Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Port Eliot 2015

A festival that I come home from feeling stimulated but relaxed, Port Eliot is a bit different. We were first attracted by the Caught By The River stage, and that is still the main draw, but there is also a cracking roster of book talks, great poets and comedians, the best festival food you are ever going to eat, beautiful grounds to enjoy, the Idler Academy for some casual education, and a bracing swim in the estuary to set yourself up for the day. I am, however, going to take some time to live down the night my partner’s Dad wanted to stay out dancing and I voted for sleep..


The Basics

Headline acts: Port Eliot doesn’t really do headliners

Weather: Nice for Cornwall

Contemparaneous events: Corbyn mania continued made us think he might actually be able to win.

Author’s festival credentials: glamper, courtesy of the Hutchins Caravan (awning resident)

The Scores


Villagers (5*) – this was a treat of a performance and even though my sight lines were interrupted by a chunky stone column for much of the show, it was impossible not to get caught up in the sheer beauty of Villagers’ melancholic music. [4pm, The Church, Sunday]

Owen SheersWales’ finest living poet and top bloke seems to be a bit of an all-rounder. His new novel, I Saw A Man, includes ruminations about the dehumanising effects of war (drawn from observation of US drone pilots, who return home each evening to put their kids to bed after a busy day of remote destruction of other families’ lives), he is writer in residence to the Welsh Rugby Union and is producing a documentary about the Aberfan disaster. [12.5pm, Walled Garden, Saturday]

Ralph Steadmanbonkers brilliant artist in full eccentric mode, refusing to be interviewed about his book of birds. “If you want to stop a world of violence, make custard pie fights compulsory”. Quite. [5pm, Bowling Green, Saturday]

Stornowaysurely the perfect band for a festival that has a big nature theme, Stornoway drew us in with a song about the Bittern’s call and a line for birdwatchers to the effect of “Chiff Chaff, Chiff Chaff / Said its own name / And I wish they all did the same”. They stormed to a close with an inspired cover of Yazz’s ‘The Only Way Up’, which finally revealed the progressive cry of the song to me 25 years after dancing mindlessly to it on Shobnall Fields (was that a Burton festival?). [6pm, The Church, Sunday]


Coloramainventive Welsh band who took us into dreams as the darkness settled. [9.45pm, Walled Garden, Saturday]

Kurt Jackson and John SauvenI’m embarrassed to say that I was previously unfamiliar with Kurt Jackson’s art, but I’m glad I was intrigued to hear where Greenpeace Executive Director, John Sauven, had sent him as part of an art challenge, because a stimulating on-stage discussion about our need to engage with nature ensued. And I now have to walk the Broom Way [3pm, Caught By The River, Saturday]

RSVPBangra Rock fusion, it doesn’t sound right but everyone was doing the changing the light bulb dance with a smile on their face. [11.45pm, Saturday, The Park]

Homework Poetsany chance to see John Osbourne is worth taking and here he was on top form with his is-it-true tale of connecting with Kiley on a dating site. Molly Naylor was also great – a person who judges people by their shoes and so is thrown into confusion in a bowling alley [11.30am, Walled Garden, Sunday]

Remembered For A While: A Companion to Nick Drakea genuinely moving biography of the late folk, with his sister on stage providing the sad explanation that her genius brother’s life unravelled simply because he thought he was a failure. The diary of and letters he wrote to his father are the source material for the book on which the discussion was based and I’ll admit to a tear when Gabrielle Drake revealed she still gets a lump in her throat when she hear’s her siblings songs (beautifully covered on stage by two women’s whose names I didn’t catch). [1pm, Caught By The River, Sunday]

Chris WatsonI only caught 20 minutes of this to be honest, but he never fails to impress and this time I learned that Eider ducks are the world’s most powerful horizontal fliers and have a mating call that sounds like “Oooh” as in “Oooh, what’s he like?!” [4.30pm, Caught By The River, Sunday]

Sarah Cracknelleven a power cut couldn’t put the wonderful Saint Etienne lead singer off her stride. Backed by Colorama, the new album sounds fantastic and there was the added treat of ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’. [7.45pm, Caught By The River, Sunday]


The Swing Empire – got me dancing on arrival despite significant sleep deprivation. [9.45pm, Bowling Green, Friday]

Rory Butler there is definitely something there with this young, Scottish bard to be. [4.15pm, Ace of Clubs, Saturday]

Patrick Barkhammoving on from badgers to Britain’s coast, I still think he writes better than he talks, but maybe that’s the point of these performances, as I will now go and buy his new book. [12 noon, Caught By The River, Sunday]

Palma Violetsspecial guests on Saturday night, they brought raw energy and one killer tune but I rated them higher when they were starting out a couple of years ago and I hope to be proved wrong that they have already peaked. [9pm, The Park, Saturday]

Crispin Hunt talking to Will Hodgkinsonex-Longpigs & co-writer to the indie-stars, Crispin Hunt cheerfully explained why an 18 year old Jake Bugg could write lyrics that are so maturely profound (he didn’t) & how 70% of music is accessed on YouTube, but artists only get paid if we watch the dreadful adverts. [12.30, Idler Academy, Sunday]

Krar CollectiveI was ready to be completely won over by this Ethiopian Collective but it was a slow start and Sarah Cracknell was beckoning. [7.30pm, The Park, Sunday]


Fumaca Pretain fairness I am not sure if the low score is a reflection of my tiredness on arrival, rather than songs that just weren’t quite enough to get the juices flowing. [9pm, Caught By The River, Friday]

Mark Ellen talking to Will Hodgkinson – ex-Smash Hits, Select and Word editor gossiping about the music business. I wanted to hear more from Will Hodgkinson, Britain’s best rock critic. [1pm, The Park, Saturday]

Here’s what you could have won

I didn’t arrive until Friday evening and so missed Mitch Benn, and I would have loved to watch Kevin Allen’s ‘Under Milk Wood’, having seen the trailer at Festival Number 6 last year.

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