Monday, 13 August 2012

Umbrella Fair: "Catching up" with the Mela Stage line-up

It's been going for an age now showing no sign of stopping, The Green Festival now known as The Umbrella Fair returns to liven up The Racecourse once again with a weekend jam packed with enough excitement to keep us going for a year. The name almost tempts fate with the weather however if you're prepared to grab a brolly and brave the heat there's a fantastic line-up for an even more fantastic eco cause. One of the best of the stages is the brilliant and quite eclectic Mela Stage, hosting everything from reggae to rap, folk to funk, djembes to didgeridoos and everything in between.


12.00pm - Open Stage

1.00pm - Earth Dance

2.00pm - Sandeep's Students

The energetic blues singer and harmonicist is by no means a stranger to the fair, having lightened the event up many times with a smattering of raw, rootin' tootin' mouth organ. But as well as a performer Johnson's been performing in bands from The Backstairs Creepers to The Chase Band since the late eighties, boasting commendations from the late Steve Mariott of 60s/70s rock 'n' rollers Small Faces. You can always rely on Silverfox to put the show down that'll make you hoedown all over the park.

4.00pm - Inta-Africa
2004 saw the birth of this African-drumming project bringing together a community of djembe, djun djun and tam tam percussionists alongside a host of other musicians for a group of breath taking performers, diverse workshop holders and general fun makers. With music like this it really requires a live performance to be fully appreciated however from what I've heard the band can create some overwhelming tribal rhythms with an uplifting contemporary flair. I wonder whether they'll let me play the triangle for them?

4.40pm - Victor Mlambo
He's probably the oddest appearance on the stage (and that's saying something, there's a Latin-cum-reggae-cum-funk seven-piece on Sunday), an out of place MC just popping in for a couple of minutes and then on his way thank you very much. However live hip-hop in Northampton is a rarity so enjoy it as the chilled out rapper goes in deep over some absolutely blissful samples. Listening to his music I'm almost expecting some annoying woman to chirp up half way through and randomly shout "Maybach Music" all of a sudden, but thankfully not.

5.00pm - Riverboat Pirates
'Arrgh 'arrgh me hearties, shiver me timbers and blow me down, Riverboat John and his Fairweather Pirates take to the stage for a shipshape sprinkling of soulful swashbuckling. With tunes woven from rays of sunshine, the silky smooth buccaneers' upbeat funky groove will have you swaying those hips away to their glorious performance. So ya be'er enjoy this matey or we'll 'ave ya walkin' the plank righ' down to Davy Jones's Locker. Aaarrrggghhh!!!

6.30pm - Celtic Rasta
Love love love love love love love Celtic Rasta!! And I mean who doesn't? Incredibly rootsy reggae smothered in dub and generally outstanding feel good music for all. Their harmonies are beautifully soulful - a funky bassline that just oozes summer - with an amazing lyrical message behind the whole thing. All in all Celtic Rasta have only been on the scene for around two or three years however a whopping eight members create a sound so strong it's already got the band loads of love and set them on track for even more massive success. Celtic Rasta: you just gotta love 'em!

8.00pm - The Angels' Share
And rounding off the Satuday line-up is the awesome five-piece Angels' Share, an incredible Midlands covers band celebrating a whopping fifteen years together. Your feet are tapping, your hands clapping, you fingers snapping and your arms flapping as their almighty sound leaps from the stage -  a pulsating blend of traditional Celtic fiddles with a powerful Big Country-style rock 'n' roll twist (and even the odd synth thrown in as well). Since their 1997 formation, the band have performed at countless folk festivals, UK wide tours and across BBC Radio, giving them a much perfected energy-packed sound to light up your Saturday evening. This year is the fifteenth anniversary of Angels' Share, and we wish them all the best till 2027!


12.00pm - Didgeridoo Pete
Back for his umpteenth appearance at The Umbrella Fair, the expert didgeridoo player, workshop holder, Singing Sticks organiser and Northampton Didgeridoo Club teacher known as Didgeridoo Pete will be showcasing his incredible didge talents in a mesmerising solo performance as well as alongside a couple of other equally zany friends. I know if you're anything like me most Sundays around about midday you get that urge of: "if only I could just go and watch half an hour of live didgeridoo" so in the words of the great Rolf Harris: "if you fancy going to a Didgeridoo Doo, do!"

12.30pm - Ukulele Band

1.30pm - Jah Troopers
In the run up to their phenomenal fifteenth anniversary in 2013, Hussla D, Lickle J and co. (including the unstoppable Ill Murk) showcase a selection of the many summer-tinted, diverse tunes they've racked up over the many years together. The duo span over a colossal range of music: deep and reflective but altogether awesome hip-hop, destructively upbeat dancehall, addictive RnB and much more urban Jamaican-style brilliance. Top top that the two have performed alongside the likes of The So Solid Crew, Blak Twang, Jammer, Ras Kwame and Newham Generals as both musicians and DJs, and their amazing journey is one that will go on for years to come.

3.00pm - Citadel
Perhaps the most bizarre bands in Northampton at the moment, the fortress of Citadel encapsulates well just about any non-electronic party genre imaginable. Gigantic Latin blended with some funky head-bopping plus a twist of summery reggae, jazzed-up trumpets and even just a dab of hip-hop; in the year and a half together this septet have already managed an amazingly tight EP and a recent headline show at the O2 Islington, with a national tour in the pipeline. So grab your dancing shoes for the hottest new thing our county has to offer, this isn't the last you've heard by a long shot.

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