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Music: Ramblin' Man Fair

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to take photos at Ramblin' Man Fair in Kent. The festival describes itself as a "celebration of classic rock, prog, blues and country" and was well worth standing in a rainy field for. I was unable to attend on Saturday and missed out on the like of Scorprions, Dream Theater and Blue Oyster Cult but Sunday's line-up more than made up for it. I found myself based predominantly at the classic rock stage throughout the afternoon and here are some of my highlights in pictures:

The Quireboys:

The Quireboys enjoyed most of their success in the late 80s and early 90s when they were heralded as the UK's answer to Guns 'n' Roses. The old dogs showed on Sunday that they still know how to rock. Their trademark rhythm and blues guitar tone, coupled with Spike's husky vocals and irreverent Geordie charm on the mic ensured that the audience was kept entertained, no matter how soggy...

The Temperance Movement

I discovered the Temperance Movement by chance about a year ago and have been a huge fan of their sound ever since. Still undoubtedly blues rock, the band injects their own modern twist, making it difficult to keep your feet still while listening to their catchy songs. Glasgow-born vocalist, Phil Campbell, definitely wins the prize for being the most animated frontman of the day: his energy alone is enough to put a smile on the faces of any crowd but he doesn't allow it to detract from his unwavering vocals. I'm not sure what he sprinkles on his weetabix but it seems to work and I'll be jumping to get hold of tickets again next time they're on tour...

Rival Sons

Since I discovered them 2 years ago, Californian band, Rival Sons have been right at the top of my list of favourite music. They always seem to get just the right balance between heavy and thoughful, mixing powerful guitar riff lead songs with sweeter, urbane ballads. This is helped by Jay Buchanan's mind-blowing vocal ability; one of the best voices in the blues-rock business today. My only criticism is that the Rival Sons 45 minute set was too short compared to the previous 2 times I've seen them live this year - I would have happily watched them all afternoon. If you've not heard them before, I strongly suggest checking out "Keep on Swinging" and "Jordan " from their 2012 album, Head Down, for examples of their heavy/thoughful diversity...

Seasick Steve

Wow, what a story! Now in his mid 70s, Seasick Steve only got his big break 9 years ago and he has been enchanting audiences ever since. Playing beaten up guitars that are missing strings or instruments he has fangled himself from scrap, Seasick is a master of the blues in its rawest from. Despite his rough appearance, he comes across as humble and a gentleman and the sort of person who could charm you with his anecdotes all night. Accompanied by an equally gnarly old drummer, they created a really powerful sound and I'm glad I had the opportunity to witness it live...

Gregg Allman

I have mixed feeling about seeing Gregg Allman on Sunday night. When his brother was alive, the Allman Brothers Band was heralded as the architects of southern rock and you can hear their influence in other people's music from the 70s right through to the modern day. He is a very fitting headline act for a festival of this calibre but I did feel slightly disappointed. The previous acts had all been very energetic and powerful but that momentum seemed to be lost somewhat. The diminutive Allman was almost completely obscured behind his keyboard and his band of session musicians were all extremely proficient but lacked some of the soul demonstrated by the antecedent artists. The sound was flawless but when I'm at a festival, I want to experience the music not feel like I'm listening to a CD. That being said, I think he brought a lot of happiness to the swarms of blues fans that had flocked to see him (do swarms flock?) and it's nice to see a true blues hall-of-famer still out there performing to festival crowds...


Due to scheduling clashes, I wasn't expecting to be able to see Marillion but I managed to catch a bit of their set. I knew very little about the band before Sunday despite their huge UK chart success throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Although not really my cup of tea, I did recognise a good handful of their tracks which they interspersed with newer material. Vocalist, Steve Hogarth made a tongue in cheek reference to this, exclaiming: "I prefer their old stuff"...

In Summary (or should that be in autumny, based on the weather?), Sunday at Ramblin' Man Fair was an excellent day of live music and I'll be eager to see the 2016 line-up when it is announced.

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