Friday, September 09, 2011
Ramsbottom Festival Sept 16-18 2011
I don't want to be a smug, horrible person, but I've got to say it: Ramsbottom is pretty wonderful. I really do love living here. It's hard to keep this in mind at certain times (like when I ocasionally miss the last tram to Bury.) It's bloody miles away from the nearest (non-steam) train station. There's no decent bakery, no bookstore, and the town shuts down on Wednesday afternoons which is both quaint and annoying. And old-fashioned mill towns in the Pennines can be bleak places in the winter. But it's a beautiful place with an old-school community feeling, and I mostly love it.
So I realise I'm becoming almost insufferably happy to be living here now that the Ramsbottom Festival is about to kick off. It's a proper music festival, with camping and nice food and beer and DJing and kids' activities and multiple stages. And crucially, good music. I'd be excited about a festival like this starting anywere around Manchester. But to have it delivered virtually on my doorstep, a few days after my birthday, is like God's way of saying "sorry about that whole hurricane-and-vomit vacation, I've still got your back."
The festival takes place at the lovely Ramsbottom Cricket Club on 16-18 September. Bury Met, a real gem of a performing arts venue that we are extremely lucky to have right down the road, have programmed a weekend full of music with something for everyone. As with much of their programming the overall focus is on relaxed, sunshiney acoustic pop, folk, celtic and roots, with a welcome jolt of high-test indie and blues. The last supplied by Steve Cropper, Stax guitar legend. You know, Booker T and the MGs? Green Onions?
Indie fiends will be happy with The Young Knives, Cherry Ghost and Guillemots. Yup, it's pretty cool that a band as big as Guillemots is going to be playing at Ramsbottom Cricket Club.
Folkier folks should come on Sunday, when The Waterboys headline and the lineup includes Celtic band Capercaille, led by glorious singer Karen Matheson
...and ahab, amusingly identified as a "German funeral doom trio" in their Spotify bio:
There's a fair number of performers from Manchester, but thankfully there's an emphasis on quality local talent. And world class talent that just happens to live here, like Chorlton's own Badly Drawn Boy. The beardy one always puts on a good show, and he doesn't have far to come for this one. I'm hoping he'll play his near-as-dammit Smiths cover "I saw you walk away." Which I would find totally objectionable if it wasn't so good.
Other Mancunian standouts include raspy-voiced Kirsty Almeida and her charmingly ramshackle band...
...and 6music frequent fliers The Travelling Band:
It's also good that they're serious about making this a family event, with reduced prices for kids, a creche, rides and children's activities. If I were coming from Manchester, I'd take the East Lancs Railway from Bury and arrive in style by steam train (the ELR station is just outside the entrance and they're doing cheap tickets for the day with parking at the stations in Bury and Rawtie). Definitely don't drive - parking is a nightmare here at the best of times. A bus and tram daysaver is the way to go from anywhere else in Greater Manchester - you get the tram to Bury and pick up the Rammy circular which runs every 10 minutes. Booking info here. See you there!