As Forest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get!” And I guess the same could be said about festivals… you see the line up, you pick out your favourites, you pack your wellies, plastic poncho, sun cream and shades to cover all weather extremes and off you go to hang with a considerable number of like-minded people for a full weekend of… well, let’s-wait-and-see-what-happens-sort-of-thing.
Bospop 2012, as in #32 in the history of the festival, ran on Saturday July 7th and July 8th presenting 26 performances from yet another eclectic mix of international as well as local, Dutch bands and artists.
Day 1 Mainstage hosted: Black-Bone, Seether, Beth Hart, Ed Kowalczyk, Wolfmother, Chris Cornell and Lenny Kravitz.
Day 1 Tentstage hosted: Vintage Trouble, The Union, Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys.
Day 2 Mainstage hosted: Powerslave, Jonas & The Massive Attraction, Patti Smith and her band, Sir Tom Jones, The Cult, Gavin DeGraw and Alanis Morissette.
Day 2 Tentstage hosted: The Dunwells, DeWolff, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Adrenaline Mob, Opeth and The Waterboys.
As far as would-I-go-to-see-some-and-/-or-all-of-the-above-if-they-were-playing-at-my-local-favourite-hang-out is concerned, the short answer is “no”, probably because I have never actually heard of half of them! However, the other side of that particular coin is that festivals do present an opportunity to check out new bands and artists and, in my sometimes not-so-humble opinion, that is all part of the festival fun.
Weather-wise, I have to say this was my first real experience of a mud, glorious muddy Bospop and although it was a tad mushy underfoot on the second day, it was nothing compared to pictures of the Isle of Wight Festival this summer so in that respect, I would say Bospop got off lightly and besides… groovy wellies appear to have become a fashion trend lately as per my own pair which are decorated with some pretty butterflies, hearts, flowers and other designs that make them slightly more interesting to look at than the standard, black Dunlop issues of times gone by. Full creative thinking marks, by the way, to the enterprising festival-goers who made a sign “charging” 2 catering tickets in exchange for a mud bath!
In keeping with its reputation for being a “friendly festival”, Bospop 2012 certainly lived up to its name once more and it was really great to meet up again with all the volunteer workers I’ve met on previous Bospops (Luc, Paul, Joost and the backstage team) as well as new people I met, Peter and Gerda, and others who happily struck up a conversation while we were waiting in line to buy a drink, for example. Once again, Leon was in charge of making sure the supply and demand of drinks across the whole festival site was on an even keel and presented a new “pink beer” to me this year which I’m reliably informed was a mixture of rose wine and beer… very nice it was too!
Music-wise… as you can see from the line-up above, it would be a somewhat challenging task to cover all of the acts in any sort of detail so instead, I’m just going to focus on the acts and artists that caught my attention the most. But of course, YouTube is full of film clips from the weekend so when all’s said and done, catching anything you missed is really easy in this era of uploading videos from whatever iDevice you happen to have in your pocket. In addition to that though, Marc Tyley, from Manx Radio, was once again on hand this year to record interviews with some of the artists that appealed to him. The results of these interviews are embedded in MP3 format at the bottom of the page and include: Beth Hart, brothers Henry and JoJo from Los Lonely Boys, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Fredrik Akesson from Opeth.
Beth Hart: As per the buzzzz around the place, Beth Hart’s set was the must-see act of the Saturday afternoon session. Beth had already joined the tent stage openers, Vintage Trouble, during their set and now it was her turn to impress with her own band. This was my first ever Beth Hart show and I thought she was simply outstanding… she rocked, rolled and gyrated around the stage with a relentless passion that was stunning to watch from start to finish and included a return, dynamic-duet with the lead singer of aforementioned Vintage Trouble. The highlights of the set for me were when Beth sat down to play piano on “Love is the Hardest” from her “My California” album as well as her version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” – almost nine minutes of pure unadulterated magic with the added bonus of a blistering guitar solo from band member, Josh Gooch, undoubtedly a name to watch and listen out for.
Beth’s career path has also taken her to the stage where she played the leading role of Laura Joplin, the sister of legendary singer, Janis Joplin, and author of the biography, “Love, Janis”, the book on which the off-Broadway hit musical is based. When I learned about this, I had a very strong feeling of déja-vu because I actually saw this show when Katrina Chester was playing the lead role of Laura. There are strong similarities between Beth and Katrina especially in their vocal deliveries… both have that raw, edgy, soul-filled Joplinesque sound which is oh-so distinctive. Another similarity I noticed – apart from the fact that Beth and Katrina even resemble each other – was the unquestionable depth of feeling both of them have for what they do. However, the ultimate goosebump moment for me came during Beth’s interview with Manx Radio’s, Marc Tyley when he asked her about her time in “Love, Janis”… her responses were almost identical to the responses I got from Katrina Chester when I interviewed her about her time in, “Love, Janis”… you can hear Marc chatting to Beth if you scroll down to the bottom of the page… and yes, if you hear an ever so gentle “smacking” sound, that was Beth planting a carefully placed kiss of thanks on Marc’s cheek!
Los Lonely Boys: Los who?? You may well be asking this question! Well, please allow me to enlighten you as to “who” these Lonely Boys really are. This rock power trio – and I do mean “power” – consists of the Garza brothers, Henry (lead guitar), JoJo (bass) and Ringo (yes, “Ringo” on drums) who hail from San Angelo,Texas. They play a style of music they describe as “Texican Rock’n’Roll” which was a new one on me and accordingly, it was with a completely open mind that I watched their set on the tent stage from almost the front row. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I was seeing something amaaaaazing as they went into their set and one does wonder how it is possible for three guys to create such a wall of sound. Think: funk rock, think: pop rock, think: rock’n’roll rock, think: hard rock, think: classic rock, think: bluesy rock, think: swing rock, think: boogie-woogie rock, think: jazz rock… and if you put them all together, add the collective talents of the Brothers Garza and shake ‘em up a little, I guess this is probably the best definition of “Texican Rock’n’Roll” I can come up with. The guys told Marc they had just played at the legendary “Paradiso” in Amsterdam, before coming to Bospop and that the audience response to their music totally blew them away. I can well believe that the walls in the Paradiso would have been jumpin’ and oh yeah… it’s not every day a girl gets to hear “Maggie May” sung a cappella to her in the back of a people carrier…but hey, this was Bospop… and if you’d like to hear the hugely entertaining double-act banter of Henry and JoJo talking to Marc Tyley, just scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd: This was another first for me… I’d heard the name but not much more apart from the fact that this was one helluva guitarist. When you look at what the State of New Orleans has given to the music world, perhaps it’s no surprise that this Louisiana native is so absolutely talented. Already recognised as a guitar force to be reckoned with in his native USA, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been selling albums by the million, featuring in the Top 10 and being mentioned in the same sentence as B.B. King and Eric Clapton in a guitar magazine that was running a list of their top blues guitarists. Kenny shared his thoughts with Marc Tyley about his latest album, “How I Go”, which Manx Radio TT365 has been plugging as well as some background thoughts about the road that has brought him this far in his career. The tent stage totally rocked when the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band came out for their set, clips of which are on YouTube if you want to check out Kenny’s musical talents for yourself. On this side of the Atlantic, I would say Kenny Wayne Shepherd is definitely a name to add to your list of musicians to see – in fact, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you’ll be able to have a listen to Kenny Wayne Shepherd talking to Marc Tyley, backstage at Bospop.
Patti Smith: This was the first name that jumped out at me when I first saw the band list for Bospop 2012. Patti Smith – Bruce Springsteen – Because the Night… now that song goes back a very l o n g way for me! But other than that, I’ve never had the chance to see Patti perform until now. Prior to Bospop, I bought a copy of “Banga”, Patti Smith’s latest CD and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. On the first listen, I think I was anticipating being hooked into the music in the same way as “Because…” instantaneously got me. But that didn’t happen quite as quickly this time. However, by the end of the album, I had realised that “Banga” is very definitely not a collection of individual singles but it definitely is a collection of poetic stories that take you on a journey for the purpose of this album and which quietly absorb their way into your senses.
Add to that, pictures of Patti relaxing on the deck of the MS Costa Concordia, as in the beautiful cruise ship that ran aground at the beginning of 2012 – the pictures were taken during a 10-day voyage that became part of Jean-Luc Godard’s film, Socialisme, in which Patti plays the role of herself together with other members of her band… plus… credit notes on two tracks to her late drummer, Louie Appel, who was also the drummer at Jukestock with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes in 2001. So yes, once again, I was truly hooked by the work of Patti Smith.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have met Patti, ever so briefly, at Bospop and she kindly signed my copy of “Banga” with a very warm message. What a treat to see and hear someone whose many faceted artistic talents have led to her being inducted into the Rock and Roll HOF, have led to her performimg “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen and U2 on the same stage in NYC and have won her international accolades for her literacy skills. A wonderful performance from a woman whose inner strength and artistic qualities are in a class of their own. And how do I know about the inner strength bit? Check out, “Just Kids”, Patti Smith’s latest book… her words explain this much better than mine ever can.
Opeth: If you thought that Sweden’s musical exports stopped and started with Abba, Roxette and the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest whose name has escaped me already, then think again! Opeth is a name that will resonate with death metal fans from around the world and is a band that has been around for over 20 years! Frontman, Mikael Akerfeldt, leads the way vocally and musically as far as the band’s sound is concerned and perhaps you’ll even hear strains of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden in Opeth’s music as these bands are some of the influences from Mikael’s younger years. Opeth are currently touring in support of their 10th album, “Heritage”, a tour that will take in most of Europe including Spain, Norway, Ireland, England, Luxembourg, Denmark and the legendary Grosse Freiheit in Hamburg. Talking of “legendary”, Opeth have even played the Royal Albert Hall in London, an event which softly spoken guitar player, Fredrik Akesson, reminisced about with during his interview with Marc Tyley. This was a concert that was filmed in April 2010 for a DVD / live album package that was released later that year. If you’re new to the sounds of Opeth and need a little bit of coaxing as far as checking them out is concerned, here’s a wonderful quote from Mikael Akerfeldt that sums up his feelings about playing in a band: “I don’t see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal; that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music. It’s impossible for us to do that, and quite frankly I would think of it as boring to be in a band that plays just metal music. We’re not afraid to experiment, or to be caught with our pants down, so to speak. That’s what keeps us going.” Hmmm… Opeth caught with their pants down?? Now, there’s a thought – metaphorically speaking or not… rock on, I say… and if you’d like to hear what Frederik said to Marc, you’ll find a link to the interview at the bottom of the page.
Sir Tom Jones: So, while the Manx Radio interview with Fredrik Akesson was going on backstage at Bospop, the Welsh King of Soul, Sir Tom Jones, was belting out a string of his greatest hits on the main stage to a very enthusiastic crowd. When you see Sir Tom up close and personal, it’s hard to imagine that he has been on this planet for some 72 years and began his career as “just a boy from the valleys”. His vocal prowess has taken him on a journey lesser mortals can merely dream about and to hear and see his charismatic charm and talents at work on a festival stage in The Netherlands was totally something else. “You Can Leave Your Hat On”, “Sex Bomb”, “It’s Not Unusual”, “Mama Told Me Not to Come” as well as tracks from his new CD, “Spirit in the Room” made up the set. And of course, the tijumenco version of “Delilah” had the entire festival ground as its backup singers, clapping and waving in time to the beat as one. In keeping with a tradition set in the 60s heyday when female fans would swoon, scream and throw their underwear at Tom Jones, yes a pair of knickers did land on the stage… well, maybe “drawers” is a better description of these not-so-passion-killers… but hey, clearly he’s still got what it takes, right??!! A great performance from one of the greats!
And as the sun went down to the strains of this year’s closing acts namely, The Waterboys and Alanis Morrissette, Bospop 2012 was sadly over… but only for another year! As I mentioned earlier, Bospop is run by volunteers whether it be hands-on help from local organizations or the collective management skills of businessmen who step out of their day jobs and into another world for this particular weekend of peace, love and music. Also, when you look at how smoothly and how professionally everything is carried out at every level and how the logistics chain brings all the right people to the right place at the right time, you have to tip your hat to the entire team who work behind the Bospop scenes.
One of the aforementioned team is Peter Verkennis, the Festival Director. Peter was kind enough to answer a couple of burning questions I asked him in connection with band selection as well as how potential artists go about making an application to be included in the line up. On the first point, Peter told me, “It’s a matter of availability. First we focus on a headliner and build the line up around that head liner. It has to be classic/rock/blues. Mojo Concerts (Live Nation) decides in consultation with me if we make an offer to a band or not.” On the second point, Peter said, “Bands have to announce their availability to either me or to Mojo.” – don’t forget to tell them I sent ya!!
Sincere thanks to all concerned, I had a really great time and here’s to Bospop 2013!