Easton: Maverick Festival gets under way

Maverick Festival founder Paul Spence talks birthday cocktails, campfire cooking and the strongest line-up of Americana music yet with entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE

What to give yourself for a fifth birthday? A fifth stage of course. Sipping a southern mint julip while enjoying acoustic country blues in the new Moonshine hillbilly cocktail bar is just one new addition to this year’s festival line-up.

“We’ve never really done too much in the blues [arena],” says Paul. “Hopefully it’ll draw in a few blues fans who might be a bit on the fence about whether Maverick is for them. We’ve got some great players.”

Given the recent weather, he’s quick to stress four of the five stages are indoors with an empty barn standing by to accommodate the outdoor performances if the promising forecasts are wrong.

Back to the line-up, which sees comedian and musican Rich Hall return.

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“We always keen to try to keep the festival fresh and surprise people. We put a little toe in the water with the comedy with [Hall’s alter ego] Otis Lee Crenshaw last year. This year we’ve Rich Hall presenting the hoedown party. He’ll be bringing guest musicians; to be honest I don’t know exactly what he’s got in mind but I’m sure it will be great.”

Promoting produce from the region is being expanded too.

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Suffolk Food Hall’s award winning master butcher Gerard King, who has appeared on hit Channel 4 series Come Dine With Me, will be giving a campfire cooking demonstration on the Saturday afteroon, showing there’s more to festival food than burgers and sausages.

Music remains at the heart of the event and as well as performances there’ll be various workshops and master classes for those who are maybe hoping to appear on one of the festival’s stages in the future.

Paul says this year’s line-up is the strongest they’ve ever had.

“Despite the weather and general malaise in the festival business, where you read a lot of festivals have already cancelled this year for lack of interest and there’s a lot of concern with the bigger festivals not selling their tickets as well, we’ve definitely got the strongest advance sales we’ve ever had so I’m confident.”

Organisers have invited back firm favourites from previous years’ festivals, many of who have gone on to wider renown.

Otis Gibbs, Eve Selis and her band and Grammy nominated Nashville singer Gretchen Peters, who recently sold out Bury St Edmunds’ apex, are just some of the acts whetting music fan’s appetite.

“Carrie Rodriguez is someone we’ve been after for several years; she’s fabulous and really hitting her stride now. She’s been around four or five years and we’ve never been able to snag her over,” adds Paul.

“Alejandro Escovedo is closing Saturday night, that promises to be a real highlight. He’s a Texas-based singer songwriter and one of Bruce Springsteen’s favourites; in fact there’s loads of stuff on YouTube of Bruce jumping up on stage and playing with him. So we don’t have The Boss but we have the next best thing with Alejandro.

“Corb Lund is another one to mention; he’s a massive star in Canada and is coming over for the Canada Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square. We’re very lucky to grab him because we wouldn’t be able to afford to get him over for Maverick.

“We’re very excited. I’d love to see a little improvement in the weather because I think that will put people in the mood, but we’re pretty much ready for all weathers and apart from a bit of damp and a few puddles in the campsite we’re going to be presenting the full programme whether it rains or not.”

Maverick Festival 2012 runs at Easton Farm Park to July 1.

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