One of the greatest things about Port Eliot is giving yourself a three-day weekend and getting to St Germans right at the start of the festival. If you’re coming, you ought to treat yourself and do it properly. As the river Tiddy ebbs and flows, so does the whole festival, and sharing the different atmospheres of the different days with everybody else is what makes the festival especially memorable.
But you should also know there is one major bonus exclusive to weekend ticketholders: the biggest opening day of music since the festival began in 2003.
Most of this happens on the riverside stage of Caught by the River. One of the great institutions of Port Eliot, its the online gathering place for all who treasure wildlife, nature, writing, reading, undiscovered heroes and unfailingly great music.
We’ll start at the end of the night. Headlining at 10.30pm on Thursday will be Baxter Dury, creator of one of the great records of 2017. ‘Prince of Tears’ is a beautifully orchestrated record, full of vitriol and heartbreak, introducing the unrivalled bravado of character ‘Miami’ – aka ‘Mr Maserati’- and culminating in the emotional finale of the title song. There will be plenty of style and swagger, but what songs too! And let it be said here, that all of his other records are great as well.
Just before Baxter we’ll gather for a shared moment of Cornish destiny. We already loved Gwenno before we were transported to sci-fi heights by her live greatness at the festival in 2016. When we heard that her new LP, Le Kov, would be the first to be written and performed entirely in Cornish, her glorious return to St Germans was a given. Le Kov is mysterious, infectious and on Eus Keus? (which means “Is There Cheese?”) includes St Germans and Saltash. WE – ALL OF US – WILL BE DOWN THE FRONT.
The party will hit rare heights when 77:78 bring their good vibes, wide-eyed melodies and bone-marrow-burrowing grooves to the stage. Lovers of Isle of Wight psychedelic adventurers The Bees will be rapt at 77:78 – made up of Bees Aaron Fletcher and Tim Parkin – and the sounds of their first LP Jellies.
It follows that the songs of new electronic duo, audiobooks, are full of tales. Evangeline Ling and David Wrench bring sardonic, up-front but also mysteriously, grubbily funny stories, glitchy glam electronics, deadpan London vocals and very large choruses. Their first EP is coming on 9 April on Heavenly and their song Bubble Bath is already stuck inside our head.
And grabbing the first-band-on-the-first-day accolade is new London five-piece Creatures, whose recent single, ‘Goldeneye’, fused psychedelia, film noir and spaghetti western soundtracks into a seductive pop drama. They’ll soon be in the studio recording their debut LP.
Robin Turner, Caught by the River, said “We’ve been proud to set up shop at Port Eliot Festival for the last nine years. Every year, we’ve tried to start the party early, as you do. We figure if you’re going to head to Cornwall for the weekend, we’d might as well make it worth your while. That’s why we properly kick off just after lunch on Thursday – pretty much as the gates open – with a pretty staggering music line up. After that, we don’t really let up until the last dancer drops on Sunday night. Everyone’s welcome; tell your friends and get there early – we might even still be talking sense at that point.”
Put it this way; if you can get to the Festival on the Thursday, you’ll be very glad you did. See you there for a Tiddy-side gin and tonic.