So, as you may already know, I love a good festival, but I’ve been to that many that I never know which one to write about! This month, I have decided to write about one that is relatively fresh in my memory seeing as it happened this year – The Ramblin’ Man Fair.
The Ramblin’ Man Fair celebrated its second year in 2016 down in Maidstone, Kent (or ‘up’ in Maidstone, Kent if you live on the south coast). The festival itself consisted of a classic rock stage, a prog stage (a big purple tent shaped like a wizard’s hat) and a blues/country stage – it feels as if it is picking up where the High Voltage festival left off, and I for one am glad of this.
What attracted me to it was the line-up for the Sunday with Airbourne, The Answer, Thunder and Black Stone Cherry gracing the main stage. Whitesnake and Terrorvision as well as Thin Lizzy swung it for me to go to the Saturday as well. At the mention of Hayseed Dixie, my partner decided to brave her first festival and come along too.
Getting to the festival on the Saturday was a bit of a struggle as we had to tackle Maidstone’s one way system along with all the other festival goers and Saturday morning shoppers/commuters – all equipped with car horns and a ratty attitude. We sat in a lot of traffic that morning. Getting into the festival was a chore too which involved more unorganised queuing. Normally, us Brits know how to queue. However, the sun was out this morning and I think that had caused everyone to forget what to do. We approached some people in hi-vis jackets and asked them what the situation was. They pointed to a spiral and said that they thought that was the end of the queue. They then pointed to another spiral and said that was the queue to collect tickets if we didn’t already have them. I looked as the two spirals spiralled in on themselves and criss-crossed each other and sighed. We headed off in the direction of what we thought was the end of the spiral we wanted and I shouted ‘Where’s the end of the queue?’ No-one answered.
When we got in, the rest of the festival was thankfully well organised! The food was good, the beer was good and I got some souvenir beer glasses. The Saturday was a lot of fun with The Zombies being the surprise of the day, still managing to do what they’ve been doing for over fifty years at a high standard. Thin Lizzy (well, Scott Gorham and co.) were joined by Tom Hamilton from Aerosmith and Midge Ure, and Hayseed Dixie were in fine form with their bluegrass and mountain stories aplenty.
The Sunday was much easier in terms of getting there and entry. It was the complete opposite to the Saturday in fact – no queues, no spirals and people in hi-viz jackets looking much less stressed.
The highlight of the day for me was watching Airbourne with their usual craziness and party pieces in overdrive. My girlfriend left me to mosh to them while she went in search of food. The surprise of the day were The Kentucky Headhunters, a bluesy rock band with interesting facial hair not too dissimilar to ZZ Top. Apparently it was the first time they’d been to the UK in 34 years, after finally being persuaded to come over by their son who just so happens to be the drummer from Black Stone Cherry.
On the whole, the festival was very good with a satisfying selection of bands, food and drink and I have fond memories of it. It catered towards the older rocker, much to the relief of my partner, and as a result I have no tales of blocked toilets, muddy fields or beer/warmer liquids getting chucked over me. It was a bit pricey for a two day festival though. I’ll be keen to see who’s on the bill for 2017. However, I never need to see Europe again. I’m glad they clashed with the Zombies.
I bought the live 3-Disc album after the festival which I’m listening to as I write. You can get it from here:
They have 134 copies left apparently. Tell them Liam sent you.