Playing the ‘field

Not your standard fare: The Ridgeways
Not your standard fare: The Ridgeways
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THE brains behind one of north Derbyshire’s biggest musical gatherings is hoping there’s nothing unlucky about a certain number.

For Dronfield Charity Music Festival chalks up its 13th fixture this Sunday with a dual mission to raise awareness of the area’s playing talent – and to top its impressive charity total.

The annual music festival, at Carr Lane Recreational Ground, behind Dronfield Woodhouse Sports & Social Club, has so far given £30,000 to good causes and dealt visitors a good time in the process.

And it does so again on two stages with 17 acts ranging from boisterous bands to acoustic acts.

Among those returning is Tommy R Jones, delivering a solo set after a fully loaded shift with his rockers StoneRun last year.

He is joined by a variety of acts that includes 14-year-old Rosie B and former Eurovision entrant Lindsay Dracass, aka Paul Carrack’s backing singer, assisted by hit songwriter Cary Baylis.

The Coachmen and Dan Aspinall also populate the acoustic stage while the main stage offers 10 acts, with the headline slot going to popular local band The Sherlocks.

Big Stripey Lies, Gary J Armstrong, Johnny & The Moondogs and The Julian Jones Band also supply their talents.

The Ridgeways, another band who boast musical pedigree, are promoting their début album Soma Nation.

The band was instigated by lead singer Brian Macintyre, from Hunters Bar, after he became a victim of the recession in 2008.

That idea was then realised by former Human League member Russ Dennett, Joel White (son of blues legend Frank and previously part of band assists with Finlay Quaye and Pulp). Dene Rawling and Chris Firminger also appear on a record that initially emerged in February with angry pop Yo! Farahbakhsh as the lead single.

Soma Nation was inspired by the writings of 20th century authors such as Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury and sponsored in its creation by Eliot Kennedy (Spice Girls, Aretha Franklin, Bryan Adams, Take That producer), who donated his studio and engineers.

And it is not your standard fare, driven as it is by such issues as the despair at what we have become (Brave New World), the fruitless existence of the individual in a large organisation (Plc), to the unfulfilled promise of the digital age (Yo! Farahbakhsh).

Through rose-tinted vision, we visit the yearning for a previous life (Traffic Lights and Balconies), followed by an assault on throwaway reality TV (15 minutes), and the championing – by their omission– of the silent majority (Forever England).

It touches on ‘legitimised’ people trafficking (Mail Order Bride), the tenuous nature of modern city living (3 Days From Meltdown), the absurdity and greed of TV shopping (QVC) and makes a heart-felt plea for individuals to set aside personal differences before it’s too late (The Call).

The final song, written by former band-mate Peter Bull, is a simplistic celebration of a fleeting, angst-ridden romance (Magnificent Day).

“While the subject matter may sound depressing, the observations are delivered with a sweet and sour mix of humour and venom, which, when allied to the music, results in a unique and inspirational collection of songs,” says Brian, who cites musical comparisons to Suede, The Strokes, The Undertones, Bowie, Elbow, The Beatles, Squeeze, The Smiths, Fountains Of Wayne, Radiohead, The Ramones and The Pixies.

“The Ridgeways sound like none of them, or all of them at once. You decide. Lyrically, think Elvis Costello, Alex Turner, Morrissey, Fountains Of Wayne, Angry Pop with a dash of irony and black humour.”

The Ridgeways, whose revamped line-up now comprises Brian, Russ and brother Mike, plus John Winn, will be on at 2.15pm at the festival. Tomorrow they play closer to home at The Greystones’ Backroom.

The festival day runs noon until 11.30pm and remains a highlight of organiser John Aspinall’s year.

“This is proving to be the most exciting yet and with the continuation of the acoustic stage we are proud to be showcasing a total of 17 bands/acts,” he enthuses.

“We really hope we will be attracting even more music fans and while we pride ourselves on the music we offer on the day we also place great emphasis on the family atmosphere created at the event and this year will see more additions such as The Creation Station which will help to maintain our focus in this respect.”

Advance tickets cost £10 (adults), £4 (kids/OAP), £23 (family). Under eights free if accompanied by an adult. Prices rise on the day.

For more, including ticket outlets, visit dronfieldmusicfestival.co.uk