Category Archives: Glastonbury

Wrapping up 2010

Wow, where do I start….

As evidenced by the previous posts I had a pretty amazing year of concert-going.  A near lifelong quest completed, an epic show I’d missed 30 years ago revisited.  A music oriented couple weeks in London.  Countless HOF members of the Rock Hall of Fame….heck a ton of them in just a single week.  Shows with good friends old and new.  Hard to even wrap my head around the whole thing.

Here’s the list:

Keb’ Mo’ – Coach House – Jan 14

The Blasters, John Doe, Rumble King – Coach House – Feb 20

Peter Gabriel – Hollywood Bowl – May 7

Styx, Kansas, Foreigner – Citizens Bank Arena – May 19

Richard Thompson – Royal Festival Hall – June 19

Green Day, Joan Jett – Wembley Stadium – June 19

Elvis Costello – Royal Festival Hall – June 20

Glastonbury – June 23-27

Jackson Browne – Albert Hall – June 29

Jack Johnson – O2 Arena – June 30

Laura Marling, Fanfarlo, Peggy Sue, Smoke Fairies – Hyde Park – July 1

Hop Farm – July 2-3

Jools Holland – Kew Gardens – July 6

Barenaked Ladies, Kris Allen, Angel Taylor – Greek Theatre – July 22

Blondie, Gorevette – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 8

Rush – Irvine Meadows – August 13

Al Yankovic – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 14

Scissor Sisters – DAR Consitiution Hall – August 23

Neil Finn – Largo – September 11

Muse, Passion Pit – Staples Center – September 25

Gorillaz, N.E.R.D. – Gibson – October 27

Bonobo – Music Box – November 26

Roger Waters – Staples Center – November 29

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 13

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 14

Twenty three shows and two festivals in all.  I don’t think I could even pick a “best”.  However a few things to note do occur to me.

Worst sound, Scissor Sisters.  Horrible mix that completely left the vocals out, and it’s not like I had a crappy seat, I was in the 5th row.  Really guys?  Totally detracted from an interesting performance.

Only show I left early, Jack Johnson.  It was okay, but very one-note.  I like his studio stuff, but in a huge arena it was lost.  Put the same show in an intimate venue and I might have loved it.  Add to the experience that I was a bit sick that night and it was just not a compelling show.

Most disappointing, Muse/Passion Pit.  Passion Pit left me cold and Muse after all the hype just didn’t live up to expectations.  Lot’s of copped riffs and wasted technology that didn’t go anywhere.  If you want to use technology look to Gabriel, Waters or even the Pet Shop Boys.  This was “sound and fury that signified nothing”…

Most intimate, Neil Finn.  The Largo is magic when Neil plays there and the September show was no exception.  An obscure setlist that actually added to the special feeling of the evening.  You knew even while watching this was the sort of thing that would never be duplicated.  Jackson Browne in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury was a close second.  While the masses grooved to Stevie Wonder….Jackson held court for a few hundred lucky folks and spun magic with his sidekick David Lindley.  Moving and unique almost sell short just how very special a way it was to end my Glastonbury experience.

Surprises…How awesome Gorillaz were in LA after disappointing in Glastonbury.

Bonobo, Midlake, Hot Chip, Fanfarlo, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Magic Numbers, The Bees….none of whom I knew before 2010 and who all get extensive spins regularly on my ipod now.

How great Rush could be at doing “Moving Pictures” after being somewhat average the other time I’d seen them previously….this show made up for that one in spades.

Disappointment….U2 having to cancel in Anaheim and Glastonbury…(of course it does give me a couple shows to look forward to in 2011 already…)

Well, that’s it…another year in the books, and an amazing one at that.  Curious to see what 2011 (and beyond) will bring?  But, it’ll be hard for any year to reach the heights of 2010 for me.

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Glastonbury Sunday

So, unexpectedly I spoke with one of the readers of the blog today.  I wasn’t sure anyone was really reading it, so to hear positive feedback and comments was very cool and really made me feel good.  I’ve known that I needed to finish the write ups of the trip.  But in a way leaving something undone has sort of been a way to not completely put this in my past.

The experience was so unique and different from my normal daily life that in a small way leaving this a bit undone has prolonged the experience and allowed me to reflect about it under the guise of “thinking about my next post”.  While I will eventually wrap the actual writing about the trip, the “beyond” part off the title will give me license to keep writing and musing about music and concerts.

But for now…there’s still more Glasto to talk about!

I awoke Sunday and stumbled out of my tent knowing this was my last day of music at the festival.  The tents around me were now dusty and trash was strewn about.  There was a sort of refugee camp feel with shellshocked (and still hung-over) attendees wandering about with glazed eyes.  A few folks were already packing and slipping away quietly, their jobs and real lives beckoning them to try and beat the traffic queues predicted for the next day.

The toilets were truly grim today.  The first set that I arrived at being too horrible to even enter and close the door.  I walked a bit further and found a marginally better one that seem to have been cleaned sometime in the past few days.  The worst of a challenging part of the entire experience.  But, I survived it one more time, gathered my gear at the tent and headed out.

I listened to a bit of Frightened Rabbit at the Other Stage, acceptable but not memorable.  As I write this a couple months later I couldn’t tell you the name of a single song they played.  Not horrible or anything…just didn’t impress much.  I maybe should have stayed to hear the Hold Steady, but the sun was hot and I moved along to the West Holts Stage for a second performance of The Bees.  Different than the more intimate setting for the Queens Head Stage on Friday.  But, songs like “Listening Man” still broke through and were very appealing to groove to while I sat on an empty bench.

Restless, after most of their set I moved along to the Avalon Tent and plopped my folding chair in a shady spot to hear Kristy Almedia.  Nice voice and some fun arrangements with a tight band.  Not compelling to have sought out any of her CD’s, but a nice interlude on a relaxing morning.

I took a break to grab some pizza and then bought some ice cream that I ate in the cool shade of the Queens Head tent.  None of the bands had started up there, so it was uncrowded and I could sprawl in the shade and simply relax….(sensing a them for the morning?…relaxation).

While resting there I made this note:

Going to Glastonbury is hard, and it should be.
Just like life you have to experience the bad as well as the good.
Bad choices aren’t the end, you recover and move on.

Sunday morning was obviously my day to get philosophical….

I decided to join up with the eFest folks for Ray Davies.  I got to the Pyramid Stage early and listened to about half of Slash’s set.  Quite good overall and well suited for a sunny afternoon at Glastonbury.  He capped the set with Sweet Child O’ Mine  and Paradise City.  A couple of real serious crowd pleasers there for sure.

The eFest folks found me at the meeting spot and we headed over to grab a space to the right of the stage near a delay tower for Ray’s set.  I’d seen the Kinks way back in 1979 in San Francisco, but never since…even though I enjoy Ray’s writing very much.  For this show he brought along a chorus to do the choral arrangements off his last CD.  It was BRILLIANT!  The power of all those voices propelling songs like Victoria, See My Friends and All Day & All of the Night was a high point of the day for me so far.

Here’s his complete setlist:

‘I Need You’
‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’
‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’
”Til The End Of The Day’
‘After The Fall’
’20th Century Man’
‘Sunny Afternoon’
‘You Really Got Me’
‘Shangri-La’
‘Victoria’
‘See My Friends’
‘The Working Man’s Cafe’
‘Johnny Thunder’
‘The Village Green Preservation Society’
‘Lola’
‘Waterloo Sunset’
‘Days’
‘All Day And All Of The Night’

The Kinks had been the original headliner of Glastonbury in 1970 and had cancelled to be replaced by T-Rex.  So, it was fitting that he came back to celebrate the 40th and Ray dedicated the set to his former bassist Pete Quaife who had left the band (and the music business) in 1969 and had passed away the previous Wednesday.  A few tears were shed by Ray (and many in the audience) as he further dedicated “Days” and “Waterloo Sunset” to his old friend near the end of the set.

Waterloo Sunset had been running through my mind each time I ended up at Waterloo Station while in London.  And this emotional performance of the song pretty much cemented it as the theme song of my trip.  I’ll never hear it again without thinking of that near perfect moment surrounded by strangers and folks that I barely knew, yet who all shared a kinship and a connection.  I think that’s the “Glastonbury moment or Glastonbury experience” that people talk in hushed tones about.  The unexpected way that worry and stress falls away and life outside the festival at that moment fades away.  I can say for certain that Ray was more inspired in that field then he was a week later opening for Bob Dylan at Hop Farm.  His set there was similar and decent, but lacked the emotion and magic he found that afternoon on the Pyramid.

Here’s how it sounded and looked:

Wow…..

I didn’t want to hang out for Jack Johnson as I planned to see him in London in a few days.  I moved along to the Other Stage and heard a bit of “We Are Scientists”….sadly “we may be scientists, but we aren’t that good” was my take on them.  I mean it wasn’t awful, but the lead singer had the foulest mouth outside of John Cougar back in the 80’s I’d ever heard.  I’m not a prude…but, it was noticeable in it’s pointless excess.  I shot some photos and then headed to my tent for a rest, some food and a couple calls to the US to say hello to family.  In the distance MGMT played…which judging by what I heard…from a distance was the best way to listen to them.

While I chilled in my tent I made some note of “Things I Learned at Glastonbury”:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Take wellies and sunscreen…you never know what you’ll get.
  • hen you see the milk tractor, buy a pint.
  • No matter what you choose, you’ll miss something while doing something else…it’s okay.
  • Others will make different choices and think they were better….they were, for them.  Your choices were perfect for you.  Celebrate them and appreciate all the good stuff you experience.
  • Camp a reasonable distance from the toilets and upwind…trust me on this…
  • Your clothes will get filthy, you may want to burn them or throw them away.  Polish them up and hold onto them.  That grime is part of the experience you’ve had at the Festival.  Wear it proudly and remember where that T-shirt took you.
  • Share what you brought and let others share with you.  Both actions enrich your experience and your life.
  • Assume you may never pass this spot again, so appreciate the moment while you’re there, but look forward to the next one and don’t spend too much time in the past.  Those moments help define you, but they aren’t all you are or can be.  Enjoy, accept and move on.
  • There’s always another great song to hear in the next bar or stage down the road.  You might miss it if you stand still for too long and live in the past.
  • Don’t try to see everything, there’s too much for you to ever take in.  Appreciate what you have and accept you can’t have it all.

Down to my last few hours, I made some decisions.  I’d try to see folks I couldn’t easily see at home.  Thus, I skipped Faithless, LCD Soundsystem Julian Casablancas to see Toots and the Maytalls at West Holts.  A phenomenal set of reggae played in the late afternoon fading light to a happy crowd.  Here’s a taste of an absolute legend from Jamaica:

You can see a bit of how happy the crowd was, that song was a highlight as was 54-46 (That’s my number), Pressure Drop and a very effective version of the John Denver song Take Me Home Country Roads….(look it up, it’s really good).

After Toots I headed to the LeftField Tent to see Paul Heaton.  Now a lot of folks will have no idea who that is…he anchored the Housemartins in the 80’s and then went on to form the Beautiful South.  Well known in the UK, not so much in the USA.

A brilliant writer who writes similar to someone like Graham Parker….a nice glossy sheen of music with a serious bite if you dig into the lyrics.  Having missed any chance to see either of his previous bands, I knew this was a rare chance for me.  He didn’t disappoint at all.  From the Housemartins days he did both Build and Flag Day, neither of which I ever thought I’d get to hear live.  Plus, he did a nice selection of solo songs off of “Cross Eyed Rambler” and his new CD “Acid Country”, including a biting song called “Everything is Everything” about the pervasiveness of advertising in this modern age.  Brilliant stuff and he was joined on his last song by Billy Bragg, another obscure UK pleasure of mine to listen to.

Here’s a music video link because the quality of most of his live stuff on YouTube is poor.  Either bad picture or sound on most I sampled.

When his set ended I saw that I might have time to catch some of Jackson Browne if I rushed to the acoustic tent.  I’d already decided to avoid the crowds at Stevie Wonder, as I’d seen him previously here in So Cal (he was awesome).  I heard a snippet of Rodrigo y Gabriela, who sounded great, but I didn’t stop for at West Holts.  Then, I could hear Stevie in the distance next singing “…if you really love me…”

Tempting, but I pressed on.

I reched the acoustic tent finally where David Lindley was jamming away.  I’m not sure how long he’d been playing but Jackson wasn’t on stage yet.  Amazingly, there were less than a thousand people there (guessing).  I walked right up to the barrier and took a spot stage right in front of David….amazing!  My timing was perfect as Jackson Browne climbed onstage and he and David did a stunning version of For Everyman leading into Warren Zevon’s Carmelita, Sit Down Servant (a gospel song) and then The Pretender.

The Pretender was a very important album to me back when I was a confused teen and my mom was dying of cancer.  The emotion of the whole thing hit me very hard, and I stood there overwhelmed to tears by hearing that song in that setting.  A couple songs later he did Late for the Sky and I was again flooded with memories and emotions, both of the struggles and rewards of the past few days, but also with an overall feeling that went well beyond Glastonbury and touched upon years of memories.

I don’t think I could have planned a better ending to the Festival if I’d tried.  As I’ve said before, it’s chance, luck or just serendipity that leads you to those moments at Glasto.  I was buoyed by his set so much that I hardly felt my achey muscles and sore feet as I walked back to my tent.

 

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Finally, the Glastonbury Report Continues with Saturday!

I know that there haven’t been throngs of people waiting at the dock for my next installment to see if “Little Nell” lives or dies.  But, it’s been an open loop that I need to close.  So, with no further ado…I present, Saturday at Glastonbury!

As I’d mentioned in my “Friday” post, it was a fitful night of sleep often interrupted by shouting idiots.  But, I did finally manage to drift off for long enough to get a decent nights rest.  So, I awoke Saturday and climbed out of my sleeping bag to find both of my legs covered in red bumps…hummm?  Having no idea what it might be, I headed to the medical tent.  There I learned it was a heat rash set off by the large quantities of pollen and dust in the air (I was told it’s fairly common when it’s that hot.)  They wanted me to get antihistamines and keep them covered.

A brief note about the medical staff at the festival…they are awesome.  Apparently they volunteer and work shifts in return for seeing the festival.  What a great system, and what a credit to those folks who give up their free time to work in a tent in a field looking at a manner of ailments in a crowd of that size.  All things considered, it was a really good experience and put my mind at ease.

But…now I was limited to not wearing shorts in the heat and sun.  I struck out for the pharmacy…a very long walk and bought some antihistamines as they suggested, I also took the one they gave me (more on this later).

I swapped my shorts for long pants and and headed out.  First up was the Other Stage and a band called “Two Door Cinema Club”…who were awesome.  I heard the last part of set (after I got home I bought their disc, which I was playing just this week…good stuff).  From there I headed to West Holts and caught Brother Ali’s set as it started.

Who knew I could like a rap concert?  Brother Ali is an Albino, Muslim from Minneapolis who raps (it seems) about mostly positive stuff.  I liked it so much I sat down and listened to his whole set.  A real surprise for me and something I never suspected I’d enjoy.  Do you sense a theme about Glastonbury so far?  The magic happens when you least expect it.  You can’t force it, you can’t set out to create it…you just have to open your mind and amazing things happen around you.

I’d postponed lunch to hear Brother Ali, so I grabbed a huge baked potato and topped it off with a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  I decided to hit the acoustic tent, since I knew it was shaded and I did have the long pants issue going in the midday sun.  I guess it was good that I did.  You may recall that I took Gandalph an antihistamine a while earlier, and was somewhat tired from restless sleep.

Well, I got to the acoustic tent in the dark shade and lay down on my pad to listen to “Leisure Society”…and fell fast asleep.  Vague, restless half-sleep, but sleep nonetheless.  I heard snatches of “Leisure Society” and then “Gandolph Murphy”.

Next up was Michael Eavis being interviewed and telling the history of the festival.  But, the bad leg cramps returned and I finally got up to walk around.  I could hear “Dead Weather” in the distance, but had no desire to fight the Pyramid crowd in my current state.  I desperately needed a chair and appealed to a kind warden at the handicapped area that was mostly empty.  He allowed me to go up and sit down on a real chair they had placed there.  Another thing about Glastonbury, almost everyone working there is really nice.  It made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the afternoon.

Al Stewart was up next and he did a show not far off from the last time I’d seen him at the Coach House, except this set was electric in comparison.  He seemed really fired up to be playing the 40th.  (He was one of the original acts in 1970 at the first one, so a cool story there.)  He brought out some guest singers (their names escape me at the moment) for “Night Train to Munich” and even did a sterling version of “Carol” as an encore.  It was one of the best Al shows I’ve seen, and I’ve seen him lots (maybe 15 times).  It seems Glastonbury really does inspire the best in musicians who play there too.

Imelda May was next with her cool retro sound.  Sort of a female “Brian Setzer” with a nice bluesy growl.  Her band was very tight and she had a nice charisma as a front woman.  Here’s a look at her:

She did a rockin version of “Train Kept a Rollin” and closed with a rockabilly version of “Tainted Love”.  Good stuff.

Next up at the Acoustic tent was one of my “must-sees”, Nick Lowe.  If you don’t know Nick Lowe…you should.  He’s a legend not just for writing the most amazing power pop, but also as a producer, bass player and singer.  Here’s a little reminder:

This was only my second time seeing Nick, even though I’ve been a fan for over 30 years.  All thoughts of leg cramps, heat rashes and anything negative was now washed away.  The triple punch of three great bands in a row had me back in the Glasto spirit and the antihistamine had worn off.  I had one more must see for the day, so now that it was dark I struck out for the next band, Midlake.

I stopped for a second at the Queens Head Stage and heard a completely forgettable band called Cherry Ghost.  So, forgettable that I can’t recall much about them except that I stopped for song or two.

Next, I took a detour past the Other Stage and watched a little of the Pet Shop Boys.  It was the same show I’d seen in Atlanta last September, very fun (and I owe them a debt for ripping off their stage look for one of my corporate shows…)  But, I really wanted to make sure I saw all of Midlake at the Park Stage.

Not really a danger of that I found, since I arrived to a long delay while the band tuned, fiddled with amps and generally mucked about for a really long time…half an hour?  Come on boys, get it together….

They were good, but honestly…I think better on CD.  Maybe it was the long day, maybe it was the spirited sets I’d just seen?  But, they have a sort of low-key sound.  Kind of “Prog-folk” and after a long day it was more atmospheric and lulling.  Not a bad thing, if that’s what you’re looking for.  But in my tired state I found it hard to really get engaged by the music and my mind wandered.  To be clear, it wasn’t bad.  It was quite good technically.  Just quite chilled out for that late at night after a long day.

This is one of their more upbeat tracks:

Near the end, I shot a few more photos and headed down to my tent, which was mercifully very close to the Park Stage.

All in all a fine day with a few bumps.  I was able to see the main acts that I had in mind and only really regretted missing out on a couple hours due to sleeping in the Acoustic Tent.

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Water Aid Match at Glastonbury

Since I just posted some Cider Bus Pics, I realized that I should post some from the Thursday football match (soccer to us Americans)…

This was held on the field in front of the Pyramid Stage and featured three bands as well as the match which raised a bunch of money for Water Aid.

Hobo Jones and Junkyard Dogs "guitar solo" featuring a ladle and plastic guitar

Manager of the "Rest of the World" squad, Chazeboy

Warming up for the match

Two highly skilled squads looking for exactly where in the crowd that the darn ball went?

Reserves, cheerleaders and manager showing enthusiastic their support of their squad

Just a few highlights of the match (won by the England team).

For more information about the cause we were all there supporting visit Water Aid  at:  www.wateraid.org

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Cider Bus Meet

So a thread popped up today about the Cider Bus Meet from Wednesday night and it made me very nostalgic for all of the great folks that I met there.  As I recounted previously, I’d had a tough time getting in and getting set up.

That Cider Bus meet up was where I finally began to get the “Glastonbury Spirit”.  Lucy even posted a picture of me getting interviewed by Worthy FM…which had slipped my mind in the blur of the whole time there.

I promised them that I’d post some photos of the meet, so here they are!

eFestival Wednesday Cider Bus Meet at Glastonbury 2010

Lucy and (Name missing)...oops

(Name missing), Gordon and Rachel

Somewhere around this point my photography skills seem to have deserted me completely...

Not my best efforts of the festival…

But, something to share at least….:)

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Glastonbury thoughts

This won’t be the long delayed wrap up of  my trip stories, but I just wanted to record a few random musings as Glasto has been very much on my mind the past few days.

As the days since the trip have rushed past I’ve realized that the entire experience changed me in ways that I never expected.

Lots of people ask me if “I’d go back”.  My stock answer has been that it was a once in a lifetime experience and I wouldn’t likely want to try and repeat it again.  But, as the days pass I find myself checking back onto the eFest boards and looking at the discussions.  Yesterday they announced the on sale date for 2011 and I had a huge twinge of wanting to try and get another ticket and go back….for reasons that I honestly can’t quite even explain.  I recall the rush last year of making a ticket deposit at 1am and realizing that I was going to take the plunge.  Part of me wants that focus back.

Since I got back from the trip I’ve been a bit adrift.  I spent so long obsessing about going that with it now done…I’m not sure what my next focus should be.  In a way I think that’s why I’ve delayed writing about the last parts of the trip here.  As long as it’s still living in my head it’s not completely finished and wrapped forever.

Do I have regrets…many of them.

I feel like I didn’t get to see every band (even though that would have been a physical impossibility), I missed many of the art and dance areas.  I did all I could do…but, like life itself…there was too much to experience it all and you have to pick and choose.  (Lots of these things were said to me by festival veterans, but they don’t really come into focus until you’ve had the experience of being there.)

Maybe I drank too much, maybe I drank too little…maybe I slept too much, maybe I should have rested at different times…Maybe I should have seen more at the Park Stage, the Pyramid Stage, the Dance Village…maybe I should have eaten different foods…

Should I have seen Stevie Wonder instead of Jackson Browne?  Jackson Browne was my best act of the whole festival…yet, did I  miss something better?

See what I mean?  It’s like life…you choose things, but you can’t help but wonder how a different choice would have turned out.  I guess that’s why people go over and over to Glasto.  Some of it may be the fear of missing something.  Some of it may just be the vastness of the choices that let you live a magnified version of “life” in the span of a long weekend.  I could have gone 100 times and had 100 different experiences.

I even said that to someone on site, that Glastonbury is exactly like a limited version of life.  You are faced with a stream of choices and they will define your experience, and not all of it will be good.  But, you survive the bad to reach the good stuff, and having done so, the good stuff is made even better by the context.  If everything went perfectly on a Glasto trip it would actually be boring as all hell.  You need the “spice” of the collapsed tent or the uncomfortable bed so that when you see the perfect sunset while at the Other Stage you understand and appreciate it more because of having struggled some just to get to that point.

I have a vivid memory of washing my hands on Friday.  It’s so vivid because I’d been using hand sanitizer for three days and I stumbled upon a tap with running water and bars of soap.  I scrubbed my arms up to the elbow and I’ve honestly never felt so happy in my life about the simple act of washing my hands.  But, the great thing about Glasto is that it (at least for me) provokes further thought.  I realized that millions of people don’t have running water and don’t get to experience that feeling at all on a regular basis.  Suddenly a simple act took on no only significance in the moment, but it opened me to a bigger picture and made me appreciate more each time since then that I’ve scrubbed my hands how there are others who are as fortunate as me.

Now, I sit here tonight listening to Ray Davies, Florence & the Machine, Midlake and Hot Chip….thinking about each of their performances and the experience of seeing each of them at the Festival, I realized that I’m going to carry this festival around with me forever and at least parts of it have really changed me forever (hopefully in good ways).

And, I also suspect that I have been impacted in ways I’ve likely not even discovered….but, I guess that’s what this blog is for, to document the “beyond” that expands out from my Glastonbury experience.

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West Holts Photos

Here are some photos taken at and around the West Holts Stage.

West Holts on Friday

Bonobo performs on West Holts Stage

Femi Kuti on West Holts Stage

Backup Singers for Femi Kuti on West Holts Stage

The Bees at West Holts Stage

Toots & The Maytalls at the West Holts Stage

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