In a land not too far away from the heavily industrialised North of England lies the Lake District, a lovely picturesque albeit smaller version of Scotland. Extremely popular with tourists and pursuit enthusiasts it is often a get away for campers and mountain bikers. Our little journey to the lakes resided in Satterthwaite on the edges of Grizedale forest, in a cow shed of all places.The campsite and busy farm and the owner manages to look after his hefty acreage, livestock, campers and Grizedale Rocks weekend all at the same time. Here’s a man who can multi task. The live music runs Friday and Saturday night and gives campers an extra bonus on top of the usual camping experience.
This is our third year playing Grizedale Rocks and it is always a great gig, different as well playing in a barn/cow shed that’s mostly used for storing straw and homing cows for most part of the year.
We began our journey on a busy Friday afternoon on the M6, leaving in plenty of time to arrive in early and chill out before playing our set. The journey started off fine free flowing traffic until we hit junction 33 and the traffic came to a halt. These days a traffic jam is the norm and is expected on any M road you travel on, in our case it was business as usual, you have to wait it out and eventually you get moving again. Turning off sometime later to the A590 we hit another long traffic jam, it seemed everyone was going to the lakes. Perhaps to watch us, ha ha, we often joke saying “oh look at all these people coming to see our performance”
The usual 1 hour and 45 minute journey actually took 3 hours arriving a few hours before we had been scheduled to play. When we arrived we were greeted by the owner and after a brief “how dya do?” he was whisked off by his many duties. Walking around the site and breathing in the fresh forest air we had a gander at the Mongolian Yurts that you can hire out if your into the upmarket camping scene or “glamping” as it is affectionately known.
A while later we introduced ourselves to the sound guy Ash who had just arrived. Armed with a Leyland DAF van and a stack of equipment he busied himself setting up his gear. A short time after some more musicians came forming the line up for the evenings entertainment. We mentioned to Ash about our minimal requirements, two vocals and a drum mic please, “no problem” he exclaimed…taking it all in his stride he prepared to set up the first act of five night, a solo performer from America called Chuck Fish. This guy had an amazing voice, a charming personality and an ecig called a Snow Wolf (which could have been easily mistaken for a smoke machine), it was easy listening and very entertaining. His original music was really catchy and he did a great version of a Richard Thompson song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. With campers flocking to the barn to watch the bands it was getting busy and the barn was almost full, afterwards we spoke to Chuck and ended up having a proper laugh with him and his video camera. He truly is a man with a big voice and an even bigger heart.
Next up was a local 6 piece band called Sad Eyed Puffins, equipped with the BEST guitars, a Martin acoustic and a Gretsch Electromatic. As Ash set them all up they donned their American Indian feather hats and went for it. They were a great band, with a wonderful festival vibe about them.
Watching the band from just outside the barn our attention was drawn to the drummer of one of the bands sticking hazlenut sticks inside his cymbals. Apparently he thought that a backbone drum kit was to be provided and so only brought his cymbals. The inventiveness was brilliant despite it being ambitious, a few moments later he gave up the idea and asked if we could lend him our Cajon drum. We agreed and then became slightly paranoid as they revealed they were a punk band and we remembered we had a wedding to perform at tomorrow.
As the band played on it came to the point in the evening were bands who aren’t staying the night started to make their excuses and request to go on before the next artist billed to play, namely us. Citing a long drive back or was it the piano player falls asleep if it’s after 10pm, something of that ilk. We had said sure no problem but then the realisation of another band made us think again, after all we are only a pokey duo. Even if we try to imitate a full band with our sound, we cannot compete with a full Marshall stack and a bass rig.
As the band finished we quickly got to the stage as it became apparent that the next band complete with Marahall stacks and an electronic drum kit had been unloading their van, a young girl came to the stage as we began to setup saying that she had thought they were on next, after explaining that we had been supposed to of been on earlier and are only a two piece she walked away.
We played a great set and had thoroughly enjoyed playing to the campers, considering a big band had played just before us the crowds had been holding steady despite it being pitch black outside and getting late. Huge thanks to the crowds who sang along, danced and purchased our CDs.
Performance over, we had a drink and relaxed to another band who had been playing Pink Floyd and David Bowie covers, the guitarist doing his best Dave Gilmore impression, the band were good and had the full set up, with all the gear to match.
The next band to play was another local trio band called Gritty Britain, they have played Kendal Calling this year, a top band who deserve to go far. This is the punk band who we had loaned the cajon to and after watching them for a few minutes our minds were set at complete ease of any harm coming to my precious drum. The drummer had control (which can be unusual in some bands) and complimented the music rather than putting tons of fills throughout songs when they are not needed. They were tight yet had a very relaxed approach and the remainder of the crowds loved them. I could hear a touch of Ray Davies combined with the Alex Turner, really not what we had expected. We really, really enjoyed their songs and swapped CD’s by the end of the night. The lead singer had mentioned previously that their songs were rude and had hoped they wouldn’t offend anyone, having witnessed their set the material was mildly offensive (if your inclined to get easily offended). What we saw was a great honest song writer singing about situations you would find in a Northern style, genuinely really good and highly recommended to go and watch these guys.
As the band finished their last few songs it was getting after 2am and we had to be up and gone early
the next morning. Hanging around to talk to the guys left over in the barn we chatted a while before grabbing our gear and getting some much needed shut eye.
The next morning we had a wedding in Chester and we needed to leave early. Hurtling down the motorway we were making good time and were due to be an hour early for the gig at the wedding. Then we hit traffic on the M56 and it was severe. Turning off to try the A roads thinking we had found a short cut, we hit complete gridlock, turning around in traffic we rejoined the motorway where it was still not moving.
Our two hour journey to someone’s biggest day of their lives had taken us nearly 5 hours. It was like being in a nightmare you cant get out of, were you cant get to a destination, it truly was a very stressful journey and the mother of all traffic jams. Luckily we managed to talk to the bride and groom who happened to be the most chilled out couple we’ve ever met. The day turned out better than expected and they told us that our later performance had worked out better for them for us to play later in the afternoon anyway. This has got to be the first time this has ever happened but the groom kept saying “dont worry, its not your fault” which was very reassuring. All was good and our performance went down brilliantly even if it was later than expected. Phew.
Thank you to all at Grizedale Rocks, it was a pleasure performing for you all, we’ll see you again next year.