Taking leave of the day-to-day I had a blast camping out in a field with my mum and other musicians and letting the ebb and flow of music and creativity take over our senses for the weekend.
I love how the only important timings at a festival are when the next band or artist that you want to see is on and the only planning is around how to see as many of these as is humanly possible!
Having been out of the country for a while one of the things I’ve missed the most has been the UK festival scene, so when I was invited to perform at Kendal Calling Festival this summer I couldn’t have been more chuffed!
KC is a unique and for me, perfectly sized festival situated in beautiful surroundings with an eclectic mix of music as well as immersive art installations so it ticks all the boxes.
It didn’t disappoint so I wanted to share a few of my favourite experiences of the weekend with you. I was lucky to have my excellent roadie/driver/supporter/Mum Julia with me to enjoy it and we had a ball!
After a mega 10 hour rainy journey on typically gridlocked UK motorways (thank you Julia) we got the tent up in a break in the rain and caught the end of Stereophonics and an exceptional set by Lakuta. The lead singer was amazing and explained the story behind the songs and she made me cry with her emotive performance, but also made us dance lots in particular to ‘Mr Serious’ and ‘Rice & Peace’. The band as a whole were so so tight and fused so many sounds I can’t do them justice here so check them out and have a listen. Chai Wallah tent was set to be a place you would be sure to find us again.
Saturday brought slightly less drizzle but the mud was making the trek from the camp site to the arena better exercise already!
Highlights for us on Saturday began with the #IntoTheWild parade which featured drummers, dancers, musicians and family festival goers impressively kitted out as wild things stomping through the woods and the main arena. It was really uplifting and a carnival-like celebration masterminded by my brilliant friend Roxy. It was so nice to catch up with her and Ben Robinson (who along with Andy Smith founded and organises the festival) after not seeing them for ages!
We spent the afternoon pottering about ‘Lost Eden‘ and exploring the art in the woods which was pretty special and nice to find the stage I’d be playing at the next day. Even better, found out Ben was playing a set of his own there so we could enjoy watching him and we did – nice one Robinson Boone you smashed it!
Evening fell and the sundowners were had along with a smattering of glitter and flower-hair acquisition. Then we trudged back through the muddy lanes and fields and enjoyed some Saturday night sounds at various stages, but the highlight for us had to be the epic set from Liam Bailey in the Chai Wallah tent again. He is excellent, his band is amazing and we loved every minute of it!
Sunday morning brought some sun and clouds but a happy and amusing breakfast thanks to top comedian Roland Saunders aka The TV TV. He was slightly disbelieving that we had pitched such a tent mansion for just two of us (3 nights justified it I think and needing to be well rested to sing, obviously!) and after we got talking he treated us to some impromptu sneak previews of his show which was very funny! An excellent morning coffee buddy it was great to chill out and chat with him!
Did some more mud trudging to and from the tents and stages throughout the day, then it was time to get glittered up courtesy of Chloe and Briony at The Feather Tree, ready for my set! Love these girls they were really nice to talk to and did a fab job on my hair and makeup thanks.
We even had a bit of time for some R&R by the beautiful lake ahead of my performance 🙂
Julia came into her own helping me lug Roland (my electric piano) from the campsite to the pretty Carvetti stage in the woods of Lost Eden. Massive thanks and respect to Andy who drove us on the buggy through treacherous and muddy terrain AND he was buggy driving most of the weekend helping everyone so what a guy!
We were met in the woods by Luke (my very helpful Artist Liason) who took one end of the heavy piano and we carried it backstage. Getting changed into my Vietnamese Ao Dai surrounded by mud was funny but thanks to the team and Julia we managed it and even switched to evening shoes side-stage ready to go – felt weird to be out of wellies for a bit!
When the moment came to start my set I felt quite overwhelmed by how excited and pleased I was to be there, at this awesome festival singing my heart out. Thank you so much to all of you who watched and listened to my songs. I really felt that you were there with me in that moment and truly hearing the emotions I felt when I wrote the songs. Thanks to Kendal Calling for having me! I loved it X
Here’s: ‘You Taught My Heart To Travel’
After my set we headed back to the tent to drop Roland back and then meet Roxy and friends in the woodlands to enjoy the incredible set from the London African Gospel Choir who performed Graceland in its entirety! It was amazing and the fireworks going off during ‘You Can Call Me Al’ really topped it off as the best festival ever!