“DAM” Beer Festival – Friday, 8th July, 2022
by Phil Barr. Photos and Videos John Sargent
In the midst of a tumultuous week in politics, while some people were busy pondering over whether they were Ready for Rishi, there were no such doubts in the minds of the Wakeylele Band who arrived at the Newmillerdam Beer Festival (in aid of the 15th Wakefield Scouts) on a warm summer evening in the certainty that they were Ready to Rumble. The prospect of sampling local ales prompted a large turnout and such were the numbers who gathered inside a large tent that a pre – performance group huddle was deemed unnecessary.
David, however, with an understandably worried brow, surveyed the bustling and noisy scene around us with people gathered round tables at close quarters chatting away at the same time as Barnsley Road traffic was rattling by before deciding on a no nonsense, up and at ’em approach. So, looking at us with determined eyes, and with the aid of basic sign language he pointed first to his ear ( Listen!) and then to his eyes with two linked fingers; ( I was worried this gesture meant we had to be prepared for a spot of gouging before realising it was just a reminder to watch him closely for cues).
And so the band launched into a repeat of the Open Gardens set list but this time at full throttle and it soon became clear that any doubts about overcoming the aforementioned obstacles were unfounded as from first to last we received an enthusiastic response from the many onlookers – indeed kind comments began to accumulate as the evening progressed.
There was further positive news at the interval as the organiser of the event handed out more beer tokens and in addition David Blackburn appeared to acquire extra supplies making him very popular. As there was a generous interval there was time for members of the band to share in snippets of their domestic lives. John was gratefully recovering from a fraught afternoon with his grandchildren, Peter Joule was recovering from scrabbling to find a parking space, Roy was regretting his attempt to develop an Ibiza – style tan in his back garden at Snydale which only resulted in lurid pink knees ( knobbly) and thighs and Richard apparently had had to settle for a hurried main meal of three pikelets ( past their sell – by date) before leaving the house…but enough of the Problem Page.
The band resumed proceedings with a jolly and suitably seasonal rendition of the Blackpool Belle, another chance for the bells and whistles section to indulge themselves whilst David and Roy provided further entertainment using their kazoos to perform a more than passable imitation of Sooty and Sweep.
A special mention at this stage to the more unassuming members of the band such as Malcolm and Mike ( YAA organiser), not to mention people like Lynn, who walked from Crigglestone, and Beryl, who looked dressed and ready if called upon to wow the crowd with a classy ballad. Meanwhile the crowd participation grew with the ever popular I’m into Something Good and San Francisco Blues and maybe more surprisingly Leaning on a Lamp Post which was met with thunderous applause and the momentum continued unabated despite the real possibility of the entire back row of the band being repeatedly sucked under and out of the tent as each double decker bus thundered by.
There was also the 200 decibel problem posed by Meat Loaf style motorbikes roaring past – the band, though, seamlessly upped their volume a notch in response to David lifting his palms in unison ( Les Dawson style). Amusingly, towards the end of our second set, any song signing off with a mass tremolo was interpreted by the crowd as the last song of the evening – Wagon Wheel being a good example – and when the intended finale was completed there were unexpected but welcome shouts of “More”
( unknown territory!) to which we had little choice but to respond and then receive the final ovation.
The organiser immediately thanked David with an invitation for us to return and it only remained for the band to collect their belongings and pass round the vocalzone sweets on their return to their cars apart from any rogue wild swimmers who fancied cooling off in Newmillerdam.
Thanks once more to David for galvanising the group from the beginning and to the very hospitable organiser who also kindly made a donation to our chosen charity , Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Next up is a gig on 10th August at Manygates Park – start time tbc.