The Sound and the Fury

Down at the Hop Farm in Kent at the weekend. Fantastic line-up. Van Morrison in great form. Some say they caught him smiling for a split second. Some say it was indigestion. Dylan playing numbers you could recognize even before the chorus. Dr John harmoniously growling along. Seasick Steve getting the sound of a raucous six piece out of three strings. The younger crowd singing along both to Mumford and Sons and to Ray Davies. And then a series of fantastic acoustic acts: Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, and possible future-tree subject, Pete Doherty, charming us all. Add The Magic Numbers, Stornoway, Richard Thompson, Peter Green, Blondie, Devendra Banhart and many more, and you might have to agree with Marcus Mumford that it was the lineup of the summer.

Enjoyable as it was, it would have been even better had it not been for the incessant funk rhythms booming out from the chicken rotisserie concession, just spitting distance (I know, I tried) from the main arena. Is it time for a rock against rotisserie campaign? I mean, I would have liked to have heard the quieter numbers from Laura Marling but it was never going to happen. And don’t get me started on the screams coming from the fairground rides.

Am I alone? Or do others feel that someone should have a quiet word with Vince Power and his mates to remind them what we have come to hear?

Dr John in Rock Family Trees

If I hadn’t given the answer away by compiling the Clapton playlists, I’d be tempted to run a competition with the question ‘in which Rock Family Tree is Dr John mentioned?’ It would be a sort of Pete Frame version of ‘Where’s Wally’ or, in the US version, I believe, ‘Where’s Waldo?’

Somehow I managed to grow up in ignorance of the Doctor, vaguely having heard of him but not being aware of the sound of his voice until hearing the version of Perfect Day that the BBC put together with numerous singers each having their couple of seconds. “Jus’ a puurfek day” in that New Orleans drawl. (Around 1.56, and again 2.26 in the youtube clip.)

The Perfect Day clip dates from 1997. It took me more than ten years to do anything about this shocking gap in my education, but, as I write, I’m listening to Dr John’s Duke Elegant album. Sounds a really terrible idea – Dr John playing and singing a collection of Duke Ellington classics. But it works for me, although his other work, as selected on The Best of the Night Tripper is even better. On Duke Elegant, ‘I’m Gonna Go Fishing’ has a particular poignancy as the BP oilslick makes its way to the Louisiana coast.