FFS’s Carey Davies took a trip to Indietracks festival in Derbyshire. In part one of this four part review our intrepid reporter loses confidence in his state of mind, only to have it restored by checked shirts and drainpipe jeans.
It’s rare to arrive at a musical festival and have to ask a man and his dog where it is. But this was the situation I found myself in on a calm Saturday afternoon in late July, in the heart of England, searching for the elusive Indietracks.
It was sunny and gently hot, the sort of languid Summer perfection you find in Tennyson poems or romantic myth. The drive to the festival site, near Ripley in Derbyshire, had taken me through scores of villages that could have served as the basis for Postman Pat. To someone passing through, this part of the world seems to embody the quintessence of yesterday’s England, with the host of rural anachronisms: father-and-son shops, locals busily involved in actual conversations, village greens the stuff of idealised legend.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been suprised, then, when I dutifully followed the signs to the Midland Railway Heritage Museum and found myself in the actual 1947. The car park was full, but the only sign I could find said “Ripley and District Angling Association.” I got out of the car with a rising sense that I’d got the wrong weekend, or just invented the whole event in my fevered, post-Glastonbury mind (I didn’t even go.) I could hear the rhythms of a warm afternoon on the air – breeze in the trees, distant planes – but no music. Finally I approached my man and his canine companion with my weird question.
“Where is the music festival?”
He looked thrown. In a thick Derbyshire accent he replied:
“I’ve lived round here all my life and I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
Quietly panicking, I made my way to a building on the far side of the car park. I stepped through the doors to another era of England’s preserved past; a quiet train station. Portly uniformed men stood amiably on a single platform in the shade of a picketed roof.
An engraved sign told me this was Butterley Station. The place was empty. I approached the portly porters and repeated my question. This time there was no confusion: “It’s here”, he said, and after reading my expression: “The next train leaves in 20 minutes.”
I finally found the festival at the other end of a 10 minute journey on an ancient steel beast that clanked, hooted, heaved, and whistled as it puffed loudly along its rickety track. I disembarked wreathed in white steam and was back in the 21st century, surrounded by drainpipe jeans, chequed shirts and floral hair clips.