First things first: I had a stunningly, amazing fantastic time. But as with anything there are always gonna be a couple of negatives, let's call it constructive criticism, and let's get them out of the way first.
The festival site doesn't open till 12pm on the Friday with the arena opening at 3pm. The first band were on just after three. Most people were either still queueing to get in or to have their Gcard activated (more of that in a mo) so Bang Bang Romeo played to a handful of people. Surely the site can be opened Thursday evening, like most festivals, or at least early on the Friday. People want to get camped and find their bearings before immersing themselves in the festival proper.
I was lucky in that I got there early and because no-one was quite sure where I got my press passes from I was allowed to wander round the site and so was perched on a straw bale at The Dukes (main) Stage when Bang Bang Romeo came on.
The Gcard: The site is a cash free zone. You put money on your card and use that. In principle it's a great idea. You don't have to carry cash around and traders don't need to mess with change. The downside to this is you have to buy a card and pay for it to be topped up. You're basically paying to use you're own money. Also at the start of the festival you have no idea how much you're going to spend. Any money left on your card can't be refunded. I do believe it either goes to charity or can be used at next year's festival but surely the punter should have a choice. I ended up having to top up my card three times in total so it cost me £7 to spend my own money. I think there's still a quid left on it too. Also you can get your card in advance but still have to have it activated on site so it doesn't alleviate any queueing at all.
We'll get to the good stuff soon! Mark and Gail Loraine were my festival compadres and between us we had 3 camping spots with electric hook up booked. All spots with hook up were allocated, except ours. I didn't necessarily need electric but Mark did. After much debate we were finally told to find empty spots and use them. All well and good to the people who's spots we took turned up. We finally sorted it between us, though one couple were particularly rude, but missed a lot of the Friday performances while this was sorted.
Anyway, like a said constructive criticism. Open the festival site earlier, scrap the gcards and make sure all allocated camping spots are actually allocated.
Now the good stuff:
Friday 22/08/14 Day One
Up at 6 to repack again and get into town for the 8:10 train to York then the 9:05 service bus from York to Helmsley. (There was a coach put on from York but it didn't leave till 1. I would have been way too late). Got to Helmsley at 10:30 and stupidly despite the sun, my heavy bags and lack of fitness thought a walk to the festival site would be a good idea. I nearly spent my festival weekend in the local cardio ward.
Will skip the getting my pass sorted malarkey but I did bump into Colin from The Little Heroes Charity who organised a fire walk at The Hallcross when I was manager there. 'What are you doing tomorrow,' he asked. 'A fire walk I guess.'
As I said, I was in situe for opening act Bang Bang Romeo and their first performance on a main festival stage. No surprises in that they nailed it. Just a shame more people couldn't see them. Spoke to a few people that night who could hear the band from the queue and were gutted they didn't get to see them. Galtres stagger the performances on the two outdoor stages, an excellent idea, but being lazy I stayed where I was and heard The Starkins be quality as always without actually seeing them.
|Bang Bang Romeo|
Next up on the main stage were The Talks. I love this band so much but as with Bang Bang Romeo they merit a later slot. They still got the crowd dancing though and in effect saved my festival. All the admin issues had been forgotten as their sweet ska sound drifted across North Yorkshire. I'd promised the lads an interview but needed to get my gcard and camping sorted so sadly didn't get chance. I did bump into Easy (bass) and Titch (drums) later and between us we cooked up a plan to get them back to Donny on their November tour.
Now was when the camping chaos happened and I missed quite a bit including Foy Vance who I really wanted to see. Also the press area still wasn't set up which made getting interviews tricky. Thankfully it's a very open, friendly festival and most acts just mix with the punters which is how I got any interviews.
Got back to the main stage for the second half of Bellowhead. First time I've seen them. They were awesome though I'm not sure a pink jacket and tie is regarded as folk. Now we had money on our card we hit the Ryedale stage which doubled as a beer tent. Alligator Gumbo were being ridiculously cool on stage as I sampled all manner of real ales.
To get a beer you need to buy a glass. Only £1,50 and the classic oxymoron plastic glass, a sturdy one though. Bit of a con is the first thought until you see the whole festival site awash with grass, even after 3 days. One day at Leeds Fest and you're knee deep in litter, mostly discarded drinking receptacles. Not here. I can honestly say I didn't see one bit of litter.
As you can see from the first pic it was Galtres 10th anniversary and the big number 10 was there for all to sign thus:
Bang Bang Romeo left their mark too:
And I couldn't resist a second signing:
I should say that I've always thought Glastonbury was the most beautiful setting for a festival. I'm proud to say Galtres (and Yorkshire of course) have topped that.
Went shopping for the obligatory festival shirt and hat:
|The shirt I'll wear again. Not sure about the hat.|
The first encore of the festival saw Mark promise this weekend's earworm, their version of The Devil Went Down To Georgia complete with 'AC/DC devil signs from the Chadwick Army'.
We retreated back to the Ryedale stage but I was struggling. The Cover Lovers were doing their thing but I was beat. Fish 'n' chips, a hot chocolate and bed was my plan. Mark Loraine informed me the next day that just after I left The Levellers joined the party. Typical.
I love camping. all my childhood holidays were camping ones but at 6'5" I need a bigger tent and a bigger sleeping bag. Oh and the self inflating mattress was just a mat basically. No real inflating going on. Still, I was shattered and slept. Uncomfortably it would seem.
Saturday 23/08/14 Day Two
I woke up in a crunched up piece of paper position. I unfolded myself and ached. As I sat in my tent doorway the neighbours to my right kindly made me coffee. Twice.
Another downside was only one trader outside the arena site, which didn't open till 12 so breakfast took nearly two hours. Still, it did afford views like this:
I went off for my fire walk training while Mark and Gail had a wander. I'd got a bit cocky having done a fire walk before. Big mistake. I'd forgot that it was actually a tad painful. Plus the grass was a bit damp under the coals so on the last (5th) walk I sank into the hot embers with my last step. It is great fun though and something everyone should try at least once, and it's all for a good cause.
A drink was in order then back up to the main stage for the first find of the weekend, Holy Moly And The Crackers. Gypsy, folk rock 'n' roll of the highest order. I blagged a cd and was delighted to be told they were playing again Sunday night. Had a wander round the stages before my next must see band, The Jim Jones Revue. So pigging cool. 'It may be cold but this song's a strip tease song.' No one did. It was that cold and this wasn't Leeds Fest where clothes are shed on a regular basis. Another band worthy of headlining although sadly I believe this is their final tour.
Next up was my first, and only, dilemma of the festival: Chris Helme on the Ryedale stage or Martin Stephenson in The Black Howl tent. Chris Helme was also playing on the Sunday and I'd not seen Martin Stephenson since Glastonbury '89 so headed down to The Black Howl. I'm glad I did. He is a very funny and incredibly decent bloke with an array of gorgeous tunes. He played some very old Daintees material and seemed genuinely surprised at the crowd sing-alongs, particularly on Rain, A Greenhouse, My Grandfather And Me and Running Water.
I bumped into Mark on my way back to the Ryedale who had to be up early for an appointment back in Donny so was heading back to camp. I caught my second find of the weekend, King Courgette, 'an old time vegetable string band from York - banjos, ukuleles, violin, washboard and a whole lot more.' A superb bluegrass band. I've always got time for a band with a washboard. Percussion for their final song came from the washboard player tap dancing, whilst still playing washboard.
I then headed back down to the Black Howl Tent to see Beans On Toast. Caught the end of The Broken Broadcast, americana-folk and well worth a listen.
Beans On Toast is not for the faint hearted. Quite rightly outspoken (he had a major Gcard rant), very, very funny and a bit sweary. (Don't f***ing clap along. I'm not that kinda act. And I cant keep time with myself so I've no chance if you're clapping). It's a worry that it was my daughter who got me into him and she was 14 when she first heard him. He was brilliant. Did his last song up a tent pole.
Another CD, paid for this time, before heading to The Firkin Stage (another beer tent) for a nightcap. Bumped into Chris Helme and had a good chat. Another one who wants to come back to Donny. Sort it Donny venues! Decided I needed food. Only thing still on sale were churroz (spanish donuts). AWESOME!!! Chatted to Beans On Toast's guitarist whilst queueing. Guess what? They want a Donny gig too!
Despite having my torch I still stumbled back to my tent and went flying over Mark and Gail's guy rope. I'm not gonna lie to you, it was bloody freezing. Not the greatest night's sleep. And every small spider in North Yorkshire had took up residence with me.
Sunday 24/08/14 Day Three
Waking up a crumpled mess it would seem is obligatory this weekend. Mark and Gail had nipped back to Donny so I got myself sorted (I wont go into details but these were the best festival toilets I've ever come across) and went for breakfast. There were actually two traders outside the arena so had a veggie breakfast. Just as nice and with no queueing.
Today's plan was The Oxman Stage. I'd not visited yet and another of my must seen bands, Counting Coins, were due on later that afternoon. Caught up with Colin who'd persuaded a few bands to do Abbey Road style fire walks that night then settled at The Oxman to watch The Buccaneers. Enjoyable 3 minute garage blues songs but nothing overtly original.
My good friend Alistair Pearson was meant to join us today but sadly for medical reasons couldn't make it. I had seen a post on Facebook from a friend of his recommending The Franceens though so I headed up to The Dukes Stage to catch them. Well worth it. Quality nihilistic catchy punk.. Probably THE find of the weekend a band to watch out for. Another CD bought.
I checked out a store run by The Warren in Hull and got talking music, as you do. I came away with more CDs. Now up to The Oxman for Counting Coins. They got the first, and I think, only daytime encore. And rightly so. They're a kinda ska/punk/hip-hop/indie mash up band. I missed them when they played Donny last year. I wont miss them again. Absolutely brilliant.
Back to the tent for a breather just as Mark and Gail got back. I wanted to catch Johnny Gill at The Firkin but instead had a power nap. Refreshed I headed back into the throng just in time to catch Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six on The Dukes Stage. 4th find of the weekend. Swing fixated folk rock I think we'll go with. Loved them. Louis also sported the finest moustache of the festival.
Next up was the big one for me. Public Service Broadcasting on The Dukes Stage. I've seen them a few times now but always in small intimate venues. I wasn't sure how their set would work at a festival. I needn't have worried. As the sun set the dusk suited them perfectly. A beautiful noise drifting across the wilds of Yorkshire. Their debut album, Inform, Educate, Entertain, was my album of 2013. They are currently recording the follow up and from what I heard on Sunday it's gonna be another gem. On this showing PSB are a festival headline act for many years to come.
I hot footed down to The Black Howl for Chris Helme's second set of the weekend. If you only know his work with The Seahorses then you're missing out on so much. A new album is in the offing but as the man says, it could take a while 'cos he hates his own company'. It'll be worth the wait.
Back to The Firkin for Danny Landau. Had a beer with John Otway as I waited and mentioned the last time I'd seen him was in a Sinclair C5 in Princes Garden's Edinburgh. Delightfully he remembered me. Sadly the sound engineer had disappeared from The Firkin and it was a DIY job with help from some of the crowd and thankfully a friend of Danny's who was there as a paying festival goer. He'd been dragged from watching The Human League to help. I'd planned on catching John Otway after Danny but with the delays the sets clashed and after all Danny and been through to get the sound sorted I felt I owed it to him to stay. Still with major sound problems Danny and his band managed to show why they are so highly rated and why BBC Introducing and 6 Music champion them so much.
(I wasn't bothered about The Human League because they weren't bothered about me. Plus I'm just not a fan).
Had a quick chat with Danny and then on to what I thought would be the finale, Holy Moly And The Crackers again at The Ryedale. Caught up with Gail and a broken Mark. He actually fell asleep leaning against a tent post. They retired to bed as I joined in some drunken jigs with the guy from The Warren and Counting Coins. It was over too quick but I'd heard there was still life at The Black Howl. An acoustic Beatles covers duo (Keegan Snaize). Perfect. It ended with a Hey Jude stage invasion where I bizarrely gave one of the band my last beer. Caught up with Chris Helme again for a chat, swapping of email addresses and a hug '(You're a bear of a man)'
Word was that the party continued at The Riverside Stage. Not visited there all weekend so I thought in the interests of giving a full journalistic review I should. It was a massive jam session and I got to play some bongos. Things were still going strong but it was 4am and I was waning. Made it back to camp and fell asleep half in, half out of my tent.
Galtres had quite wonderfully broken me.
The country is now awash with festivals of all sizes. I would say that Galtres ranks up their with the finest. The atmosphere is one of pure friendship. Nowhere else can you mingle with the artists as you can here. And the line up is a wonderful eclectic mix. Every genre imaginable was on show somewhere at some point this weekend. And I can guarantee you will find some new music to fall in love with as well as catching some quality name acts. Galtres is ten years old now and getting bigger but I hope it doesn't get too much bigger. The odd admin issue aside it is just about perfect.
As always people asked who was your pick of the weekend. It's impossible to really pick one but here are the nominations:
Bang Bang Romeo - always hard to open a festival especially when 95% of the crowd are still queueing but still brought their big guns.
The Levellers - showing how when they are on form there are few better
The Jim Jones Revue - keeping the crowd rocking despite the cold
Holy Moly And The Crackers, King Courgette, Louis Barabbas And The Bedlam Six and particularly The Franceens - the finds of the weekend
Martin Stephenson - making me fall in love with him all over again
Beans On Toast - sharing his rider and tent pole climbing
Chris Helme - quality tuneage and hugs
Public Service Broadcasting - awesomeness personified
But my set of the weekend goes to Danny Landau. Had a real mare getting sorted to perform. An hour late through no fault of his own and still delivered some of the most perfect modern folk you will ever hear.
Thank you to Mark and Gail Loraine for superb company throughout (and for the photos)
Thank you to Pete Wise for sorting the passes out.
And thank you Galtres. I'll see you next year.