Thursday, 25 April 2013


Friday 17th, 
Saturday, 18th, 
Sunday 19th May.

Pic by Andy Sheppard/Redferns/Getty taken from
Given how modern times have altered so much beyond what was, say the 60s and 70s, it is rare to find any kind of event that might even hope to shadow what some all-out peaceful festival of music and nature would have been like back then. Look no further though folks because have I found the festival for you! Wood seems to me to be a bit like literally stepping through a time portal directly into the summer of 1967 (whatever the British weather attempts to throw at us). This is a REAL nice small family-oriented 'something for all' kind of festival. For those watching their carbon footprint too (and this should be every single one of us by now - come on peoples), Wood is run on 100% renewable energy. Not only this but you pay a set price for the parking pass and if you have over a certain number of people/festival revelers in the car when you arrive, you will get part of that fee back. If there is just one of you, you will be asked to pay a bit more. It's a great way to encourage folk to car share so for any individuals who were planning to travel in alone, get in contact with each other and enjoy what is a wonderful little community. More money for pints too, of course...erm, I mean treats for the kids (if you have them that is - I don't so mine will go on pints). It describes itself as a celebration of music and nature set amidst the beautiful Chiltern Hills. Located in the grounds of Braziers Park in Ipsden, Oxfordshire, the surroundings are stunning. Add all of that top quality live music to the mix, with the rich blend of workshops and stalls, there is no finer way to kick-start your summer.

Organized by the Bennett brothers of The Dreaming Spires (who will be performing a set), this is their little beauty of a gathering of some of the best folk, roots, americana and alternative country acts out there although other genres are catered for as well. Going hand-in-hand with the theme of being eco-friendly, Wood also cuts down on emissions in other ways by sourcing a whole host of top local talent from the surrounding area. I've previously nicknamed Oxford as being a bit like Seattle in the US. There are so many inspiring and fantastic bands/artists that come from and/or originate in this county. It's like a music hub. It must be something about the Oxfordshire air. Or perhaps something in the water. Whatever it is, there will be plenty of acts performing over the weekend to support my claim.You be the judge. Get your excellent value for money tickets NOW and you'll be privileged to see sensational acts from much further afield as well.

As part of its commitment to being ecologically friendly towards the environment - and also no doubt an important part of promoting the celebration of nature component of its ethos - there are many green issues highlighted. These come in the form of composting toilets, showers heated by wood-burning stoves, a solar-powered stage and a people-powered fairground (yes, I too am imagining people on bicycles peddling as fast as possible to keep that merry-go-round going round - but hey, perhaps this wouldn't be such a bad idea and ideal for burning those extra festival calories). It really is all about being green. More importantly it demonstrates clearly how putting on something as potentially power-zapping as a music festival can still be achieved through more environmentally friendly means. Okay, it may become more of a logistical nightmare the bigger the festival but organizers of those larger ones should take heed. I hope the time is dawning when ALL such events will have little choice than to operate in such a way. And what's this? A bicycle-powered discotheque. I honestly cannot wait to check this out!

Considering the small size of the festival there are more workshops operating at Wood than I've seen put on at any of the larger events I've been to over the years. These are wide-ranging too, both in terms of subject matter and targeted age. Indeed, many will cater and satisfy folk of all ages, from children to grandparents. The workshop village will be running ALL day Saturday and Sunday giving revelers time enough to try out more things than ever before.

Everything from making a willow lantern to light your way back to your tent (no need for wretched chemical batteries for invasive torches here), to getting creative with your junk by making funky stuff like wallets, jewellery, musical instruments and much more. These in particular cater for the nature loving environmentalist.

For the musician wannabes who have never really made it beyond strumming more than a G on a guitar (me then) there's things like learning to play the spoons. Hmmm - Spoon Idol....I'm thinking I should pitch this idea to ITV perhaps. If singing is more your thing but you sound like a fog horn crossed with a sheep, Katy Bennett wants you signing up for her Harmony Singing workshop. She will soon have you sounding like a choir of angels or a Barbershop quartet.

For me, it gets even more interesting with the likes of learning Acupressure massage techniques or how to give a Indian Head Massage. There will be tai-chi, which I have always wanted to get into but is one of those things I've not been able to find affordable lessons for. Perhaps with this taster I can find a way to develop a self-teaching path. Or at least become more confident in finding and joining a class. Then yoga, which again would be great to try but I am not in the slightest way bendy enough for such an endeavour. Even so, just having the opportunity to try these things out is one of the many fantastic things about this festival. There is even a Shamanic Ritual Theatre workshop (for 18+ only) if you'd like to open you third eye and your heart to become more informed about the energetic field within and around us.

In addition to all the main activities available, most of which will be suitable for both adults and children, there will also be separate workshops in the Kids Tent.

There's so much more, to boot. From working with herbs, making a wormery and taking a soundwalk to wood working and carving out a totem pole. Nothing has been spared here with such a well-thought out and inspiring selection of choices. It's a wonder you'll have time enough left in which to eat. Fear not, for those who wish to sample the provided catering facilities, there will be ample opportunity for that too.


As part of the homegrown mix is alternative folk singer-songwriter Adam Barnes offering, who's debut EP Blisters is available from iTunes (>>here<<). That in itself is enough to whet your appetite for what promises to be a superb live performance. There is more, however. Blisters is also available via Adam's bandcamp page along with a FREE download of Come Undone and a rather awesome live EP titled Live From Washington to York. There is even more. Adam has been working like a Trojan on his debut album The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath. I may have only caught up with his previous tunes over the last week or so but given the high quality I am really excited about hearing him perform live at Wood. And for the host of new tracks that will be on the album. In order to complete this album Adam has had to enlist the help of music fans via a Kickstarter campaign. Akin to the Pledgemusic programmes, fans and pledgers can offer up a certain amount of money (from as little as £1) that counts towards a set goal amount. Testament to the calibre of Adam's music making in just three little days he was already at £1920 of his £2500 goal. With still 23 days to go he has already smashed through the target and is currently sitting pretty on £3000! Now he will get the all-important financial support to enable him to complete and release The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath.

On a seperate note I need to enlist his assistance in beard growing because he sports one absolutely amazing beard and I find myself rather envious. I need tips on how to encourage my face fuzz to grow and look so cool!

There's a reason why Co-Pilgrim have been getting a lot of radio attention recently - because their music is AWESOME! Seriously, it is the kind that induces spine-tingles. Spine-tingles, folks! The charming velvety vocals from Mike Gale alone are enough to hook you to this wonderful group but one cannot neglect the tremendous talents of the other core members, Joe Bennett, Andy Reaney, Claire Bennett and Tom Wenzel. They recently released (in February) their 2nd LP A Fairer Sea which is available via iTunes >>here<< or via various other download methods, including a physical CD >>here<<. Last year I missed their set at Truck Festival *slaps own face* and I don't intend to make that mistake this year at Wood.

Again, this is another band I'm sad to have missed at Truck last year. There was just so much to fit in and sacrifices are just part and parcel of trying to navigate a festival. It goes without saying I will not be missing out on the opportunity to see them here at Wood this year. Grief-wave is what their Facebook claims as their genre so this will be something very different to the more general americana offerings on the line-up.

Flights of Helios really do take you high up into the atmosphere with their post-progressive psychedelic drone pop. Had I seen them at Truck I have no doubt I'd have been raving about them from last July until now but with how I'm (happily) drowning in so much new music, I have neglected to go back and feature the band on the blog. My bad *slaps own face again*! I shall rectify this with the coming Wood review of course. Just listen to this, though. It is mesmerizing. This will sit perfectly with the likes of fellow progressive band Syd Arthur. Their sound takes in so much from Sigur Ros (yes, I am still on a high from that gig in March) to Enya via Talking Heads, Arcade Fire and more. Moreover, Flights of Helios prove how progressive music is completely ALIVE on the contemporary scene!

From just the snippets I've heard and seen thus far, I must admit Katy Rose & The Cavalry Parade is near the top of my list of MUST sees at Wood. Head to the Reverbnation page >>here<< and just feast your ears (that's a thing, right? If it isn't then it should be!) on the likes of the haunting yet so so stunning Indelible Ink (the title track of her last album available below via Katy's Soundcloud page). Those vocals melt me each time I listen to it. 

Katy has been rather busy over the last 10 years. Under the name KTB she's released three albums to critical acclaim, toured the UK folk circuit and supported the likes of Willy Mason and Karine Polwart to name just two. The rootsy folk nature of a musical collective comes into play by way of the Cavalry Parade. This includes an array of talented musicians varying from 1 to 10 (wow, that will sound out of this world!) including multi-instrumentalists Phill Ward, Julia Higgins and Joe Bennett (Mr Joe gets around a fair bit, Co-Pilgrim, The Dreaming Spires and The Cavalry Parade, you busy boy Mr Joe - good work man!). At this stage I can only use imagination to contemplate the heavenly dimensions Katy will take us with her beautiful music when played live. Excited doesn't even come close to describe my anticipation at how much higher she'll take us with assistance from her Cavalry. This is not a Parade to miss!

I featured the awesome EP I'll Never Go Anywhere Without Her Now from Reichenbach Falls as part of the blogcast on Band of Badgers Presents...#12, so I'm uber-excited to be getting to see these stunning tunes played live next month. I have no doubts of any kind that the super talented Abe Davies & Co will use their marvelous musical skills and render the tranquility of the actual Reichenbach Falls for us. This is a festival of music AND nature after all so this will be doubly appropriate come this set.

I did feature a little about this brilliant UK americana band on my most recent music sharing post (>>here<<) so I won't waffle too much. I just wanted to feature them again as The Cedars are one of the bands right at the top and who I'm super excited about seeing. Like I mentioned in that last post, when a UK band take the deep-set alternative country sound and make it completely their own, they need to be applauded. Heck, they deserve a standing ovation in my opinion. Make sure you go buy their recently released album Little Copper Still. Now please.

It will be a treat to get to see Jackie Oates again for the first time since I saw her twice in 2011. First she was supporting on one of the numerous legs of Seth Lakeman's seemingly endless tour (keep going Seth because I get more chance of seeing you as you keep on touring - he's back on the road in the UK in about 3 weeks). Later that year she appeared at Beautiful Days Festival. It comes as no surprise she's been receiving more and more attention and gathering more acclaim as the years pass because she weaves such marvelous magical musical stories that completely captivate you.

As an accomplished singer and fiddle player, Jackie's beautiful, flawless and at times haunting (in a give you mega goosebumps kind of way) vocals have established her at the forefront of the recent English folk revival. Checking out the latest from her Soundcloud I've been freshly WOW'd by some absolutely stunning Bob Dylan covers she has recorded. As a big Bob fan, these are just fantastic and I highly recommend you check them out. Even if you're not so much a Dylan fan. You will love these versions of the songs. 

There are so many golden things to note about singer-songwriter Jack Day. For starters, his superb and original music slowly reveals a deep, mature soul. There's a uniqueness that echoes the greatness of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Christy Moore or a more contemporary comparison would perhaps be Willy Mason. There's no mimicry here though, trust me. What is further striking is that for his relative youth he already writes and plays at a level so accomplished, it would take most musicians an entire lifetime to reach. 

Whether it is through the powerful and heartfelt piano-led No One Moves Like You, the lamenting guitar-led Isn't It Strange or the likes of Shadows In The Sun and I Often Think Of You, Jack opens himself up and let's you get right inside his mind. I wholeheartedly agree with Allan Jones of Uncut magazine because with such exceptional talent as this he is '..definitely one to watch out for'. Jack Day is going big places! I am stoked I get to see him play at this more intimate affair before he packs out venues in the years to come. And with guitar playing like that on >>this video<< for Birdsong, recorded for Songs From The Shed, I'm thinking Jack could provide green power for the entire weekend.

WOW! I've been tweeting bits here and there as I've been checking out these artists and bands and I have found myself WOWing a heck of a lot. None more so than when I watched a YouTube video from The Arlenes for Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone. Goosebumps galore. Even after the song had finished. I was somewhere out in deep space I was so blown away. Captivated by Stephanie's gorgeous vocals! Her voice cuts through EVERYTHING. It holds some kind of unparalleled vibration, resonating to just the right degree that stills me before I blow away into dust on a wisp of wind. Sublime!

Headlining the Friday night of the festival, Mary Epworth is a scoop indeed. She's been gathering rave reviews and plenty of attention following the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Dream Life last year. An interesting blend of 1960s West Coast psychedelia with gospel and dream pop combine to produce a rather sensational sound. It is big. It is loud. It is tremendous and triumphant! Mary is another one on the line-up who is linked in with the whole progressive part of the musical spectrum, albeit in a different kind of direction compared to Flights of Helios and Syd Arthur. Her set will be one of the top highlights!


It seems wholly fitting and ironically appropriate that highly regarded US duo The Wood Brothers are appearing at a festival bearing their good name. Taking the music they loved as kids - blues, folk and US roots -adding their own original evocative sound and mixing it all together with some hallowed heavenly harmonies, they are proving great things come to those who wait. They have both been heavily involved in separate musical projects but after 15 years they decided to fuse together for this current venture.

The brothers are performing at Wood as part of their European tour and judging by a few videos I've seen alone, this set will be something special. Chris and Oliver have such a rich blend of influences and have been perfecting their skills so much over the years they are masters of their art.

Featured now multiple times on this blog, whether it's via the review of debut album On An On I wrote almost a year ago (you can read that >>here<<) or the last few singles they have released off that album, Syd Arthur are a force to be reckoned with. Having been unable to get to one of their nearby gigs on the tours last year I may have expressed my excitement a little too loudly when I read they were to play at Wood.

Their sound is wonderfully progressive and it offers music fans something extraordinary. With the whole feel of Wood Festival being something akin to a bygone era, Syd Arthur will provide that direct link to the past (by way of a time portal or some such). They excel at what they do with their music, managing to transport you back through time. They don't stop there, however and they certainly do not mimic the psychedelia of the times they recreate before your ears. Their flare of originality is so bright it is blinding. Within the same instant as taking you back in time they will bring you crashing back into the 21st century, proving they are masters at work in creating a fresh contemporary subset of this genre.

This little beauty of an event (well actually it's going to be a rather big beauty) will prove to be another magnificent and special part of the festival weekend. To mark the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska, Clubhouse Records gathered together a group of musicians at The Betsey Trotwood pub in London to pay tribute to this fantastic album. Throughout the course of that one day, 10 bands recorded the albums 10 tracks live and straight to a 4-track cassette tape. The sessions were filmed for prosperity and all the videos are available on the Clubhouse Records YouTube channel >>here<<

An album of this stunning collection was produced and released as a limited edition CD which have now sadly (but quite rightly) sold out. You can still purchase a digital copy via iTunes >>here<<.

It didn't end there of course and all the bands involved performed the entire album live to a sold-out audience at The Slaughtered Lamb in London. Now, exclusively for Wood Festival the album will be recreated live once more by Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou, The Dreaming Spires, Danny The Champ, Jack Day, The Cedars, Case Hardin, The Redlands Palomino Company, Paul McClure, The Mad Staring Eyes and The Arlenes.


Naturally I can't feature something about all the artists on the line-up as the festival will have come and gone by the time I've finished. And while all of them are worthy of a special mention I must single out those like The Dreaming Spires, Sally Archer, Band of Hope, Danny And The Champions, Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou and Paul McClure, all of whom I am eager and excited to see.
Photo by Sterling Munksgard taken from Wood Bros Fbook

So, after reading this rather in-depth preview/feature of what promises to be one of the top highlights of your musical summer, what are you waiting for folks? It is only a mere 3 weeks away! Quite probably less depending on when you're actually reading this. So get clicking, get moving, get listing all those camping necessities you're going to need for your little adventure into the Wood! Don't forget this is no ordinary musical adventure either. Be prepared to travel back in time and be dazzled by how close you can get to nature. This is an opportunity for you to experience just how intimate and wonderful a music festival can be. Just how it used to be done in the good old days. This is more a cohesive community of approximately 1000 revelers all coming together to celebrate the good life. I can smell the magic already.

Ticket details and links are below!



Tickets are very reasonably priced considering this is a 3 day event. Click >>here<< to BUY NOW!
TEEN TICKET (AGES 13-17): £65
*Under 15s MUST be accompanied by a paying adult over 21*

CAR PARKING: £10 - As mentioned, this charge varies depending upon vehicle occupancy, as part of Wood's environment commitment. For example, if the vehicle has one occupant you will have to pay a further £5; if it has 3 or more, you will receive a £5 refund.


What others say:

an incredibly magical, inspirational and beautiful place, filled with great music, plenty to do and an atmosphere you could never create with bigger, more commercial festivals.
Flying With Anna

this is the greenest festival we’ve ever been to, and that’s some achievement. Music wise Wood’s organisers seem to have pretty much hit the nail on the head too… an eclectic and upbeat lineup of artists which for the most part seem to appeal to both the adults and kids.
More Than The Music

Wood Festival was like those days you dream of… breezy sunshine, children running through the grass, plenty of good music. From the workshops to the music acts everything was timed to fit together and allow for maximum participation without boredom.

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