Welcome to Day One of Wales Arts Review’s Green Man Live. Our team will be bringing you the latest from one of the UK’s most beloved independent festivals, set deep in the rolling hills of southern Powys. Over the next three days we will be reviewing, interviewing, and writing up any other little bits of interest to do with the festival right from the heart of the action. So check out our daily Live Pages, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates, and find out all about the music, the films, theatre, art, and everything else that goes on at this marvellous event, including the new National Theatre Wales show Green Man // Red Woman, NoFit State Circus, Neutral Milk Hotel, First Aid Kit, Caribou, The Waterboys and much much more. Follow Gary Raymond, John Lavin, Amelia Fae and Michou Burckett St. Laurent for the words, and Dean Lewis for the artwork.
Michou Burckett St. Laurent reviews Highasakite.
Highasakite were the second band on the main stage. The Norwegian quartet are described in the festival programme as both innovative and accessible. They were a big hit in the press tent and had an enthusiastic audience out in the festival crowd but this reviewer was left wondering what this praise was based on? Their music derives it’s ‘inventive’ label from sampled deep-sea-diver-esque sounds to a variety of percussion but this in turn promises something that the lyrics didn’t seem to reach for; they were at best pedestrian and at worst cod-philosophical nonsense. Perhaps their being ‘accessible’ was that their highly commercial sound echoes contemporary popular groups such as London Grammar but without any unique or distinguishing features. Ever present were a lot of very long notes, ernest hand gestures, closed eyes, outstretched arms and clenched fists which got fatiguing by the third song. Along with generally far too much woo-wooing there was a lot of style without the substance to elevate it to something unique and moving.
The most annoying woman on site – good glasses though to be fair.
Gary Raymond extols the virtues of cocktails ‘n’ cuisine Green Man-style:
This section of our live coverage, titled, ‘You’re gonna have to roll me to the gin’, is a shameless salute to festival gluttony under the thin veil of critiquing the food and drink on offer. Green Man is at the top end of any festival when it comes to culinary delights, and even when the prices can edge toward the eye-watering, there is very little here that can disappoint in terms of quality, portions, or – and this is important – the amount of affection and passion with which it is prepared.
I will admit now that I am typing this whilst drinking a rather potent cocktail sitting at a table opposite the stand-up comedy tent, catching punchlines and the occasional disconnected word, that meets with broad laughter, that gets carried away in the upcoming dusky breeze. The cocktail is named a Hay Maker, and is a short glass of prosecco, peach liqueur and gin. Sunset, I have always thought, is certainly the best time to sip a drink where the gin is the mixer. It blows the socks off the lunch time gin – a light and refreshing gin and lemon tonic.
The alcohol on offer, unlike the menu at many festivals, is presented as a serious business. There are the long bars of draught lagers, ciders, cans of the black stuff, of course – but there is also stuff here for the more discerning palette. The ale tent I went into on this morning’s blog – I haven’t been back yet – but there are twenty odd bars on site, some of them open until the sun begins to blink awake. And just to the left of me they do a pretty good cup of tea, too.
Food, then. For breakfast I forsook the chance to beef up my hangover with bacon and sausage baps, although almost every foodery on site seemed to flip a sign to advertise such wares. Apart from the Goan fish curry stall – a stall that has one of the highest reputations in the town of Green Man, and a stall of which I heard great things many years before I actually managed to get here in person. But for breakfast they serve a spicy kedgeree. I passed on this, too, and instead had two cans of ginger beer, saving myself for an indulgent lunch/dinner that stretched not only across several hours, but across the globe. A North African mezze dish in the early afternoon, delivered by exceptionally friendly and buoyant staff. A few hours later, next door, I went for the caldine, an aromatic white fish Goan curry. Where else, I ask you good people, could one get away with such behaviour? There is a great deal about Green Man that can win you over. But this flagrant undermining of the guilt gland is perhaps its most warmly received. Tomorrow I look to mix the spices and wonders of Jamaica with some Mexican bravado. And maybe some gin.
As the sun begins to dip behind the hills, Francesca Kay sends a Haiku for early evening:
And now, noise begins –
Swirling on the valley floor,
Mountain, sounding board
Gary Raymond looks forward to 6Music favourites, Teleman, who will be top of the bill on the charming Walled Garden Stage tonight…
One of the potential glory moments of this year’s Green Man could well be seeing the excellent Teleman on the relatively tiny ‘pop up’ stage that is the Walled Garden. Having been a darling of 6 Music for some time, it’s surprising, to say the least, they are not plying their version of electro post punk pop in a more central spot – but there is every chance this is in acknowledgement of their sound rather than their standing. Teleman have Devo on one shoulder, and Belle and Sebastian on the other – very uncomfortable shoulder-twins, I hear you say; but mix the lazy-assed falsetto of Tommy Sanders, and a driven electro groove to punchy well-crafted songs and it makes me think exactly of those elements. Teleman are not just those things, however – they are their own band, even though they are only just emerging from the shadows of their first incarnation, Pete and the Pirates. That may have something to do with 6 Music’s loyalty to them – they were frequent session contributors in the 00s, and clearly had a strong fan base in the staff room. But Teleman seem to have something that Pete and the Pirates always lacked, and that is maybe a slight po-facedness that seems to suit their music.
‘Steam Train Girl’, it’s difficult to deny, is a bit of a classic, one of those songs that when you hear it on the radio for the first time you are sure you’ve been listening to it since an early eighties Peel Session flung them into your bedroom one night. But they have plenty of other cracking tunes, such as ‘Lady Low’ and the current single ‘Skeleton Dance’ (which is kind of like Belle and Sebastian covering something off George Harrison’s Somewhere in England), and a chance to stand right up to them in the Walled Garden, which is like an open air version of the classic dim and damp old indie club, should not be missed.
Llinos and Hannah demonstrate how they capture the essence of womanhood using a blanket and a jam jar. It’s very scientific.
Still on a mission to address the festival’s gender balance by harnessing female energy and in celebration of all women, the girls interview the Queen of the festival, Fiona Stewart.
The godmother of the British folk scene, Shirley Collins, was speaking at Green Man’s Talking Shop and Gary Raymond was on hand to witness her truly emotive life story.
If Shirley Collins has long been a legend of the British folk scene, then this afternoon at Green Man’s Talking Shop she made many more friends, and no doubt put herself on the Dream Dinner Party Guest-list of almost everybody in attendance. Collins’ life has been one coloured with peaks and staggering troughs, and the narrative was fully explored in this hour. She is perhaps the most influential folk singer of the modern era, with the possible exception, she says, of Sandy Denny, and her pairing with Davy Graham for a series of albums in the early to mid-sixties formed a real power couple of the scene. It had not been her first relationship of this type, however, as she fell in love with Alan Lomax in the fifties (moved in with him and his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s new husband), and eventually followed Lomax on recording trips around the Southern States of America. Lomax, who she describes as a ‘big American bison of a man, with wide shoulders and big shaggy black hair’, was her first love, and the young Collins could not have had a better teacher. By the sixties she was part of the establishment, without ever really getting the respect she obviously deserved. With a wicked grin and an even wickeder laugh, she speaks with delicious dislike of folk father-figure Ewan MacCall, who was at various points a ‘bully’ and a ‘bastard’. Davy Graham fairs much better, and although he as clearly a bit of an oddball, he ‘played with such validity’.
Collins’ stories of her travels around the with Lomax, meeting some of the greatest blues and bluegrass singers of all time, staying in their shacks, being serenaded by Leadbelly, are told with such vivid colours that later when she says she would never like to go back to America as it would only spoil her wonderful memories of those days, you can’t help but feel where she’s coming from – I don’t think I want to go back now either, instead I’ll live in her memories.
Collins’ story took a tragic turn when a brutally cruel divorce left her voiceless in the late seventies, and soon she found herself working in Brighton job centre. The room was hushed with sadness at the thought of this great woman being brought to such mundane levels of drudgery, an angel going through the bins. But there is a happy ending, thankfully (there was a definite lump in a few throats around the audience – I am not immune from this – at this point of the chat). A crowdfunder scheme has meant that a film about Collins travels through the folk world has now started filming, and an album of tracks ‘inspired by Collins’ is soon out, including tributes from the likes of Bonny Prince Billy, Graham Coxon and Stewart Lee (yes, that Stewart Lee).
It was an honour to be in a room with someone of Collins’ stature, and she was wildly entertaining and thoughtful.
Interview number two. This time it’s Gemma McAvoy, National Theatre Wales’ Vice Chair. Her energy is being concentrated for the impending ritual at the festival. She’s also Hannah’s agent…
There’s much excitement about tonight’s headliners in the Far Out Tent, Caribou, and Gary Raymond is one of the excited…
Some heavyweight underground artists have been releasing new material this year after various periods of sleep, and a few of them will be trotting out their stuff at Green Man. But few will have the expectation attached to them as Dan Snaith, who is gearing up for his first album release under his Caribou moniker since 2010’s magnificent Swim. Our Love won’t be out until October, but in the Far Out Tent the festival crowd will be treated to the sounds that will probably be difficult to escape come 2015. (Swim, after all, lead to a massive North American support slot with Radiohead). Off the back of that, Caribou’s reputation as a live act not to be missed has made this one of the hotly anticipated slots of Green Man 2014.
Hannah and Llinos continue on their quest to re-address the gender balance at Green Man Festival and harness the female energy from powerful women with this interview with National Theatre Wales’ Executive Producer Lisa Maguire.
This is the video diary of Llinos Mai & Hannah McPake – two National Theatre Wales actors, commissioned to create a performance for this years Green Man Fest… This is Green Man // Red Woman – 01 An Introduction. We’ll be posting more of their video diary throughout the day, so come back on a regular basis to keep up with all the news.
Francesca Kay brings us another, thoughtful Haiku, ‘Green Man Harvest’:
A convoy of bins –
Green-bobbed acolytes trudge with them,
Gary Raymond searches for that ‘sense of this intangible aura’ that makes Green Man such a hard festival to define.
There is so much cliche in the world of music festivals nowadays Green Man shines like a beacon of take-it-or-leave-it generosity – I think you’ll struggle to find a less pretentious event in the arts anywhere in the UK. Everywhere you turn the word ‘genuine’ seems the most apt. Thursday night was an evening of exploring, finding the feet, and figuring out the starting point for just what kind of a festival this year’s would be.
One thing I like about this place is that the layout – apart from new additions – is the same. That favourite foodstall? Same spot as last year. The stage with that band whose name you keep getting wrong and you’re not sure if the lead singer used to be in that other band whose name you always got wrong? That’s just where you left it. What this does is to create a feel, an emotion, if you like, an unspoken idea that so many of these people are returning to a beloved town every year, a town that exists above and beyond your visit, and they are ritually marking the spot where ‘we met’, where ‘we shared that moment’. Green Man, in this very real sense, is a community.
And what of this community? We have repeated several times what a good bunch of people the Green Man crowd is made up of. But there is something beyond the tourist in all of us. You can get a sense of this intangible aura (careful use of a hippy word, there), in a place like the genuinely awe-inspiring Real Ale tent. This temple of soulfulness, this chapel of relaxing muscles and minds, sits within the cobbled walls of the estate’s main courtyard, the 100 beers and ciders are listed on a towering pair of blackboards, the thirsty gatherers gazing up at the exotic names as if awaiting news of loved ones in an arrivals lounge. The atmosphere is that of a throng all working toward a single means. This is not every man for himself, but an unorganised social mechanism designed to get everybody fed. The atmosphere is close to what I imagine a medieval farmers’ auction might have been like (if there was such a thing!?) – lots of men in warm rustic gear barking across a counter, muddy boots stamping on beer-soaked stone. Here you do not ask for names, but shout the number, and the beers come full to the top of the tankard, sloshing and slapping.
As some people may remember, last year I covered Green Man as a commuter-punter rather than a camping-punter, driving back and fore daily from my home in Newport. It was a fascinating way to experience a festival – very much a voyeur, unable to really enter the spirit of things, but being in the perfect position to watch over that spirit being enjoyed in its evolving. But the Real Ale tent was a constant stick in my craw, being the guy who shuffles up and asks for ‘half of your weakest beer’ is akin to going to a Degas exhibition blindfolded. This year I am ‘doing it properly’, and paying homage to my celtic sensibilities with a glut of Chilli Plum Porter could be categorised in the ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ compartment of minor regrets, but that would make me sound more naive than I actually am.
Of the rest of the Thursday, once the rain cleared, the place seemed to take care of business as if it had not really ceased a year ago. Fire was juggled, The Waterboys grunted and emoted and jigged and a few middle aged men punched the air, and the Green Man himself, this year sitting cross-legged in his usual spot, looks as imperious as ever.
And as for the Green Man, it is quite difficult not to regard him as a sentient entity, watching over us, approving and disapproving in equal measure. ‘I will allow this weekend of revelry,’ he seems to say; ‘I welcome you to my domain for a short stay, just make sure you take your rubbish with you when you leave.’
Here’s some more festival ‘tips’ from the girls at Green Man//Red Woman, Llinos and Hannah…
We are very busy making the show but we’ve just found out that Pieminister is one of the food vans at this year’s festival, and this makes us very excited. We bloody love pies. So we’ve had a quick rest and whilst relaxing over a couple of glasses of cold squash we’ve decided to create our own RED WOMAN PIE, inspired by this wonderful news. It’s fiery, mysterious and meaty – just like our Red Woman. We wanted to make a cooking video just like another one of our fave females Delia, but we are too busy practicing spells ready for the show so this will have to do. But we’ll probably get a show on the telly soon anyway so we can do it then. Anyway, we digress. Here’s the recipe. And if you make it – send us a picture! We’re @GMRW_ #ntwgreenman
Hannah and Llinos’ Red Woman Pie
A lot of meat
25 whole chillies (Hannah does it with 45)
1 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic (for that certain je ne sai quoi round this up to 65)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
Half a bottle of wine (or whatever you can find in the back of the booze cupboard)
Chuck everything in a pan. Cook it. STUFF YER FACE. DRINK THE REST OF THE WINE. HAVE A NAP.
*Disclaimer* Hannah McPake and Llinos Mai will not be held responsible for the consequences of any reader’s attempts to make this pie. Although Hannah maintains you’re all wimps if you make it with less than 45 chillies.
Love, Llinos and Hannah x
Bob Stanley is at the Talking Shop today, chatting about his new book, The Story of Modern Pop, and here is Craig Austin’s recent review of said book…
After yesterday’s gentle rainy vista, to a bright new Friday morning, Francesca Kay greets us with a new Haiku:
Discreet sunlight breeze
Feet whispering through wet grass
Green Man squats, fierce-faced
The Glorious Advent of Terrible Cinema – Michou Burkett St Laurent gives us a quick guide to a true dreadful masterpiece: Taffin, on at the Cinedrome, Friday…
Taffin is a true anti-hero. His story may seem unlikely but really who cares? On the face of it he’s just your average guy – a Guinness drinking, ruggedly be-stubbled, failed-seminarian-come-local-debt-collector. But his extensive collection of philosophy books lead you to believe there is something more – he is a rogue but no kind of bounder. He doesn’t like to get ‘heavy’ unless absolutely necessary because, as he succinctly puts it, ‘the mind is mightier than the fist’. He knows his Otto from his Buber and he’s not afraid to use it. If you are thinking he sounds bit dull then think again. He may be a a fighter but he is also a lover. He thinks undressing is boring and why, indeed, should one bother to undress if it’s not a shirt-ripping, button-flying moment? Why make love in a bed when the floor is just as handy?
Taffin’s life of harmless thuggery (I guess he would consider it more of a Robin Hood-esque existence), is rudely interrupted by the evil (and notably English) mastermind of a plan to turn his beloved Ballymoran into window-dressing for a chemical plant. Unfortunately for the mastermind and his goons, Taffin does not shy away from the good (ecologically motivated) fight – even if he does have to be relentlessly goaded into it (not to say begged by the whole village). As Taffin notes, the ‘rational choice’ does not apply to psychopaths, so he abandons his books and goes rogue, crying ‘I am only your weapon!’ This is because, as he puts it, ‘proof is for judges and good whiskey’ and things are going to get heavy. He truly is a maverick on a mission.
In case you wander in half-way through the film here are some key signs to look out for:
1. Baddies are posh – they drive Mercedes and play golf and have an inexplicable respect for the law.
2. Panpipes signal rough justice and pearls of wisdom.
3. His girlfriend is from Oslo but has an Irish accent (the Oslo bit is significant).
Each day we’ll kick off with our own Wales Arts Review selected Green Man Playlist, looking at our own choice of performers who will be coming up that day. Here, Day 1 has some great tunes from the likes of Tunng, Caribou, Polica, and although not performing at Green Man, but rather in conversation with Richard King this afternoon in the Talking Shop, we couldn’t resist a track from the legendary Shirley Collins from her classic No Roses album.
What Green Man Means to Me – Amelia Fae reflects on her five years as a Green Man punter.
It is the shamanistic spirit which captures what Green Man Festival does so brilliantly; inviting us out of the greyness of modern life, it brings together good people, good music and rolling countryside. The Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons hold the festival in their palm, framing it against the pale, changing sky. There is something of A Midsummer Night’s Dream about it all – everyone together, and yet a sprightly undercurrent to it; experiences combined and at the same time unique.
Now in its twelfth year, this is my fifth August spent exploring the estate just outside of Crickhowell, and it now feels almost like my festival, habitual. From humble origins in 2003, with an audience of around only 300, Green Man has grown up without losing its original intimacy.
At the heart of my experiences of Green Man are the wonderful people that frequent the festival every year. I have made lifelong friends here, and I have met nomadic strangers that I remember vividly. Being nineteen years old when I first came to Green Man, I have, to all intents and purposes, grown up with the festival. I’ve learned the dos and don’ts. Yes, going barefoot looks kind of carefree and bohemian, and it may feel like entering a certain kind of spirit – but hills, mud, and no grip means you are going to fall down. Into the mud. Likely often. You are also going to be seriously muddy come bed time – a bar of soap and a cold tap probably won’t cut it. Also, having a vague idea of where your tent is probably won’t be enough to get you to it. However, it’s these moments that bring back some of the fondest memories; the stories that you will tell long after the festival has ended.
The truly lovely people I have met here over the years are just as important to the overall atmosphere of the festival as the line-up. A deep love of music oscillates through the site, swinging from person to person. It’s a connoisseur’s festival, but without the pretension, just the passion. And this feeds through to the warmly-lit after-dark, when the headlining act has drawn the curtain on the night, when you’ll find yourself having a different Green Man experience. Whether that’s dancing to some late-night DJ slot in The Far Out Field or sitting around the sunken fire pit listening to a spontaneous acoustic set. Surrounded by gilded trees and resplendent musicians who puckishly appear as if from nowhere, it gives the place a hazy dream-like undercurrent. Green Man, like no other festival I’ve been to, is like the sanctuary of the Over-soul, ‘is that great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart.’
The four day-long weekend is never complete without the ritualistic burning of the Green Man effigy on the Sunday night. You can’t help but feel part of something old-worldly, something primal as you watch the flames steadily climb the heavy limbs. I always feel a bit sad, perhaps because it’s the last community event of the festival, or maybe because I always grow slightly attached to the predestined Green Man who overlooks all preceding proceedings. The effigy is part of the identity of the festival and also means the festival builds to a climax rather than simply trailing off. The sculpture is even more outstanding for being a multi-faceted work of art, both before the fire and designed as a fire show.
While exploring the underbelly of the Green Man it gives you the opportunity to read the little notes and wishes that people have tied to the wood; the idea being, when the Green Man is burned the wishes are released into the cosmos. This is a fascinating way to spend ten minutes or so, reading the wishes of strangers, some of them are extremely witty and funny while others can be heart-breaking. I distinctly remember reading one missive that caught my eye because of the blocky childish hand which plainly read: ‘Why did my mummy have to die?’ These little glimpses into other people’s worlds allow you to take a moment to connect with somebody that you have never met, will never meet, but have shared the festival with. It gives burning the effigy more purpose; sending his belly full of wishes and ash into the night sky. It’s jubilant and thrilling and a great way to end the weekend.
Beyond the Cinedrome – Gary Raymond has a look at what’s on in this year’s Green Man cinema.
Like most quality festivals nowadays ‘it’ is not just about the music. Often the bands are a hub around which much else floats and furls. And one aspect of the Green Man weekend is the love of music is often matched by a love of film. The Cinedrome Tent is a place to get away from the wide open spaces for a couple of hours and take in one of the many fascinating movies that the curator (this year it is all put together and held together by Little White Lies) has lined up. There is always a heady mixture of classics, ‘floor-fillers’, Zeitgeisty peacocks, restored masters and some true cinephile oddities. This year is no exception, and I must admit, looking at what’s on offer, I am a little disappointed that this is not a separate film festival, as I will be loath to miss much of it while other things go on. One joy of film for a modern film buff, is seeing the new and varied ways that other cinephiles find to show you the gems they have for you. I have seen films projected on to the outside of houses, I have seen them projected on the inside of houses, watched them in woods and on beaches, enjoyed live musical accompaniment, live commentary, live interaction, live dead people, dead dead people, sing-a-longs, walk-a-longs, dance-a-longs, and Clash of the Titans (the remake). But there is something quite thrilling about watching a movie with a music festival audience, and as we have paid tribute to many times here already; the Green Man crowd is the crème de la crème. So here’s a few of the films showing over the weekend that in a perfect world I would watch, with a beer and a taco, surrounded by half-drunk people covered in dirt.
Who doesn’t love Euro trash? And who, now he doesn’t waste his time playing football, doesn’t love Eric Cantona? But if you don’t like seeing Cantona move about a highly-stylised dreamscape looking like a slightly bemused woodsman, then You and the Night also has Alain Delon’s son and Beatrice Dalle (for crissakes!!!) involved somehow in a loose plot that centres around a late-night orgy in some kind of space-castle. Frankly, I’m embarrassed I haven’t seen this already.
Friday morning will inevitably involve, at some point, the search for something to satiate the hangover (after writing up the Thursday night experiences for our Green Man Live, of course), and I doubt I’ll be the only person edging toward How To Train Your Dragon with a bacon bap in one hand and a long black coffee in the other. And I’m sure there won’t be any children there to bungee jump on my headache. Life is not that cruel.
But the main pull for the Cinedrome Tent on Friday will surely be the showing of the 1925 Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera, accompanied by avant garde musicians, Minima, who have written a new score for this occasion. Hopefully – and, I suspect, almost certainly – it will be a score to force Andrew Lloyd Webber to shrivel up inside his own scrotum (he could do with a makeover, after all). Chaney’s version was as far from Frank Spencer’s rod-spined lothario as you could get, and was much closer to the Leroux novel’s gothic tragedy. Chaney was known in his day as ‘The man of a thousand faces’, and, as legend has it, the self-designed and applied makeup for roles such as his one in The Phantom often did him lasting damage. (One wonders if Lloyd Webber has similar compulsions). He used go through such torments as putting wire in his eyelids to create crater-like deathly stares, and put iron clips in his gums to sustain inhuman grins of horrifying menace (as did Lon Chaney, apparently).
There is a real market for silent cinema now, a market resurgence for its enjoyment and consumption, and this showing shouldn’t be seen as too left field from the curators; but The Phantom of the Opera is a minor masterpiece and twinned with Minima’s discomforting work it could be the highlight of the Cinedrome. It also reminds me of a girl I once knew (many many years ago) who when I mentioned I had just seen Der Golem for the first time, laughed incredulously as I described it. When I enquired as to why she reacted this way it became clear she genuinely thought I was winding her up, that only I could come up with an idea as ridiculous as silent films. Needless to say, this girl did not go on to become the mother of my children (she probably had a much more successful future). But as silent film has seen a bit of a comeback lately, and who knows, maybe she’s even seen one.
I could relive more of my younger days by catching the new print of A Hard Day’s Night, but frankly that film was such a significant part of my formative years I can play it any time I like, by closing my eyes and running through it in my memory. I quoted it endlessly as a teenager, even learned George’s gibberish, and I still rally the troops come pub time with the phrase ‘Come ‘ed, Shake’. I have bored just as many people with my rendition of ‘Am I a Man, or Am I a Muppet?’, so Saturday’s hangover, with bacon bap and coffee, may just see me saunter into the back row for a bit of The Muppet Movie.
The temptation to cut deep into the heart of Saturday night with a session of Walerian Borowczyk’s The Beast, is a strong one. La Bete is a weird and wonderful example of classic trash of the 1970s erotic horror genre, and not only boasts one of Borowczyk’s most steady slips into exploitative insanity, but also stars Sirpa Lane, one of the genre’s pin ups, and star of such ‘hits’ as Nazi Love Camp 27 and Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals. Although the chance to see a film like The Beast on the big screen is tempting, part of the allure is to have a gawp at the other weirdos who have gathered to watch it. And will any of them be inspired to recreate the climax of the film, Lucy’s rather ill-fated (if you don’t like being licked by a masturbating bear-dog) run through the woods, in the surrounding Green Man countryside? Green Man organisers: you only have yourselves to blame if that happens. You have been warned.
There are many other great films on offer, from the new profile of Bikini Kill frontwoman and activist Kathleen Hanna, Sini Anderson’s The Punk Singer, to the remastered elegant power of Bruce Brown’s seminal 1966 surf doc The Endless Summer, this year’s Cinedrome looks to be a place where you could stumble on a glorious cinematic moment and add to the richness of the whole weekend.
For some fascinating background on the festival, the ethos and the passion behind it, here’s our interview from last issue with Green Man Director, Fiona Stewart…
For the duration of the festival, Wales Arts Review Live will be tirelessly welcoming guest posts from Llinos and Hannah, the stars of National Theatre Wales’ show Green Man//Red Woman. So, if you have the energy to keep up, you can catch them here, giving us their festival experiences.
And here is their opening salvo…
Greetings! We are actresses Llinos Mai and Hannah McPake: welcome to our blog about Green Man // Red Woman, which you can see at Green Man Festival from 14 – 17 August 2014. For the four days of the festival we will be camping in the woods (sharing a tent), doing magic tricks like two little David Copperfields and chatting to as many lovely ladies as we can find onsite. Which we imagine will be a lot.
Seeing as we play ourselves in the show, we thought it might be nice if you got to know us a little better. So first we’re going to answer the question (definitely) on everybody’s lips – what makes these spell-finding-red-woman-creating actress geniuses tick?! To help clear this up, here are our…VITAL STATISTICS (thanks to our nameless vital statistics question master, whoever you are…)
How can campers recognise you…
Q: How tall are you?
Hannah: Shorter than you think
Q: What’s your hair colour?
Llinos: Dark brown
Q: What about your eyes?
What will we see you eating at Green Man?
Hannah: Porridge Pots
Llinos: I’ve never been to a festival before. I’m guessing it’s all falafel and hummus, though, right?
And now for some miscellaneous FACTS:
Q: You will be performing some magic in the show. Who is your favourite Magic Duo?
Hannah: Paul Daniels and Debbie Mcgee
Llinos: Penn and Teller. Derren Brown (he’s not a duo but he’s cool anyway)
Q: Can you tell us about your best camping experience?
Hannah: Sitting dry and warm in the tent listening to a storm raging.
Llinos: Duke of Edinburgh Award, 1995. Staying in the Preseli mountains. We all went crazy in Millets Haverfordwest in the lead up to that trip. There was a lot of Kendal Mint Cake going round. That’s my best and my worst.
Q: What about your worst?
Hannah: The tent blowing down and being evacuated.
Q: What’s the best ghost story to tell when camping in the woods?
Hannah: Anything creepy about woods, shadows, unseen animals lurking in bushes, the absence of people and lights, strange noises – um, not sure I want to be here now.
Llinos: Any mention of the Blair Witch film is always going to freak people out. I look forward to mentioning it to Hannah in the middle of the night.
And finally, what are your top three camping tips?
Hannah: Get a tent; make sure you have all the bits of the tent and really, really make sure you have all the bits of the tent, check and check again – even if you are assured by camping companions that you do indeed have all bits of the tent, check, otherwise you might potentially find yourself in the middle of nowhere, having driven miles, unpacked the car, lugged your stuff through fields in the pissing rain, selected a pitch, unpacked, set up camp – or tried to…… only the to discover – you don’t in fact have a tent, or all the bits of tent, you have an odd assortment of bits that could potentially go together to make a tent if only there wasn’t a crucial pole missing! CHECK.
And that’s it for now folks, now you know us we can all be BFFs!
If you have any burning questions for us, you can tweet us @GMRW_ #ntwgreenman.
Until next time readers, until next time…..
Llinos and Hannah x
Gary Raymond looks forward to this year’s winners of the Green Man Rising competition, who, as part of the reward, get to open the Mountain Stage and set the tone for the entire weekend…
As the winners of this year’s Green Man Rising competition, open to unsigned new bands, London synth pop duo Wyldest celebrated their win at Camden’s legendary Dublin Castle by taking the anti-PR savvy turn of immediately changing their name from Wildest Dreams. So I for one am not entirely sure whether it’s Wildest Dreams or Wyldest who are in fact the winners (promo bumpf says Wildest Dreams, Wildest Dreams says Wyldest). The Green Man team must be scratching their heads at that one, too.
What I do know is that whatever they are calling themselves, part of GM Rising’s crusade is to teach young musicians how to promote themselves, how to carve open a market for themselves, how to make way in the modern din. To this extent, this year’s winners, of whom it is extremely difficult to find out much information deep in the woodland of the technological age, would benefit greatly from the competition’s support.
But, regardless, Wildest Dreams (I’ll stick with the Green Man promo wording), are a charming and light, clean and familiar sound. This is intricate and well-crafted pop, and it is difficult to imagine a more apt opener to this year’s festival-proper, after The Waterboys have blown the proverbial cobwebs off of the surrounding hillsides on the Thursday night. One of the aspects of the prize is to open the main stage on the Friday, and Wildest Dreams come across on record as if they will get everyone in the mood for a great weekend.
Singer Zoe says, ‘Taking part in Green Man Rising and getting the exposure has been a wonderful boost for us, and to then win is thrilling. To be playing the Mountain Stage at Green and be on the same bill as Daughter and The War on Drugs – wow! It’s a fantastic opportunity and we can’t wait to see where this takes us.’
I look forward to seeing them in their breakthrough moment.
One thing I will not do, however, is help promote another pointless music press sub-category by referring to them as ‘dream pop’. Checking out the finalists for this year’s Rising, you can see that pop music is alive and well. Let’s stop dumbly bludgeoning acts and fans alike with this lazy (and not a little smug) pen-waving, shall we?
Wisp of cloud drifting
Across watching mountain top –
Rain falling below
Watch this space for further haiku from Francesca as the weekend progresses.
The Wales Arts Review gratefully acknowledges a grant from Arts Council Wales in support of our rolling coverage of Green Man.
original illustration by Dean Lewis