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The Good Life Experience


25 Apr, 2018



Caught by the River is an arts/nature/culture clash, posting daily at It was conceived in 2007 as an online meeting place for pursuits of a distinctly non-digital variety: walking, fishing, looking, thinking. From birdsong and beer to adventure and poetry; life’s small pleasures, in all their many flavours.

The CBTR crew have been running a stage at The Good Life Experience since the very beginning, and return this year with another triumphant line-up. Take a look at what's in store.

Undoubtedly one of the best party DJs there is, Greg Wilson's annual Glastonbury sets are the stuff of legend. A ground breaker in so many ways, Greg was the first dance music specialist to have a weekly session at Manchester's legendary Haçienda, and was instrumental in breaking the new electronic, post-disco records coming out of New York, a sound he has dubbed ‘Electro-Funk’. He was the first DJ to mix live on British TV, putting together the first UK radio mixes of their type for Piccadilly 261 in Manchester and showing a certain Norman Cook (later Fatboy Slim) how to scratch. Nominated by DJ magazine for outstanding contribution, and also named amongst their top twenty remixers of all-time, his reputation was further enhanced when his Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 became something of an instant classic in 2009, receiving almost universal acclaim and was selected as one of 10 classics that spanned the show’s near 17 year history. In 2015 Greg was presented with DJ Magazine's Industry Icon award, and deservedly so.

Multi-instrumentalist, producer, string-arranger and composer Bill Ryder-Jones has had a career spanning 15 yrs, a rarity in a world that looks to the new.  His talent stretches from a musical interpretation of Italian Calvinos ‘If On A Winters Night A Traveller' (2011's If..) to the top ten MOJO album of the year in 2016, 'West Kirby County Primary'. He is an artist’s artist with nods from musicians such as Courtney Barnett, Richard Hawley and Noel Gallagher.  Bill's music weaves an overarching sense of authenticity, intimacy and wryness that allows the listener to lean in. Whilst always exploring different songwriting styles, he has still kept a very strong sense of self. The Guardian described him as ‘A magical, colossal talent (….) that spills melody and emotion’. Bill's new LP is out just in time for The Good Life Experience.

Gwenno's debut album - the critically acclaimed Welsh language album 'Y Dydd Olaf' - was released in 2014. Her latest record, ‘Le Kov’, which translates as 'The Place of Memory', is written entirely in Cornish, and was met with a 4/5 Guardian review and spot on the BBC Radio 6 Music A-list for single 'Tir Ha Mor' in the week leading up to release. Like her debut, 'Le Kov' is a bold statement on the importance of protecting minority languages.

Songwriter and musician Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the hugely influential female punk band The Slits. A confidante of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, Viv was a key player in British punk culture. Alongside The Slits, she collaborated with numerous musicians, including Adrian Sherwood, before marking out a career in television and film production. After a hiatus of twenty-five years, Viv's first solo album, The Vermillion Border, was released in 2012 to great critical acclaim.

Every memoir is a battle between reality and invention - but in her follow up to Clothes, Music, Boys, Viv Albertine has reinvented the genre with her unflinching honesty. To Throw Away Unopened is a fearless dissection of one woman's obsession with the truth - the truth about family, power, and her identity as a rebel and outsider. It is a gaping wound of a book. An exercise in blood-letting and psychological archaeology, excavating what lies beneath: the fear, the loneliness, the anger. It is a brutal expose of human dysfunctionality, the impossibility of true intimacy, and the damage wrought upon us by secrets and revelations, siblings and parents. Yet it is also a testament to how we can rebuild ourselves and come to face the world again. It is a portrait of the love stories that constitute a life, often bringing as much pain as joy. With the inimitable blend of humour, vulnerability, and intelligence that makes Viv Albertine one of our finest authors working today, To Throw Away Unopened smashes through layers of propriety and leads us into a new place of savage self-discovery.

Chris Watson presents Ynys Enlli’ - The Island In The Currents’. A watercourse sound journey from Penycloddiau, a mountain in Flintshire, to Ynys Enlli - Bardesy island. Chris Watson is Britain’s premier wildlife sound recordist (and founder member of Cabaret Voltaire). For Touch he edits his field recordings into a filmic narrative. For example. the unearthly groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier is a classic example of, in Watson's words, putting a microphone where you can't put your ears. At The Good Life Experience Chris will give a talk from his vast and unique archive. This is always life-affirmingly brilliant.
Photo: Jason Roberts

Boy Azooga’s debut album, 1, 2 Kung Fu, is piloted by Davey Newington, a young man with much musical heritage. One of his granddads was a jazzer who played drums for the Royal Marines. Davey’s dad (violin) and his mum (clarinet) both played, and met, in the BBC National Orchestra Of Wales. Davey himself also enjoyed orchestral engagement, playing in various Welsh Orchestras and Jazz bands as a teenager. Davey’s vocals and arrangements carry the tunefulness of The Super Furry Animals. But the palette extends far beyond singer-songwriterly poignancy. Davey recruited friends Daf Davies, Dylan Morgan and Sam Barnes to form the Boy Azooga live quartet, an ensemble that swings smoothly from filmic instrumentals to a churning, rave-tinged rock that hints at both Can and their progeny in Happy Mondays.

East London five-piece folk band Stick In The Wheel are headed by singer Nicola Kearey, and guitarist/producer Ian Carter. Their debut From Here(2015) was fRoots magazine ‘Album of the Year’ and a MOJO ‘Folk Album of the Year’, with four BBC Folk Award nominations since their inception in 2013. Known for Kearey’s fierce, authentic delivery, this is culturally and politically switched on music with its roots firmly embedded in the genre’s traditional, working-class heritage. The group have been widely commended for their timely appraisal of English Folk, and their skill in telling stories through song that reconnect modern audiences to the past – drawing unexpected parallels between then and now.

Keyboard maestro David Wrench and Goldmsiths fine art student Evangeline Ling are on a quest to create a collection of stone cold, avant garde party bangers. In March the duo played their third-ever gig at The Social and, according to The Quietus, it was ace. With her beautiful, clear, strong voice, Evangeline Ling was compared to Alice in Wonderland, if she’d been raised by wolves. And David Wrench was hailed a benevolent, beautiful, disco-fingered wizard.

A Thankful Village is a village where every soldier returned alive from World War 1. The term Thankful or Blessed Village was coined by Arthur Mee in his set of guidebooks, The King's England in the 1930s. Singer-songwriter Darren Hayman is visiting each of the 54 Thankful Villages and making a piece of music and a short film for every one focussing on village life. Some take the form of instrumentals inspired by location, some are interviews with village residents set to music, others are new songs with lyrics or found local traditional songs. The songs only rarely deal directly with The Great War, Thankful Villages is a random device to choose small locations and explore aspects of community and history. The work is inspired, written and recorded in situ with some post-production added at home in London.

Erland Cooper is an award winning, multi-instrumentalist and producer who was born and raised on the archipelago of Orkney, Scotland. Exploring a balance between alternative, electronic and classical music, his debut solo project began as a gentle response to ease anxiety and claustrophobia working in a large city - setting out to create a sense of balance and calm for both him and the listener, while connecting identity, memory and place through music and cinematography.

“You know when a song is good enough to let go,” muses Seamus Fogarty of his patient and meticulous approach to songcraft. Over time and tide it’s given rise to the London-based Irish alt-folk and electronica alchemist’s truly magnificent second album and Domino debut The Curious Hand. A record not born of grand ideas realised at a stroke, but eked out slowly and steadily, honed and cultivated, turned over and around, deconstructed and put back together again. A record made through open-spirited collaboration with friends and family and hours lost in a headphone world. All that and Seamus’s natural inclination to take his songs and “screw them up,” as he puts it. By which he means squirreling them back to his home studio and applying the synthesiser drones and circuit burps, found sounds and spoken-word audio samples that give all of his records such wonderful atmosphere. It’s as if they’re haunted by rogue half-tuned signals from another world.

Hailing from the French proggy, psychedelic and experimental pop scene that birthed Melody’s Echo Chamber, Moodoïd and cult label La Souterraine, Halo Maud’s ethereal songs flit between English and French language, focussing on notions of freedom and power through a wild and playful lens. Right through the dream-pop sensibility and the swirling-synth psychedelia of Halo Maud’s debut album, something uncanny lurks. “I never did what other teenagers were doing,” she says, by way of explanation. “My father is a reverend but my mother rejected all religion, so I was always busy having a mystical crisis.” The record is rich with these contradictions, with the urge to be both precise and vague, wanting to be somewhere and wanting to run away.

The distinctly English, coal-fired translation of the acid-soaked culture of creatively liberated, seventies America, a world of The Magic Roundabout, Anne Briggs, Fairport Convention’s ‘Liege and Leaf’ and Tales of the Unexpected, has left an indelible mark on the psyche and, therefore, the lustrous songwriting of The Fernweh. It is a sound of delicate vocal harmony, slinking organ, manic guitar solos and grounded, kitchen-sink-drama imagery, as revealed in their debut single, The Liar, released on Skeleton Key on Fri 26 January 2018. After a decade or more of playing as able ‘side-men’ to some of Liverpool’s most renowned musical exports, Jamie Backhouse (guitars), Ned Crowther (vocals and guitar) and Oz Murphy (keys/saxophone) gathered to make the album they always knew they could make, based on a pure and profound love for a golden era for British and US folk rock.

77:78 is a new project from Aaron Fletcher & Tim Parkin, card carrying members of the musical kaleidoscope that is The Bees. Crate diggers and music nuts to the man, 77:78’s music possesses snatches of the fried, post-sandbox loveliness of The Beach Boys Smiley Smile, the clatter of King Tubby’s junkyard dub, the childlike playfulness of early Syd Barret and a gentle seabreeze of sublime West Coast harmonies and like The Bees, their almost-in-the-can debut album already sounds like staying up with a mate who has a mind-blowing record collection playing you all the best bits.

The DJ arm of Heavenly Recordings has played records, one after the other, at festivals, clubs, gigs and parties since 1990. The HJ gang are resident at The Social on London’ s Little Portland Street. To this day every single one of them believes in magic.

Ground Work: Writings on People and Places. We are living inthe anthropocene – an epoch where everything is being determined by the activities of just one soft-skinned, warm-blooded, short-lived, pedestrian species. How best to make our way through the ruins that we have made? This anthology of commissioned work tries to answer this as it explores new and enduring cultural landscapes, in a celebration of local distinctiveness that includes new work from some of our finest writers. We have memories of childhood homes from Adam Thorpe, Marina Warner and Sean O’Brien; we journey with John Burnside to the Arizona desert, with Hugh Brody to the Canadian Arctic; going from Tessa Hadley’s hymn to her London garden to caving in the Mendips with Sean Borodale to shell-collecting on a Suffolk beach with Julia Blackburn.

Joe Minihane is a Brighton-based travel writer whose work has featured in The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Escapism magazine, Vacations and Travel, Emirates Open Skies, World Travel Guide and The Independent. Between 2012 and 2015, Joe retraced Roger Deakin's seminal Waterlog, wild swimming  his way across the UK from Scilly to Scotland. The book about his journey, Floating: A Life Regained, was published in 2017 on Duckworth.

Lucy Cooke is a zoologist, broadcaster and bestselling author, and is the founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society. At this year's Good Life Experience, she'll be discussing her latest book, The Unexpected Truth About Animals.

Rough Trade Books is a new publishing venture in the mould of the pioneering independent record label, bringing the same original spirit and radical direction to the world of book publishing. 

Thomas Morris’ debut story collection, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing (Faber and Faber) won the 2016 Wales Book of the Year, the Rhys Davies Fiction Trust Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize – and was chosen as a Book of the Year by the Guardian, the Spectator, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent. A pamphlet of new stories will be published this year by Rough Trade Books.

Salena Godden is one of Britain’s foremost spoken word artists and poets whose electrifying live performances and BBC radio broadcasts have earned her a devoted following. She is the author of the collections, Under The Pier, Fishing in the Aftermath: Poems 1994-2014, and the literary memoir Springfield Road. Her live spoken word album LIVEwire was released with indie spoken word label Nymphs and Thugs and shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry 2017. A collection of new poetry Pessimism Is For Lightweights by Salena Godden will be published by Rough Trade Books in June 2018.

Helia Phoenix is an award-winning blogger, writer of books, and music, travel and culture journalist. For the past 20 years she has been working in content production of some sort. In that time she has worked on radio, made film documentaries, and been published by The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and others. She runs one of the top city blogs in the world -according to The Guardian- and one of Wales’s top 20 most influential Twitter feeds. 

Jude Rogers is a journalist, interviewer, writer, BBC Radio 4 documentary maker, arts critic, events host, prize judge, lecturer, professional Welsh person, romantic and geek. Her writing is regularly published in the Observer, Guardian, Radio Times, Hole & Corner, Supplement, The Pool, The Quietus, Caught By The River and more.

Will Burns is poet-in-residence for Caught by the River. A regular reader of his work at festivals across the country, his marvellous debut pamphlet, published through the prestigious Faber New Poets scheme in 2014, was hailed for its ‘quiet intelligence and subtle ways of seeing’, for a voice that is ‘rough but still tender, solitary, ruminating’. His equally brilliant second pamphlet was published by Clutag in 2016.

Jeff Towns is one of the world’s leading Dylan Thomas experts. An antiquarian bookdealer by trade, based in the poet’s home-town of Swansea, Jeff was originally known, both locally & globally, as ‘Jeff the Books’.He is now known simply, affectionately and professionally as ‘The Dylan Thomas Guy’. Jeff is also a published author, a public speaker,  documentary maker, regular media commentator across the written press, TV & radio, and  more recently an artistic consultant specialising in all things Dylan.

Actor Ceri Murphy's TV roles include BANG for S4C/BBC, THIRTEEN, THE INDIAN DOCTOR and HINTERLAND for BBC. Ceri has also worked extensively in leading roles for S4C. He is a regular cast member with the Welsh language national theatre - Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, and was recently seen at the Almeida with Dirty Protest.

Once again John will act as mighty master of ceremonies across the CBTR stage at TGLE. Gentleman, angler, writer and supplier of armoured fighting vehicles to Super Furry Animals, John is also a dealer in what he calls “vintage fishing tackle for the soul”. 


Main photo: Nenad Obradovic

A weekend of discovery + adventure, music, food, books + the great outdoors