10th Birthday Party
19th to 21st July 2019
With the 10th Anniversary of Doune The Rabbit Hole opening its gates at 4pm on Friday, the anticipation of this year’s festival was clear to see. As a sequence of people gathered patiently awaiting their turn. The entry through the gates into Wonderland were finally open. Unfortunately the heavens had decided to open their gates, but in true Scottish fashion the revellers opened their hearts and the deterrent of the rain had no affect on what was going to be one of the best ever festival line-ups Scotland has seen.
To bring together such a cluster of bands, artists, speakers, performers, cabaret acts, comedians and not forgetting 4,600 attendees was no mean feet, so hats off to to amazing crew that pulled it off. Some off the bands in attendance this year were certainly a crowd-puller for Doune. The Wailers, Sister Sledge, The Damned, Lee Scratch Perry, Hawkwind, Battles, Honey Farm, John Grant, Asian Dub Foundation, Black Mass, Kathryn Joseph, Irie Yo-Yo, The Girobabies, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Hot 8 Brass Band, Bombskare, The Skids… its like winning a ticket as a child to a chocolate factory, spoilt for choice. Let the gluttony begin.
With the Doune site being slightly expanded this year, people were able to uncover some new spaces like The Warren. A beautiful hidden area under the canopy of floodlit trees were DJs were allowed to spin their discs and punters danced their dance. The surrounding area at The Warren gave adequate sanctuary for weary feet and therefore allowed people to take some peaceful respite. Traversing through the site you were overwhelmed with colourful costumes, painted kids’ faces, wonderful aromas of freshly-cooked food delights and a heart-warming energy that seems to hug you from the air like an invisible lover.
These festivals are our modern day version of the past Town Fairs & Pageants and are a very important ingredient to our social education and communities; to encourage togetherness, respect, understanding, communication. To build family relationships, make new friends, build bridges with culture and music and explore yourself. Its an ancestral part of who we are as people and Doune captures that in every way possible…
With a hot, muggy, sticky-wet heat covering the audience Lee Scratch Perry glides onto the stage. Moving through his classic back catalogue of music, the 83-year-old still has the presence that he is renowned for. So much so, he appeared on stage with The Hot 8 Brass Band but finally managed to find the exit. Tickling the audience at the Baino stage with their Scottish hip-hop and rap were the Dunbar trio The Honey Farm. Their direct, truthful, honest in your face lyrics has given a rebirth to an industry lacking in girl power. Heading to the Jabberwocky Stage at 4pm on Saturday I came across a colourful sea of dry,smiley people – yes the sun was out and Asian Dub Foundation where about engulf us in pure dub heaven. With 20 years of experience and hits under their belt this was sure to be a dub-skanking masterpiece. With the earth moving beneath our feet and the connective energy generated by band and fans, the set was not far from what we had expected, pure excellence. Speaking to Ghetto Priest and Steve Chandra Savale after the gig was very informing. From humble beginnings in a music workshop in East London and with no real intentions of starting a band, Asian Dub Foundation were created. Their coming together was a stroke of good luck, said Steve. A vision to send a positive message through music was destined to be part off their lives or as one friend said, the world has to hear this music and well, the rest is history.
Crashing onto the Baino stage in late afternoon were the Boris bashing 70s punk band The Skids. Emerging from Fife during the punk outbreak The Skids were at Doune to tell us how it is and thrash out some of their classic hits like Into the Valley, Masquerade and Working for the Yankee Dollar. They did tell us how it is and with an incredible set-list there there was no arguing with them. With the long wait over, it was finally time for the iconic legends and sisters that are Sister Sledge. I don’t use the word legends lightly as this family of singers have earned that right. Bringing their blend of disco, soul and smooth blues to the hills of Stirlingshire is surreal, but with songs like; We are Family, Lost in Music, He’s the Greatest Dancer, Easy Street, Thinking of You and versions of Frankie and Freak Out just blew the crowd away. Everywhere I turned or looked there was a crescendo taking place As every song played , every lyric could be heard happily being sung along by a 2,000 strong fan base. What a moment. On that note, when talking to Sister Sledge, I asked Debbie, how does that feel for you? Replying, she said it was inspiring!!! We soon came to be talking about family, music and kids and what keeps us fundamentally going. Soon realizing we had a boy -member of our family with the same name Elijah it became apparent that we had something in common, and with that came a high five and then We Were Family. Retiring after an intriguing time interviewing Sister Sledge I was humbled to have been part of this memorable evening at Doune.
Sunday was soon upon us and so were the dark grey clouds. Approaching from the M9 like a juggernaut on a mission the rain released its power. Soaking, warm, sticky faces were seen rocking to the legends of space-rock Hawkwind, with two fingers pointed up right at the rain. No time to stop the party for the weather! Hawkwind have proven for more than 40 years that rock is not dead and to see 20-year-olds rocking to Silver Machine and Shot Down in the Night was a generation jump moment. Speaking to Magnus Martin (guitar) and Jim Dread (technican) after their show, what makes you keep doing Hawkwind 40 years on and with a straight fire quick answer, he said, ‘well what else would I do, sit at home and watch Jeremy Kyle, oh that’s not on anymore.’
With The Wailers taking stage after the calm, beautiful voice and songs of Kathryn Joseph – a genius move at this point of the evening – the crowd gathered on mass. To a wet and warm audience The Wailers sprung into action. Rolling over from classic hit to classic hits like Buffalo Soldier, Could You Be Loved, Exodus, Natural Mystic, Three Little Birds, and what felt like every Wailers song you knew. Like a good cup of tea they just kept pouring out the goodness. There was only one thing I said to The Wailers; you must have a continuous warmth of joy in your heart and souls knowing that you can spread such positive love and energy through music that has shown the world we can have a better place to stay if we stay as one. One Love conquers all. A fitting end to Doune The Rabbit Hole’s 10th birthday party. To all the Doune crew, workers , volunteers, artists, musicians and revellers a big thanks. With out everyone pulling together gatherings like these would die so lets keep the music playing and the feet dancing until the next time we go down the Rabbit Hole.
Scotland I Love you so so deeply.
Blessed I am to have worked in such beautiful places.
Removed from my talents of DJ, Tribal drummer, Performance Poet and Spiritual Healer.
I work hard because Mother Nature bestows blessings upon the souls who strive to keep her beautiful.
It was a Divine first to be at Doune The Rabbit Hole.
And how beautiful and Deeply Healing the Doune festival site is.
Surrounded by pastures green with a cinematic backdrop, breathtaking eye candy. My heart melted as soon as I was dropped off by the very lovely Lesley. I felt at home straight away. After a night of exceptional and affirming Clairvoyance in the equally lovely Port Of Monteith. The rain had been heavy all night and morning. Downpours. I wasnae worried though. Good Boots, Hi Viz Wiz Waterproofs and a little tent thats waterproof and has kept me cozy in inclement times. I was looking forward to a week of sleeping on Mother Earth resplendent in its aesthetic, Multitasking Fire Wizard and crewing with Phoenix Waste Management. I didnae have much time to have been as still as I would have liked to have been to really soak up such natural beauty. I have been good friends with The Phoenix Crew for many years. I understand how important the work of such organisations is for the future of Festivals in Scotland. And to be an active part in that is a blessing and indeed a labour of love. The Earth Goddess really loves the work and the efforts replenishing her ecowarriors with Grace.
Friday 19th July.
I awoke to the sound of rain falling on my tent, slipped on my High Viz Wiz Waterproofs and headed to the Crew Canteen for Breakfast before my 9am shift began. It was a short three hour shift as I had requested Friday night off because I really wanted to see The Damned and The Girobabies. Getting the news that I was nae required for Phoenix duties until 6pm on Saturday, I had some time to dedicate to Rock N Roll and sawing wood duties.
The rain began at about 3pm on Friday Afternoon had just finished my make up at Jo Legg’s camp. So headed back down to be a fire wizard. Bumped into Raymond Speedie who was at Doune to review for The Mumble. I told him I wanted the Damned as they have been a Divine love for a long time. Back in the olden days, I first saw The Damned live on The Phantasmagoria Tour. Divines teenage self and David Vanian had a very similar look going on. Long black flowing locks with a white streak to the side, backcombed. Grimly Fiendish and Shadow Of Love et al. Sigh such wonderful music. The next time I saw them was at The Wickerman Festival. Divine was performing poetry on the Ingrid Pit Spoken Word And Poetry Stage back in 2008. This was the Gig I wanted. And I wasnae disappointed.
The rain was falling heavy and my High Viz Wizz waterproofs were protecting me from the inclement conditions. A healthy throng of middle-aged Punks gathered. I couldn’t help feeling that this was the perfect setting and the falling rain only added to the spectre of the performance that we were waiting for. My make up though had slipped somewhat from Mother Natures Soaking. But my Hi Viz Wizz waterproofs and compact sausage dog brolly were doing the trick, especially when the UV’s came on. Divine was glowing. Then the band were on stage everyone of them sixtysomethings. David Vanian and Captain Sensible looking just as youthful as they did when I first saw them on Top Of The Pops when I was a nipper. The sound production for tonights show was fantastic. Rousing the audience with the all time classics Eloise and Is it A Dream? Then into the early punk rock classics, New Rose, Smash It Up and Neat Neat Neat. Everyone pogoed in unison. The professionalism really shone through, expert musicianship, I didnae expect anything less though. The Damned have been in the game for a long time and they have always been very very good live. Satisfying everyone’s inner Punk. It was a very enjoyable performance indeed. Good Time 5 Stars. ❤ .
As the Damned left the stage, the rain was being very determined, The party spirit was even more determined as the good time rolled. I wandered back to the communal fire to join fire comrades keeping the flame alive. With time for a cuppa at crew canteen and headed for my tent, peeled off my Hi Viz Wizz Waterproofs and slept a deep rejuvenating sleep. ZZZZZZZzz.
Saturday 20th July 2019.
I awoke at about 8am, the previous days inclement weather had abated, the Sun was shining. I knew it was going to be a busy night, I was to begin shift at 6pm as a Divine Eco Warrior. My body was begging me to slow down so after breakfast I returned to the fire and tidied up after the previous nights shennanigans, sawed some wood,had lunch and went for an afternoon nap. Well rested and back into vibrant Divine mode, fed and watered my inner Eco Warrior was set to go. It was after fine picking The Woodland Area that I heard some festive punters talking about Beak>> performing at 10.45pm. Beak>> are Portishead without Beth Gibbon. Hmmmm I thought, it was easy to plan my shift around that performance, I was due to knock off at 11pm anyway, So made sure I was at the venue early for a clear up of empties and party debris before Beak>> came on to entertain us with their Bristol Portisheadness. But first concentration on clearing the arena of empties. I surveyed the Arena and the discarded litter left from the previous bands audience and got to work. Lots of punters joined me in my noble effort. There was a little girl that kept bringing armfulls of litter and each time my heart melted. This was jolly good fun. There wasnae an empty in sight by the time the next band came on. This kind of satisfaction is priceless. I kept on picking and picking until I got to the Beak>> venue and cleared it of any untidiness. Found a deck chair and had a good rest and really had a good listen to the brilliant hiphop and electronica that Beak>> produce.
My next port of call was to be The Girobabies Saturday closing set. But first (I left Beak>> at 11.30pm) To join my Phoenix comrades for one last push. The site was litter free. I checked on the fire, the venue that The Girobabies were performing on was just next to the fire. So was on time.
The Girobabies closing Saturday night brilliance. Led by Glasgows most active musical entrepreneur, Mark McGhee. Fresh from his success of the “Making Things Happen” Take over of The Pyramid Stage at Kelburn Garden Party. Mr McGhee and his brilliant band. Jo D’arc (Who is also the Bass Guitar Lead and brilliant vocalist of the sister duo, sensation. “The Twistettes”) One of my favourite drummers and multitalented musicians Gordy Duncan was absent but in his place, Mat Jim Sim completed the rythm section. The very brilliant George Gilma on Lead Guitar and on synth and loops Rory Comerford. Took to the Whistleblower Stage and a capacity audience gave The Girobabies a hero’s welcome. It is raw talent and honest social commentary that take this band to increasing heights. Removed from the corporate machine, The Girobabies follow the true Punk Rock Ethic and in doing so, have opened the doors for countless other bands and performers, creating inspiration where ever they perform. Such a brilliant live act. 5 Stars for 5 brilliant musicians. Good Time Divinexxx
Sunday 21st July 2019.
My first shift of the day began at 9am, clearing the big bins of the gathered festive debris from the night before. This was a bit muckier, it was however a very lovely morning, My Phoenix comrades and I mucked in until lunch was called. After which my daily wood sawing session began to prep the fire for the evenings flames. My next shift began at 5pm. I joined Rose Petal and Linda Lovelace for a make up session before fine picking The Woodland and sweeping back into the main Arena Hawkwind were playing Silver Machine as I arrived so paused for a good boogie. It was another wet afternoon but everyone was happy, Finishing off my litter picking duties I was joined by my Phoenix Comrades to tidy up for Battles. It was a wet finish, So we headed back to Phoenix HQ. I sat down, had a brew. I was knackered. Too tired to venture for The Battles gig, I peeled off my waterproofs and got into my sleeping bag, the rain was falling onto my tent. Luckily I was camped next to the venue that Battles were performing so was able to listen with clarity to the brilliant Techno and Kit Drum led tunes. Then ZZZZZZZzzzzz
Monday 22nd July. 2019.
I awoke to a beautiful morning having slept soundly. Headed down to Breakfast at the crew canteen. The Sun drying out the weekends soaking, perfect for the fine pick of one of the tidiest post festy sites I have ever seen. A combination of tidy punters and the hard work of Phoenix Waste Management. This is when the true beauty of Cardross Estate came to life. Such a naturally powerful healing space that begged metaphysical investigation. It is one of the most conducive sites for healing to take place that I have worked since I discovered The Healing Fields at Glastonbury Festival. The power of place.
It was on Sunday when I was clearing the empties while Hawkwind were playing, that a young lad came up to me and said. “You really have the arse end of jobs” I looked at him and said. “Nah mate this is a labour of love, it is part of the greater good” The feel good factor of returning a place of natural beauty to its natural beauty is a beautiful thing” He looked at me puzzled for a bit, then I think the penny dropped.
I knocked off at 3pm and prepped the wood for the Monday Night Crew Party, It was a lovely hot day, I hadn’t showered since Thursday so after wood prep, I had a really good body wash in the crew porta showers. It felt so nice to be clean. The Crew Party was lovely too with free cocktails, Divines not a drinker but in this instance, I was going to have a couple of White Russians and I made sure all of my Phoenix Comrades knew about the free bar too. It was a lovely night.
Tuesday 23rd. July 2019.
Another hot sunny day, perfect for the fine pick of punters camping, dismantling and recycling left tents and gazebos of which there were relatively few. It was such a lovely day to be in a place of exquisite natural beauty. The trees really are something else at Cardross Estate, powerful and majestic, I had been offered a lift back to Aulde Reekie by a young couple who had come up from Penrith in Cumbria to be part of Doune’s clear-up operation. I really really didnae want to leave. So I stayed and continued with the glorious fine pick and got a lift back the following morning with Janet from the kids field.
Doune The Rabbit Hole. The Conclusion.
Every Festival has its own unique beauty and flavour and this being my third festival in July. Doune is a compact site, with all stages easy walking distance from each other. All with perfect sound production and amazingly zero soundclashes. It is a festival that really does suit all ages, from little kids to big kids. The sense of community is lovely. Doune The Rabbit Hole really ticked all my box’s. The perfect tonic for mind, body and soul. I loved being part of a hard-working crew and I loved Cardross Estate.
Good Time Divinexxx