Thursday, 28 August 2014

GUEST BLOG - DJR's Boomtown Report

Owing to my pal Benjamin deciding to get married on the same weekend as Boomtown  Fair I was unable to attend this year's jamboree. This was a sad state of affairs, since Boomtown is just a few miles from the my family's country seat, has the best Vintage Remix line-up of any festival in the world, and is one heck of a party. Fear not, dear reader - Ben has been chastised.

BUT, I would never leave you wondering what went down at an event like Boomtown, so I went on the hunt for a correspondent to give you all the lowdown.. Happily, DJR of the Free Breaks Blog stepped up to the plate. Without further wittering from me, here is what he had to say about the weekend.

Hey hey swingers and swingettes! Jack The Cad couldn’t make this year’s Boomtown festival and since I wouldn’t shut up about it he asked me to write a report of some of the goings on. In case you’re wondering who I am, some of you will know me from my own ‘Electro Swing Roundup’ over at Free Breaks Blog. For those who don’t, I’m DJR and I try to keep an eye on all the latest music in the scene. If you’re a DJ looking for fresh music, or just keen to hear the latest tunes check out my posts on the 1st of the month (or thereabouts!)at

So. What was Boomtown 2014 like then? Well it’s a hard festival to sum up. They focus less on having lots of superstar names in favour of having an incredible strength and depth with every single small and medium size act they can find from a diverse range of styles, including swing, reggae, roots, ska, punk, and pretty much the whole spectrum of dance music (apart from mainstream house), and they seem to find a home for every single band in the country that has lots of members. Brass section? String section? 'Orchestra', 'Collective' or 'Ensemble' in your name? Yep you’re in. They also have a legendary attention to detail which means that the site looks incredible. In truth I can’t even start to describe it, so best watch this instead:

From a swing point of view they always have an incredible line-up, in no small part due to Town's Sherrif Kaptin (solo DJ and part of the Big Swing Soundsystem) who ensured that they continued to have the hottest line-up of vintage artists of any event in the country. Last year’s festival was triumphantly completed by Pavor Stelar, so this year they had to pull all their strings and ensure that they could match the line-up again; and match it they did, recruiting amongst (many) others Dunklebunt and the Secret Swing Society, Tape Five, Algorhythmik, and pretty much all the stars of the UK based swing scene. Here’s the promo mix they put together in advance:

I’d like to say that I managed to see all of these, however Boomtown is one of those festivals where due to the sheer number of stages (over 70 fully programmed stages for four days) you seem to spend lots of time missing everything you planned to see and discovering other incredible stuff instead. Therefore I’ll just talk about what I saw.

The main stage for vintage mayhem at Boom is the Ballroom stage which once again looked incredible. Over the weekend it was graced by a veritable who’s who of the swing world, plus circus performers, (if you’ve never seen them search 'hoop hooligans' online!) , burlesque beauties, and all sorts of vintage reprobates.

In musical terms my highlights were: 

Elle & the Pocket Belles who seem to be going from strength to strength since adding Mistatrick to their lineup. This means that they can choose between doing a classic swing style show, and doing a electro swing show where Mistatrick adds beats and bass. This is what they played in the Ballroom and it went down really well on the Saturday afternoon. Sadly there's no footage from their Boomtown performances, but here's a video of them shot at Glasto this year.

The Big Swing Soundsystem rocked it late on Saturday night, giving Kaptin a chance to relax from festival duties while Hypeman Sage did what it says on the tin and hyped the crowd. 
The Electric Swing Circus always go down a storm and this they did again, particularly with a great set in the town square early on Saturday, including The C@ In The H@ on FX and scratching duties.

Other acts worth mentioning are the Chicken Brothers who seem very at home on the big stage now; Chris Tofu who is always in his element at any festival both performing front of house, and backstage controlling the multitude of bands and ensuring that the show went on; Smokey Joe & The Kidd with their great live and VJ show; and Madame Electrife who followed last year's Chinese Laundry with a new General Store Venue in the Wild West district.

The weather did make the festival. It was a little challenging at times, particularly on the Friday night when it did turn nasty, creating a lot of mud to contend with (on a very hilly site!) however, apart from one small glitch, the Ballroom, being indoors was a brilliant respite from the elements.

Alex’s Last Gigs With Dutty Moonshine

For myself and many other swing fans, one of the most important, 'can’t miss' moments of the weekend was Alex Furley's last gig with Dutty Moonshine.

As was reported in this blog (check here if you missed it: ), Alex has decided to move on from Dutty Moonshine and focus on other projects both within music and his career. So how would they sign off with their time with him? Well to start with, newest member of the group Danny managed to get himself locked out of the site after returning after the 10pm curfew when everyone had to be inside the site. This was sad for him, but maybe appropriate for Mike and Furley that they signed him off as they started – together.

So with a packed Ballroom stage at 3am on Friday night, Mike and Furley tore into their customary swing & bass set for about 20minutes before Mike handed over the controls fully to Alex and let him do what he wanted. I think even Alex wasn’t quite sure what he was going to play, because he tore into a set of big bass heavy hip-hop classics, mixed unpredictably and at a furious pace. There was no swing in sight, however Furley clearly enjoyed having the freedom and it went down really well with an excitable crowd. Then finally to sign it off, Mike called Furley to the front of the stage, and well, this happened...

Athough this was treated as Alex’s proper last gig, in actual fact it was the day after when, all three of them this time(!), played a much lower key set at Charlie Brown's across from the Ballroom (a spectacular speakeasy populated with gangsters and molls in brilliantly rendered style).

The post-script to this farewell is that following on from this gig, I actually managed to catch Dutty Moonshine play a week later in Birmingham. This time they had a much smaller crowd, however Danny and Mike will clearly have fun together because they showed they are still masters at rocking any venue big or small. Danny’s clearly enjoyed the ride so far although he is going to have some work keeping up with Mike’s infamous partying! Still they did get to be put on the side of a building.

While I’ve got the chance, there’s one more slot I can talk about. 24 hours after the Dutties' big sendoff, I had the privilege of playing the Ballroom stage to close the Saturday night lineup. Following on from the ever reliable C@ In The H@ who had the crowd rocking to his bass heavy shenanigans, I had a great set, enjoying the chance to play quite heavy for once and dropping in plenty of bangers transitioning from hip-hop tempo right up to drum & bass including a healthy dose of swing, soul & funk and rock & roll. If you fancy checking it out have a listen to this:

That’s it. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite, and I’ve barely even mentioned everything else that went on... the best reggae stage in the country, the mighty Arcadia (if you don’t know – check Youtube) and so many other stages also featuring the cream of their particular scene. In fact, don’t bother listening to me just see me on the dance-floor next year!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Alex leaves Dutty Moonshine!

Yesterday Alex from Dutty Moonshine contacted me to say that the boys would be making a big announcement. He was looking for a platform, and I was happy to provide one for him. Here is what he has to say:

"So as you may or may not already know, fairly soon I will no longer be a member of Dutty Moonshine. My last time performing will be at Boomtown Fair on August 8th. This hasn’t come out of the blue at all and everybody involved is super cool and supportive of the decision. The following paragraphs explain why I’m leaving, why I’ve had such an unforgettable experience and why the future for Dutty Moonshine is brighter than ever.

It’s impossible for me to summarise my whole experience here and I also don’t want to turn this into a memoir. Myself and Mike started the act properly in February of 2010 in Reading and we’re basically just seeing what the hell would happen. The Electroswing scene was just kicking off properly and we got swept onto the bandwagon pretty early on I’d say. I was essentially a bit of a newbie to it all (big up to Bar Iguana in Reading where it all started!). Very quickly we got sets here and there and soon began to gigging over the country, because we were working a dirty electroswing sound that was just beginning to flourish. We actually played Glastonbury that very year which was completely insane to me. My eyes were opened so to speak. I started producing music too which has been a journey in itself and I’m a lot better now than when I started! And then each year intensified progressively - We played internationally, played bigger shows, supported bigger artists and made a good name for ourselves. For some reason it worked out pretty well. Looking at the gigs we’re playing now and the following we’ve built makes me feel super duper proud. In 2010 I honestly couldn’t have imagined playing some of the nights that we have. And 4 years later - here we are.

The whole experience has made me a more confident person and has shaped who I am today. It’s been an adventure from start to finish. And honestly the sheer volume of hilarious memories brings the biggest smile to my face. I’ve laughed so hard with Mike on the road at points I probably thought I was gonna poop myself and that’s only the stuff i can remember. We’ve been in some outrageous situations before and every now and then another memory will come back to me and I’ll have to spit out my tea or something. I gotta give an official thanks here to Mike. For being a fantastic friend and work colleague. It’s been a true pleasure working with such a dynamic, intelligent and hilarious person. We’ve achieved so much in the last few years together. It’s been fucking crazy! Dutty Moonshine is changing but we’ve got equally mad times ahead still. Mike, 100% respect to you dude and genuine thanks. *brohug*

So the actual reason I’m leaving the boy band is to do with a mixture of things. There’s not one single motivation, more just it’s definitely-the-right-time kind of feeling. I’m now working a graphic design job to save up money - I’m planning on moving to America in 2015. I wanna take a new road in life and sometimes wrapping something up completely is the best way to begin something else. So big movements in the pipeline for me hopefully. I also feel like I’ve done what I can with the act. Near the end of last year I was feeling slightly fidgety and felt like I need to do something else - whether that meant leaving or not I wasn’t sure. I think my steam ran out a bit and that’s not fair or productive for the act itself. By the beginning of 2014 I knew what I wanted and sadly that involved moving on from DM.
However I will still be djing and producing! I'm going to explore some new sounds under a new pseudonym with a different style. I am still in love with the scene and I have some awesome tracks lined up for a solo project. I haven’t chosen a new name yet so any ideas welcome! (honestly I really can’t pick one). So keep your eyes and ears open in the future my new stuff!

So what does this mean for Dutty Moonshine? Well, Mike and Danny are going to continue pushing the name and taking it to new places. I know Mike has some exciting big plans (which I can’t get into here) and the act will only get bigger and better. Danny joined us at the beginning of the year and has smashed it so far. Myself and Danny wrote the Rum Runners LP together and he’s already adding new flavours to the DM sound and spicing up the personality of the act. Currently DM is in one of the best positions it’s ever been in and it’s still climbing. With Danny taking on production and Mike continuing to drive the act forward, I have no doubt that DM will become bigger and badder than ever. I look forward to seeing where the boys will be a year, or two years, from now. You should too!

LASTLY, and extremely IMPORTANTLY - I need to thank everybody who has supported what I've done in the last 4 years. And what Dutty Moonshine has done. Friends and strangers, anybody who has turned up to a gig before dug the set. To those who we've got drunk with or who we shared a laugh with. To those we’ve partied with at festivals! To those who booked us, believed in use or lent us a hand at any point. To our peers in the scene and all the fantastically talented Djs and bands we now know as friends. To all the genuine fans (never saw that coming!) who love our sound. To those who believed in us, to those that have given us any kind of support. To anybody we’ve met on the way. Believe me I remember and cherish so many moments of the past and am genuinely grateful for the relationships I have built with some of you. Obviously there’s way too many to name here. honestly I’ll remember some of the times I’ve had as a Dutty for the rest of my life. It’s been MENTAL and you’re all bloody fantastic :)

So that’s all I gotta say you filthy animals.
Thanks if you’ve managed to read all of this. I hope it wasn’t boring.
I’ll see you all soon

Big love x
Alex Furley

So there it is - sad news, but exciting nonetheless, with the promise of a new Dutty Moonshine sound and new projects from Alex. I am sure all Jack the Cad readers will wish him all the best with his new ventures. Here's to the good times and the music! For the sake of the memories, here's a little reminder of what they boys look like in full pomp.