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Love your new music and want up-and-coming acts? Check.
Go mad for a bit of ’90s reminiscence, ‘Scooby Snacks’ style? Check!
Live for dance music and lap up jungle, dub, hip-hop and big beat? CHECK!
The line-up at this year’s ninth Lounge on the Farm festival promises all this and much more, including comedy giants the Pajama Men and a kids’ programme rammed to bursting.
Jo Roberts got a glimpse into what some of the day’s hottest acts have got lined up for you this Saturday.
Festival headliners the Fun Lovin’ Criminals are the NYC three-piece beloved of party people everywhere.
But not many are aware that band members Frank and Fast are also the duo behind up-and-coming reggae remix outfit Radio Riddler, set to release a reggae cover of Prince’s Purple Rain album featuring guest vocalists Sinead O’Connor, Ali Campbell of UB40 and Beverley Knight among others.
When that album, Purple Reggae, lands in September, it is bound to be big news and Lounge on the Farm revellers can get a foretaste with a Radio Riddler set on Saturday.
Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser, of both Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Radio Riddler, said: “Frank [Benbini] loves Prince and I love reggae, and we were messing around with Coldplay, the Bee Gees and whatever, and I put reggae music behind it. We said, ‘Let’s do all of Purple Rain!’ We said we’d get different guest singers. It’s just happy music. There’s something about hearing the trombone over reggae music that makes you smile.”
Radio Riddler will be performing at Lounge on the Farm earlier in the day. Later they will appear again as Fun Lovin’ Criminals in a separate set which reunites them with third band member and frontman Huey Morgan.
“Being in a reggae band is very different to being the three of us in FLC,” says Fast, 42, who says that while he and Frank devote time to Radio Riddler, their buddy Huey is busy with his own BBC Radio 6 Music show.
Their friendship is long and enduring, and has survived 20 years in the limelight with hits such as Scooby Snacks and Korean Bodega.
“Huey and I got lucky, it was such a natural thing in the beginning. We worked at a nightclub, I was behind the scenes and he was a bartender. An English promoter who was hip said, ‘The two of you ought to do music.’ We hit it off from the start,” says Fast.
“There were no boundaries or rules. He was a blues guy and I liked electronic music and Depeche Mode, but our common ground was hip hop.
“We were sampling anything we could get our hands on in the early 1990s. We realised this formula was unique to us, all the different sounds you have in NYC. It never felt natural when we tried to do things differently, we are not interested in reinventing ourselves.”
Fast says that, but in fact the guys have pretty much reinvented themselves outside of music – moving across the Atlantic to the London suburbs, and completing the more domestic turn of events with marriage and kids.
“I live in Beckenham so this is my local festival,” says Fast.
He explains their relocation thus: “We were flying over here two times a month and the jetlag was killing us. After about a year of that we were losing our minds so we said, ‘Let’s relocate’, and now we’re married to British girls and have children.
“NYC has changed, and London somehow feels like the old New York, there’s more personal freedom. We enjoy living over here, we just don’t like the weather.”
You might have heard the buzz surrounding the Ramona Flowers.
Their blend of electronica-infused pop rock has been likened to the swooning sounds of U2 and Coldplay.
Drummer Ed Gallimore, 24, said: “We’re quite heavily influenced by electronic music, so the beat is important to us. We have a gentler sound suited to a large audience.”
Speaking of his bandmates in the five-piece group from Bristol, Ed says: “We are all interested in different music, and three had been in a band at college. Steve [Bird, vocalist] and I came later. A lot of influence came from Andy Barlow [producer and member of the electronica band Lamb], who helped us develop our craft.”
Of the early influences on his drumming, Ed says: “My parents were into more ‘out there’ jazz, so I grew up idolising the big jazz and fusion drummers. From there I got into hip hop, rock, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones."
When the opportunity to join the Ramona Flowers came up, Ed recognised its potential.
“I saw this as a challenge, it was a completely different type of music. I got a really good feeling about the guys and liked their ideas."
The perks of the job are never felt more than at a festival, says Ed.
“I don’t know Kent but we might have some time off and stay. Festivals are great because everyone’s there to unwind and relax, and people are open to all kinds of music."
Dub Pistols will be a crowd favourite at Lounge on the Farm, and frontman Barry Ashworth is delighted the dance band have been able to squeeze in the festival amid a busy, worldwide schedule.
“I’ve had about four hours’ sleep,” he said on the day What’s On caught up with him. “The job can be quite nocturnal for at least half of the week, and then midweek it’s more studio-based but at least you’re at home. Over the past seven to eight months I’ve been at home for about four weeks!
"In the beginning you’re full of energy and it’s really exciting, and then when you’re travelling it becomes all airport, soundcheck, gig, airport. I’m the worst mate in the world, because as you look back you realise you’ve missed birthdays, weddings...”
One of the beauties of Lounge on the Farm for Barry is the short distance from his west London home.
“Lounge is my second home now – I’ve played every single Lounge on the Farm and have had a long association with the founder, Sean Baker. I think what they’ve achieved, by not going mainstream and down the sponsorship route, is brilliant."
Barry himself has remained authentic to his brand of ska and hip hop-inspired electronica, choosing against chasing chart-based success yet remaining in-demand internationally.
“I say that we’re the most successfully unsuccessful band ever!” jokes Barry, who is a cheery soul.
“If we’d had chart hits we would probably have disappeared quicker, but as it is we’ve never had to compromise on the music and that’s given us longevity. Our following is real and it’s by touring that we pick up the fans.”
Dub Pistols came out of the big beat scene with the likes of Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim and signed a big record deal with American label Geffen. But 9/11 happened on the week of their album release and ‘everything just went to pieces’ remembers Barry. The band returned having grown from the experience.
At 48 Barry says he has matured as a performer – but not too much to party.
“The early Dub Pistols were pretty sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. We still like to party but the emphasis is on the show first. This year the plan is to stick around at Lounge and enjoy the time.”
Congo Natty has been at the cutting edge of the urban music scene for years, first raising his public profile as the Rebel MC with Street Tuff, a No.3 hit in 1989.
He then evolved into a leading light on the underground jungle scene, a close relative of drum ‘n’ bass: it was Congo behind the massive dancefloor filler of 1993, Junglist.
The Londoner, who has more recently escaped the city for Ramsgate, will be pleased to represent jungle on his adopted home turf in Kent.
“It’s a beautiful place, and the people here are very special,” said Congo. “Lounge on the Farm is local and there’s a lot of people that I know there. Sean [Baker, the festival founder] seems like a good guy, driven by the realness of the music, not just doing it for the money.”
Regarding the way his musical sound has developed since the years of Rebel MC, Congo said: “Change isn’t the right word – I’d say grown. Music is organic, I started off as a small little seed and over the years the seed became a tree – jungle’s the tree. Rebel grew and turned into a more powerful form. We’re on a musical journey.”
He added: “Jungle is the father of dubstep, grime and drum ‘n’ bass – without jungle there wouldn’t be these types of music. You don’t need to be in the charts, magazines, you just need to make good music for people.”
Talking of the passion he has for jungle music, Congo said: “Jungle came on a dub plate. It wasn’t even a music that you could purchase – you had to go to the dances or listen to a pirate radio station, so for me jungle is very different to anything else. It’s the people’s music – they decide, not corporate companies.”
Having said that, some big acts on today’s commercial urban scene credit Rebel MC as an important early influence.
“With people like Dizzee Rascal and Wylie I have respect for them because they know their history. I’m not putting down people who are in the charts – I was in the charts, and it gave me opportunities. But the sad thing is that there’s no investment in the ghetto, so people from there have to have a hit or no one will give them the time of day.
"I had to feed and clothe my son. He was a nipper in the Rebel videos, now he’s a DJ – the beauty is that he survives as a jungle DJ and promoter,” says Congo, 48.
A highlight of Lounge on the Farm will be connecting with a mixed crowd in natural surroundings, he says.
“The most enjoyable thing about festivals is that they’re outdoors with the elements. You can get to people you wouldn’t normally reach and have a diverse audience.”
There will be plenty of specialist children’s entertainment at the Little Lounge Party. Ben Elf and Princess Holly will introduce the magic of their Little Kingdom, with guest appearances throughout the day.
There will be wacky fun and favourite summertime games for under 10s and the young at heart with the Little Lounge Redcoats. Monkey magic and plenty of bananas will accompany El Baldiniho, billed as “the world’s No.1 hairless magician”.
Bezerkaz Circus will host a dazzling circus skills workshop, while Kent’s own Little Delights will stage a drama workshop with a twist.
There will also be arts, crafts, water fun, sandpit and toybox, all put on by Canterbury Day Nursery for the under-fives.
To round off the festivities, a PJ party will bid the kids goodnight.
Lounge isn’t just about the music. American comedy duo the Pajama Men headline a well-rounded line-up at ‘comfy and kooky hangout’, the Playhouse.
The Playhouse stage will host a non-stop rolling cabaret of poetry slams, comedy, music, storytelling, film and art.
Lounge on the Farm’s Jamie Finn said: “Expect intimate and beguiling performances mixed together with comfy sofas and delicious cocktails.”
With sold-out shows across the world and an impressive list of awards to their name, the Pajama Men – otherwise known as New Mexicans Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez – have a unique style that incorporates stand-up, sketch, improvisation and characters.
With reviews praising them as ‘madcap and inventive’ (Time Out London), ‘delightfully left-field’ (The Guardian), and a ‘veritable Jumanji box of physical comedy’ (The Independent), the guys look set to pull a big crowd to the Playhouse.
Also taking to the stage will be visual artist Squirl-Art, aka Gregg Stobbs, who will be spray-painting pieces inspired by comics, cartoons and street art.
Programmes will be available on the gates to make sure you get around all of the stage and tents available and catch your favourite acts.
Shining lights on the line-up include rock band The Subways, former Joy Division and New Order member Peter Hook, hip hop DJ Yoda, jazz multi-instrumentalist Courtney Pine, and Balearic Beat DJ Alfredo, as well as the cream of Kent acts.
Lounge on the Farm is at Merton Farm, near Canterbury, on Saturday, August 2. Adult tickets cost £55, youth tickets (13-17) cost £35, under 12s free. Camping £10 per person for over 12s. Campervans £5. Parking £5. Visit www.loungeonthefarm.co.uk
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