Wicked Hathern Fest, August 2016

This blog is almost always about food and drink, and Wicked Hathern Fest has already generated two posts about food and drink (Pete on the Street and The Hog Stop). However, I wanted to write a quick post about the festival itself, as there are some other bits and pieces to write about.

Primarily a mini music festival, there is plenty of other stuff going on. This year there was a stage with acts specifically for children, craft stalls and people exhibiting cars. You’ll notice sponsorship from a local car dealer, pretty hard to miss. This is a sign that the festival is growing. There was also a comedy stage which sadly clashed with the main headliners – a shame as there were some good acts from the circuit on.

Unsurprisingly for a village with a brewery (although not represented here) there is a beer tent, this year “curated” by a local pub. Unfortunately, when we arrived at around 4pm many of the ales had already gone. However, this running out of alcohol also had an interesting effect later on, because the filth known as Strongbow ran out, and people were being forced to drink real cider. Although they appeared to be unprepared for the increased ABV of the more flavoursome beverage…

And so on to the music. If you had ever told me that I would one day see a Grammy-nominated Motown star performing in a field on the outskirts of a sleepy Midlands market town, I would have laughed at you for at least an hour. In fact if you had told me that *I* would ever see that star performing anywhere outside of the USA I would probably have also chuckled quietly to myself for a bit…

As well as local bands performing original songs and covers, including 1980s covers band We Tried Kylie (who play no Kylie but are great) and indie covers band The Zufflers (who definitely play no Kylie but are also great), tonight there were two headline acts. First up were 1990s indie kids Dodgy, who decided to perform quite a lot of new and unreleased material to a not all that interested audience. They were an ok band who never really set the pulse racing, and that was replicated tonight.

On to the real headliners then. How on earth do you get Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Lois and Delphine, who are just two of Matha’s many sisters) to turn up to a field just off the A6? No, I have no idea how the organisers did it either, but they did.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were brilliant. She is 75. You would never know. Full of energy and obviously having a great time, she was even impressed by meeting the mayor before the show.

She arrived on stage in a Native American head dress, opening with Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”. She was quick to remind everyone that Hathern was a long way from Detroit, Michigan (in case we weren’t aware). Another cover soon followed, an odd choice of George Harrison’s lovely Beatles song “Something”, which was nice but not a big crowd pleaser.

Plenty of her most famous songs throughout the set too, including Heat Wave, Jimmy Mack, and Nowhere to Run, with a special introduction reserved for Dancing in the Street, with Martha thanking many of the artists who had also covered it, even Bowie & Jagger.

Marvin Gaye was one of the writers of Dancing in the Street, and the band paid tribute to him with a version What’s Going On? which soon turned into that concert staple of “the song where everyone in the band does a solo, including every separate member of the horn section, and the drummer”. The set finished with fireworks and a Motown medley – at least this one was performed by an actual Motown legend!

A great day out, I have no idea how they will top it in 2017, although not running out of lots of the good beer before 4pm will probably help! I can now add a Motown legend to my list of legendary artists seen live…

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