TRADITIONS COME AND TRADITIONS GO, BUT THE ELKFEST GOES ON
I always look forward to ElkFest, as its the only
time of year that I am allowed out of the Widdington Moose stationery
cupboard. Last year, unfortunately, the editor mislaid the key and I
was forced to spend an extra twelve months with just a stapler and a bag of
treasury tags for company. So it was with added eager optimism and
relief that I arrived at the event of the year.
press briefing was short and to the point; two points in fact, as the Lodge
Porter threatened me with a sawn-off pitchfork and handed me a map. I
removed my car from the Lodges reserved parking space, then spent the rest of
Friday afternoon familiarising myself with the new-look ElkFest site.
Stage B (formerly Stage A) and finding it to be a hive of inactivity, I sat
down and read through the press release. ElkFest 2004 looked promising
and I was particularly looking forward to the unveiling of the new sliding
roof over Stage A (formerly a stage), and the top-of-the-bill cabaret act,
Doctor Philip Baileys lecture on String Theory (although my badly printed
copy read: the dictator will present another of his strange theories).
the interests of catching up on sleep, I decided to forego the pleasure of
the Friday night is film night entertainment and dozed happily in the
overspill camping area. To be honest, not being a great fan of French
arthouse cinema, I didnt relish the prospect of watching Artsy and Such, so I
retired to the press accommodation.
HANGS GOAT IN CLOAKROOM
Waking to the
sound of wasps openly flouting the White Queens rule concerning the
consumption of jam, I snatched my pocket watch and hurried to Stage B, crying
Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late. I arrived just in time to miss
the Lodge Porters opening speech.
with tradition, the cabaret was held in the garden area for the first time in
living memory, but that was as far as the break extended. Despite the
unfamiliar surroundings, MC Paul Michelin tirelessly gripped the audience
with his unswerving introductions and his expert cornering; this man is a
master of corn.
opened with Gardeners Question Time. It lacked questions, but Clives
delivery was both crisp and dry, which belied his rain god status, and at
least I know where to find the clematis now. Anatomy lesson over, an
astonishing display of origami followed. Accompanied by Suzannes
tasteful narration, the Lodge demonstrated unprecedented dexterity with his
superb paper-folding act. (I must admit I was a little confused as to
why Suzanne felt it necessary to apologise to Gilbert and Sullivan when did
they ever apologise to us?)
Then Colin and Anne stepped up and showed us how
to dress up, dress down, and dress in between, during poetry readings.
Unfortunately there wasnt time for Annes demonstration of dressing down for
dead-heading and an expos頯f the dangers of
leaving your garage doors open, although I understand this was included in
their pre-breakfast encore.
from the unusually professional quality of the opening cabaret acts, I nearly
missed Carolines song. Since leaving Crimson Shadow, her solo career
has really taken off and her musical style now veers towards trance a truly
Its very rare
that one can witness a display of expert hand-eye-co-ordination at the
ElkFest, except Doctor Philip Bailey stoutly refusing to spill a drop of beer
even in the earliest hours of Sunday morning, but Tom was a treat with his
shiny lemming balancing act. A few lemmings attempted to throw
themselves into the audience, but he coaxed them back with a gentility rarely
seen at ElkFest.
a number of goatees took to the boards. Over the years, this half an
octet have proved that its not only Tom Selleck who can be upstaged by ones
own facial hair, and this year they proved it once again. They exploded
onto the stage, stumbled through a new piece entitled Would you like this hand
grenade absolutely, thank you, goodbye, then rattled off a brand new
arrangement of their Not One hit, Beard growing for beginners.
was a fine cabaret, but, as Mr Mitch Much-Elk wrapped it all up in neatly
folded brown paper, I couldnt help thinking that there was a distinct lack of
string. Then it dawned on me: where was the Doctor Philip Bailey
lecture? To lose one tradition seems unfortunate, but to dispense with
the Bailey lecture is akin to treason.
but not dismayed, I made my way towards the main stage for the revival of the
ElkFest Radio Play.
[We have been asked to point out that no lemmings were harmed in the production of this years cabaret Ead Itter].
TWO DOCTORS NO
NURSING STAFF ONE SAMANTHA
TWO DOCTORS NO
NURSING STAFF ONE SAMANTHA
two of the stalwarts of the ElkFest Radio Play defecting to that other Fest
[see page 5 Phil and Hayden receive frets from guitarist], I was expecting a
lacklustre performance and I wasnt disappointed.
The REC (Royal
ElkFest Company thats the one with cheese) have a tradition of introducing
exciting new talent at the drop of a cat, and this year we had new talent in
abundance. I wont bore you with the details of the plot, as I lost the
plot shortly before scene one, but overall it was a triumph of experience alongside
Mistress sparkled alongside the understated gravel and grovel of Doctor
Philip Baileys Yes Mistress, which sludged with consummate treacle.
Samantha dealt with the new FX technology with ease (although later testing
revealed she had raised her performance a semi-tone by taking F and all
charges were subsequently dropped). The Lodge reached new heights of
narration, aided by a soap-box and stack-heeled boots, and Dave responded to
cries of is there a doctor in the house? by stepping into Phils shoes alas,
they didnt fit.
(as Doctor Watson) and Jemma (dogged in her performance as K9 and Dogger in
her eagerly anticipated delivery of the shipping forecast) thrust and parried
without a hint of perimeter fencing. Less-newcomers, Clive and Sue,
proved beyond doubt that its all about timing and delivery. Clives
ciderman delivery was on time and as dry as it said on the flagon, and Sue
was a rock as Benson; her performance had military precision written all the
way through it. ElkFest Veteran, but ElkPlay Virgin, Chris (as the
Brigadier) gave a whole new meaning to dead-pan: he was that stiff kitchen utensil, although I was disappointed that
he hadnt bothered to change out of his goatee costume.
we may never know how all the twists and turns of the plot were resolved, as
just as the play was about to enter its final denouement, there was a
raid. Some of the cast are now helping police with their enquiries.
SUSPECTS CRIMSONS HAD OW!
And then we moved on to the main event. It
was a while before I realised it was the main event however, as I failed to
recognise the new-look Crimson Shadow, but they certainly maintained the
traditional OW factor.
almost brand new line-up, featuring only one original member and only two
survivors from last year, launched into a rousing set, mixing both old and
new, familiar and unfamiliar, with stuff I recognised and stuff I didnt.
Reverting to the old six-piece format of the old
Velkro-Elk days (although the old six-piece referred not only to the number
of personnel, but the number of tracks they knew), the familiar Crimson
Shadow Wash of Sound, which has become their tide-mark over the years, rinsed
out once again across the fields of tents and unharvested corn.
The new line-up of unusual suspects featured a
Lodge-look-alike on drums, an andy guitarist, Rick there isnt room for me to
set up all my keyboards in a circular fashion, so Ive gone for the layered
effect, Claire on vocals, Steve Ill groove if you groove on bass, and it was
good to hear Sandra adding a touch of brass to the proceedings.
was also good to hear the likes of Wasp Sting Sally, Fan the Wasp Away, and
Brown Eyed Wasp again, and new additions such as Only wanna wasp with you,
Yellow and Black Magic Wasp, and Wasp in Pocket, but sadly there wasnt a hint
of 21st Century Schiziod Wasp or even a glimmer of Wasp Time.
Nevertheless it was a dancers paradise and it was good to witness a display
of rutting not seen for many an ElkFest.
The week-end was rounded off with the traditional surreal breakfast, replete with dreams of ElkFests past and future. There was even talk of reviving the pagan tradition of burning a Festal Virgin inside a gigantic wicker elk. Fortunately the builders constructed a wicker elk too small to accommodate any of this years Festal Virgins. Maybe next year
This report of Elkfest 2004 was reproduced from the Widdington Evening Moose using a photocopier and bits of sticky tape.