Description: E:\Data\Web\Elkfest\Elkweb2011\lrelk.gifElkfest 2004Description: E:\Data\Web\Elkfest\Elkweb2011\rlelk.gif

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Bob kayak boB

in Widdington



Description: E:\Data\Web\Elkfest\Elkweb2011\carpark.jpgI 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. 

The 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. 

Description: Friday night starts with a drink or two or ...Having located 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).

In 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.


Description: The Lodge PorterWaking 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.

Breaking 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.

Description: The GardnerDescription: Suzanne and the Lodge PorterThe cabaret 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?)  

Description: Albert?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 exposf the dangers of leaving your garage doors open, although I understand this was included in their pre-breakfast encore.

Description: CarolineStill reeling 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 hypnotic performance.

Description: Tom with his ballsIts 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.

Finally 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.

It 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.

Downhearted, 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].


With 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.

Description: The radio play line-upThe 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 inexperience.

Carolines 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.

Description: More "actors"Newcomers Andy (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.

Unfortunately 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.


Description: Crimson ShadowAnd 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.

An 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.

Description: Crimson ShadowReverting 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.

Description: Crimson ShadowThe 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.

It 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.


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