Preview: Boomtown Fair: Wild West District

The second of our district-specific previews for this weekend’s Boomtown Fair takes you to the Wild West. Jonnie Miller is your guide…

Another district to benefit from the relocation of Trenchtown is the Wild West. The Old Mine stage stands in the spot once occupied by The Lion’s Den and has gone from strength to strength. The district proudly boasts some of the most eclectic and entertaining musical acts of any of the town’s areas, and in a place like Boomtown that’s no mean feat. Make sure you take the time to explore the lawless streets of the Wild West, there’s plenty of great little venues that are full of surprises. Previous acts range from the banging bhangra beats of the Dhol Foundation to the folk-punk legends that are Flogging Molly. Scottish electro folky punk rockers Peatbog Faeries bought their unique sound to the Old Mines stage, as have everyone’s favourite hillbillies, Hayseed Dixie. The Wild West is probably the most likely area in the town in which you’ll stumble across something completely new for you and find yourself totally hooked.

This year as always the Old Mines will be the central hub of the activity for the Wild West with a host of tantalising names on the line-up, some new to the roster and many Boomtown favourites that are sure to give some barnstorming sets!

Local boy, and ex-Million Dead singer Frank Turner brings his acoustic guitar along for a set that will no doubt go down well with the home crowd; while Boomtown once again welcomes back long time favourite on the festival circuit Beans on Toast. Always a popular artist thanks to his wry sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek songwriting, Beans on Toast is pretty much as Boomtown as a musician can get. Alabama 3 may be known mainly for Woke Up This Morning being remixed for The Sopranos but they’re certainly not a one trick pony. With their unique blend of blues, electronica, a healthy dose of mouth organ and spoken lyrics they really do put on a brilliant live show. If you manage to find time to see them doing their thing, which I’d really recommend, you’re in for a real treat. They can deliver a massively immersive, encapsulating live show. If you’re after some high energy, guaranteed to get you dancing folk music then make sure you get yourself down to Mad Dog Mcrea. The Plymouth based group who I’ve seen more times than I can count, are a safe bet to get you moving.

There’s a shed load of stuff in the Wild West. I’ve barely touched the surface here but have been getting a flavour of some of the acts I wasn’t familiar with over the past few days. Here’s a few of the acts, a few new to me that look like they could be worth checking out:

Lakuta:  I hadn’t heard of Lakuta before checking out the line-up but after listening to the album So Sue Us I’m sold. Describing their genre as “Tropical Soul” on their Facebook page seems about the best way to sum up the smash of world genres that are coursing through the music of Lakuta. Tracks from this Brighton-based outfit range from classic funk and soul to latin-infused swing and jazz. The main driver through all this is a core of Afrobeat styles, led by the distinctive vocals of Siggi Mwasote who seamlessly English with Swahili lyrics. This is what the Wild West district is all about.

The Showhawk Duo: Several years ago I stumbled across The Showhawk Duo busking on a busy afternoon in Bath. A massive crowd gathered to watch the two guitarists manage to absolutely nail medleys of Ibiza club classics, Daft Punk, and Queen covers. A year or two after that I caught them at Grillstock in Bristol. Once again they were on top form. Real crowd pleasers and have great chemistry. These guys play stuff that you just wouldn’t think can be done with just two acoustic guitars. If you get the chance to see them then get ready to sing as well. Once they get Bohemian Rhapsody going there’s no other option.

Heymoonshaker: This one is is a brilliantly unique offering. Comprised of a vocalist and a beat boxer Heymoonshaker are a great outfit. Beatboxing is an impressive skill, but it’s rare to see it applied in a way that goes beyond a novelty into a truly authentic musical experience. That however is what Heymoonshaker have managed to achieve. Beatboxer Dave Crowe is an absolute master at what he does (plenty of videos on YouTube that are worth a look), accompanied with the powerful gravelly vocals of Andy Balcon they complement each other perfectly. Certainly not a novelty, these guys are making great blues rock beatboxing music.

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: Hadn’t heard of this three piece band before the name caught my eye on the line-up. Went into it expecting some rural, American foot stomping, roots music and maybe a bit of blues. Well that’s exactly what I got and it’s good stuff! Simple catchy songs for the most part, perfect stuff for good old fashioned hoedown! I think these guys will get the people going.

This is just a mere flavour of what’s going to be happening in one of the most vibrant places in the festival. There’s so much to find in the Wild West, worth dedicating a decent amount of the weekend to!

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