FIRST ZAPPATEERS UK FESTIVAL, THE GEORGE AT WOOLLEY, BRADFORD-ON-AVON, 16-18 FEBRUARY 2007

 

What a magical weekend. As soon as we got off the train, me and HRH spotted an ‘ARF’ number plate – a genuine one, not like the ones irregular folks get knocked-up and display at Zappanale – so it was kinda Kismet from the get-go. Arrived at the George and said “Hi” to all these folk I only knew by their on-line pseudonyms. And so I’m better known as The Idiot Bastard, which suits me fine: one out of two ain’t bad. We helped decorate the pub and sank a few Budvars (none of this proper beer for me). My good friend Uncle Ian arrived with some splendid FZ quote signs for to hang, and he took me back to our B&B. Now I was down as handler for first band, Monty & The Butchers, who I’d introduced to the Zappateers and who’d told me they’d arrive around 1800. Thinking this was the earliest they’d be there, I was amazed when I got a text to say they’d arrived ahead of schedule – so straight back to the George double-quick, no time to grab cameras (Doh! Yep, we both forgot to take them for first night snaps. Still, God bless mobile phones. But then, damn liquid chemical amusement aids). Met the boys and took them to their digs. Have known Matthew for a few years now, but they’re all real nice boys. I acted as Monty’s beer bitch (meaning I carried their crate of ‘Green Room’ Fosters up the hill back to the George, where I was met by the just-arrived J-Roc sarcastically enquiring “what’s that white juice on yo’ beard, Andee?”. He think ‘handler’ mean more than it say on the label, naughty boy). Montys all sorted, soon it’s time to re-join the fray and await their set. They soundcheck with Any Downers, which gets a few of the old geezers quite excited. And rightly so, as their set-proper goes down a storm: as well as stuff like Dirty Love, Green Hotel, Bamboozled, San Ber’dino, Apostrophe (yes, Apostrophe), and the afore-mentioned Downers, they also played a few of their own tunes, And indeed it was during one of these that the prime UK movers of this event – Darling Ben and Paul StatusBaby – came over and kissed me. After their first couple of encores, Paul (who acted as MC for the weekend) told the assembled freaks that he was ready to be impressed but that the band had exceeded his expectations. They finished off with Camarillo Brillo and handed out chocolate Montana bars when they played that tune. Why weren’t you there, Gamma? Back to our B&B and impromptu acoustic guitar extravaganza with J-Roc.

 

 

Next day we watched local mod/60s cover band, Carnaby Street. Great songs, well played though the vocalist struggled a little trying to emulate the likes of Marriot, Jagger and Daltrey. They played My Sharona and Happy Together by way of a sort of nod to FZ. We didn’t hang around for Beyond The Pale as we went for a wander into town. Impressed by the slopey-slopertons, we decided to have a downhill pissing contest – which J-Roc, being the youngest, easily won. Bladders duly emptied, we topped ‘em back up again back at the George to await The FoolZ (who me Ian and J-Roc all missed when they opened Zappanale). And, lo, they was good. The drum guy especially impressed me, and I duly told him after their set. And possibly everytime I bumped into him thereafter. Ah, beer! A set of familiar tunes (that’s the crazy thing about FZ fandom: even when Keneally pulled out Cucamonga at Zappanale #14, we all sang along), with stand-outs being You Didn’t Try To Call Me (one of my all time fave ditties of all time), Sleep Dirt (which brought out the purist in Uncle Ian, who seemed annoyed by the use of keys instead of Bird Legs guitar or somesuch), Ink Erodes (where Dweezil struggled, guitarist Lex’s fingers made like the wind) and Drafted. A bit of a boozy night this one (nice change, that), and when I found out Out To Lunch was gonna repeat his urban poetry stint during the MufFinZ set, I somehow got meself asked to do similar. Frantically scribbling 30 seconds of wurdz to read, I enlisted the help of Ken to give me the courage to actually do it by joining me on stage wearing a sexually aroused gas mask. So, on comes the Muffin Men playing a largely instrumental set that was just phenomenal, babe. Let’s Make The Water Turn Black, Yellow Snow, Pygmy Twylyte…hope they’re still gonna be able to play all this great stuff with Jimmy in April. And then it’s King Kong and up I goes to read my pissed nonsense. The erudite Mistah Watson follows, doing it properly and showing me up for the Idiot I am. But frankly, I don’t give a rat’s poo…I’m grooving in the corner with HRH and Ken. The loveable mop-tops was great, with the return of Jumpy, Rhino and Andy really bringing about big changes to the band’s sound, with young Mikey now being the sole horn man. Awesome, really.

 

 

 

On the Sabbath, we return to see a fine acoustic sing-along set by three FoolZ before OTL acts as quizmaster for a wild and wacky, er, FZ quiz. Now this had a bit of an Anglo vibe, and I had HRH by my side to steer me home and dry. Yes, I won the bloody thing – and, having donated one of my Peter Mackay piccies as the top prize, I thus got my own back. Talk about pissing in the wind. We did that too. Ben Dubya also handed out some apt spot prizes (I won a bag of Demerara sugar for correctly identifying the organist on Chunga’s Revenge). All of the questions will be posted on the Zappateers site in due course, and Ben & Esther hope to do something similar under the big top at Zappanale this year. What happened next? Oh, we played Twister and Jenga and had even more of a laugh. I really wanna thank everyone - Zappateers, travelling companions, staff of The George, etc - for making it a great time. Here’s to the next one.

 

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