Ramblin' Man Fair 2018

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Ramblin' Man Fair 2018

Ramblin' Man Fair 2018  - Mote Park, Maidstone (UK) - 30 June - 01 July 2018

Saturday 30 June

Despite its young age (founded in 2015), Ramblin' Man Fair represents one of the most enjoyable festivals for Rock, Blues, Metal and Country around UK and it already attracts a big crowd. Having previous line-ups that included headliners like Whitesnake, Scorpions and Europe, they kept a promising bill for 2018 that featured bands such as Gov't Mule, Blackberry Smoke and The Cult as a headliner. (CLH)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Dead Mans Whisky Live 1

It was a roasting hot day with beautiful skies which actually made the shade of the Rising Stage most welcome. The festival opened with a string of promising young bands, out of which I managed to catch Dead Man's Whisky (who had good songs even if they were a little "cave man-like" lyrically at times, but with very sophisticated speeding bullet guitar solos) and Gorilla Riot (being more of a fusion band – they threw in Blues with Grunge and a dash of hipster, but in the end, they were rather more of a retro Blues Rock act than anything else).

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Gorilla Riot Live 1

I made it back in time to catch the end of the set from the charismatic Rising Souls, for whom the majority of the bulging crowd had clearly forgone the mighty Steel Panther to watch this new band and were chanting the names of band members and generally going wild for these talented Scotsmen. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Rising Souls Live 1

In-between, I caught the captivating Cadillac Three with their brand of high-octane Southern Rock, before I headed over to see Myles Kennedy and his solo acoustic show which attracted a large crowd in the blazing sun. The material from his new solo album lent itself to this kind of low-key acoustic presentation which also showcased his famous voice. The inclusion of an acoustic version of Iron Maiden's 'The Trooper' was a bit of a surprise, but throw a crowd this enthusiastic something familiar and it's almost bound to go down well. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Cadillac Three Live 1

Next up for me was Steel Panther, and although a few years ago I had thought I had finally had enough of their parody, there was no doubt that today they were fantastically entertaining, looked amazing and provided near-to-the-knuckle joke interludes which were undeniably hilarious. There was plenty of crowd appeal with their easy to sing along to songs and the thrill for a daring couple of dozen females who took up the invitation to share the stage with the band, this included one rather game on fifty year old who apparently thought there was a "tittie cam". One girl was singled out to hold a large inflatable phallus while being made the butt of jokes, and while all in the worst possible taste and very holiday camp, there's no doubt the crowd were with the band. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Steel Panther Live 1

They were a hard and audacious act to follow, and though Ian Hunter looked and sounded amazing for his age, Mott The Hoople inevitably suffered from the anti-climax bound to happen where everyone got drunk at a frat party and then was asked to show respect to their elders and behave. Nevertheless, I enjoyed 'All The Young Dudes' by which time the remaining crowd had finally had a while to decompress. (DO)

Sunday 01 July

Sadly, I was only able to attend and help review the second of the two days. The weather couldn't have been any better; with sunny skies and temperatures around twenty-seven degrees, the atmosphere felt more like a holiday that allowed you to walk over the wide green fields of the festival. You could stroll around the stalls, where you could get vinyl records, cowboy hats and hippie clothes or relish the variety of international food as well as listen to the three different stages for Blues and Prog Rock music on the two side stages, and a mix of Rock, Metal and Roots music on the main stage. Though it was packed, you still had enough space to get to each stage easily. I spent a large amount of my day watching acts on the Blues Stage. (CLH)

One of the first acts of the day was the fast-rising Kris Barras Band. After proving their huge potential on the Introducing stage last year, Barras has taken a big step since then. Meanwhile, he has signed with Mascot Records, supported Grammy-nominated Beth Hart on her UK tour, his new album reached Number One in the iTunes and Amazon Blues charts and Barras has also become the new lead singer of Supersonic Blues Machine, performing together with Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top) on stage. He played his biggest hits, like 'Hale Mary' or 'Propane' off his latest studio album 'The Divine And Dirty', and his already huge crowd of fans supported him. However, thanks to his strong hooks, he was easily able to gain new fans to sing along with him.

Later on, the band played a wonderful acoustic set in the VIP tent, where Barras' smoky voice could be opened up to its full potential, and he was greatly accompanied by his highly skilled and talented musicians which featured Josiah J. Manning on keyboards, Elliot Blackler on bass and Will Beavis on drums/percussions.

Whether a full band setup or playing acoustic, they were a top act in the line-up and proved yet again at the Ramblin' Man Fair why there is such a big hype around the UK's most exciting Blues- Rock guitarist and his band. (CLH)

Big Boy Bloater And The Limits were one of the big surprises of this year's festival. Due to a last-minute cancellation, they were asked to perform on the Blues stage. When Big Boy Bloater entered the stage, you couldn't turn your head away. Even if you didn't see him in the first place, his extremely rough and remarkable voice on the opener, 'Devils Not Angels', could not be missed. He also had a great stage presence that immediately transferred his good and relaxed mood to the audience. Hits like 'Unnaturally Charming' described not only his entertaining skills and self- confidential performance on stage, it invited the crowd to sing-along as well. (CLH)

Big Boy Bloater And The Limits were one of those artists who sparkled on stage with their natural and funny humour and they are certainly worth checking out further, and luckily, they will be on a UK tour in 2018 to promote their latest studio album 'Pills'. The band were a good choice to replace Chas And Dave and hopefully they will return in 2019. (CLH)

Gov't Mule were one of the highlights of the festival. Ancient member of the Allman Brothers Band, guitarist Warren Hayes, formed Gov't Mule in 1994. Since then, the band has set another level of musical precision and here everything was perfect – the playing, the sound, the vibe and the songs. It was an outstanding ninety minute performance of highly-exclusive Blues and Rock 'n' Roll music where each song had its own character and kept up the excitement. Classics like 'Dreams And Songs' suited the spirit, due to the whole atmosphere of the sunset out in the fields as you listened to those Blues & Rock legends; it really felt like a daydream in America. There were also a couple of great surprises with the appearance on stage of Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr and Whitesnake's Bernie Marsden. (CLH)

Sunday was mainly about the main stage as far as I were concerned. Tyler Bryant (from Tyler Bryant And The Shakedowns) is obviously an up and coming star; elevated to the main stage, he reveled in the opportunity to impress. Clearly with a musical lexicon beyond his years, the crowd were treated to some Muddy Waters as well as his own popular 'Lipstick Wonder Woman'. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Tyler Bryant Live 1

When it comes to high expectations of which young talent might become the next big Rock legend, Tyler Bryant And The Shakedown's name pop up on top of the list. Having already supported acts like Jeff Beck, Aerosmith, Joe Bonamassa and Guns N' Roses, Bryant and his band quickly upgraded from the Blues stage last year to the Main Stage this year. They ruled that stage with songs like 'Weak & Weepin'' or 'Ramblin' Man' off their latest self-titled studio album. On stage, they were pure Rock 'n' Roll with high energy. Later on, they also performed an acoustic set in the VIP tent where they proved that they can do more than just Rock. With a wonderfully performed fifteen minute set, Bryant's influences of Blues, Southern and Country Rock showcased the wide talent of this young Texan guitar ace. (CLH)

Blackberry Smoke were just incredible, cool, pure Southern Rock with a great sense for song-writing. With songs like 'Ain't Got The Blues' and 'Let It Burn', they immediately captivated the audience with their spirit of Roots music. They played a great set of soothing and grooving road trip soundtracks that suited the sunny afternoon vibe. Blackberry Smoke are super enjoyable and fun, and I would have guessed that no guest left without a smile and in good mood because the band sparkled with their charm and their serenity. (CLH)

Blackberry Smoke were right in the sights of a Ramblin' Man agenda and continued the easygoing goodtime fun. However, more memorable perhaps, was the set prior to Blackberry Smoke from Sons Of Apollo. Made up of super musicians like Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and Billy Sheehan, it was a showcase right from the start of superb techniques and posturing. A band of musician's musicians, they still held the crowd despite their material not being of the accessible takeaway sort – think fine dining rather than McDonalds. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Blackberry Smoke Live 1

However, the most popular band of the weekend was clearly Halestorm. They provided not only Rock 'n' Roll grit and chops, they also had the confidence to start with new song 'Black Vultures' (from their forthcoming fourth album) before they then rolled out great tune after great tune like 'I Get Off' and 'I Miss The Misery'. Lzzy Hale is a fan of Glam greats like Tom Keifer and she has not skipped her classes in showmanship, thus making her a magnetic front-woman who delights in the power, control and attention this often commands. Halestorm are really carrying the Rock 'n' Roll torch forward to, as far as I could work out by today's reaction, everyone's delight. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 Halestorm Live 1

A name that perfectly suits the band – The Cult are a cult! This beautiful festival ended with the headliner of the weekend and they brought along Classic Rock music and a big crowd of fans who have shown loyalty to the band since their foundation in 1983. Back then as today, lead singer Ian Astbury still brought his fire to the stage. He convinced with his fiery moves on classic songs like 'She Sells Sanctuary' and 'Fire Woman', so much so that you could even spot some fire flies as they popped up in the sky above the audience as if it was set. With this explosive performance by The Cult, not even they were able to stop moving, dancing and singing along to the band's songs like 'Sweet Soul Sister'. (CLH)

Fortunately for Ian Astbury, The Cult are already a bit of a legend, not ones in the making, and so they managed to carry off headlining after such a successful and popular act like Halestorm. Deliberately understated, Astbury let the music do the talking, and with mammoth hits like 'Wildflower' and 'Rain' as openers and closers, 'Fire Woman', 'Love Removal Machine' and 'She Sells Sanctuary', they couldn't really go wrong. The crowd were in a great mood after plenty of great bands and the added great weather, and you could feel the love from perhaps a more diverse crowd than that which The Cult usually get. As such, they just let any material they were less familiar with glide over them, before going crazy for the big hits. (DO)

Ramblin Man Fair 2018 The Cult Live 1

In general, in my opinion, the Ramblin' Man Fair festival is a must-experience event and as I mentioned above, it's more like a holiday that brings together the spirit of Blues, Metal, Southern and Classic Rock that is enjoyed by the relaxed audience who truly enjoy and appreciate the music! (CLH)
For me, it was a strange Ramblin' Man with a diverse and some say low-key line-up. Personally, I felt it was still great, but they do need to keep an eye on recruiting and retaining more great bands like Halestorm and The Cult, as well as avoiding clashes between such bands with other major draws, to provide a more high-profile weekend across the board. (DO)

Dawn Osborne and Cheri Lyn Hehl

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