As if you didn’t already know, this weekend is the Bedford River Festival – our bi-annual celebration along the banks of the River Great Ouse.
This year’s 40th anniversary event stretches from Russell Park in the east along to St Mary’s Gardens and Riverside Square in the west, with live music stages throughout the site. Here’s our round-up of what’s on when and where (and we’re sure you can find somewhere to watch the football if our plucky lads make it to the final):
The Pad Presents the Main Stage: Russell Park
Saturday 14th July
Ernest Herb: 1pm – 1.30pm
Kicking off the festival for us this year are the impeccable sounds of Mr Ernest Herb, the finest one man sound machine you’ve ever heard! Drifting in and out of musical soundscapes from Flying Lotus-esque beats to Funk and Jazz arrangements, Ernest is one bad mudda and will get this party off to the best possible start.
Pearl Handled Revolver: 1.45pm – 2.30pm
Quite simply, one of the finest bands to come out of the local scene, ever. Pearl Handled Revolver are a four piece that take particular solace from the engulfing vibes of Tom Waits, the hypotonic edgy groove of the Doors and the leftfield modern guile and drive of Queens Of The Stone Age. Their set is longer than most, because they’re that good.
Ginger Snaps: 3pm – 3.30pm
We first caught Ginger Snaps when we headed down to Brighton for The Great Escape Festival, and we’ve been slightly obsessed with the Northampton native ever since. Signed to one of the biggest agents in the land, he’ll be tearing up many major festival this summer, splicing together beats, guitars and vocals in a way not too dissimilar to ‘Midnight Vultures’ era Beck. His last single was BBC Radio One Track Of The Week and we’re beyond pleased to have secured him for the festival. Tom Grennan played this slot last year, keep an eye out for Ginger Snaps!
The Hempolics: 4pm – 4.45pm
Pure sunshine vibes with The Hempolics from 4pm. The band have created an infectious mash-up of Reggae, Electro, Hip-Hop and Soul, resplendent with huge hooks and festival friendly choruses. These are tunes that people will be bopping to across festivals, clubs and car journeys for years to come. Debut album ‘Kiss, Cuddle & Torture Vol. 1’ has seen the band erupt with three singles playlisted by BBC6 Music and support from Steve Lamacq, Toddla T, Rodigan & Don Letts to name a few. The album also picked up one of 6Music’s albums of the year too – don’t miss em.
The Scruff: 5.15pm – 5.45pm
Another band propping up the local music scene are The Scruff. No strangers to the River Festival, the guys have appeared on the previous two line ups, but it’s been a huge, break-out few months for the Bedford boys. Last October their single ‘Her’ was chosen as the BBC Introducing Radio One Track Of The Week, as well as picking up the same accolade from Radio X, with support from Steve Lamacq too. They stop off back home among a summer of festival appearances that include Truck, Isle Of Wight, Y Not, Standon Calling and Tramlines to name a few.
Kuenta I Tambu: 6.15pm – 7pm
The sound of KiT return for 2018! Due to timing and technical problems, these guys were only able to show you 20 minutes or so in 2016 and for the full on KiT experience, you and them deserve more! Inspired by traditional Afro Caribbean music from Curaçao and European beats, Kuenta i Tambu has created a brand new sound! They cleverly found a balance between electronic sound samples, singing and chanting and the infectious rhythms played by ritual tambú drums. We have had the pleasure of working with these great people on a few occasions now, you WILL be dancing.
My Baby: 7.30pm – 8.30pm
To say we are excited about this booking is an understatement – This set could be a proper show stealer. Amsterdam’s My Baby play ‘Shamanic, psychedelic, dance laden blues’. Their live show is second to none, being voted the best band at Glastonbury for two years running and selling out their European tour last year, they also come and grace Esquires for us in November too. This band are one of the finest live bands we have ever seen, you won’t believe that only three people can make these sounds – Make sure you get up close for this one and let lead singer Cato and her brothers in music take you on a journey.
Dub Pistols: 9pm – 10.30pm
Getting Dub Pistols to headline Bedford River Festival wasn’t easy, and we still sometimes can’t believe we convinced them to join the line up! One of the hardest working live bands in the business, festival slawarts and quite simply the finest party band in all the land, Dub Pistols will be closing the River Festival main stage on the Saturday. Over an 18-year career the Dub Pistols have worked with heroes like The Specials, Busta Rhymes, Horace Andy, Madness and Gregory Isaacs. They play live reggae infused breaks with tinges of ska and drum and bass. The band have graced some of the biggest festival stages in the world, so having them headline for us is somewhat of a coup. Prepare to move!
Sunday 15th July
Danni Nicholls: 1pm – 1.35pm
Bedford songstress Danni Nicholls is our first artist to open up Sunday’s proceedings. Danni has the wind in her sails from receiving two consecutive Americana Music Association UK award nominations (2017 UK Album of the Year for Mockingbird Lane and 2018 UK Artist of the Year), the singer/songwriter is currently in the midst of writing a third album. UNCUT magazine described her as “Sumptuous”, with Q Magazine describing the album as “Smoky soul, folk-pop and heart-wrenching alt-country, all in a rich voice”. A melting pot of Americana, Roots and Alt-Country, she’s a very talented lady, make sure you catch her at 1pm.
Sarpa Salpa: 2pm – 2.30pm
Look out for this next lot, as they’re reaching for the stars and have all the necessary equipment get there. The Northants 4 piece released an absolute gem of a debut single earlier this year called ‘She Never Lies’ and are garnering lots of attention at the moment. Sarpa Salpa’s influences range from Tame Impala, Everything Everything, Foals The Beatles – They’re a hungry, young Indie Pop band inspired by deep wave sounds with unexpected changes and hidden meanings. Make sure you catch them.
The Lottery Winners: 3pm – 3.45pm
A sunshine band for a (hopefully) sunshine day, The Lottery Winners will leave you grinning from ear to ear with their infectious Indie-Pop! The band have been selling out mid sized venues up and down the country on their last couple of tours, and were so good when they supported We Are Scientists for us earlier this year that we had to get them onto the line up.
Kioko: 4.15pm – 5pm
The perfect band to lead us into the Sunday evening and one of the finest new Reggae bands in the UK right now, Kioko are playing many major festivals this summer and have played shows for The Pad Presents a couple of times in the last 18 months. A mixture of laid back, beer sipping head nodders and full on energetic, horn blasting party tunes, the band are comparable to early UB40 mixed with with Jamaican Ska and Trojan sounds.
The Wholls: 5.30pm – 6.15pm
You know it’s a party when the Wholls are in town. These Bedford boys have been on the festival circuit all summer but are popping home to hit up the River Festival. If you loved their stripped-down set at Taste Bedford earlier this year, then you’ll love their full blown sound.
Whole Lotta DC: 6.45pm – 8pm
Here are your Sunday headliners, so sit back, with a beer, in the sun, and rock out, because at the end of the day (and the festival) it’s all a bit of fun. Whole Lotta DC are the World’s finest tribute to the greatest Rock & Roll band of all time AC/DC! The band will be kicking out some serious riffs to close the event, with a back catalogue of some of the biggest tracks ever written to choose from, we couldn’t think of a better way to leave Russel Park for another couple of years (pyrotechnics possibly included)…
Meanwhile, over on St Mary’s Gardens (opposite Riverside Square), Blender are bringing their Pop-Up Record Shop vibe to the big stage at this year’s River Festival. Local bands and DJs combine on this brand new stage to create a chilled out and laid back atmosphere in St Mary’s Gardens.
The St Mary’s Stage will feature some of the best local acts that have performed at the pop-up shops over the years, getting all stripped back and acoustic. Saturday delivers live music all day, with Elijah Miller bringing his full band for the headline slot. Sunday gets the full chill-out treatment, with a special 2-5pm DJ Takeover from The Third Place.
Saturday 14th July 2018
DJ Hosts – Roll Your Own Records
11am Bedford College Performance Arts Showcase
12noon Amy Leeder (singer songwriter)
1pm The Pride (Reggae/Rocksteady)
2pm Rebecca De Winter (heart wrenching folk)
3pm Thr3e – The Band (acoustic blues)
4pm indi and The Vegas (Sweet & Funky)
5pm Jonny Mudd (singer songwriter)
5.30pm Roll Your Own Records Extended DJ set
6.20pm Sara Music (sweet acoustic)
7.10pm Minnie Birch (sad songs to smile to)
8.10pm Elijah Miller (alternative & Lo-Fi)
Sunday 15th July 2018
11am Mill Race Folk
12noon BedSlam Poetry/spoken word
2-5pm The Third Place. DJ Takeover