Larmer Tree Festival 2011

Sandie Shaw accompanied by Jools Holland.

Sandie Shaw accompanied by Jools Holland.

First published in Music Reviews

CELEBRATING its 21st anniversary this year, the Larmer Tree Festival has grown to provide some of the best, most interesting and diverse entertainment on the festival circuit.

The five-day event kicked off with festival favourite Jools Holland who was joined by his troupe of superb musicians, including brother Chris Holland on cosmic keyboards, ska and reggae trombonist legend Rico Rodriguez and singer Ruby Turner.

Also skipping on stage to join the band in her trademark bare feet was ’60s singing sensation Sandie Shaw who, after wowing the audience with jazz versions of Puppet On A String and Always Something There To Remind Me, confessed to not having toured in 20 years. It certainly didn’t show.

Two other performers who stood out over the weekend have reason to be grateful to Mr Holland too: Dublin-born rockabilly singer Imelda May and blues guitarist Seasick Steve have both had a step up the career ladder after appearing on his Later with… TV show.

With its beautiful location in the unique Larmer Tree Gardens, the event plays host to a famously family-orientated, friendly and ethical festival that combines diverse music and spectacular street theatre with comedy, stalls, food and talks, with something for all ages.

The magical Lost Wood hosts poetry, storytelling and spoken word, while the Secret Garden offers a range of therapies.

In addition, the festival boasts 150 free workshops, shows and activities, proving it is so much more than just a music event.

Other acts worth a mention include Asian Dub Foundation, Stornoway and Mark Kermode’s Film Club.

The Larmer Tree has managed to hang on to its independent, non-corporate ethos and with six stages and over 70 artists this laid-back, bohemian festival needs to be seen to be appreciated.

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