Furry Lewis came from, they just took off with their instruments and went out into the world to see what would stick,’ says the Rev.
With a band so unique, it’s only fitting that the group’s name has a folksy origin. The story goes that The Reverend and Mrs Peyton’s first date was at the Indiana State Fair, where The Rev won a stuffed animal. The couple named it the "Big Damn Bear" and the name of the band was sealed.
Their live performances draw people together to create a real feeling of community - perhaps it’s the homemade aesthetic, the truthful storytelling, or just the raw exuberance of their music - but The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band feels ‘Damn Good’.
And if you’re really lucky you may see a washboard set on fire.
John Wizards isn’t even a person – it’s the name of a bunch of South African musicians with an infectious and exciting sound that’s going to bring a smile to the Saturday crowd.
They’re relative newcomers – yet their eponymous debut album last year was named by The Guardian as one of the ten best albums of 2013.
The way they got together is like something from a Bob Dylan folk song. A young white advertising jingle writer from Cape Town, John Withers, met singer and Namibian refugee Emmanuel Nzaramba when the latter noticed the guitar strapped round John’s back outside a coffee shop.
The two talked about music and got on rather well.
Then nothing happened.
Emmanuel lost his mobile and the pair didn’t meet again until a year later, when Emmanuel started putting vocals to John’s songs, they put together a band with four friends – Geoff, Alex, Rafi and Tom – and they created the eponymous album that has rocketed them to fame… and now Glastonbury.
Playing at the West Holts stage, they’ll be performing tracks from the album, which slinkily blend modern beats and afro rhythms – the new single Muizenberg, for example, mixes up dark, rumbling Boo Radleys bass, airy Smiths guitar, tribal rhythms, ethereal, angelic vocals and big blocky beats.
The band are riding high on the back of the album’s success: this year they’ve toured up and down South Africa and have taken their unique sound to Spain, Portugal and now the UK.
After that they’ll return to Europe – but for now it’s Glastonbury – and its reputation for, er, mixed weather fortunes, that John and Emmanuel are concentrating on. Says John: ‘I’m hoping for no mud this year – and some stories to come home with.’
But with music so sunny, no-one’s going to be downhearted whatever the weather. What will the British audience make of the John Wizards sound? They’ll love, says John a little mysteriously, ‘the loud and quiet…’
Are they going to stay on site and see other acts? If so, who? ‘Yes, we want to stay on site as long as possible. I want to see Tune Yards, Sun Ra Arkestra, St Vincent, James Blake and Machinedrum.’
And how would they have enjoyed playing the first Glastonbury in 1970, sharing the bill with Jethro Tull and T Rex? ‘Maybe I could have told Marc Bolan that I’d come from South Africa, and convinced him to let me play with him on a djembe drum.’
Syd ‘the Kyd’ Bennett is quite simply unique. R&B and Hip Hop acts are not renowned for out gay artists but Syd is also the engineer, DJ and singer of The Internet, the duo she formed with producer Matt Martians. These are skills she taught herself as a teenager; in fact, she only started to sing at the age of 16 when she produced and wrote a song called Flashlight.
Matt started his career as a musician in college with a production group he named The Super 3. After producing various tracks for almost every member of LA hip hop collective Odd Future as The Super 3, he left Atlanta to move to LA, where he became friends with Syd, and The Internet was born.
Syd and Matt’s first release was entitled Purple Naked Ladies – an album that they originally planned to release with very little promotion and never intended to perform live. It was only through persuasion from their management that they took the album more seriously and eventually released it under the Odd Futures record label.
The Internet recently released their second LP, entitled Feel Good, in September of 2013. The Guardian described The Internet’s music as at ‘the outer limits of neo-soul...thrilling and original. It’s a dense but shifting mist of sound: snatches of vocals, meandering electric piano and guitar figures... topped off with Bennett’s sweetly understated voice. The songs are beguiling.’
This summer, The Internet are embarking on a European Tour that will see them perform 12 shows across eight countries. But where are they choosing to kick the tour off? None other than the West Holts Stage, where they will perform as part of Saturday’s line up.
The band is busy preparing, but we managed to grab a few minutes with Syd to ask her a few quick questions about Glastonbury in between rehearsals.
Syd, this is the first time you'll be performing on the West Holts Stage, have any of you been to Glastonbury before?
‘None of us has ever been to Glastonbury,’ Syd told us in a break between rehearsals. ‘We have no idea what to expect; all we’ve heard is great things. We’d love to stay and see everyone we can see. If time allows, we will.’
And to people looking at the Glastonbury website to plan their festival, what can they expect from your live performance?
'A good time and a good vibe.’
THE DAPTONE SUPER SOUL REVUE
The magic words ‘soul revue’ conjure up the golden era of soul music, and perhaps its greatest days – the famous revue shows of Ike & Tina Turner, for example, showcasing Tina and the Ikettes raw sexuality, and the revues of James Brown and all the Stax and Motown acts.
So West Holts visitors should know just what to expect from the Daptone Super Soul Revue.
A bit like its Motown relative, Daptone Records is a Brooklyn-based record label that for years has been fuelling a soul revival by releasing delectable nuggets of soul, funk, gospel and afrobeat.
When its acts get together to put on a show, it’s a real event in New York City – an event they call the Daptone Super Soul Revue.
And now it’s coming to West Holts.
This is not your average label showcase. Soul powerhouses Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley join forces with the afrobeat juggernaut Antibalas for a non-stop extravaganza featuring Master of Ceremonies Binky Griptite and special performances by the Sugarman 3 and Saun & Starr.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings has attracted everyone from Prince to Beck to John Legend to Michael Bublé, not to mention countless fans. They have played major festivals, arenas and clubs all over the world including The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House and multiple sold-out nights at the Apollo Theatre in New York City.
Charles Bradley has had a remarkable, against-all-odds rise. Since being discovered by Daptone's boss Gabe Roth has enjoyed one triumph after another: a stunning performance at South By Southwest that earned unanimous rave reviews and similarly-gripping appearances at Bonnaroo, and Austin City Limits.
Through their concerts, tours and recordings, Antibalas have helped re-popularise the classic Afrobeat sound, in the process earning the admiration of a wide array of respected musicians, including everyone from Questlove to David Byrne.
The Sugarman 3 are an organ driven soul machine. Originally formed by tenor saxophonist Neal Sugarman as a Boogaloo combo, their sound is a break from typical soul-jazz focusing on the soulful funk element of organ music and avoiding the clichés which too often alienate jazz musicians from the dancefloor crowd.
Under the loving pseudonym “The Dapettes”, Saun & Starr came to prominence backing up Miss Sharon Jones (on stage and on record). Though they each possess a tone and style that commands attention, together their voices complement each other perfectly, lifting their sound to elevations neither could reach alone.
Inspired by the high-energy Stax, Motown, and James Brown revues of the past, and presided over by the true standard bearers of today’s soul music, the Daptone Super Soul Revue is the show that can’t be missed.
SEUN KUTI + EGYPT 80
Before a sold-out gig earlier this year, Seun Kuti told interviewers that ‘stupidity made me start this, I have to confess, childish naivety. Because watching my dad all the time just made me feel music was such an easy thing.’
Understandable really, given that Seun’s father is the late, great godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti.
Sometime around the age of ten, Seun went from excited kid dancing in the wings to being a fully-fledged member of Fela’s band, Egypt 80. When his father passed away in 1997 Seun stepped up to become lead singer, aged just 14.
Since then, Seun’s continued to blaze the musical and political trail sparked by his dad, turning his campaigning focus to issues in present-day Nigeria. Musically, the majority of his father’s band remain, as does their magic, as evidenced on recent album A Long Way To The Beginning.m
Co-produced by Grammy-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper, A Long Way To The Beginning finds Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 in pulsating form, awash with infectious horn melodies, driving bass, call-and-response hooks and star turns from a host of collaborators, including Dead Prez rapper M-1 and Nigerian songstress Nneka.
And, while lyrically it takes aim at everything from modern corporate greed to African corruption, it retains a sense of positivity, of hope and of musical celebration. Witness Seun, stripped to the waist, drenched in sweat, leading the masses in dance and you’ll realise music has become as effortless to him as it was to Fela.
Surely there can be no one better to precede Bryan Ferry’s headline slot at West Holts on Saturday than Alison Goldfrapp?
In the studio, Goldfrapp are a duo - Will Gregory (classically-trained multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer) and Alison Goldfrapp (enigmatic singer, composer and producer). For their live shows, however, Will stays behind in the studio leaving Alison to bring their gorgeous soundscapes to vivid life.
Their appearance at West Holts is as close as can be to a home-town gig for the band. Alison and Will record at their own studio just down the road near Bath. ‘It’s a wonderful place to work. I really like working in nature, in the countryside, away from the city,’ says Alison.
Goldfrapp (the duo’s) incredible career has seen them enjoy million-selling albums, three number one US dance singles, a Mercury Prize nomination and two Grammy Award nominations. Successes in the singles charts include Ooh La La, Number 1, Ride a White Horse, A & E, the infectious Happiness (check out the video and I guarantee you will be bunny-hopping along!) and Rocket.
Since their 2000 debut, Felt Mountain, Goldfrapp’s five subsequent studio albums have been a departure from that which went before. And with each musical reinvention comes an equally striking image change from Alison. Such is her originality the queen of reinvention, Madonna, has even been known to imitate Alison’s styling!
But it’s not only Alison’s eclectic style that has kept fans and critics alike captivated throughout their 15 year career. Goldfrapp’s musical journey has taken in dark cinematic landscapes, glam-rock inspired dance music, 80s pop music and seductive folk-tinged ballads. ‘We do things quite different (from one album to the next),’ Alison agrees. ‘I’m sure we’ve made our lives quite difficult for that reason.” If they’d carried on ploughing the same musical furrow life would have been a lot simpler. “But I’d be really bored,” says Alison. “I’ve always gone with my gut instinct.’
We’ve been promised a career-spanning set at West Holts on Saturday night so, if you haven’t seen the Goldfrapp live experience before, don’t miss this opportunity. Previous visits to Worthy Farm have featured horse tails, a theremin, pole dancing, deer heads, a harp and hotpants! Who knows what Saturday night will bring ? One thing is for sure, it’s going to be electric.
Closing proceedings on Saturday night is the legendary Bryan Ferry. From his glam days in Roxy Music to his reinvention as the suavest of solo stars, to his current role as muse to some of dance music’s hottest producers, Ferry has maintained an inexorable cool for almost four-and-a-half decades.
Given that he’s recently been in the studio with the likes of Nile Rodgers, Flea and Johnny Marr, he very evidently has no intention of shutting himself off from new experiences..
His most recent collaboration has been with uber-cool disco producer Todd Terje, with whom he recorded a slo-mo cover version of Robert Palmer’s Johnny & Mary, returning the favour after Terje remixed two of Ferry’s classics. He also appeared on Groove Armada’s Grammy-nominated Black Light album in 2010, and earlier this month offered fans the chance to remix Love Is The Drug, proving he was never going to be one happy resting on his laurels.
“It’s always fun to listen to how [electronic groups] take it in a particular direction. It’s always different from the way you’d do it yourself. It’s good to hear different versions of things,” he’s explained.
After his roaring-Twenties themed jazz dalliance, he’s back with a glamorous rock show packed with hits spanning his wondrously rich career. For his West Holts appearance, expect dancing girls, the tightest of bands and a resplendent Ferry leading the crowds in a joyous singalong of hits that couldn’t encompass the festival better if they tried: Don’t Stop The Dance, Love Is The Drug, Let’s Stick Together... and, of course, the fitting Avalon.