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Review West Bank

The West Bank Festival, 14-16 Feb 2014
by Jeremy Woodhill

What a wet soggy weekend it was at the West Bank Cultural Precinct. It dampened the revellers that attended and drove away those that didn’t. But we give thanks to buildings and tents that supplied enough shelter from soggy Mother Nature to get down to the business of getting down. Much dancing and merriment, drink swilling and laughter despite the wet weather.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get to the opening night but I heard it was fantastic.

Saturday morning brought more rain and Joe on acoustic guitar with David on chair drums in the soggy pingpong tent with a somewhat impotent microphone stand! Never-the-less busting out some improv lyrical magic and creating a warm friendly vibe.

If you wandered down to the Turner Bowlo you would have caught Pete n Ali of the Cashews bringing the house down with a “house on fire”. Kids kids everywhere!

Followed next by some clowning around with Pablo. Ab fab intro and pop ball tricks, hidden sumo suit with tennis racket, juggling and slinky bat trickery crazy times!

On with the show. Woohoo Revue next on the bill. Crazy gypsy grooves. A new violinist I notice sporting a floral arrangement hat thingy. Great stuff.

Dr Stovepipe unplugged as per always produced a fine concoction of ye olde cures for the blues from the nether regions of the States and originals too. Hosted some fun games with games master Jez including tunnel ball, indoor bowls, a newspaper dance competition, kids kids everywhere. Much giggling and running and giggling.

Up the track at the Croatian Club was Alex Flamenco with new flamenco style Spanish guitar. A complete shredder, what can I say? Probably (if I may be so bold) the festival’s most virtuosic performer; tone, rhythm, style, technical ability – amazing. And a smoke machine to boot!

Trumpet club next door at Alliance Francoise belting out some fusion with a nice groove section – bass, keys, drums and 8 trumpets no less!! Very loud but very cool. Cam got his first super ‘g’ which for non wind players means super hard to get very high note. Second song was an original and both a very technical and warm song with great chordal melodies and technical lead trumpet jumping octaves great stuff.

Jorge Bontes in the pingpong tent with his sexy Latin ballads. Croon n swoon lovely set. I had no idea he was good at pingpong either. Watch-out!

The Fuelers down the road at the bowlo on Saturday night got the crowd up and dancing to some 50s style rock n roll with “she liked to drive” (I think those were the words!) and the president on the beach with little green aliens surfing¿? Weird but cool yeehah!!

Caught the last dulcet tones of Alice Cottee at the Croat hmmmm ahh.

Then the Perch Creek family jug band.  Banjo, vox/stand kit drums/ washboard, vox/Acc guitar, harmonica/ saw (yes u read right) upright bass. Quintet harmonies with a deep country feel. Brothers and sisters (some) who’ve grew up playing with their dad. Great band heaps of fun.

Woohoo revue up next at the Croatian Club on Saturday with a super grunty set. They let out a heavy gipsy swagger mixed with a theatrical dose of cabaret. The most noticeable change to the Woohoo lineup was the change of violinists.

Sunday morning brought the secular gathering of Sunday Assembly. A heartfelt dedication to creativity and community. Well pitched and a great turnout. Packed to the rafters. Perch Creek Jug Band had the honours of providing music and some guest speakers read well. An early morning inspiration created by one of the speakers – that morning – was amazing. I didn’t stay for morning tea (prepared by volunteers) but it looked delicious.

A hop up the street and Burrows was on at the Croatian Club on Sunday arvo.  Some sweet vox harmonies with a great diversity of melodic lines made for interesting listening.

Julia and the Deep-sea Sirens were on Sunday’s bill at the Croatian. Easy listening heart break songs and a confident and polished performance as always.

All in all the inaugural West Bank Festival kicked. Great mix of music and venues both. Wandering up and down between the venues was a great way to bump into old friends, food, good coffee, booze and friendly volunteers. This all made the festy fun! Well done again CMC.