This year the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons welcome the fifteenth edition of Green Man Festival. Dwarfed by the likes of Glastonbury and the Leeds and Reading events that bookend the UK festival scene, the Welsh festival has a much more laid back vibe, making it the destination of choice for the more discerning festival-goer and their children, who are also catered for in as many wonderful and imaginative ways as the adults. Although headliners such as PJ Harvey and Future Islands are a huge draw for many, one of the many joys that can be had at Green Man is the opportunity to discover your new favourite act; if the weather plays ball, there is nothing more pleasurable than relaxing in front of the Walled Garden Stage, quaffing a pint of Growler and listening to the wonderful and varied musical folks that the organisers have invited to come and play for us. Here’s just a handful of those acts that should have your full attention in a few short weeks time.
If you recognise the voice that’s because Landry had vocal duties on a few tracks during his tenure with Nashville string band Old Crow Medicine Show. Solo, Landry’s material is a tad more downbeat but no less evocative than that of his Nashville friends, offering a more individual perspective on a range of murky characters and events that typically haunt the Americana genre. Rolling Stone wrote that his 2015 album “pitches its tent in the four-way intersection between Dylan-inspired folk-rock, atmospheric Americana, dusty cowboy songs and street busker ballads.” The Walled Garden can become a bit of a mid-afternoon sun trap and Landry’s stirring folk tales will provide the perfect opportunity to relax amidst the tuneful musings of a wonderful storyteller on Friday.
It will be interesting to see if experiencing this incredible gothic folk artist from New Zealand in the Welsh sunshine (I’m really tempting fate here I know!) impacts on the overall reception of her deeply affecting songs. The dark themes and intensely piercing personal outpourings seem to be made for those oppressive and claustrophobically dark rooms that provide the listener with the opportunity for their own intense introspection. One also hopes the outdoor stage won’t restrict Harding’s own vacillating performances as well, which certainly enhance the haunting nature of her material. Visit the Walled Garden to find out on Saturday afternoon.
It seems that the Irish singer-songwriter has been on a bit of a musical odyssey since the release of his critically applauded debut The End of History in 2006. Label politics and the pressure that comes with comparisons to Dylan and Nick Drake could have taken their toll on the musician during this time, but Regan’s 2017 release The Meetings of the Waters demonstrate the opposite. The immense guitar work and psychedelic imagery that made tracks such as Noah so memorable have gracefully emerged on songs like Cormorant Bird amidst fuzzier upper cuts that are delivered on Babushka-Yai Ya. Fionn Regan is second up on the Main Stage on Friday afternoon. Be there!
The Oregon native’s 2016 album Empire Builder emerged from tragedy when her apartment block in Manhattan exploded killing two people. How this event manifests itself on record may be difficult to completely discern, but what does become evident on record is that Laura Gibson is an artist at the peak of her expressive powers. She has developed the contemporary folk of Beast of Seasons that emerged during her omnipresent contribution to the music scene in Portland nearly a decade ago, as well as the confidence to strike out on her own and this has led to the thrilling variety of Empire Builder. She is an absolute joy live too and this will definitely be the case on Friday evening in the Walled Garden.
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Friday afternoon at the Main Stage is definitely the place to be and following Fionn Regan is Alynda Segarra and her band Hurray for the Riff Raff. Their latest album The Navigator is their best yet and strangely feels like their first due to the palpable sense of identity inherent within it’s incredible tracks. The Americana of previous albums has developed into a union of several genres and is perhaps more sad and angry than previous releases. What has certainly developed with this new batch of songs is a deft ability to craft something political that is so foot-tappingly catchy.