You’ve heard of Burning Man, but you have you ever heard tell of Ramblin’ Man? It’s a festival that just took place at Mote Park in Maidstone, Kent, and it collected an eclectic array of rock acts covering genres as diverse as Folk Rock and Prog Rock.
Ramblin’ Man wrapped up at the end of July, so it’s a little too late to participate. That said, you’re just in time to find out how things went.
The fest kicked off with something special on the Friday afternoon, something that has become a Ramblin’ Man staple. This year, turning up on Friday night meant being able to see four additional bands on the Planet Rock Main Stage, including Graham Bonnet, Last In Line, Y&T, and the legendary Saxon.
Graham Bonnet had to fight the classic British drizzle, but he still kick-started proceedings perfectly with a stirring run-through from Rainbow, MSG, and Alcatrazz. If we had to name a highlight? Bonnet belting out three legends from ‘Down to Earth’.
Last in Line excelled, living up to their reputation as a consummate live band, and their tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio was hugely impressive. Y&T were a popular choice, something evident enough from the reception they received, but it was the mighty Saxon who really turned it up to 11. The setlist covered such masterpieces as ‘And the Bands Played On’ and ‘Denim and Leather’. We even got ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ album in its entirety.
Saturday continued to combine awful weather with top acts. VIP members were treated to a Q&A session with the one-and-only Biff Byford, who hinted at a future solo album. For those there for nothing but the music, there was plenty to choose from on the festival’s multitude of stages.
Dirty Thrills kicked off the Grooverider stage. Steve Harris’s British Lion took to the Main Stage, though with slightly underwhelming results. Followed by Dokken, Rival Sons, Scott Gorham, and Black Star Riders, the Main Stage got pretty hot. The Rising Stage was another highlight, bringing several fantastic new bands into the mainstream.
And Ramblin’ Man has caught on to the idea that festivals need to be about more than the music. There were the usual array of food stalls selling everything from fries to ostrich burgers. Oh, and there was the motorcycle wall of death.