AgiotFest 2015: observations by Hilary Paipeti.
While poor punters at Reading and Glastonbury wallowed in a summer of dismal mud, AgiotFest-ers revelled in a glorious night of music in Cactus Hilton Valley and on the Dry-Grassy Knoll. This seventh year was heavy on the rock, not so much ‘heavy rock’ as a bit of roll around the shop: British Folk Rock, Mexican Funk Rock, Classic Rock, and Rock with an instrumental twist.
British Folk Rock was a product of the late 1960s, a new musical genre pioneered by Fairport Convention in their three-album collaboration with the inimitable Sandy Denny. Combining elements of folk music presented in a rock format, at its most pure it takes old folk songs and reworks them using modern instruments and techniques – songs like Fairport’s ‘Matty Groves’. Or it gives us new songs that derive from a folk tradition, like Led Zepellin’s ‘Battle of Evermore’ (with Sandy Denny). AgiotFest headliners Leatherat tend towards the latter style, with a more rocky approach, and the ‘folk’ components are generated in the form of a fiddle soaring over the main theme, and by the rhythms and tonal shifts of the lyrics and melody. Vocalist Pete’s mandolin and mandola took the music further into characteristic folk territory – sometimes reminiscent of Irish sounds, and often resounding with more than a trace of our own Greek folk. Folk music is inexplicably universal.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Leatherat – just like our old AgiotFest friends 4Square – performed in 2010 to a packed field at Cropredy, Fairport’s great summer Folk-Rock festival (where they supported Status Quo on the main stage). It is our great fortune that they accepted Paul’s invitation to AgiotFest, our as-yet-modest event that’s nevertheless growing in size and prestige every year.
LEATHERAT AT AGIOTFEST 15 [photo Vasilis Pandis]
First, the name has no connection with rodents! It’s all about Pete’s signature leather hat, as identified in his Essex accent. Geddit?
Leatherat comprises a bunch of musicians who are part-timers in the sense of the number of hours they put into the band, rather than ‘part-time’ as indicating any assessment of their musical accomplishments. Several members cite music-related activities as their ‘day jobs’. Indeed, ‘part-time’ is almost a misnomer; the band spend much of the year, from spring to late autumn, working the festival circuit. On the weekend following AgiotFest, they were booked to support the Waterboys, and over just a couple of days they were set to perform at events as far flung as Derbyshire, Surrey and Somerset. Some part-timers! They’ve recorded five studio albums in ten years, and have worked with former AgiotFest-er P.J. Wright (Dylan Project) and with Fairport members Ric Saunders and Chris Leslie.
‘What makes us successful on the festival circuit,’ explains Pete, ‘is the energy. What it’s about is entertaining the audience, whatever they are like. So we tailor the music to suit them.’ We can vouch for that!
Leatherat members are: Jono Watts (Electric Violin), Pete Bailey (Vocalist & Mandolin/Mandola), Jeremy Carroll (Bass Guitar), Lee Smith (Drums), James Foley (Electric Guitar) and Ollie Aldridge (Sound Technician/Roadie). At AgiotFest they were joined by an additional member, a village resident called Andy, who helped entertain the band during down-time by throwing objects into the swimming pool for them to retrieve.
Having been thoroughly spoilt by Agios Ioannis hospitality, it is rumoured that Leatherat will at future events demand a pool as part of their dressing room facilities. ‘Villa Theodora was the best dressing room EVER!’ they enthuse. ‘Normally all you get is a Portokabin. Then you get turfed out for the next band. And someone drinks all your beer.’
best dressing room
That’s not a complaint that can be levelled at Agios Ioannis. ‘Anna is AWESOME and everyone has been welcoming and generous. Fantastic hosts who could not have done more!’
Corfu has worked its inevitable magic, and Leatherat members hope to return sometime to explore the island’s delights more fully.
AGIOTS AT ANNA’S
I missed the AgiotFest start as I was catching up with some haven’t-seen-you-for-ages friends over a beer in the plateia. Sorry guys!
NIKOS SELLAS: Dick Mulder
Nikos Sellas (the ‘Cuckoo’ of last year) wowed us in his latest incarnation as frontman of ‘Stringed Sensation’. Strings, and a brass trio, accompanied him on a trip through classic covers of (among others) Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’, and a rousing ‘Sultans of Swing’, interspersed with his own compositions. Before switching to rock, Los Jaiguey got the whole valley up dancing with some Latin rhythms.
LOS JAIGUEY FROM MEXICO
The unique and quirky Paul Fennell delighted us with his stage antics whilst performing the theme tune of The Old Grey Whistle Test on his trusty harmonica.
STONE FOX CHASE LocoMotive STEVE DELL
The increasingly polished Peter Papageorgiou led LocoMotive through a rock and blues set; and returning compere Steve Dell treated us to his usual uproarious banter that included an increasingly wacky show-long running gag. And then of course there was Leatherat. Let’s leave the last word to them:
‘We’d like to thank Roadhouse Music for the loan of equipment which we couldn’t have brought out ourselves. And a special mention to Vrionis Audio Visual who provided the technical side: We cannot think of any festival – except perhaps Cropredy – that can boast such excellent sound quality. Vrionis is a world class outfit!’ WORLD CLASS
That’s Agiotfest. A partnership of individuals and groups, all experts in their own field, who combine on a night in late August to create an event that surpasses even the sum of its parts. See you next year!