Lancashire’s burgeoning alternative music scene will be given an idyllic location to celebrate this weekend when the Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival takes place in Gisburn Forest.
Regional acts – from quirky solo performers to emerging and established bands – will play alongside UK and internationally-known groups, many of who have already enjoyed a busy summer playing the country’s largest festivals like Glastonbury and Latitude.
Cloudspotting starts tomorrow (Friday, August 1), continuing right through the weekend.
It all begins when Ribble Valley-based progressive jazz act John Wickham Trio open the festival’s Lawn Stage closely followed by Blackburn experimental rock outfit Sky Valley Mistress, who launch the Main stage.
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Fronted by singer Kayley Davies, Sky Valley Mistress have toured extensively all year and with a new EP scheduled for September, this young band are attracting plenty acclaim:
Kayley says: “Cloudspotting will be our festival highlight of this year, even if it’s just because we get to see other great local bands like PINS and Good Foxy.
“It’s a cool festival and we’re honoured that we’ve been asked to open the weekend on the main stage.
“Festival crowds can work in our favour because if the weather is good people are more willing to dance and our job is to get hips shaking, so they can be a lot of fun to play to.”
Friday night is headlined by much-heralded London-based band Melt Yourself Down, who bring together African grooves, electronics and a dueling saxophone sound.
The second stage has quite a Mancunian feel with acts-of-the moment Plank, Kiran Leonard and Denis Jones, all of who have enjoyed Radio 6music sessions in recent months.
A more acoustic feel adorns Saturday afternoon with sets from two Ribble Valley duos creating a big splash in the music scene.
Bad Cardigan (aka Jack Anwyl and Tom Randall) have provided tour support for the ultimate festival band, The Levellers, touring with them twice, while Clitheroe-based The Remedy (Hannah Spurgeon and Elliot Dryden) have been attracting a lot of interest from their homegrown debut EP Hollow Heart, earning a support slot at the recent James Blunt show at Houghton Tower.
In addition to the two main stages on Saturday, there is also the Cloudspotting Acoustic
Club, with guitar workshops and a songwriters’ circle being hosted by Preston’s Mike Kneafsey and well-known Burnley balladeer Baxter Rhodes.
It’s been a remarkable year for Clitheroe four-piece Good Foxy whom after winning the Reidy’s Battle of the Bands contest earlier this year, have been inundated with offers at regional festivals.
Drenched in a 70s-inflected psychedelic bluesy sound, Good Foxy are writing and performing an accomplished standard of melodic ear-catching music and have the stagecraft to go with it.
They appear at Cloudspotting at 5.30pm Saturday.
Colne-based couple Hannah and Sam Hird comprise Bird to Beast, conjurors of pristine, classic pop with a technicolor glow.
They play the main stage on Sunday and will be augmented by a backing band of four other musicians as they aim to take their music to a new audience:
“I think we’re up to about 19 festivals now and I think Cloudspotting is the one we’re looking forward to most,” says Sam.
“Sometimes for new artists it can be difficult at a festival, you don’t know what to expect until you turn up.
“At Cloudspotting there isn’t a clash of stages so everyone there will have the chance to hear us and that’s nice to know.”
Bird to Beast also perform at the sell-out Kendal Calling on Saturday.
Other local acts scheduled for Sunday include the highly regarded Harp and a Monkey, from Ramsbottom, one of East Lancashire’s finest exponents of traditional Irish music Drop the Floor and Merry Hell, who sprang from the embers of Lancashire band The Tansads.
Promoter Matt Evans added: “It’s the fourth year of the festival and set to be comfortably the biggest and best yet.
“It seems the pool of quality based local acts is getting deeper all the time and we are pleased to be able to offer this platform in such a beautiful part of the world.”
A late addition to the Cloudspotting Festival programme is a talk and Q & A with John Bramwell, from Manchester group I Am Kloot.
Taking place in the Bitter Suite on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm, John will be interviewed by award-winning journalist Jon Robb, who will be aiming to provide insights into the inspirations behindhis success. This will be followed by a Q&A with the audience. Meanwhile, a number of weekend camping tickets (priced £80 for adults and just £3 for under 16s and valid from midday Friday to Monday morning) are still available at the time of going to press.
Box Office Clitheroe: 01200 421599. Or via websites www.thegrandvenue.co.uk or www.wegottickets.com.
Day tickets are still available for Friday (£25), Saturday (£30) and Sunday (£30), again under 16s are charged £3. A small increase on these numbers will be charged on the door.