The Return of Saddleback

Yes, felt obliged to drop into the Saddleback Festival, have a nose…..

If a week of heatwave may’ve inconviently paused for drizzle Saturday, fortunately Devizes Rugby Club erected a rather splendid marque for the slight return of their legendary Saddleback Festival.

A combination of inclement weather and clashes with other similar town events meant while Saddleback lacked the footfall of past years, primarily, it certainly made up for it by delivering some first class music.

There was a feeling of content with organisers I chatted to, that to expand this rushed decision festival to a size akin or progressive to prior years was something they didn’t feel necessary, given the lapse of planning time, and concentration should focus on the quality of the event, for which I will say, was first class.

A definite need to stroll to and fro the towpath for me, in order to also check how Wadworth Brewery was doing, with their first free mini-festival outside their tap shop; the result of which forthcoming in a separate article. For now it’s interesting to note, while I used it as a halfway house to Saddleback, there was just a second of silence on the canal where Wadfest faded prior to hearing the sounds of Saddleback. The significance of which symbolic of the unfortunate clash.

To compare the two simply for being on the same day would be unfair to both, though my quest to cover both deservedly, leaves gapping holes in reviews; forgive me until cloning technology is affordable!
While Waddies surprised with a wealth of local talent, for free, Saddleback came with the £30 pricetag, flushing every penny back into pyrotechnics, staffing and quality of acts. And whilst those acts sourced locally to start, a dramatic change to Saddleback occured, like switching a TV channel.

Jon Amor with Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue

My priority was to wiggle my way in for Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue at half-four, consolled missing the unmissable King Street Turnaround under conviction the trusty Southgate’s monthly Sunday residency of Jon Amor. Though those eyes of mine lit up when Jon excused himself from our chat, informing me he was to join the Blues Revue for a few numbers, then pretty much staying for the whole hog, which if you’re knowledgeable about our local circuit I need not explain the level of treat this is. For Ruzz and gang knocking out their archetypal set is something I will never tire of. The finale of which, Sweet as Honey, was dedicated to me personally; thanks Ruzz but flattery unnecessary, a blinding assessment is due even if you was to insult me on stage!

Being it’s someone I’ve only happened to catch acousticaly solo, it was a blessing to witness the incredible Joe Hicks with a full band behind him, adding that extra dimension to this wonderful performer, making it childsplay suitably following Ruzz.

Joe Hicks

Twas at this conjunction I went missing in action, hopping down the towpath. The first noticeable change upon my return was the age demographic had dropped like a bombshell. A young girl called Dorothy Ella stood acousticaly on the grand stage, confidently delivering some beautiful self-penned songs. With the code of our local circuit broken, I relished to witness some different acts sourced from the same agent in Derby. The Public Eye followed, yet the influx of cider skewered my perception somewhat, this indie-pop fourpiece breathed youthful hard-edged momentum into Saddleback.

Dorothy Ella

The Darkeness and nearly a Clash cover enveloped into some originals for the kingpin of this Derby invasion, with the glamorously folky punk Matt Peach. Yet another youthful engagement full of Jim Morrison fashioned confidence and bravdo, this band really came to rock some sodden socks off, and was a most entertaining show prior to handpicked local DJs, Matter, Rappo, Retrospekt and Astral Pipes polishing the night off with the charitable element of Saddleback, the bolted on LottieFest, breakbeat and drum n bass stylee.

Matt Peach

A fitting tribute, to see something all together different for Devizes, and especially Saddleback. To see a local festival engaging the twenty-somethings is precisely what’s missing from our usual schedule and for this alone, aside the archetypal brilliance of acts like Ruzz, Jon and Joe, Saddleback should be comended.

Yet, to label “festival” to every event simply for having a hotdog stand, bar and some bloke with a guitar is debatable, similarly while this year’s Saddleback could be better defined as a kind of wedding-fashioned posh party, it was the best wedding-fashioned posh party I’ve ever attended, and the positives of this was a real communal and incredibly welcoming atmosphere. There was no bantering this grumpy grandad, seemingly earning respect from millennials and gen z, there, partying in a safe environment, and for that, I cannot criticise…bit hungover though; never again….till next weekend.


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