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Miscellaneous - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire,, 4/7/2013...7/7/2013

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 30 / 6 / 2013

Miscellaneous - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire,, 4/7/2013...7/7/2013


Nick Dent-Robinson is impressed by Oxfordshire's Cornbury Festival, which saw headline performances from Van Morrison, Echo and the Bunnymen and Squeeze, as well as excellent sets from 'Downtown Abbey' actress Elizabeth McGovern's band Sadie and the Hotheads and Scottish duo Hunter and The Bear

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Cornbury Festival - and what a superb event it was! Of course the weather helped. There was sunshine each day from Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th July and the temperature reached 30C. It was perfect! And the setting in Oxfordshire's lushly scenic Great Tew Park has to be one of the most magnificent of any musical event anywhere. This plus the roped-off VIP area, legions of big name celebrities attending (including Prime Minister David Cameron and his family), the impeccable organisation and the most pristine loos you could ever wish to encounter all contribute to Cornbury's “Poshstock” reputation. But there is plenty of excellent music, too - and not just from the big name headliners like Van Morrison, Echo and the Bunnymen, Squeeze, Keane, Imelda May, Beverley Knight, Tift Merritt, the Proclaimers, Stax and Bellowhead. All of these performed just as brilliantly as you'd expect them to. They seemed to appreciate the genuine warmth of the Cornbury crowd's response. Squeeze played a particularly powerful set and the Proclaimers were impressive, too. Louise Marshall, the fiery gospel-style singer, took time out from her regular performances with Jools Holland's band to front Stax – who must be one of the highest energy, most accomplished R & B groups in the UK. Plus there were some surprises too. As the ancestral home of a succession of illustrious families down the centuries, Great Tew Park is no stranger to aristocratic visitors. So it was only fitting that the stately grounds should have played host to one of Britain's most famous toffs! For in attendance was Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham and Lady of Downton Abbey! The Countess's role may just be fiction - but the actress who plays her, Elizabeth McGovern, has a sideline...fronting her own rock band, Sadie and the Hotheads. American Elizabeth – who trained at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York – has starred in a long list of Hollywood films and TV shows since the early 1980s and her acclaimed role in 'Ordinary People'. Since marrying her British husband, film director Simon Curtis, Elizabeth has lived here in the UK. And for years she has written songs and sung and recorded with her own band. The Countess of Grantham's on-screen daughter Lady Mary Crawley (actress Michelle Dockery) even joins Elizabeth to sing on one track of her recent album! The Cornbury crowd's reaction was very positive - and clearly Elizabeth's stagecraft, singing ability plus the quality of her song-writing and the skill of her supporting musicians, won her many new fans at the festival - and not all of them followers of 'Downton Abbey'! The other big hit of the event was a Scottish duo called Hunter & The Bear comprising Jimmy Hunter and Will Irvine. With third member Josh Abdelfatah their uniquely powerful mix of frenetic contemporary folk, three-part harmonies and huge rock'n'roll energy simply took Cornbury's Saturday morning crowd by storm. They were sensational - and had seasoned professionals in the audience (like all the members of Squeeze, for example) stomping and cheering and singing along...a remarkable reaction at 11.30am! Hunter & The Bear must have won several thousand new friends in their half hour spot on that Saturday morning! So, those were a few highlights from this year's Cornbury. With its additional comedy attractions, extensive children's entertainments, cookery displays, a really eclectic mix of stalls and a seriously big fun-fair all underpinned by super-smooth organisation, Cornbury would be a remarkable event without its music. But add in a truly captivating collection of musical performances and there's no wonder that Cornbury is a favourite festival of so many families - and of many top music names too.

Picture Gallery:-
Miscellaneous - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire,, 4/7/2013...7/7/2013

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