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Kneedeep 2013 festival stays true to grassroots ethos

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 30, 2013

  • Music fans at Kneedeep festival in East Cornwall enjoy acts on the acoustic stage (top) and main stage (above)

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An eclectic line-up of live music, Cornish films, late-night DJ sets, cheap food, local cider and even a pasty-crimping class are among the delights awaiting those attending Cornwall's quirkiest festival.

Intended as a grassroots antidote to Glastonbury, Kneedeep 2013 – which is being staged at a secret location near Liskeard – aims to extend its non-corporate ethos of "no advertising, no branding, no marketing".

Conceived five years ago by an idealistic group of friends – Fred Stuart, James Day-Cocking, Dominic Pipe and Jamie Jacketts – Kneedeep has succeeded through a combination of innovation, dedication, reinvestment and enthusiastic local support.

Starting life as a series of gigs in Stoke Climsland village hall and progressing to a one-day event at the tiny village of Bray Shop in 2010, Kneedeep became a full-blown weekender in 2011, consisting of two stages, a campsite and food tents.

Previous years have included appearances by Willy Mason, Theme Park, Tall Ships, Peter & Kerry, Bordeauxxx, Jon Phonics, Wolf Alice, and Ellis & The Woods.

With two stages boasting the likes of Sweet Baboo, Black Tambourines, Flamingods and Deafkid, and a DJ tent featuring sets by Barefoot, Hairy Hands, Livin' Proof and My Panda Shall Fly, this year's line-up is more diverse than ever.

Fred Stuart, one of Kneedeep's founders, said: "This year we've really focused on creating a line-up that's as equally weighted as possible – not just booking bigger and better headliners but bringing all the artists up to a similar standard and size.

"We're also introducing a new cinema space, showing short films from local filmmakers, cult classics and sitcoms. The cinema has got an adjoining cafe, making it a real standalone area of the site.

"There will be lots more workshops and themed activities running over the weekend, including tie-dyeing, hat and mask making, pasty crimping, Zumba, and sports."

As well as the main and acoustic stages, a new arena called "Look Hear" will combine dance sounds with projected visuals, surrounding the participants and being fully interactive with their movements. Limited to a handful of people at a time, the organisers hope Look Hear will add to the festival's sense of intimacy.

"At larger festivals you rarely see a face twice," said Fred. "But at Kneedeep you can make genuine bonds with people. There's no getting lost, running out of phone battery and being unable to contact friends, because everyone's there, close at hand. As a result it has a real community feel to it – and the capacity is so small it feels even more special.

"All the organisers grew up in Cornwall, we rope our friends and family in to help, we build almost everything ourselves, and make and sell a lot of the food available. Everything is personal and the imperfections just make it feel more human. It's all non-profit as well, with anything made heading to charity or going back into making next year even better."

Fred and the team are determined to keep prices low and to resist any move towards corporate sponsorship.

"It's for those that can't afford to head off to Glasto but still want a festival experience," said Fred. "You don't have the usual stresses of a larger festival, finding space for your tent, bands clashing, long walks between stages, queues for just about everything, extortionate prices. All that is avoided at Kneedeep. That's why our bar, food and tickets are as cheap as possible."

For a full line-up visit kneedeepfestival.com

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