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It’s Sunday, the sun is shining, Vanessa and I are heading down to Manchester’s Rugby ground for the Annual Festival to celebrate the life of Joe Strummer, alongside friends old and new, possibility grabbing a few interviews along the way and seeing some great bands, couldn't think of a better way to spend a bank holiday.The last Strummercamp I attended was in 2007, we camped for the whole weekend and just by walking into the atmosphere today I could tell it was much improved. Familiar faces were present and many new, lot’s of young people, bands milling around, all friendly and intimate. Photo:Strummercampers take a little refreshments & enjoy the weather.(The page might take some time to load with so many photos)The line up of this year’s event is a tribute to the Amigo organisers, they have some great names lined up for us today The Damned, The Alarm, and Strummercamp favourites Goldblade and many, many, more throughout the day. No wellies needed this year, it’s all wonderful, just couldn’t be any more perfect. (Even the outdoor toilets were clean). Apart from us getting lost on the motorway coming, thus arriving later than we expected, this would turn out to be a day which was faultless in every way, the glorious weather was the icing on the cake, Joe must of been sending rays of sunshine our way.

Photo:Dave, Mel, Shep, Gadge and their friends

They had two stages, bands playing all throughout the day from 1pm until around 11pm. The field was sprawled with tents of all shapes and sizes, people sunbathing, or just hanging out, enjoying chats with friends, as the day developed I began to wish I’d brought my tent for the whole weekend’s fun & frolics, there’s nothing like a good ole campfire chin wag with a beer or two.Photo: Sarah B, & Mel check out stage two & Ray Gange get's into the spirit.

The beer tents all set up with cheap drinks throughout the day, then there's the food, even vegetarian options, and a bit of a gourmet section in the comedy tent, selling chilli & curry. In between sets they played some impressive music, but you didn’t have to wait long for the next act to come on stage. We grab a beer and head to see our first band of the day at 1.30pm. Photo: Inside stage one


Bye Bye Johnny - A loud and entertaining band of local boys, festival kinda music, good band to start us into the spirit of the day, feel good, stories of life, with titles ringing out such as’Knocking Shop’, ‘Take Cover Wth Me’, they seem to have a small following, resplendent in Bye Bye Johnny tee shirts. Apparently a band to watch out for this year, Manchester scores another hit. A bunch of serious musician’s, hell bent on having fun, with punk, reggae & a bit of ska thrown in for good measure, check these boys out.

The band are: Danny Seasman - Vocals, Dean Hulse - Guitar, Johnny Rob - Guitar, Russ Davies - Bass, David Yazdi - Drums

Check them out:

Cotton Town Music Club - Hailing from Oldham, a kind of alt country, folk sounding band, with American influences, dressed casual in denims and checked shirts. Pretty interesting and set themselves in a different musical theme to the other bands, making it a truly eclectic day.

The band are: Greg Rainey - Vocals, Guitars, Harmonica, Jay Moran -  Bass, Guitars, Mandolin & Backing Vocals - Garry Byrne Drums Andy Scott – Guitars

Check them out:  

Creation Rockers - Highly recommended by Sarah B. Time for a bit of dub & reggae tunes, with the Creation Rockers, managed to catch the tail end of this band. It’s hard fitting it all in without missing some of the sets. (Maybe a tip for the Amigos that next year, you have a little break in between for food & drinks, or start the show early?) What I did catch was delightful; Sarah B was rockin out in dub heaven!

The band are: Yabass, Drummie Dan, The Manor, Papa D

Check them out:

Pink Hearse - and now for something completely different. Pink Hearse are a five piece colourful outfit, with a sexy, flame haired, fireball of a singer Nikki Hearse, who bounced onto the stage and for the next 30 mins or so completely owned the stage, with their brand of horror pop, punk tunes. Lively and dramatic, images of Sioux and Texas Terri, this isn’t a band who play it safe, nor should they. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s damn loud, they came, they conquered. They played a fine rendition from The Rocky Horror Show, ‘Touch Me’, and they wanna be dirty! Nikki even wears a t shirt baring the words ‘Fuck me I’m famous’. The guys seemed to enjoy the performance too, and with flashes of Nicky’s thong who could blame them. Great set I loved them, an inspiration to all girl bands, don’t tone it down, remain true to yourselves.

I managed to grab a lil’ interview with the girls as they sat and ate lunch. (Check out the interview here

The band are: Nikki.Hearse - Vocals, Catlow - Lead Guitar, Fenton – Guitar, Rai CupcakeFace - Bass Guitar, Amy – Drums.

Check them out:

Ace's & Eights - Just before the interview with Pink Hearse we watched a crackin pyschobilly type band with a dark edge, all mean and moody, with frenetic playing. I can’t say I have ever held my hands up to be a rockabilly fan, apart from buying a Stray Cat’s album like eons ago, but I went in open minded and really loved this band. They are such a delight to watch, all tattoos and attitude, a preacher for a singer, who’d put the fear in any saint. They play with a passion, so engrossed in the music, the double bass player impressed me hugely, the way he straddled the bass & threw it around, it was almost sexual!

Frantic paced, with rock n’ roll sensibility, with a handful of horror. This is music for the modern age, combine the elements of punk, rockabilly with rock n' roll and you have Aces & Eights, go see them live and I dare you not to enjoy their set, your feet won’t be able to keep still. They are described on their MySpace as follows - "Aces & Eights, the most obnoxious, prima donna, stuck up, downright rude and egotistical band I've had the misfortune to play with in a long, long, time."

As we strolled around I caught sight of the band and asked them for a lil’ chat with us, what a bunch of sweet guys. (check out the interview here)

The band are: Reverend Black - Vocals, Dexter Midnight – Double Bass, X-ray Cat – Guitar, and Adam Savage on drums.

 Aces & Eights Setlist:

The Sermon Of Reverend Black,23 Skidoo,Babydoll,
Sweet Leonard & The Bo Dickey Blues,You Me And The Black Cloud (honey),
Train To Damnation,
Dancing Dead,Angel Eyes.

Check them out:

'You, Me And The Black Cloud (Honey)' - Aces & Eights

Henry Cluney - Caught 15 minutes or so of this set, from the former Stiff Little Fingers member, but as Hyperjax were playing across the field we had to leave. He did an acoustic set of ‘Alternative Ulster’ and was met with keen interest from the Scampers. Check out Henry here:

Hyperjax - As we were still locked into pyschobilly frenzied mode, we wandered to stage two around 5pm for Hyperjax. The set had already begun, it could be heard across the field, rockin the camp site. Initial reaction was WOW….The Punk/Rockabilly trio’s looked amazing, 50’s rockers, complete with tattoos and star quality, the singer, chisel jawed, Sam Woods, just oozes sex appeal, hold me back!!

Liam plays the double bass pretty hot as well, think I’m having an overload of double bass fascination. The drummer they call ‘The Wolf’ plays like a maniac. As for the music, the single ‘Happy Pillz’ I can’t stop singing it, I’ve just gotta have their album, "The Wildest Card". I love it when I find new music to explore, this is one band that you have to see preferably on the same bill as Aces & Eight, then you have one hell of a night ahead. Sexy, hard driven rock n’ roll, with just the right amount of punky spirit. These guys are going places, looking forward to seeing them again and taking them on a Mudkiss interview journey.

The band are: Sam Woods - Guitar and Lead Vocals, Liam Revenge - Double Bass and Vocals. Neil "The Wolf" Holden - Drums



Hyperjax setlist

Hyperstomp (instrumental intro), Panic Button!,English Country Guardon,Navigator,Spider On The Wall,She's A Siren,Talkin' New York City
Georgia Slop (Big Al Downing R&B classic),Happy Pillz,The Wildest Card,Self Made Cell.

'Happy Pillz' - Hyperjax

InfidelsWe caught a couple of their songs, punky, reggae pop, dance, I recall them bringing the house down at Strummercamp in 2007 with The Clash covers, and playing alongside Pablo Cook and Smiley from the Mescalero’s, today they have their own unique sound. A Lincolnshire based band full of confidence, professionalism and crazy dancing in the form of the keyboard player.

The band are: Chris Infidel - Vocals Guitar, Keith Infidel - Bass, Derby John Infidel - Keyboards, Christopher Infidel - Guitar,Sir Andrew Infidel - Dub Reggae guitar, Young Danny - Drums, Turkish Gav - Catering

Set list (All original)

'Practice What I Preach', 'Golden Warrior', 'A Man of conscience', 'The Bitter End', 'Brother Turn On Brother', Flags On The Hillside', 'Rise Up'!

Check them out: 

T.V Smith - Last time we saw TV Smith was in 1977 at Wigan Casino with The Adverts, but it was so long ago, I can’t recall much about the event.

Tonight needless to say Tim did some acoustic versions of The Adverts songs, people shouted out for ‘Gary Gilmore Eye’s’ he shouted “coming right up”. We got a rendition of ‘Bored Teenagers’, which was the anthem for a generation of ’77 punks, and still holds up today. He was decked out in a snazzy outfit of spray on jeans with matching vest top. All in all a good set delivered by a punk legend. He sang a song and dedicated it to Joe Strummer, “Joe would appreciate this”. During ‘One Chord Wonders’ he was joined on stage by Captain Sensible, Henry Cluney & John Robb, who danced around the stage, much to the amusement of Tim, they then sang some backing vocals. Happy days!!

Check TV Smith out:

GoldbladeAll aboard the Goldblade pirate ship, having secured our position centre stage during TV Smiths performance we remained there until Goldblade hit the floorboards, then all hell broke loose, it became a free for all mosh pit, every man or women for themselves.We scurried along to the side, as it was beginning to sway dangerously close to toppling over. John gave a little acknowledgement to me before we fled (he did the foreword for 'Mudkiss Interviews 2008' book.). John and his merry band, are frantic on stage. John like a demonised preacher, before long he was asking the kids to join him onstage, they loved it, then it was “let’s get the ladies up here”.

I spoke to a woman just before they came on stage and she bet me he would be shirtless before the third song, wonder if she bet on him being trouser less? What the hell, he tore them off, and off came his shoes, and socks. One woman almost ripped his undies off and we caught a glimpse into John’s private world below, another snatch might have had him arrested for lewd behaviour Jim Morrison style. He knows how to win the crowd over, and work that body, work that body!! He got down into the front with the heaving masses, pushing the mic into there faces shouting out “Do you believe in the power of rock n’ roll or was it punk rock?” Like some possessed preacher man he held there heads as if to cleanse there souls. John whipped out the ‘Riot’ banner, but by this time the crowd were already having a riot of their own. I have seen John and the guys perform before but not up this close, he is an excellent entertainer all round, and such a charming man.Who else could get away with dancing around in his undies in front of a bunch of children?

The band are: John Robb - Vocals/Guitar, Keith Curtis - Bass/Vocals, Pete G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S - Guitar/Vocals, Johny Skullknuckles - Guitar/Vocals
Rob Haynes - Drums/Vocals

Check them out:

Jukebox Generation - Goldblade

The Alarm - Well as usual The Alarm were on top form, a new line up though tonight. Who is the blonde lead guitarist………wait a minute it looks a bit like James Stevenson and he’s sporting a newly bleached blonde barnet, on drums we have Smiley from The Mescaleros and on Bass fresh from Los Mondo Bongo we have Derek Forbes. We had lost our front row slot due to the frenzied mosh pit left by Goldblade, so now had to suffer the consequences of the poor photo opportunity, but never mind we could still sway in the crowd.Spotted at the side of the stage were Mike's wife and children giving them full support, and Elizabeth Westwood, James wife. Mike Peters, spoke about the spirit of "76 and said Ray Gange, still has it, as usually they were faultless, highly entertaining and won the crowd over, it was packed to the rafters (albeit it canvas ones). Photo: Mike Peters & James Stevenson.

The band tonight are: Mike Peters – guitar & vocals, James Stevenson – lead guitar, Derek Forbes - bass, and Smiley on drums.

Check them out:

The Alarm setlist:

Three Sevens Clash, Loaded, Home, Alarm Calling, Superchannel, Spirit of ‘76, Rescue Me, Fightback, My Town, 45 RPM, 68 Guns.

The Damned - Early "77 we bought the first Damned album, it was for us the ultimate punk album, for some reason we never got to see them live back in the day. Tonight we finally made up for those lost years, 32 years later and what an impressive set they had in store.

I’d managed to finally secure my place under Captain Sensible, we were quite excited by the performance, possibly stunned actually! They are magnificent musicians, Captain does a great line in stage posturing, he thanked everyone for buying him drinks at the bar, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed his antics on stage. Dave Vanian is just so charismatic (I even got my own personal greeting from Dave with an old fashioned bow) what a gentleman.

They bounced onto the set with ‘Love Song’, seduced us with ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’. For an encore we had ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’ by Captain Sensible, really enjoyed that singalong. The rousing chorus of ‘Smash It Up’ had the whole front row squashed onto the floor as the barriers fell down, and people got crushed briefly into a heap. What a fab band to end Strummercamp, it’s been a day to remember for a long time.My memory card ran out so had no video of The Damned for you guys.

The Damned setlist:

Love Song, Second Time Around, Anti - Pope, New Rose, Nation, Eloise, Dr. Woofestein, Meldy Lee,
Neat, Neat, Neat, Alone Again or Under The Wheels, Dark Asteroid, Curtain Call, Stretcher Case, Noise, Noise, Noise, Jet Boy, Jet Girl, Smash It Up.

The band are: Dave Vanian - vocals, Captain Sensible - Guitar & vocals, Monty Oxymoron - Keyboards, Pinch - Drums, Stu West - Bass.

Check them out: &

The night ended for us with Amigo Phil raffling off Billy Braggs acoustic guitar, congratulations to the lucky winner. Phil thanked everyone for coming and said we’d be back at the same venue next year.(Check out my interview with Phil here)

They played us out with Joe Strummer & The Mescalero’s ‘Redemption Song’ and what a poignant way to end the day, I imagine there was a few damp eyes as they walked out.

Lovely to see old friends, Sarah B, Rob Galloway, Ray Gange, Davester, Shep, Amigo Mike, great to finally met Kev, also Gadge, Pink Hearse, Hyperjax Sam Woods, Ace & Eights, Peter G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S, if I missed anyone’s name I’m sorry.

For anyone who hasn’t been you’ve gotta get your diary dates set for next years event, it just get’s bigger and better. May bank holiday 2010, it’s not to be missed. It most certainly is the only festival that matters, and one which leaves you feeling euphoric!! &

Review, photos, videos: by Mel
Video of The Alarm & Goldblade: by Vanessa 
Check out more photos in the Strummercamp gallery here

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