Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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News Item

Strawberry Fields Forever

Labrinth @ V Festival 2011- Photo copyright: Simon Redley
Labrinth @ V Festival 2011- Photo copyright: Simon Redley Blues & Soul Labrinth pic Strawberry Fields Festival pic Strawberry Fields Festival pic

Strawberry Fields Forever? Looks like the answer may be a very loud yes â with life imitating art, in the words of the famous Beatles toon. A small but perfectly formed music festival in rural Leicestershire has an impressive line-up for its third year, including headliner Labrinth.

The even better news is, the annual event on 10th, 11th and 12th of August is safe for another four years with funding already in place. It is set to grow from the current 5,000 daily capacity to double that figure as from 2013.

The organisers have revealed to Blues and Soul that they plan to expand and reach 50,000 capacity within five years.

The site on a stunning 300 acre farm, Cattows Farm in Heather, North West Leicestershire, is just outside the small towns of Coalville and Ashby De La Zouch. It is âfamousâ for its pick your own strawberries and asparagus. Owned by James Ludlam, Festival Director. Strawberry Fields Festival was founded by James, Ian Michie & Mike Beck.

The intrepid trio feel they have âa superb advantage over other festivals. As the site is wholly ownedâ¦â¦. no high rent or fixed asset cost. We have full funding for the next four years (unique for any festival in the UK.)â They say with the land resource and the financial backing, they will achieve their ambitious expansion plans. âWe are a pretty determined bunch of people,â Ian Michie told Blues and Soul.

The site is at the heart of the National Forest and within easy reach of the M1 and A42/M42, and major cities in the East and West Midlands. A stoneâs throw from Leicester.In the last two years they booked Example, Kelis, Rizzle Kicks, Mystery Jets, Beardyman, The Rifles, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, The Moons and The Holloways among many others. Plus some of the best known DJ's including Jaguar Skills, Kissy Sell Out, Funkagenda, Graeme Park, A:Skillz, Nutone & Logistics and Micky Slim.

For their third year the âfun packed underground boutique festival,â boasts 125+ Artists, Bands & DJ'S. From International chart toppers to the best emerging talent and everything in between. An eclectic booking policy, and a very impressive line-up for a small and pretty new UK festival. There are eight performance areas.

On the main Stage, Labrinth headlines on the Saturday and The Charlatans on the Sunday. They also have Hadouken, The Young Knives, Stooshe, The Cuban Brothers, Jaguar Skills, Modern Faces and The Last Party taking to the Main Stage. Some of the most exciting new artists in the country will be there, including THE Carpals, Bear Cavalry, I Am In Love, Kyla La Grange, Mikill Pane, Aaron Delahunty,The Draytones, and Young Blood.
The Strawberry Jam Stage was set up at in 2010 and expanded in 2011 to give a platform to the best local talent. Artists over the 3 days will include Kav (ex- Happy Mondays.) The Vintage Acoustic Lounge offers acoustic performances. Styled by the Sutton Vintage Crew, expect Chesterfield Sofas, coffee tables and standard lamps galore. Already confirmed is Joel Wildgoose, Jon Paul Palombo and Demons Of Ruby Mae.
New this year is The Dance Village. From House to Drum & Bass, Dubstep to Old Skool, the multiple structured Dance Village has a cracking line up of top names. Dance Arena 1 hosts Birmingham drum & bass brand Raveology on 11th August, bringing a raft of big names including; Friction (Radio1), Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Magikstar and Grooverider, plus many more. On 12th August, itâs house and electro time with Danny Howard (Radio 1), Sonny Wharton, Dirty Secretz and Will Clarke confirmed.

Dance Arena 2 is old skool style. Saturday 11th August Flashback are taking top old skool names including; Slipmatt, Shades Of Rhythm (live PA), and Nicky Blackmarket and more. Sunday 12th August is DUB STEP day. Derby based Hype provide a line up of some of the hottest names in the scene, including; Funtcase, Eptic (exclusive UK appearance), Dream, Badklatt and Leicester DJ, Boy Kid Cloud.
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Red Bull Studio Live is providing a "TOP SECRET" line up of DJ's from their immense roster....but the organisers are sworn to secrecy. They say, and I quote: âTrust us, it will be BIG.â I think we betterâ¦â¦â¦â¦

Probably the furthest point inland from the sea in the UK, that does not stop the guys throwing their own beach party, complete with âThe Boat That Rocks,â a sailing boat totally covered in street art, with an outdoor sound system pumping out a mash up of reggae beats, ghetto funk, dirty soul and party jams in a beach themed area. They even have their own Stonehenge; sorry, âStrawberry Hengeâ â ancient stone circle for impromptu acoustic performances.
Thereâs posh camping laid on, at Karma Canvas VIP Glamping. Bespoke bell tents, pre erected, furnished and lockable. Plus a standard camping site. For those lugging heavy gear about, Festaxi is the answer: electric golf buggy onsite taxi service. There are lots of fringe activities, including Shisha Lounge, beauty and therapy yurts, healing and massage area, theatre companies and trade stands.

For this quality of line-up, and the intimate, up close and personal nature of the event, ticket prices seem pretty reasonable: Adult weekender: £80.00 â includes free parking & camping!
Adult Day Ticket: £45.00. Family Ticket: £180.00 â includes free parking & camping!

If you cannot be there, Blues and Soul will be bringing you blow by blow reviews and pictures from the festival, including Labrinthâs main stage set, with day by day copy and images posted live from the site onto our website: www.bluesandsoul.com

For more info see: www.strawberryfieldsfestival.co.uk
Words SIMON REDLEY

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