Yet again this year Midstock Festival was a truly family friendly, diverse music lovers festival held as usual in the beautiful surroundings of Dalkeith Country Park just outside Edinburgh. This was the 3rd year of Midstock Festival. I have been every year and, can honestly say each year has been great quality, but Scott Gunn and Wullie Slight are constantly looking at how they can improve it to make it bigger and better – and they are definitely succeeding. The stage has improved year on year and the numbers are growing. All good signs!
The festival was fantastic fun with some top quality artists playing throughout the day and evening. Scouting For Girls were the headliners but unfortutately their van broke down on the way to Dalkeith. I felt for the Midstock founders as I know how hard they have worked for the past year to make Midstock a festival that appeals to everyone.It was outwith their control and Arlene from Forth One who was compering the festival with Katie G from Radio Saltire did a great job of giving the waiting crowd the bad news. She was a pair of safe hands delivering the bad news, and handling the surprised and disappointed audience.
Kicking off proceedings were a couple of very talented young local singers. Caitlyn Vanbeck was at the time competing in the X Factor. She made it as far as Simon’s judge’s house and was a favourite to win. Unfortunately Simon didn’t choose her for the live shows which a lot of people disagreed with.
Shoony with Jack Robertson
GeeGee with Jack Robertson
As well as Caitlyn the crowd were treated to the music of another young and super talented singer Jack Robertson. Jack in recent months gained attention from his cover of Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s On The Wall’. Jack is signed to Universal Music and released his first single ‘Set It Alight‘ in July. Alongside these great singers the audience was treated to some amazing dancing from Edinburgh’s professional dance troupe Fierce Pro Dancers. I did manage to interview Jack who impressed me with how lovely and friendly he is. Check out our short interview after Jack’s set:
Jack Robertson Interview
After Caitlyn and Jack who’s performances I sadly missed as I was delayed getting to the festival, came Animals and Friends. This band hailing from Newcastle Upon Tyne orginally started life as the legendary 60’s group The Animals and has undergone a few name changes in the intervening years as well as changing members too. They played some of their classic songs such as House Of The Rising Sun. I managed to catch the last couple of songs from their set and thought they sounded pretty good.
After this came one of the highlights for me. Curtis T Johns is a published singer-songwriter from Leeds who I know quite well. At Rockathon our charity marathon of music that PR Owls held in partnership with Midstock Festival, we managed to persuade Curtis to sing one song which impressed the Midstock founders – Wullie and Scott – enough for them to decide to offer Curtis a slot at the festival. I know how sublime his vocals are so I knew that Curtis would not disappoint and he didn’t. He performed a flawless 4 song set which included his original song ‘Where Love Lies’ and a spine tingling version of Emelie Sande’s ‘Read All About It’. The crowd seemed to be very impressed by Curtis’s performance. After his superb set I caught up with Curtis to ask him a few questions about his music and Midstock. Here is our short interview:
Hi Curtis, for those who don’t know how did you get involved with the Festival?
So I went did an event at Stramash which was like a little impromptu performance. Wullie was listening (Midstock founder), the wonderful PR Owls were like ‘Come on do a song!’ , so I did and he was really impressed,so he gave me a little guest slot on the Midstock which I’m really grateful for, because there are some amazing performers. It’s really really fun, I’m enjoying it!
And how does it feel to perform to a Scottish crowd?
Interesting, it’s new. I don’t know if they’ll understand me ( his Yorkshire accent!) or get my jokes but the weather is fine, it’s still t-shirt worthy so it’s ok!
Tell us a bit about yourself, for those who don’t know Curtis T Johns?
I’m a singer – songwriter. I take my songwriting very seriously. I love to write meaningful, varied things. I’m just venturing into the artistry thing over the next few years, exploring styles, things like that until I find something I’m comfortable with!
And where can people find out more about your music?
You can find out on my website, which is back! You can find it on ctjmusic.co.uk and on there it links to eveything else, all the different fanbases and things like that. And yeah it’s going to be a slow build, we’ll see where it goes!
After the beautiful simplicity of Curtis’s set featuring just him and a keyboard came quite a contrast. Jamie and Shoony are loud, fun, charming and energetic with a real talent for engaging a crowd and getting the best out of them. This performance was no exception, as I later remarked to them I could feel the vibrations from the music going right through me from where I was standing! In typical rock n roll style Jamie K decided to climb a barrier and then walk about in the crowd at the front. He also threw cd’s and t-shirts into the crowd, and Jamie H joined in throwing his drumsticks too! After their barn stormer of a set I got the chance to interview the boys and it was fun. Here’s the link to the entertaining interview:
Jamie & Shoony at Midstock
Arlene Stewart from Forth One and Katie G from Radio Saltire were doing a smooth and entertaining job of keeping things flowing on the main stage and providing great banter in between bands. Next up came the legendary DJ and producer Dave Pearce. His set was full of classic dance tunes with his production making them sound fantastic and current. He played amongst others N Trance – ‘Set You Free’, Robin S ‘Show Me Love’ and a dance version of Adele’s ‘Hello’ and he encouraged lots of audience participation – which resulted in some classic hands in the air moments that are an integral part of any festival/gig.
After Dave Pearce came the brilliant Airport Impressions from Malta who are making waves wherever they go; just before Midstock they appeared at the Isle of MTV Malta music event. Airport Impressions are a talented 4 piece rock band who blew the Midstock crowd away with the sheer quality of their musicianship and Errol’s stunning vocals. Their own songs were superb and Errol’s vocals on their cover of ‘Ring Of Fire’ were jaw droppingly good. I got a chance to interview Errol after the band’s set and he is such a nice guy.Here’s the link to the interview:
Airport Impressions at Midstock
Next up was The Pigeon Detectives, a well known indie rock band from one of my favourite cities, Leeds. They have just finished their 5th studio album. The band played their hits with a swagger in a classic rock n roll style. Matt Bowman is the quintessential showman and entertained the crowd with his antics mainly involving classic poses like jumping onto speakers! An entertaining band who I thought were very good.
After this came one of my favourite acts of the day Reverend And The Makers. They were yet another excellent act from Yorkshire on the bill along with Curtis T Johns and The Pigeon Detectives. The band is fronted by Jon McClure a.k.a. “The Reverend”. His wife Laura is the keyboard player in this rock band who I warmed to instantly with their catchy songs.
There was anticipation in the air as everyone waited for signs that Europop group Vengaboys were ready to perform onstage.They came bounding on stage in a dazzle of brightly coloured, sparkly costumes and were immediately welcomed loudly by the enthusiastic crowd. They tore through a blistering set which included all their old hits and I was impressed by the amount of times they all interacted with the crowd. In fact at their encore they came back and all 4 of them ended up singing standing on the speakers. They specialise in cheesy, happy, positive tunes with energetic dance routines which the crowd loved.
After their glitzy set there was a short break, and then Arlene and Katie introduced to the stage a brilliant piper who played ‘Flower Of Scotland’ beautifully. It’s always stirring to hear it played by a great piper and the pipes are usuallly appreciated by a Scottish crowd.
After this Arlene had to come back out and confirm for us that the headline act Scouting For Girls had had to cancel due to their van breaking down twice. The crowd were a bit annoyed at this understandably, but seemed to accept it was the end of the festival, and eventually some of them made their way to the usual festival rides while others left the park. It was an unfortunate end to what had been a top quality festival. But those of us in the crowd couldn’t complain because the quality of the acts who did perform proved yet again that Midstock Festival knows how to put on a good show. In part through introducing people to some brilliant new music artists, blended in with artists who are familiar names, and the end result being something created for a wide ranging audience.
I will definitely be back at Midstock Festival next year. The acts are slowly being announced and again it looks like there will be something for everyone! Well done on another fantastic year Scott and Wullie. Thinking about next year’s review now …….
Thank you to Scott and Wullie for another great year as I mentioned, and for inviting me along. Thanks to GeeGee for being my videographer for the day, much appreciated! Finally thank you to all the amazingly talented and friendly artists who let me quiz them after their brilliant sets.
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