Grasshopper sitting on a sweet potato vine…

I’ve just come back from the Green Man festival at Brecon, my first music festival, and had a pretty good time. Saw a whole pile of really great music and took a load of fairly middling photos. The best performances, however, were by bands I already knew and are not really Partly Porpoise fare because they are so well known. For example, Calexicio were great, as were the Silver Jews, Micah P Hinson and M Ward. There were also some top class performances by a whole load of Welsh names (I guess it’s not a surprise) – Euros Childs, Richard James, Cerys Matthews and an absolutely mental set from Gruff Rhys. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much Welsh sung…

One of the best sets, however, was by Phillip Roebuck, my one-man-band hero and all round uber-busker, who was as crazed as I had hoped he would be, thrashing a noticeably battle-worn banjo so hard that he’d broken a string within two songs. He didn’t have such a great spot in the festival, I thought, mid afternoon on the Saturday, with not a huge audience, but I heard more than a few people talking about the “cool banjo dude”, so I can’t have been the only one he impressed. I did feel also that the huge stage didn’t do him any favours, and I’m imagining that the smaller more intimate setting of Sunday’s Slak Bar gig will suit him pretty well. He himself doesn’t seem to mind where he plays and told me that it’s always great to play a large venue.

(Did you see how I slipped that in? Yes, it’s official – I am indeed Friend to the Stars, as I met Phillip briefly in the Green Man Café the following day. A thoroughly decent bloke he seemed too, talking about how he regularly breaks strings because of the way he plays, and showing me the state of his hands…)

Anyway, as I mentioned last time, there are loads of songs available for download on his site, and I’m sure you’ve taken them all, but for those of you’ve not gotten around to it yet, here are a couple more. Betcha can’t sit still!

Soldier’s Joy

Little Bo Peep

Just Waitin’ Till Sunday Comes…

To give myself something to look forward to for the summer, I’ve bought tickets to the Green Man Festival in Brecon. I’ve not “done” a festival before, so I’m not really sure what to expect, other than shed loads of top class left field bands and artists. A Bloggers dream, if truth be told; I am really looking forward to it.

One of the by-products of this is that I feel obliged to find out more (or indeed anything) about some of the artists on the roster, which in turn has introduced me to a whole bunch of new stuff. And the first of these, I thought I’d share with you.

Phillip Robuck

Phillip Roebuck was not, as one wag would have me believe, captain of Somerset between 1986 and 1989, neither has he ever presented a Saturday morning children’s show. None of which will mean anything to the poor feller himself, hailing as he does from the USA. No, our Philip Roebuck is a genuine one-man band. Yeah really, bass drum on his back and everything… And if you don’t believe me, watch the video.

(And in case you think I’m breaking all my rules about only posting about bands that might conceivably play near Gloucester, I should say that not only is he playing Green Man but also a few weeks later the Slak Bar in Cheltenham. I’m hoping to see him both times…)

His website gives away no less than 11 free downloads, all of them using the banjo/bass drum combination, which might sound a bit repetitive but actually there is a surprising variety to the songs. Some are traditional revved up bluegrass songs, others more sensitive folk ballads, and others are almost hypnotic dance tracks. Give them a listen, and do watch the vid

I’ll post more on Phillip later on in the summer, after I’ve seen him, but until then here are a couple of corkers to start off with…

Summons Song