Summer of Love II 2008

“The first summer of love was here when I was much too young” – so goes the song by Danny Wilson. He then continues: “The second summer of love is here so tell your angry friends to throw away their Gaultier and grow their hair again”. Well the second Summer of Love festival was held in July 2008, once again in Hawkhurst Kent.

We had a little money left over from the first event so we decided to splash out on a marquee to act as a stage covering and got the marquee company to bring a stage along as well – all of which meant that the equipment would fit in my car so I didn’t have to drive up to Beckenham to collect it in the middle of the afternoon this time.

I arrived on site about lunchtime after having to talk the toilet delivery man to the site over the phone! The stage was just going up as we arrived so I started running power cables from the house to the stage. Thankfully it was decided this year to run them across the ground instead of through the trees. We used railway sleepers and hop poles to mark out the route except for a bit were we needed cars to go through where John buried them!

Summer of Love Festival - Buick 6

There was talk of Workingman’s Deed and maybe some others doing some sort of acoustic jam that evening so I had brought along a small speaker and a microphone just in case. At one point while I was tidying up I noticed one of the tables lying on the ground so I moved it and set it up. I was just moving it into position when the leg collapsed and it landed on my foot. I wear steel toecap boots to work every day but typically I’m not wearing them now. I drag myself to a bale of straw and rest there till my foot stops throbbing! Unfortunately it then starts to rain so I hobble under the gazebo. The gazebo we used as a stage cover last year is being used as a control area cover this time.

There are quite a few people on site by this time including a number of people who have come down to see Neil Young on Sunday at the Hop Farm and are taking advantage of our festival to make a weekend of it and to avail themselves of the coach to and from the site and overnight camping on Sunday. There are two young lads who asked for directions outside the station and were given a lift to the site. They then go to look for an off licence and are picked up by a passing car and taken to one, which is closed so the driver takes them to another one before dropping them back at the site!

Sadly the musical entertainment doesn’t happen as Workingman’s Deed are having a nightmare of a journey and don’t actually arrive until the early hours so we just chill out and chat and generally have a pleasant evening! At some point around about midnight I go back to my tent to put something warmer on and that’s the last I remember until I’m woken up by the sounds of WMD doing an impromptu version of Going down the Road feelin bad as they put their tents up at 2am! I notice that I am still fully dressed and the tent is wide open so I get into my sleeping back and go back to sleep!

Dead Artwork

The next morning there is much discussion about whether there is enough blue sky to make a pair of sailor’s trousers which apparently has some bearing on the weather!! I set about putting my recording equipment out and setting up so I can play music between bands. I had been in Newmarket the previous day when I had received a panic phone call from John. The DJ’s the Strange Remains had had to pull out due to ill health (as had one of the bands Laredo) and I had brought along a selection of CD’s, my MP3 player and a laptop to fill in for them. It was at this point I discovered I didn’t have a cable I needed. I searched the back of my car 3 times but to no avail. So I sent a text to the sound man to see if he had one spare – thankfully he did.

The morning passed quite quickly and before long we had the first act ready to go. Neal Weaver had been to the previous event and had entertained everybody round the campfire with his guitar so we decided to invite him to open this year’s event. As he only had a guitar to plug in he was soon off and did a very fine set which included some covers as well as some original material. One song in particular stood out which was called the Freebasing incident and was about Richard Prior (although, and I know I’m not alone in this, I did at first think he was singing Richard Briers! I thought the description of a coke head didn’t match the loveable Good Life star!)

Neil Weaver

I was a little distracted during his set as I was trying to talk the next band to the site. I had sent them directions but they hadn’t brought them and now they were lost!! Tyrannosaurus Alan are friends of my daughter but I confess that I have known two of them since they were at playgroup. I’d been to see their band in a local pub and was blown away by their mix of Ska, Rap and Punk or as they called it Skrank! Anyway I’d asked them to play even though I didn’t think they were going to fit in very well but I didn’t care! Eventually they arrived on site but with bad news. Their drummer was absent due to an injured wrist so they were playing with a guy called Simon (who is usually found rapping on some of the songs) playing snare and hi-hat. It also looked as though they had had problems fitting everything in the car so I was told it was going to be an acoustic performance! We managed to get them set up quite quickly and they played for about 40 minutes. I was stopped a few times by people later in the day and asked about the band so some people had enjoyed it.

Down among the Deadmen

The next band were Buick 6 – a localish blues band and the first contact I had with them was when the drummer had a go at me about the stage. The back piece that I had put on to act as a drum platform was slowly sinking and had become almost unusable and he was worried about his stool falling off the stage. We found him a huge slab of concrete to put behind his stool to stop it moving backwards and he was happy(ish). I found out afterwards that he is also the drummer for Steeleye Span so he is probably used to performing under more organised conditions. He also had a fantastic beard! The band went down very well and were for some the highlight of the weekend but to be honest they weren’t really to my taste.

As we had lost a band there was a break now before Nigel Mazlyn Jones so I played some music. I got lots of compliments about what I played and as I remarked to the sound man it’s not often I get to inflict my music on so many people. During the day I played music by Neil young - Rust never sleeps, String Cheese Incident - Sampler disc (given away on Euro 2003 tour), Culture - 2 7’s Clash, Frank Zappa - Hot rats, Pink Floyd - In London 1966/67 (got so many questions about this one - Syd at his best), Traffic - John Barleycorn, John Martyn - Solid Air, Silverwood - SOL 2007, Led Zeppelin III, Miles Davis - Opening for the Dead at the Fillmore (forget the date), Steve Hillage - Motorvation Radio and Aoxomoxoa. That last one drew the only complaint of the day and that was only because he was worried I might be stealing the thunder from Workingman’s Deed! My favourite comment of the day came from the sound man who pointed at my MP3 player and said “It's amazing how much weird music fits into such a small box" which I took as a compliment!

The other thing we had to do was find a drum kit. Guy Evans from Van Der Graaf Generator had arrived to play with Maz but didn’t have a kit. The sensible thing would have been to use the kit belonging to the band on after him but Aurora didn’t have a drummer so the only option was to set up the Deed’s kit which was huge! Eventually we got Nigel Mazlyn Jones on stage and he delighted the audience, especially John, with a fine set. Guy Evans joined him halfway through and added percussion particularly during the epic Ship to Shore. The bit of the set I enjoyed the most was a short song with only two, well they looked like large shells used as percussion, for accompaniment. The song was called Planet for Sale and was fitting as Maz talked about environmental issues throughout his set.

Nigel Mazlyn Jones and Guy Evans

Afterwards we had to remove the drum kit again to allow Aurora to set up. They had all their equipment plugged into a mixer on the stage which buzzed like crazy! They took ages to set up and then after the soundcheck they all disappeared (to smoke a chillum apparently!) which caused us to run late again. When I eventually managed to get them on stage the singer, who also played Theremin, was wearing a very strange set of goggles! They played some very ambient music and then overran!

We were worried that we wouldn’t have time to get two sets from Workingman’s Deed so we asked Kent if we could overrun and it was decided that we could. The drum kit went back onto the stage again and it was quite a squeeze with all the members of the band. However very soon they were off and a fine performance it was too. The style was quite different from the Cosmic Charlies the previous year, this was probably nearer to a late 70’s/early 80’s style of Dead as opposed to the definitely 1969 style of the Charlies.

The highlight for me came in the second set when out of the drum solo they dropped into the Other One and then went off on a Dark Star jam which just lifted me up and blew me away. I remember standing transfixed as the music flowed from the band and washed over me. It was one of those moments when all is right with the world and you look around and realise that you have made it all happen.

Workingman's Deed with laser

After the band finished in the early hours we packed all the kit up and I put some of my stuff in the car before helping Clive pack his van. We spent ages looking for a top off of one of his flight cases only to find it was in the back of the van! I must have got to bed about 2:30 and I went out like a light!

The next morning John had decided to offer a free breakfast which was very nice especially as I queue jumped. I had almost everything packed in the car by this time. When I started to pack stuff away I pulled all the boxes out of the back and guess what fell out – the missing lead that I’d searched for 3 times the day before! I had to get away early as I was meeting Sarah and her family down in new Romney as we were taking her little Ozzie nephew on the trains down there. The weather changed just before I left the site. I was sitting drinking my tea when both gazebos blew over simultaneously all but destroying them!

So I drove away from another successful weekend and it went without saying that we were already talking about next year and the 40th anniversary of Woodstock!

You can find the setlists from the weekend here


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