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The icon is from the Oysterband 1994 Holy Bandits Tour t-shirt which I purchased in an auction just before the Chumbawamba set. All proceeds to the Howard League of Penal Reform. "Cool charity," I said as I bought the shirt from someone who turned out to be Lee's wife. "Oh, yes; Lee's been doing lots of volunteering in local prisons and is training to counsel prisoners, so he's got really involved with them," she explained. Coo.

The Big Session was excellent again, with weather which was just perfect and slightly less hot than last year. Beer all sold out, on Saturday this time, but it was good while it lasted. They had clarified their policy on kids ents since last year; an adult to stay with the kids at all times, which would have been just about bearable except for the no-real-ale-in-the-kids-area rule. The kids area was fab, though, and Marianne has returned home with a very fetching death mask.

Bands this year included Levellers & Chumbawamba, both acoustic, Spiers & Boden, Seth Lakeman, The Warsaw Village Band, June Tabor, Nizlopi, Swill, and unclechristo, weirdly missing from the programme though feted as one of the big names on the smallest stage.

The Oysters did two long sessions, on Saturday (with June Tabor; set list here) and Sunday (with Chumbawamba; set list here), and incorporated in a jam session as the Big Session House Band on Friday night. That set was rather lackluster, and we were tired, and left early -- but can see from photos that after we had given up, Spiers and Boden turned up. Ah.




oysterband 1994 tour tshirt, with red demons on orange background It's another of the excellent Celtic knotwork t-shirts by Ben Stone; but rather than the blue dogs that everyone's seen a billion times, this one has a pair of cloven-footed demons. And signed by the band! How cool is that?


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How cool is that? Pretty damn cool. I cast rays of pure envy across the ocean in your general direction. Maybe next year, or the year after, and it will be good to have a roof that does not leak, paint that is not peeling, a new sink, a dishwasher. Home improvement isn't all that exciting compared to a weekend of fabulous music, and home maintenance suffers even more in comparison. Ah, well. It is, of course, sheer luxury to have a house with a roof and running water and electricity, so I'll count my many blessings, name them one by one, and look forward to hearing the Oysterband live again some day.

Here's hoping.

I do think the Big Session is a great destination festival for people who like a particular sort of music (folk with attitude). It's really small, and it's in a town (Leicester) so foreign visitors don't have to fret about getting together all the equipment for camping, but on a green site so you aren't having to hunt down the British Legion to find stage 2 like at so many small folk festivals. It was a little bigger this year but still not in any way crowded. And the weather tends to be good here in June, but it's not in school holidays here so hotels etc. are cheaper. There were quite a few people here from all over the world -- they had a pin map.

I hate you. In a friendly way, of course.

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