Festivals 2016: 9 acts to see at Green Man
Summer’s here and the time is right, we’ll be dancing in the shadow of Wales’ Brecon Beacons. In the rain. Still, it’s all good, there’s some great food and very many beers at Green Man’s own beer festival. Oh, and a bunch of great bands. Here are our pick for the three acts you really really need to see each day.
One of the current kings of American roots music, Jason Isbell (alongside Sturgill Simpson who played in 2015, and Chris Stapleton) pitches up on the Mountain Stage in the early evening to show the festival what great music sounds like. With his two most recent records being wildly successful and a set including the barnstorming ‘Children of Children’ and the beautifully touching ‘Cover Me Up’, Isbell is our must see set of Friday.
Earlier on the Mountain Stage are Phil Cook & the Guitar Heels also playing a mixture of US style honky tonk, bar rocking blues, and including some juicy guitar solos. Cook is also quite the crowd pleaser, with a good set of banter he’s likely to bring some light to the cloudy Friday afternoon. Fun, authentic music, and dancing is almost certainly guaranteed.
Finally in the Walled Garden are Mothers. The word ethereal is overused when talking about female singers of a certain lilt, but this quartet from Athens, Georgia build their sound around Kristine Leschper. And she has a voice to stop the inevitable chatters. Their debut album, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired melded quiet, sparse tunes with more indie driven tracks like ‘Copper Mines’.
Opening the Mountain Stage on Saturday can be a tough gig, with hangovers from a first day of heavy partying clouding the heads, but Clare Maguire is up to the challenge. After mucho hype back in 2011, but not mucho sales, Maguire went away, dealt with a few things, and came back strong with this years Stranger Things Have Happened. She’s got a voice in a million and recent song ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ has echoes of Adele. No pressure. This feels like the real Clare Maguire now, get to the foot of the mountain early, you’ll be impressed.
Our man with his finger on the pulse of all things cool and esoteric, Jonathan Tranter, is a big fan of Emma Pollock. And when you hear her recent record, In Search Of Harperfield you understand why. There’s drama and melodies, music and feeling, and a voice to carry that emotional weight. Late afternoon in the Walled Garden is the place to catch this terrific singer-songwriter.
And you should have a good spot for her set as preceding Pollock in the Walled Garden is BC Camplight, aka Brian Christinzio. Three albums in and a wilfully different as always, How To Die In The North is an excellent record, moving from Brian Wilson-esque ‘You Should Have Gone To School’ to the smooth soul sounds of ‘Just Because I Love You’, this afternoon set will delight.
There’s something about the early acts this year that show just how right Green Man has its lineup, and Sunday is no different. Kicking off the final day on the Mountain Stage is the wonderful garage rocker Margaret Glaspy. Though to tag her garage rock is to undersell her subtlety and quality. Her Emotions and Math album is full of great tracks but the feisty ‘Ins and Needles’, the concerned ‘Parental Guidance’, and past baiting ‘Memory Street’ are standout. Want to shake off final day cobwebs? Get to the front at about midday.
Former Woodsman Kevin Morby adds a sprinkling of blissed out rock to the festival. His most recent, third, record Singing Saw brought him to a wider audience and, an enlarged for 2016, Far Out Tent feels like a perfect setting for songs like the title track and ‘I Have Been To The Mountain’.
Finally, Black Peaches bring their mishmash of US guitar music to the Walled Garden. Led by Rob Smoughton (of Hot Chip and Scritti Politti) they mix country, swamp, blues, and a touch of a multitude of other sounds into a contemporary take on classic American rock. Sound confusing; it’s not, it’s bloody great. See for yourselves.
And that’s it. There are a bunch of other great acts we could have mentioned: Whitney, Amber Arcades, Ezra Furman, Julia Holter, The Unthanks, Ryley Walker, Beak>, and on the list could go. Still we’re confided the nine acts above will do you no wrong.
Green Man Festival is on 18th-21st August and is sold out.