Review: Maverick Festival 2011
Four years in, and still never a drop of rain has fallen on the Maverick Festival, either literally or figuratively. It’s the perfect antidote to the extravagances of Glastonbury the previous weekend – a child- and dog-friendly festival in rural Suffolk without traffic jams, toilet queues or mud, where the artists mix with the spectators and the campsite is filled with impromptu jam sessions.
Among the artists who had made it across the country from Glastonbury was original Woodstock heroine Melanie, who at age 64 performed for almost two hours, finishing at midnight on Saturday night with a 12-minute version of her hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”, which had the audience swaying in the darkness with cigarette lighters, torches and mobile phones. Despite a few dodgy-sounding notes, Melanie’s charismatic performance with son Beau-Jarred was not to be missed – and indeed it wasn’t even necessary to make a choice because she was still going long after the final act had finished on the other stage.
“I chose the wrong night to record my live album”, complained Otis Lee Crenshaw – the country singer alter-ego of comedian Rich Hall – when the power suddenly went out during his packed set. The audience responded with an impromptu version of “Cumbiya”, and cheered when the lights came back on just as they finished. Originally worried that his material might not be suitable for young children, Crenshaw finally decided that “they won’t remember it”, and continued with his set as planned. Highlights included a version of “Big Bad John” changed on-the-fly to tell the life history of a member of the audience – a textile salesman from Colchester!
Blue Rodeo made their way to Suffolk after performing the previous day in Trafalgar Square as part of Canada Day celebrations. Their scheduling as the final act on the outdoor stage – which planning regulations prevent from running into the evening – allowed more people to see them but lacked the atmosphere that the group – heroes for almost three decades in Canada – is used to.
There was much more atmosphere for the two evening performances of Detroit band the Orbitsuns, who finally made it to Maverick after bereavements forced them to cancel their tour a year ago. Also fitting their billing as a late-night, good-time band were Norfolk-based Vagaband, who kept the temperature up in the Barn as it fell rapidly under the clear skies outside.
Daytime acts that wowed the audience included Austin singer-songwriter Danny Schmidt, California-based indie artist Kacey Cubero. Former Hollywood actress Elizabeth McGovern, whose star has risen rapidly this year with her performance in the hit TV series “Downton Abbey”, was on stage with her band Sadie and the Hotheads. “Everybody should have a band,” she declared. “I thank the Lord for mine every day.”
The Maverick Festival is always a delight. To be honest, the only problem with extolling its virtues too much is that one of its greatest joys is its comparatively small size. Still, the more people who book, the better the acts that dedicated organiser Paul Spencer can offer. So maybe it’s okay to keep saying how perfect a weekend this festival is, and how we hope it will continue for many years to come.
Oh yes, and on the subject of impromptu performances, it seems absolutely everyone has a good time at Maverick. This reviewer, on an early-morning walk through the farm fields, came upon a singer and a guitarist putting on a show for a rapt audience – of Suffolk Punch horses!
For more photos from the Maverick Festival, check out the Backroads Facebook page.
Look out for a series of interviews from Maverick on this site in future weeks.