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Sevenoaks Rustfest, The Rifleman, Sevenoaks, February 20th 2010

February 21, 2010

Laurel Canyon Band, Ty Watling, Nick Dunning, Ian Ravenscroft, Jon Browne, brandnewguy and more

Sevenoaks was the destination for me and my fellow Neil Young nuts, aka ‘the Rusties’ as we’re rather cultishly known. Fine singer-guiarist Ty Watling’s Laurel Canyon Band were getting together for a night of West Coast music, consisting mostly of Neil Young and CSNY songs, but with some other Californian sounds thrown in, as their name would suggest. But before then, a host of folks dipped in with their musical contributions. And the whole thing was in aid of the well-deserving Demelza House.

Arriving at some point after two o’clock was always going to mean the barrels at The Rifleman were going to take a pounding. And sure enough the Ruddles, Old Hooky and Yorkshire Terrier were all very tasty. Ian Ravenscroft kicked off the afternoon soundchecking a few numbers including The Needle And The Damage Done, which prompted yours truly to join him on backing vocals. This seemed to go down OK with the crowd of three… He also dusted off Neil Young’s rare 80s country song Good Phone:

Let your fingers do the walking / Call me up some time / I’m listed under ‘Broken Hearts’ / Looking for a good time… / I’m your disconnected number now / And you’re a private line.

More people arrived and the proceedings proper kicked off with Nick Dunning singing some of his own songs – delicate and thoughtful – as well as a few of Neil’s, including Love In Mind. Then Ian came on again to deliver a fine set of Neil tunes, of which a flawless Broken Arrow was the highlight. Wilco eat your heart out…

Ty Watling showed off his solo skills with a varied set of covers, including Long May You Run, Townes Van Zandt’s Pancho And Lefty and Warren Zevon’s spirited Lawyers, Guns And Money. A varying selection of acts then pitched in until the Laurel Canyon Band took the stage for a brilliant selection of West Coast tunes, including lots of singalong songs – Down By The River, Rockin’ In The Free World – as well as a fabulous Cortez The Killer.

The festivities didn’t stop there, though. Those of us staying in the hotel nearby made the most of the late bar there and, thanks to Ian’s fine guitar-playing, the singing in the bar continued long into the night, including my own a cappella version of Captain Kennedy.

The occasion also merited bringing out the ‘More Barn’ t-shirt – if you don’t know the story behind this, here’s how Graham Nash tells it:  ‘I once went down to Neil’s ranch and he rowed me out into the middle of the lake – putting my life in his hands once again. He waved at someone invisible and music started to play, in the countryside. I realised that Neil had his house wired as the left speaker and his barn wired as the right speaker. And Elliot Mazer, his engineer, shouted, “How is it?” And Neil shouted back, “More barn!”‘

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