Having begun in 2007 as a way to raise money for charity in memory of organiser Luke Hassell’s late parents, Valley Fest has steadily grown into a popular boutique festival with a stunning lakeside location in Chew Valley. From The Blockheads to a collaboration with graffiti festival Upfest, there’s so much to look forward to. Here’s our top picks…
Want to revel in the nostalgia of the Nineties and get yourself Connected? Head to the Lake Stage on Saturday at 9.45pm and hear the summery, blissful beats of the band’s 1992 hit along with plenty of other material. Appealing to hip hop, electronic dance and rock fans alike, the Stereo MCs are sure to get the valley shaking.
There’s another reason to be cheerful on the Saturday night from 8.15pm – the band behind Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, who will be tearing up the Lake Stage with Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll and a setlist constructed from their many albums. Now sadly without legendary lead singer Ian Dury, the band are continuing to carry the torch and their love of performing remains strong.
Charged with purveying some soulful Sunday vibes on the Lake Stage from 6.30pm is BBC Radio 6 Music’s voice of funk, Craig Charles. Now in demand across the world due to his oh-so danceable festival sets, he’ll be helping to bring Valley Fest to the smoothest close with his evening slot.
The Shimmer Band
Anthemic, visceral, ferocious – these are the kind of words that come to mind when you find yourself in front of this dynamic Bristol five-piece, who’ve had fans of groove-laden, psychedelic pop in a spin, up and down the country this year. Expect spiralling synth lines, block-rocking beats and a big dollop of authentic rock and roll from this lot, who recently supported the Stereophonics and are being tipped for big things. See you at the Lake Stage at 7pm on Saturday, at the front of the crowd…
Another act proving that this city is absolutely brimming with top talent is Yola Carter (formerly of Phantom Limb) who delivers, with elegance and poise, the kind of perfectly pitched country-soul that’ll have you wondering if she’s actually a native of Nashville, USA. She’s a talented songwriter who’s penned tunes for the likes of Will Young, and toured with one of this city’s biggest musical exports, Massive Attack. Head to the Tipi Valley stage on Saturday at 6.30pm and hear her hugely powerful vocals demand your unwavering attention.
You can expect intricate, punchy arrangements of original and traditional tunes from this mad lot, who take their influences from the folk music of Europe and beyond. They’re a high-octane five-piece who play everything from guitar, violin, flute and banjo, to the drum kit and double bass, with reckless abandon, forcing you to dance your socks off or be damned! This is a band with a real reputation for exhilarating live performances – that we can attest to – incorporating aspects of street theatre, elements of storytelling and even acrobatics. Check ’em out…
Sea At Last
Describing themselves as gypsies in a Neptune-bound caravan, Sea At Last are a dynamic duo comprised of Cohen – on guitar – and Tory Elena – a one-woman rhythm section, who met in spring 2011, when Cohen auditioned for a drummer for a ‘mythological sea musical’… The pair aim to provide audiences with wild, cinematic rock and roll as untamable as the sea itself, sharing vocal duties and flinging a bit of folk into their beguiling rock-gypsy mix.
This Somerset-based multi-instrumentalist effortlessly blends jazz and his own shape-shifting take on pop, with a little bit of soul flavour to boot. Sit back and allow yourself to be taken back to sounds reminiscent of the Sixties and Seventies as he belts out tunes from his recent album Colour on the Tipi Valley stage at 3.45pm.
Valleyfest takes place from 2-4 September; tickets are still available on the website – visit valleyfest.co.uk