Ingram Valley Spring Fling, Northumberland

by Emmett Stapleton

26th May 2012 and it’s an away day for The Fraudsters, travelling to the beautiful Beamish Valley in Northumbria to play the Ingram Village Festival, a fundraising gig for some friends of Burkey’s who moved up there a year or so ago (we played their dusty housewarming party, remember?)

Once again we were Squire-less so “Gun For Hire” Osborn joined us, as did Critchy who’s efforts as Soundman at the last gig earned him some repeat business. We picked up The Critch from outside his normal job of work where he had failed to complete all his invoicing so was probably gonna get sacked on Monday… but Rock & Roll always comes first.

Our mode of transport was not the best – our usual hippy tourbus had been taken off the road at the last minute, and the best we could get was a 14-seater minibus from Stamford. The Professor was having none of it when Burkey suggested we “unbolt some of the seats” so we had to squeeze all our gear in & around the seating arrangements. The Professor and The Dave were named drivers…..

The journey was a lovely one. Sunshine, sandwiches, lager, tunes on the Ukelele, and Critch going for a roadside slash in some nettles….

When we arrived in the Beamish Valley, we nearly ran over some sheep that had wandered across the road. We crossed a rickety bridge and arrived at a fork in the road where a guy was just about to put a sign up. We stopped to ask him directions, kinda guessing that the sign he was erecting might in fact be directional signage to the Festival. He spread himself out, back to the sign so we couldn’t see it…….

“Can we see what’s on your sign mate?” 
“Er…no, not unless you tell me who you are…” 
“Er… we’re The Fraudsters….?” 
“Oh, you’re the band for tonight. Great. Alright…….”
“…..Well, can we see the sign then?”
“Errr… just let me put it up”
“Come on dude we’re blocking the road. Just show it us now!” 
“If I show it you here it will be pointing the wrong way” 
“Well, show it us upside down then” 
“You won’t be able to read it”….

And so the surreal conversation went on until finally he said: “Go left here and follow the road round to he left, through the gate and the Village Hall is just there”
We arrived at the Village Hall, which is 100% powered by solar panels on the roof. This would therefore be a first for The Fraudsters – our first gig powered by renewable energy! We unpacked, set up, soundchecked and did a quick rehearsal to tapping feet and nods of approval from the people already there, and by 7pm we were ready…… for a game of football. At that moment someone suggested that it was a lovely evening so why don’t we dismantle everything and set up outside?…. Luckily some of us were still sensible enough to discount such a ridiculous idea and we opted for the game of footy on the Village Green as originally planned.

The teams were selected, 3-a-side, the Backline of Burkeydrums, Davebass and Critchysound versus the frontline of Mr.Xinger and Metz/Osbornguitars. The Frontline stormed into a 4-1 lead and it was looking like a bad day at the office for the Backline Brian, until the rhythm section suddenly found all the old skills they used to display when they played for The Posh, Gary. Some wonderful interchange play (and some DIRTY cropping and ridiculous penalty CHEATING) saw the Backline storm back from the dead to win 7-6 Alan. Football eh, bloody hell!

It was now time for the hog roast, and we were allowed to jump the queue and feed ourselves which was most welcome. The Hog Roast was smouldering away all night, and we were able to dabble in quite a few samples of different flavoured hogroasts throughout, including some hogroast specially prepared in the van by a Scottish bloke who got friendly with us. There was in fact LOADS of hog, plenty to go round, and everyone seemed to be on it. It was like Emmerdale on Hog Roast……

Whilst sat round chillaxing with the hogroast, Dave was approached by a big fella with a Geordie accent: 
“Hey you Mug or whatevah yer name is, ya cheeky focker. I read yer gig blog from our hoose party, sayin’ tha place was dusty ya cheeky bastid! I’ll kick ya arse earle the waay back t’Stretford like, ya canny bastard!”

It’s nice to have a satisfied customer!

As the main event was fast approaching (that’s us playing live!) an auction took place to raise money for the charity. This guy was assigned to do the Auction, and he very quietly took his place on stage after silently listening to Burkey’s mic instructions….. then he absolutely LAUNCHED into a full-on cattle market-stylee auctioneering display: “Aaaand Lot 25 herenow thiswonderfulpairofstormproof fieldboots who’llgiveme twentyfivepounds, twentyfive,five,five, 5,5,5,5, thankyousir, thirty,thirty,thirty, backoftheroomforty,forty, forty,5,5,5,5,5fiftyfiftysixtylefthandsidethankyoumaa’msixtysixty sixty…..”

Bloody awesome performance from the support act there – we had a job to follow that!

And so to the gig. It was even more awesome than the auction. There can be no doubt that the crowd were “up for it” as the dancefloor became mass drunken rampage, the cast of “Monarch of The Glen” basically letting their hair down in a BIG way. When we have a crowd like this, you buzz off it as a musician and it makes the performance even better. When the band is rocking, the crowd buzz off you even more and so it spirals upwards.

We had some classic moments on stage – things that the audience never notice, like Ozzy simply not playing at all through “This Charming Man” (“My capo put all me strings well out of tune!”) and Dave asking Nick at the start of “You Got The Love”: “What note does this start on, is it C flat?”

We played “Laid” twice by accident, which bothered no one in the slightest cos it’s a popular song. During “Don’t Look Back in Anger” The Prof. decided to forgo his lead guitar duties and unilaterally take over the lead vocal!! This annoyed Mr.X so much so that he announced later that “all microphone privilages have been withdrawn!”

“Sit Down” was a riot of seated lunatics, and after finishing and encoring, we were persuaded to go back on stage for a THIRD set. This was after yet more hog roast and some 12-year-old malt, so we weren’t in the best state to play by this time…. But we did the business anyway, somehow managing to pull off Sally Cinnamon, Resurrection and One Day Like This (i.e. songs we haven’t rehearsed much recently). We must’ve played a couple of others, but who can remember such details of a fine party?

It was then The Fraudsters DJ show until someone pulled the plug at about 3am. Of the survivors still in the hall, invited us all back to their place to continue the party. They lived a ten minute walk down a dark country lane, and we arrived at the house which they ’d only just moved into so had no furniture. Sitting on the floor drinking lager, consuming what was left of the hogroast and singing along to Metz’s ukulele playing it was like being back in student digs…..

Ozzy, Xan and Critch had all crashed out on the floor by 5am and it was daylight outside, so Dave, Metz and Burkey decided to have an exodus movement of Jah people, and headed back to the village hall to sleep on the stage we had earlier played on. When the trio arrived at the hall the pack-up fairies had been and all our equipment was neatly packed away ready for loading into the van in the morning. Brilliant (or was that bit a dream?)

After worrying some sheep we finally got our heads down at 5.30am, only to be woken ten minutes later at 8.30am by the cleaners coming in and announcing “Oh my GOD! What a MESS!”

After bidding our goodbye farewells we left Ingram Village in a state of blissful shock not seen since the last gang of outsiders steamed into the village and took the place by storm – The Vikings. We left with a tentative booking for The Hunters’ Ball next year, and the journey home was fairly low key with Dave at the wheel trying to conserve fuel. The most notable event was our amazement at a place near Newcastle called “Wide Open” or “Wide On” or something.

Thank you to all who looked after us up there near the Scottish Border, especially the organizers John and Louise. See y’again!

Davebass