Category Archives: Monmouth Festival Gigs News

A view from the Shoes – Bryn’s blog day 5

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Wow!!!  What can I say about Friday night, our last day of Fringe events at The Three Horseshoes. Hame followed by Rusty Shackle gave us at the Fringe Stage in The Three Horseshoes one heck of a night!!… the busiest night of the second stage in the 30 year history of Monmouth Festival !!

We were as they say absolutely rammed out – people everywhere as you’ll see from the photos. As well as having an incredible night of music, those who came did us proud on the bucket collection. I’d like to say a huge thank you on behalf of Monmouth Festival to everyone that has attended our events and given so generously this year – every penny goes towards the cost of running the festival. We were also very pleased with the two new initiatives to raise funds – T-Shirts & Wrist Bands. If you missed getting yours you can still call into The Three Horseshoes and buy them.

Hame, our local boys, entertained a packed out crowd of singing, dancing Monmothians (and others of course!) – lots of the bands’ contemporaries, and many others, enjoyed a high energy set. It was a real pleasure to support locally grown talent…on their way up we hope.  They delivered some fabulous original material and we on the sound desk were impressed by the numbers of people who knew the words and sure did sing along.

By the time Rusty Shackle came on we’d have to admit – it was rather warm in our venue. It wasn’t sweat dripping off the ceiling, it was condensation honest!!  It was something else it really was – a proper, proper full on jumping gig. Fiddle driven Acoustic Folk Rock enhanced by some great banjo work, acoustic and electric guitars, built on really solid bass and drums: that was the order of the day. They topped it off with all of the band backing up the lead vocals, once again on some really great original songs that have remained in the brain.

Yesterday night really was one of those times that is so difficult to put into words – I hope the few iPhone snaps I have included will give you an idea. I will also be uploading an album of my own snaps from The Three Horseshoes on to the Monmouth Festival Facebook Page (once the dust has settled!)…if you haven’t “liked” it, please do.

So, that’s it from me for another year. Once again our thanks to everyone that’s come to the Second Stage, for your company, generosity and support, we are very grateful. We hope that you have enjoyed eclectic mixed programme from Delta Blues to FuzzRop.  With the tasters we have given you we also hope you will be inspired to continue to support live music during the coming year until we see you again for next year’s Monmouth Festival…and you can be sure we are already working on (seriously!) next year’s line up on The Second Stage at The Three Horseshoes. Talking of which we’d like to thank Sam and the staff at “The Shoes” for all of their hardwork in supporting the festival.


Photos: Bryn Williams, BWM Promotions.


A view from the backstage – Singing In The Rain! – Paul’s day 8 blog

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As I started my cross-town walk towards the Festival main stage on Friday night it was already starting to spit with rain and there was a sense that more was on its way. I had to stop at a few shops to see if I could grab myself an umbrella, of course prices had gone up due to supply and demand. But I managed to find a way to keep dry in case it did get heavier.

I was sitting backstage with the Ronaldos as they were getting ready to follow me on stage, they’ve played here before in 2010 so I knew the guys and we were just discussing how the Festival gets better every year. We got the call that DJ Jeff Harris was on his last song and so we all started getting prepped. Just as the voice of god came on to introduce the start of the night the heavens opened up, big time! Rain like I haven’t seen in ages, we had seconds to go and the stage was flooding, the crew immediately jumped to life and started sweeping the stage of water, moving all the electronics back and generally trying making safe what could have been a slippery place to be. I looked at the Ronaldos as there was seconds to go, we knew what we had to do and we didn’t care for the rain, we were here to play.

I stepped on stage and suddenly the rain just stopped, completely, like the clouds were paying homage to our efforts in this supposedly summer bank holiday weekend. It was a sign that things would be ok. The Ronaldos were excellent, they’re a party band who like to get involved with the crowd and put on a fast paced show. We’ve had them before at Monmouth Festival and might have them again. I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Half time and Blestium Street car park was full. The rain had stayed off apart from a little drizzle occasionally, plus there was lightning over Goodrich so it was all eyes to the sky in case we had to shut down the stage. No-one wants to be stood next to a huge electricity conductor in a lightning storm.

Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash were our headline act; keeping themselves hidden in the green room or running back and forth with their equipment meant that I couldn’t disturb them to talk about the show. But they know what they’re doing so it wasn’t an issue. Wishbone Ash are a bit before my time, so it wasn’t the perfect singalong show for me, but then I am a youngster really, the crowd was filled with a more experienced listener who know the songs like they were re-living the 70s. A superb turnout and a superb show. They played until 11pm and as I took the stage to suggest an encore, I was greeted with an almighty response. Of course we wanted an encore, the night was young and the weekend had started.

Clearly the cloud gods were also enjoying the show because just as I introduced DJ Jeff for his final playout, after the final song from Martin Turner, they opened up once more, reminding us that they had allowed this to happen and that they too were fans of Monmouth Festival, the best free festival in the UK.

As for me, I walked home singing in the rain to the few Wishbone Ash songs that I had been reminded of at the gig. Tonight we rest, for tomorrow we party hard as the Festival comes to an epic end.


Photos from festival volunteers.

A view from backstage – Nobody leaves the stage without singing the blues! Paul’s day 7 blog

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I’m a huge fan of the blues. In fact the first music I bought was a cassette titled Boom boom boom by John Lee Hooker, it’s where my love of music started and last night I was reminded of those days trying to strum out walking bass lines in my attic.

Thursday night on the main stage saw two fantastic blues groups rocking our world with tales of sad happenings and throaty vocals. Red River Blues came all the way from neighboring Herefordshire to perform for the somewhat packed Blestium Street car park. What a show, and what great musicians. The band were tight and as I said the vocals had that husky throaty seriousness that we expect from a professional blues outfit.

Towards the end of the set I headed backstage to have a quick chat to the John Amor Blues Group and prepare them for the gig. I have to remark on how well they were dressed, this was a bunch of youthful trendy musicians who were ready to storm the stage. Add to that the slightly more experienced namesake and lead singer of the band Mr John Amor and I was excited to see what these guys could do.

They started really strong, so strong in fact that I bought there CD before they had finished their first song. A good investment especially as a percentage of the funds raised from the sales goes towards the Festival fund. These guys really knew how to work a crowd but their specialty was simply singing the blues, and looking great whilst they did it.

All in all one of my favorite nights of the festival, and nobody should leave the stage without singing the blues, except me of course, because we can’t refund donations 😉

Thanks again to all who helped out by putting coins in our buckets, it means we can return next year and do it all over again for the 31st time.


Thanks to Emma Cheshire-Jones of ECJ Photography, Steve Mitchell of Stephen Mitchell Photography, and Paul Bond of Purabelleza Photography.

A view from the Shoes – day 4

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A quick blog from a volunteer for this evening’s show, as Bryn didn’t compere last night. Harry Jones was first on first, replacing Sam Eden who was unwell, and we were really pleased to have him back as he’d played at the Green Dragon earlier in the week and went down a storm.  I didn’t see him as I was tweeting and Facebook posting from St Mary’s Church where the Mavron String Quartet were playing, but hear it was a superb performance. Harry is definitely one to watch, with great personality, solid guitar skills and an amazing vocal range.

So, I arrived at 9.30pm just as George Montague was about to take to the stage. Just beforehand, a group of slightly older-than-usual audience members approached me and rather nervously asked me ‘what was going on’. I found it hard to describe George Montague as I’d not seen him before and he’s one of those artists that doesn’t fall into any particular camp. Singer-songwriter – well yes, but so much more: multi-instrumentalist (keyboard, ukelele, electric guitar, acoustic guitar).

As soon as he took to the stage it was obvious that this young musician is so much more than that, and what stood out in addition to his powerhouse musical skills were that he is a hugely talented performer: he commanded the stage, had the audience in the palm of his hands (even getting them to sing IN THE FIRST SONG!).

He chatted, he laughed, he growled, he squealed, he filled the Shoes with a vocal, musical and performer’s maturity far beyond his years (and I bet he HATES it when people say that sort of thing). The songs were captivating, touching, fun, and one, down-right scary.

He’s recording at Rockfield Studios today and was clearly excited when the Rockfield family – including Kingsley and Lisa Ward – turned up to cheer him on. Good luck today George, and we hope we see you in Monmouth again!

Thanks for the photos to: Paul Bond of Purabellezza Photography and Steve Mitchell of Stephen Mitchell Photography.

A view from backstage – Melodic mid-week melancholy – Paul’s day 6 blog

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Thanks to Steve Mitchell for the professional photos and Lottie Dixon Stage Manager for the two side stage shots.

Traditionally Wednesday night of the Festival has been saved for country and western, and the 30th anniversary show was no different. It was a dry and warmish night at Blestium Street and back stage the crew were relaxed as the technical setup was somewhat simpler this year. As I peered through the curtain I could see a steadily growing group of country fans lining up in seated arrangement as if assuming the front of crowd was reserved. This of course was confirmed when I walked on stage and asked if we would see any dancing tonight. I was rewarded by a mighty but deep reply, it was of course yes!. It’s the same each year on country night, the fans make the evening for me.

With front of crowd opened up and an ever more denser audience getting warmed up we invited our first act to the main stage. Chris James is a solo artist with a few guitars and a banjo. Even if country isn’t your thing you can normally expect a family friendly, upbeat and lively show from the Wednesday main stage.

Following Chris was our headline act Two Card Trick. A two piece who were known for many years as two members of The Country Experience. A well known act across the UK. They followed on seamlessly from Chris and ended the night in a fist full of well known lyrics and a car park full of line dancers.

Personally I enjoyed my night, but I think the show could have livened up a bit, normally the country night it a party for everyone, whereas last night was took a more subdued feel and possibly lacked a certain something that for me is what makes country. A few more up beat songs that we could sing along to would have pushed the night to the next level. Even so, I spoke to many after all was quiet and most said they really enjoyed the night. Maybe I was a little tired.

Thursday is now here and blues is on the menu. Get to the mainstage for 8 and be ready for a great show.

A view from backstage – Ruby Tuesday – Paul’s day 5 blog

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This was day 5 of the Festival but we aren’t done yet. As the sun faded and the evening took its hold on Blestium Street we were starting to warm up. If you chanced a glance at the night sky you may have noticed the threatening doom of rain or possibly lightning, something we take very seriously backstage. For if it rains we can hide ourselves beneath umbrellas, but if lightning falls on our fair stage it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Thank God that the weather held out and we could keep dry whilst enjoying the soul sounds of our Tuesday night entertainment.

The Bandits were back stage and really excited about the gig, they have wanted to play the festival for a while and this year their time had come. A mix of soul and rock n roll tunes meant that we could sing along until our heart’s content. I certainly enjoyed my view from the front row whilst slowly sipping my spiced rum and coke. Overall a fun set with a good time feel. They did a grand job.

Of course the Festival simply couldn’t be without the adjoining soul-defining sounds of the Mighty Pledge. Originally formed in 1990 for one reason, to play Monmouth festival, these guys have stuck around and built their own epic following. You may have recognized a few faces on stage and that’s what makes the Pledge. Great tunes, expertly performed, by people we know. A legendary band for a legendary festival. My personal favourite was the newest member of the band Lyndon (a long-standing festival volunteer and committee member too!) on lead guitar who I felt gave the tunes the edge they needed.

Thank you to all who attended, never before have I seen such enthusiasm on a Tuesday night. With the red wine and spiced rum, it turned out to be one hell of a ruby Tuesday.

Paul Roberts

A view from the Shoes – Bryn’s blog days 1 & 2

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Welcome to the first blog from the ‘Shoes – to complement Paul’s blog from the main stage

We’re well under way over at The Three Horse Shoes, the second stage of the Festival: now it’s time to catch up with our blog!

In keeping with the aims of the fringe events over 30 years, we bring to the festival some of the best musicians and original music in the region, complimenting the main stage and giving you even more from your visit to the festival.

I’d say we started on Monday, but of course we didn’t…We started on Thursday because, like the main stage, we do a complete stage set-up, install the pro p.a., lighting etc…normally with just a crew of two: (that’s why we started early) – and everyone involved gives their time voluntarily – no-one is paid except the musicians. SO when you visit us, we hope that, just like the main stage, you’ll appreciate both the music and the hard work and expense of running our stage too and … ‘chuck it in the Bucket’ 😉

Music started on Monday with the internationally known Sons of the Delta – a real coup for us. They were simply incredible. Then came the biggest band ever to play the second stage – The Jigantics blew the room away with their high energy, rootsy, fiddle and guitar driven songs and some incredible vocals. We lost track of the total number of instruments used but we think it was around 17!

Last night, Tuesday, was another great night opened by Gaz Brookfield – “Newton Faulkner the second” someone commented. It was without doubt one of the most passionate performances we’ve had, and the first time we’ve had a guitar crack on stage with all the tapping and drumming mixed in with the strumming – all on one guitar! Keith Thompson, having flown back from a gig in Croatia, followed on with what was practically a demonstration gig of guitar techniques from picking styles to slide and every method in between. It was one of the gigs of the festival for sure.

Tonight, Wednesday, we are getting ready for what we think will be one of those “remember when?” gigs in the history of Monmouth Festival. To start with we have Martin Vogwell. Now, we booked him because we have literally seen people stand open mouthed at his style of playing – you shouldn’t miss it. Then for something completely different, coming all the way from the village of “Dribble Patch” !?! For the first time in
Festival history we have the musical genre of Folk Comedy! There’s not much guaranteed in show business as they say BUT we will guarantee belly aching laughs and great fun music from Folk-On one of the best acts, no correction, the only act!! of their style around. We love ’em, so will you! See you at 8pm at The Three Horses – don’t be late !!! 🙂

It’s a pleasure to MC the second stage, and it’ll be a pleasure to have you with us…see you soon.

Paul’s day three blog – Sunday

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Sunday night and Sunday Carnival photos thanks to: Des Pugh, Hannah McGregor and Paul Bond of Pura Bellezza Photography, Emma Cheshire-Jones of ECJ photography and festival volunteers. Video (below this blog) thanks to David Ibbitson of

Normally Sunday is considered the official day of rest, but not at Monmouth Festival. Following a noisy, colourful and spectacular Carnival day, in the evening Blestium Street car park was alive with jivers from across our fair county all enjoying the sounds of The Jiveoholics, our first band to hit the stage. I’ve known the boys from the band about five years and seen them play a myriad of gigs, but this year with their new line up I was looking forward to see how their sound might have changed. If you missed it then I can confirm that they still know how to party. The crowd were dancing their socks off and those who weren’t enjoyed a gentle sway in place of all out leg shaking. A fun, frollicky and energetic start to Sunday night’s line up.

Then something completely different with the Secret Police, one of the best tribute bands in seen in a long time, excellent covers and smashing vocals. We all enjoyed an hour or crackin’ tunes and because the bands renditions were so close to the original, most of the crowd were spotted singing along to more than one hit.

Overall a superb evening and a perfect ending to the week. Hold onto your hats though because Monday night is coming. And sees us launch into day four of Monmouth’s Festival.

So close, it’s … HERE! Monmouth Festival starts TONIGHT

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After all these months and weeks of preparations it’s finally here!!! Monmouth Festival kicks off tonight with classical diva Sarah Ann-Cromwell at St Mary’s Church, local favourites The Good Times and psycho-ceilidh rockers Neck on the main stage, and singer Andy M at the Green Dragon.

The festival fever continues on Saturday with AC/DC tribute band Hell’s Bells and Bristol based festival favourites Yes Sir Boss on the main stage, Monmouth’s new festival orchestra performing at Wyastone Concert Hall – a festival first! – and singer Lee Lloyd at the Green Dragon.

** STOP PRESS: Yes Sir Boss’s lead singer has a severe throat infection so they will be replaced tonight (Sat 18 Aug) by Toadstool, from Mon nights line-up **

A FOCUS ON: Monmouth’s new orchestra – and a new venue! Sat 18th August 7pm
A very special concert, this is a double-first for the Festival: the first ever performance of the new Monmouth Festival Orchestra (MFO), and the first time we’ve presented a concert at the world-class Wyastone Concert Hall, located just outside Monmouth. The programme will include the much-loved Brahms Symphony No. 3 and the tuneful Slavonic Dances by Dvořák. There will also be a premiere of a composition written by our own Monmouth-bred composer and conductor Chris Petrie, who will also conduct the concert. Chris Petrie studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and has worked with some of Europe’s leading ensembles including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Tonkuenstler Orchetsra (Vienna), London Sinfonietta and Chroma. Yet another example of Monmouth’s amazing musical talent.

A FOCUS ON: Carnival day, this Sunday!
The Carnival procession – including LeMans style racing cars, Severnside Silver Dragons Marching Band, Forest of Dean Morris Dancers and local people/organisations – will start at 2pm at the top of Priory Street and wend its way to the Festival stage at Blestium Street car park. There will be stalls, entertainers and workshops in Monnow Street from 10-6pm, a funfair from 1-5pm, and zorbs, archery and clay pigeon shooting on Chippenham Fields. A special Sunday Worship on the main stage at 11am will be led by Nia Price, Monmouth Band will be playing from 1pm in Agincourt Square, and there will be music from 3pm at the Robin Hood (Carnival Chillout with Angharad and Lounging About) and on the main stage in Blestium Street (local bands showcase).

On Sunday evening, rising star Harry Jones is at the Green Dragon, and the Jiveoholics and The Secret Police will be on the main stage.If you haven’t already checked out the line-up then you can do so here, and if you haven’t picked up your brochure, keep an eye out, they’re going fast.

In the meantime, checkout our Facebook and Twitter pages which are the best place to follow all the action.

Please remember …

… it really is important that you dig deep this year when approached by a friendly person holding a donations bucket.

Please think about the value for money you’re getting and donate as much as you feel you can.

We understand times are hard, so we appreciate anything you can give to make sure the Festival survives and be even bigger and better next year.

ALL donations go directly to the costs of the Festival – there are no staff, no offices, no costly admin re-charges, as everything is done by volunteers – so you can be assured that your money is being used to bring YOU a great Festival.
THANK YOU for your generosity past, present, and future!
Thanks also to our fantastic business supporters.

If you’re feeling generous as you read this, you can even donate via PayPal button top right or by clicking here.

So close you can almost taste it …

Four days to go – after all these months and weeks of preparations we’ll be ready to quite literally, rock and roll. As the anticipation builds, so will the main/outdoor stage – you’ll see it rising from the car park on Blestium Street from Wednesday.

If you haven’t already checked out the line-up then you can do so here, and if you haven’t picked up your brochure, keep an eye out, they’re going fast.

In the meantime, checkout our previous blog about the 80s or our Facebook and Twitter pages which are the best place to follow all the action.

Please remember …

… it really is important that you dig deep this year when approached by a friendly person holding a donations bucket.

Please think about the value for money you’re getting and donate as much as you feel you can.

We understand times are hard, so we appreciate anything you can give to make sure the Festival survives and be even bigger and better next year.

ALL donations go directly to the costs of the Festival – there are no staff, no offices, no costly admin re-charges, as everything is done by volunteers – so you can be assured that your money is being used to bring YOU a great Festival.THANK YOU for your generosity past, present, and future! Thanks also to our fantastic business supporters.

If you’re feeling generous as you read this, you can even donate via PayPal button top right or by clicking here.

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