Where in the UK is Kitty Stewart?
With a burning desire to explore my creative side, to write and play music in a peaceful setting, I took myself away for a weekend to a beautiful glamping site close to Bridport in Dorset. I couldn’t have found a more perfect spot, in a field of charming old renovated trailers and wagons, I settled for my very own secluded spot with a sea view at the top of the field.
I couldn’t have been more at peace here, and I spent my weekend admiring the view and dipping in and out of writing, singing and playing ukulele, sitting around a fire with a glass of wine in the evenings, listening to the owls and gazing at the stars.
From one end of the Jurrasic coast to the other, I headed to the scenic coastal fields of Swanage in the Purbecks to a close friend’s festival-style wedding which was truly magical! Myself and a band mate performed a song written especially for the occasion by the bride to her husband, with sweet harmonies and a waltz-style ukulele pluck, as the wedded couple walked down the colorful flower-woven aisle.
Following a wonderful hand-fasting ceremony, the day was filled with live music from a host of different bands and solo artists, including a set of my own and a fun ukulele workshop. With around 25 ukulele novices, including grandparents and grand-children, with the youngest child being around 3 years old, everyone was taught a simple, 4-chord song, ‘Octopus’s Garden’ by The Beatles. I assisted in the delivery of the workshop which ended with a live performance to the rest of the wedding crowd. The Uku ukuleles were much loved and the workshop was thoroughly enjoyed by all involved, including the audience!
From one field to another, some 130 miles across the South of England, I landed upon a rather unexpected treat at the first edition of a brand new electronic/psychedelic music and arts festival, Anthropos. Taking place on the Hertfordshire-Cambridgeshire border, Anthropos Festival really wow-ed me and was a great introduction into the Psy-music scene.
The festival compiled of some incredible top acts, including Desert Dwellers, Kaya Project and Symbolico– along with lectures, live art, workshops, meditation, yoga and activities.
Anthropos celebrates what it means to be human, delving deep into the creative beauty of the mind through music and art. With ceremonies playing a large part in the festival’s rhythm, bringing the Anthropos family together, to jam around the fire with music, dance and fire performances and to thank our ancestors and the elements that have brought us here today.
My set on the acoustic stage was well received and I was pleased to have sold a bunch of my new CD’s. The crowd even withstood the light shower of rain that fell during my set as they sat on the grass beyond the stage’s canopy.
I spent the evenings at the main stages set in the beautiful woodland entranced by the animated projection and live performers that created a hypnotic quality across the moonlit forest. The rich bass and percussion-driven confection of psytrance, psydub and psy-breaks had me dancing deep into the night and feeling a real connection with the crowd and the forest.
A huge geodome art tent contained an impressive exhibition by visual artists of the psychedelic aesthetic, and more art installations featured throughout the site, including seating, structures and light sculptures. A super eco-minded festival, meant that all of the decor was built using natural, sustainable resources and strictly ‘no plastic’, with much of the ‘Metaforest’ being constructed using found materials. What a delight to enter a festival with such a green vision, with only plant-based meals, virtually no rubbish, and even a carbon footprint offset initiative to plant a tree for every ticket bought, creating an ‘Anthropos Forest’ on a nearby site.
Psy-music lovers travelled from all over Europe to attend the festival, which proves just how popular the line-up was and how well promoted and marketed it had been. I was truly impressed at the success of this first time festival. The power of intention set by the organizers is one which I much admire, with it’s embrace for human connection, a united, community feel, a space filled with teachers and tools to unlock your creativity, and an opportunity to connect with nature, to see it for all it’s beauty and to immerse yourself in the power of music.
Following on from the magic of Anthropos Festival, I was blessed with the perfect weather to celebrate the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice at Europe’s largest stone circle, Avebury in Wiltshire. A first-time road trip in my new mini camper-van, with two close friends, we headed for the stones and found a beautiful spot to camp up on the ridgeway, between other solstice lovers, with panoramic views across poppy fields and sacred sites.
After a galavant through fields and hedgerows we approached the awe-inspiring stone circle to join hundreds of others just in time for the sunset. Sitting up on the ridge overlooking the huge stones we jammed with our ukes and some percussion as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon. We headed down to the inner circle of stones as people began to gather around the druids and the drum circle. A ceremony with fire spinners and drummers commenced and the scent of burning sage and palo santo filled the air as it began to cool.
We jammed and mingled throughout the night, only getting a brief encounter of stars in a semi-dark sky. Being the shortest night of the year, with less than 6 hours between sunrise and sunset, it barely seemed like the sky had a chance to darken alongside the light of the moon. What a beautiful moment it was as the sun began to peak over the hill as it dawned and a big cheer, of howls, oms and drums rippled across the site.
Finally my debut Uku gig took place at a quirky little venue for a special event raising funds for LEOT, a UK based charity to pay for hand washing facilities for children at village schools in Laos. It was a very intimate evening of unplugged music from local musicians, including a full band with drums, brass and bass. It was a great opportunity to show off my beautiful Uku ukuleles and it sounded great! The crowd jumped at the opportunity to take home some Uku stickers and the fundraiser was overall a great success.
Having just returned from the UK’s largest festival, Glastonbury brought my month to a close and what a way to end June! I saw some of the world’s top musical acts, including The Killers, Fatoumata Diawara, Maribou State, Cat Empire and My Baby (my personal favorite) and I even got to see the incredible, Sir David Attenborough. This brilliant festival took all the energy I had left after a busy month of festivals, gigs and EP releases and I partied and worked hard, spending my daytimes fundraising for Greenpeace UK, chatting to friendly strangers about the campaigns, serenading them with ‘Earth songs’ on my ukulele and inspiring them to join as Greenpeace members. It was a hugely successful weekend for the organization, and I was proud to have contributed to such a great cause.