Written by: Pete Robson
PawFest is a one day festival held in the small South Somerset town of Wincanton. It is in its second year and is held to raise money for 'Somerset & Dorset Animal Rescue'. Music Unbuttoned took a trip out to this festival to enjoy the music, beer and atmosphere. The gates opened at 12 noon and in true Music Unbuttoned style we arrived promptly. This was a well hatched plan as it meant we could sprawl out on a picnic blanket soaking up the sun whilst sipping a beer before Abi Baker the opening act took to the stage.
Abi walked on to the stage with her acoustic guitar. She opened with an original song titled 'My Gentle Rescuer' then followed by alternating between covers and original songs. Abi had a great powerful voice which travelled throughout the festival ground well.
We asked Abi, what was the inspiration for your song 'My Gentle Rescuer'?
"I had been asked by Liz Stewart of the Somerset & Dorset Animal Rescue Centre to write a song from poems that had been written, they were all from the animals perspective. I tried to get the message across that it's really important to rescue animals and not just walk past them which was the feeling that was in the poems”.
Buzz were the second act of the day, they are a 6 piece band who all dressed in yellow adding emphasis to the Bumble Bee theme which they use to give the band a happy summer flavour. They performed a set of fun cheerful covers including 'Bohemian Like You' by Dandy Warhol.
We asked Buzz if they enjoyed performing at PawFest?
"It was a terrific experience and the sun was shining which makes a difference. This is the first big festival we've done so it was a good experience we've really enjoyed it. They're a good crowd and the festival is very well organised”.
An incredible opening song, Jack used a loop pedal for his vocal and a melody on an acoustic guitar before switching to an electric guitar. His songs were atmospheric he would play quietly to build suspense and conclude with thunderous volume this would draw the audience in.
Jack had played at PawFest in 2011 we asked him how this year compared?
“It's much busier this year which is great because it's for something worth while. It's nice to watch it grow, we played the first PawFest and hopefully we'll get asked to play next year so we'll get to see it go from strength to strength”.
Silens played hard, fully immersing themselves in the music from the start. The middle of their set was a little more chilled before throwing every thing they had at their final song. Liam Devall would throw his guitar around, forcing feedback from it and used the microphone stand on his guitar like a violin bow.
We asked Silens how they got the opportunity to perform at PawFest?
"I found a website with a list of all the festivals, So I had been applying to play at any festivals that look cool. I applied to PawFest, fortunately for us there was a cancellation so we were able to fill the slot".
The Rock Doctors performed good old classic rock they also performed modern songs including 'Use Somebody' by Kings Of Leon. Tony announced that the band had a combined age of 543, so they sure know what their doing! A large part of the audience took to their feet to dance, Tony (the front man) affectionately referred to these dancers as 'The PawFest Dancing Team'.
We spoke with The Rock Doctors after their set who said:
“The organisation was really good, every one was really friendly and they couldn't do enough to help. We changed the drum kit over which caused them a lot of trouble but they didn't moan about it. The sound on stage was good and the engineers were really helpful. So we've had a great time”.
"Ladies and Gentlemen roll up roll up we're Stop Go Sixty". Cried Sam Drury from Stop Go Sixty before the 5 piece band kicked off. The confidence which radiated from the band made the audience feel they were in safe hands. They also took the opportunity to performed a brand new song titled 'Come & Get It'.
We asked, why they chose to perform a completely new song to such a large audience?
“Some times you have to throw yourself in at the deep end, just play it and see what happens. Now we know where we need to improve it, we'll probably play it a lot better in the future”.
Tensheds came on stage looking like a sparkly undertaker. From behind his piano Tensheds performed great upbeat original songs with his band before the Bass guitarist and drummer took a short break, leaving Tensheds to perform a few solo songs. The Band returned to finish the set with a great crowed pleaser title 'Dog House Boggie".
We asked Tensheds, why did you want to perform at PawFest?
“I'm a vegan, so I'm really into the welfare of animals. The Festival is for a really good cause so I was very pleased to come here and perform. I think the set went really well, my hat was a bigger hit than me, I need to dumb down the props”.
Babyhead are a big 8 piece Ska/Hip-hop band filling the stage with musicians and enthusiasm. The band had a huge amount of energy permeating the audience. Little Tom on vocals would make a huge effort to involve any children in the audience which was great for a family festival. The final song saw more then Ten Children from the audience take to the stage to jump and dance.
We asked Little Tom, do you always try to encourage children?
“We do a lot of work shops with young people, I have a company called 'Heads Up High" we try to involve children in music. Music is a great way to get kids to come out of their shell. Many kids and people in general are inhibited, music is a great way to get them to open up”.
As Toploader walked on stage it became clear that the audience has been looking forward to this moment, with everyone taking to their feet and moving closer to the stage. Toploader played songs from their most recent album 'Only Human'. We were also treated to some of Toploader's big hits and as the sun disappeared for the day they performed 'Dancing In The Moonlight'. This proved to be a real crowed pleaser making it impossible for even the most reserved not to dance and sing alone. The energy of the audience was clearly reflected on stage as Joe stood to hammer the keys of his Piano.
After the show we asked Joe from Toploader, how has this Festival compared to some of the much larger venues you have played?
“We had a really good time, it's important what the crowd like and the reception was really warm. The sound and lights were great. We have been here quite a long time today so we got to hear a lot of the bands, the Dub Reggae band (babyhead) who were on before us were really great, Stop Go Sixty were really great too. So it was a really good line up and a pleasure to be here”.