Fifth visit to this lovely festival is greeted by early Friday morning sunshine. A few changes to the site but nothing negative, indeed the path from the field where cars are parked has now been nicely laid with tarmac to ease our entry. Much appreciated! 

The vibe this year seems even better than normal. Many smiling faces, everyone seemingly happy to chat, and musically there was plenty to chat about over the weekend.


Friday 31 Aug


First stop on a sunny Friday afternoon is the dark dry-iced stage of the Big Top tent for Lawrence Arabia, who gave us a very pleasant start with some sweet songs. Back out into the daylight for Fleet Foxes offshoot Poor Moon. Definitely some Fleet Foxes harmonies there from a really decent band who also mixed it up with some sweet rock n’ roll from time to time.


The replacement for an unwell Peter Broderick was the rather excellent PaleSeas. Nice indie tunes and harmonies. One to watch! In the California (Dorset) sunshine, next up was Jonathan Wilson with his 70’s style West Coast sounds, just perfect.


Finishing off the afternoon session was Van Dyke Parks, playing a rare show as part of the Bella Union 15th anniversary celebrations, and he was a true delight. Relaxed and humble, full of humour and musically entertaining.




A break to the rather fabulous Black Crow pub which had a tremendous selection of very drinkable micro brewery ales all weekend, before the evening session kicked of with John Grant who was on fine form, delivering some new material as well.


An impressive VeronicaFalls headlined the Big Top and blasted through a forty five minute set of sixties-influenced indie pop. Headliners on the other stages were Beach House and a returning Midlake. Both excellent and well received. Midlake took the opportunity to stretch the legs of some new songs as well.


Saturday 01 Sept

Another sunny Saturday start with a banjo-wielding Abigail Washburn followed this time on the Woods Stage by The Deep Dark Woods. These guys from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada were heavily Neil Young & Crazy Horse-influenced and marvellous at the same time. With ten minutes to go they announced that they only had time for one more song…which lasted ten minutes!


Two bands attracted ‘rammed in’, ‘no room to swing a cat’ crowds on smaller stages during the weekend. The first was Alt-J who are a really accomplished and interesting outfit.


The Antlers appeared on the larger Woods stage later in the afternoon. Always brilliant under cover at a festival, today they were in the open sunlight and my my, did Pete Silberman and co take full advantage. A thrilling set. Early evening and its Anna Calvi’s turn to mesmerise the crowd with her guitar playing. New songs must be the priority now though for Anna and band.


Tindersticks are on the Garden stage mid evening and Stuart Staples and Co were on particularly fine and happy form. A solid hour set and even a bit of banter. What more can you ask for?


Two fabulous headliners tonight - Grizzly Bear I passed on, having seen them in Cambridge a few days before. The Mark Lanegan Band I’m glad I didn’t pass on. An absolutely stunning sixty minutes of full on raw, primal ROCK power. The man himself was even moved to thank the festival at the end of the set. They play the London Forum on 04 December. Be there!




Sunday 02 Sept


Final day is Sunday and the first grey drizzly day when it's a tough choice between boots and wellies.


First up are Sweet Lights, well, Shai Halperin from Philadelphia, a one-man band on this occasion but with the back up machinery which made him sound like a four piece. Nice tunes and worth further investigation.


Cold Specks (for the third festival the summer) were on usual fine form but I took the chance to take in Porcelain Raft a drummer/guitar/keyboard two piece who were entertaining on the Big Top stage.


At long last the garden stage presented the chance to see Richard Buckner live. The American still pretty much under the popular radar is 11 albums into his career. An intense set of dark ballads and dark rockers was superb.


First Aid Kit were the second band to have a packed out audience, this time on the Garden Stage. They took full advantage and played an excellent set. If you didn’t know then before the show, you certainly knew their brand of Americana after.


The final evening brings the ‘find of the festival’. I have known and even listened to the music of Justin Townes Earle before but, never seen him in concert. On a damp drizzly Sunday afternoon in Dorset, I put that right and he lit up the garden stage with his songs, his personality and his dark dry humour. Confident and perhaps more at peace with himself now, this reminded me of watching Ryan Adams. Country blues to the fore, the songs just poured forth both during this set and a late night show in the Tipi tent later on. A charming man.



Graham Coxon was best when doing ‘the hits’ although I was listening from a distance enjoying a Goan fish curry at the time. The Patti Smith Group were on storming form and she was perhaps the ‘biggest’ artist ever to appear at the festival.


Alabama Shakes played a rocking ‘secret slot’ set on the Big Top stage before the final band of the weekend, the joyously reformed Grandaddy.


Not sure I have ever seen so many smiles on a concert crowd before in anticipation of what was to come. Delayed start due to some malfunction with some video equipment. Jason Lytle apologised for not having the video backdrop for the songs but, “could we use our imagination?”, which we did!

The band produced a truly memorable set. Let’s hope these few dates give them the impetus to stick around for a while and even give us a new album.


So, that’s another End of the Road done and dusted. I really cannot recommend this festival highly enough to young and old alike. The organisers have their hearts in the right place and for the artists it is becoming a festival of choice to play at.


Long may this continue, see you in 2013!