Arts & Music Review: In an English Country Walled Rock Garden

Today’s blog post is by A Brightling Local Wannabe Again Glam Rocker of 1 Twelve Oaks Cottages

StageAtNight“HellOOO Brightling !! ” proclaimed ‘Freddy Mercury’ in his Wembley 1986 yellow military style leather jacket from Queen’s Magic Tour (as I’m reliably informed). Not something I ever thought I’d ever witness, but which pricked a quiet sense of pride in this beautiful and wonderful community of small hamlets and village.

The walled garden within Brightling Park, is just a wonderful venue. The beautiful old red brick chalky with age walls provide the audience with the shelter that historically would have been that of home grown carrots and turnips. As the sunset, the stage was framed with the moon rising etherealy on the left and the beautiful woodlands behind the walls glow green in the spotlights on the right. It was just simply great.

The natural slope of the land down towards the high tech stage gives a lovely gentle ‘country amphitheatre’ feel allowing everyone in their foldable camping chairs to get a great view. I’m glad the organisers haven’t completely packed the place and while there was room for more, one of the nice things was not being on top of each other.

StageByDay“Are you local?” I was asked chatting to a wonderful jewellery maker from Hawkhurst manning her stall. “A few fields away” I mumbled. “Lordy you really are local!” and indeed it is true, we can hear the music from our home. Frankly however, the bees are making such a racket enjoying my enthusiastic planting of bee attracting plants, that I can’t really hear it. Still, I can understand residents nearer may well find the noise intrusive, and I hope this review will thank them for their patience in accepting the festival once a year, because we had a ball.

I can’t claim to be a ‘music festival officianado’. In fact, it’s true to say, eh-hem, this was my first foray into the genre. I’ve done lovely classical evenings at Leeds Castle and the such, but not a ‘festival’ with all it’s preconceived perceptions I have.

Self-proclaimed to be ‘targeted at the over 30s’, this is probably being a bit generous to the age of the audience. The audience vibe on Friday night was more punks from the 70s and Saturday night one for the glam rockers. When I say ‘punks’ and ‘glam rockers’ I perhaps should write ‘wanna-be-again’, rather like my other half in his chino shorts and polo shirt…. reliving his teenage years.

Stage2The result was the most polite but immensely enthusiastic crowd. I say polite, having watched a very cheery young bin collector be charged down by a ton of audience members to hand over their litter.

Now the enthusiastic bit I will come to, but as promised a quick view of the music. While we may not have ‘done festivals’, we have ‘done band concerts’ including trekking to Coldplay this year, for the band to be less than 0.5cm high. It was an amazing concert don’t get me wrong, but one thing we discovered over the festival is that Tribute Bands don’t have to ‘look fresh and thinking on the next hit’ in the way that their ‘parental bands’ do. No, tribute bands just knock out the best old favourites and if they do it well, it’s a recipe for much singing and dancing.

And boy – the bands were great, so much so that my local Brian May fan rather embarrassingly mumbled that the ‘Brian May’ signature solo was “actually … possibly…. may be (see what I did there…) very slightly better than Brian May”. We didn’t see all the ‘sets’, but what we did was top quality.

Now to the ‘enthusiastic’ bit. The main joy I had was being reminded of how much I loved dancing in ‘my youth’ and how much I still do. The joy of the audience demographic was a complete evaporation of my inhibitions as I threw my wrinkles and wobbles around, like everyone else. For once, it were the few ‘beautiful people’ who looked out of place, not me.

After doing the ‘Brightling Bounce’ (oh yes, believe me it’s a toughy) for, well not long, it struck me, why don’t I do this more often? Why don’t we as a demographic do this more often?

GardenWell clearly it’s self conciseness for me and general embarrassment of the way I look today – but I used to dance for 3 hours non-stop at the ‘weekly student disco’ without a second thought. Boy, if I only did 30 mins just think how great I’d feel. I was reminded of the recent BBC series on ageing. I think it was a German experiment which pitted dancing vs spinning (cycling in a gym – yaaawn). Both sets of ‘The Third Age’ participants listened to the same music, but those that danced as randomly as they liked built better muscle structure and witnessed health improvements.

How much of this ‘inhibition dropping’ caused my unpractised hollering to the command ‘Common on Brightling I want to hear you scream’ (yet another thing I’d never have thought I’d hear) or the delicious sangria …. All I can say is sorry to my lovely neighbours and invite them to join me at future festivals to show our visitors how really to do the ‘Brightling Bounce’ and to really hear ‘Brightling Scream’.

So would I recommend the Festival. Ab so lute ly, and I would encourage the organisers to maintain their target market and keep the comfortable vibe if you can. As I watched many of our local businesses involved in the festival, there also seemed to be a positive spill out into our local economy, a connection that I would also encourage.