The Über Rockin’ Guide To... Ramblin’ Man Fair Print
Written by Mark Ashby   
Saturday, 08 July 2017 05:00

Well, the festival season is well and truly in full swing, with virtually every empty field in the country being given over to celebrations of music in all its myriad and wonderful forms…


Now in its third year, the Ramblin’ Man Fair will bring a heady mix of metal, hard rock, blues, prog and even country to Maidstone over the last weekend of this month. Now expanded to three days – well, two days and an evening, if you pick nits – with headline appearances from Saxon, Extreme, ZZ Top, Rival Sons, Devin Townsend, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Joanne Shaw Taylor, supported by the likes of Black Star Riders, Dokken, UFO, Y&T and Magnum.


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Joining the Über Rock team for the weekend will be none other than Iced Earth bassist Luke Appleton, who told us how much he is looking forward to the experience:


“I am very excited to be attending/reviewing the Ramblin’ Man Fair festival this year, as the line-up features some of my favourite bands and also many bands who I have worked and toured with in the past. Bands such as Y&T, Saxon and Knock Out Kaine are on that list! I hope to catch up with these guys over the weekend for a beer or two ;) 


“This will also be my very first time at Ramblin’ Man. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this festival, so I'm very excited to experience it for myself and witness some classic bands that I have never seen before, such as ZZ Top, Extreme and Dokken!


“Saturday night’s headliners are legendary ‘80s rockers Extreme, who will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ‘Pornograffitti’ album. Extreme is a band I have never seen before and have a big influence on me as a musician, as their song ‘Get The Funk Out’ was one of the first songs I ever learnt how to play on the bass. I’m sure this will be one of the highlights of the weekend. Sunday’s headliners are the magnificent ZZ Top! Another iconic rock band, who will be finishing off the UK part of their tour at Ramblin' Man. I'm also looking forward to catching those Canadian purveyors of top-notch southern rock, Monster Truck, and the crazily talented blues rocker Jared James Nichols!


“Friday night will feature bands such as Saxon, Y&T, Last In Line and Graham Bonnet. Saxon have been rocking since the late ‘70s and are still going strong with extensive touring all around the world. Saxon are a live band that never disappoint!”


So, that is a musician’s view of the weekend. But who else should you, the fans, be checkin’ out and gettin’ your groove on to in just a few short weeks’ time? Well, open up a cold one and make yourself comfortable, as we’re gonna tell (and show) ya just that…


Bad Touch (Rising Stage – Saturday)


These Norwich lads have been leading the British blues-rock revival charge for quite some time now, but without quite breaking through to the level of success that some lesser qualified bands have achieved. Having said that, they have a dedicated fan page on a certain social media website which has close on 3,000 members, so they must be doing something right! They released their second album at the end of last year, and so far in 2017 have travelled the length and breadth of Shit island with their mates Broken Witt Rebels and also supported King King. These guys will definitely bring the party to Maidstone, so get the beers in and join the fun...


Blackwater Conspiracy (Rising Stage – Sunday)


This five-piece from mid-Ulster appeared to explode out of nowhere earlier this summer, when they ripped the second stage at Download apart. Subsequently, their debut album, ‘Shootin’ The Breeze’, debuted at #5 in both the official UK Jazz & Blues and Independent Breakers charts. Having hit the ground running, these guys are destined, and determined, to keep the momentum going. Watch out for fellow Northern Ireland rockers Screaming Eagles and Trucker Diablo on the Rising Stage on Sunday.



Dan Baird (Outlaw Country Stage – Saturday)


One of Über Rock’s favourite suvern gentlemen should need little introduction… after all, he’s been all over the site in recent weeks, with not one but two new albums - and an in-depth interview to boot. Dan just loves music and playing live, which might just present the stage manager with a problem – and that’s getting him off the goddarn thing… Expect a good mix of solo and Homemade Sin tunes, and maybe a couple good ol’ Satellites songs thrown in for good measure!


Danny Worsnop (Main Stage – Sunday)


Best known as the frontman with Asking Alexandria and We Are Harlot, Worsnop earlier this year took many fans and pundits alike by surprise when he released his first solo album… not that that was a surprise in itself: that was reserved for the fact that he followed in the footsteps of the likes of Aaron Lewis and Chris Shiflett and forsook the screamo sound with which he has made his name, in favour of treading the alt-country path. His contribution promises to be one of the more unexpected offerings of the weekend…


Dirty Thrills (Grooverider Stage – Saturday)


A band that truly live up to their name… these cats from London town play dirty, lowdown blues rock that never fails to thrill with its energy and excitement, and sure as hell things ain’t gonna change when they deliver the goods front and centre at Ramblin’ Man’s newly re-christened second stage. With a new album, ‘Heavy Living’, due in September, these guys also have some rock ‘n’ roll pedigree: singer Louis is the son of former Moody Blues frontman Nicky James. The only way you’ll get dirtier this weekend is if Moat Park turns into a mudfest…


Ghoultown (Outlaw Country Stage – Saturday)


Fronted by the mysterious Count Lyle, Ghoultown are one of the more intriguing bands on the bill, combining country music with Gothic mysticism: imagine Johnny Cash and Rob Zombie providing the soundtrack to a George A. Romero remake of a Sergio Leone movie and you might be halfway towards the countrified gore sound that these six hellbillies from deepest Texas produce… just a pity they’re gonna be playing in broad daylight ‘cos these freaks really come out to play when the darkness descends…


Iamthemorning (Prog Stage – Sunday)


Well, we had to cover all the stages, didn’t we? The one band that stands out on the ‘Prog In The Park’ stage is this Russian duo of pianist Gleb Kolyadin and vocalist Marjana Semkina, who produce haunting melodies influenced by chamber music (and Shakespeare) and capturing the essence of sounds from folk music through to the experimentalism of King Crimson. They’ll be bringing a full band for what promises to be one of the more educational and entrancing (and, again, unusual) performances of the weekend.


Jared James Nichols (Main Stage – Saturday)


One of several acts – together with Saxon, British Lion, Last In Line, Rival Sons, Wayward Sons, Broken Witt Rebels and Trucker Diablo – who will be flitting between Rambin’ Man and Steelhouse, JJ Nichols hails from the town where Stevie Ray Vaughn played his last ever gig, recorded his first EP at the legendary Viper Rooms and had played 500 gigs before he had turned 21! Most recently seen on tour with Blue Oyster Cult, his precociously talented guitarist also possesses a great voice – always a great asset for a blues man – and will certainly set a high standard when he kicks Saturday’s proceedings off…


Skam! (Rising Stage – Sunday)


This Leicester trio have been championed by Über Rock for a long time now, and how they are not bigger than they are is one of the true musical crimes… committed, energetic, enthusiastic and possessing a terrific arsenal of songs – and, of course, the ability to play them, and do so extremely convincingly – they know to connect with an audience on every level. Expect plenty of bouncing (but make sure not to spill your pint in the process) and be prepared not to wipe that grin for your face for at least a week afterwards.


The Vintage Caravan (Grooverider Stage – Saturday)


Musically, Iceland may be best known for a certain whiney-voiced indie star who screamed a lot about the need to keep quiet, and – in common with their Scandinavian forefathers – blackened folk metal. So, these psychedelic wanderers came as something of a breath of fresh air when they emerged from the land of fire and ice with their stunning 2014 debut ‘Voyage’ and it’s even more impressive follow-up, ‘Arrival’ (unfortunately, though, not a heavy metal homage to ABBA). Expect loads of luscious, suitably groovy riffs and massive melodies from one of the better proponents of the retro-psychedelic-blues revivalist movement.


Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown (Blues Stage – Sunday)


This Texan-born blues rocker and his band has been slowly building a reputation for themselves in this ‘ere corner of the Überverse, thanks to regular trips across the Altantic for both standalone shows in basically any venue which will have them and support slots with lesser known names such as Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Tom Petty (nope, never heard of any of ‘em either, but some of them have potential). With his high energy stage presence, they’ll probably have to wipe the sweat (and possibly the blood) off the stage before the next act go on…


Wayward Sons (Rising Stage – Saturday)


The new project from Toby Jepson, who has quite rightly been described as “one of rock’s lifers”. He’s certainly a rockaholic, fronting bands such as Little Angels, Fastway, Gun and The Dio Disciples, producing and writing for the likes of Toseland (who are appearing on the Main Stage on Saturday) and The Virginmarys, as well as recording and touring as a solo artist. And, as if that isn’t enough, he’s got a new band and a new album, ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ (due out on Frontiers Records later this year). And, in case you wondering, the band name is a tip of Jepson’s Stetson to Little Angels’ ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’….


Ramblin’ Man Fair takes place at Mote Park in Maidstone from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 July. Tickets are available HERE.


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