Saturday, 12 July 2014

Beat-Herder Festival 2014

The festival of festivals returns for 2014 and I can't wait to get back to Beatherdershire...

Now in my 8th year, I have been DJing at The Beat-Herder Festival in the Trailer Trash tent since the crew first asked me in 2007.  I'd done a few local festivals at that point as well as popping my Glastonbury cherry a few years earlier, but nothing could have prepared me for the warm glow I felt as soon as I arrived on site.  "you need to get down here", "it's a proper little festival", "no they don't do day tickets, just come down on Saturday and you'll love it" were some of the text messages I was bashing out on my mobile.

I was on my own that first year but the Trailer Trash crew made me feel so welcome. Everyone had a smile and a friendly face, and I quickly got the feeling they could not do enough for you as we chatted as we set up before the doors opened. I'd not seen that side at a festival before, but I liked it.  I'll be ever grateful to the Deane twins for helping me to pitch my tent a little bit further up a hill than I was going to put it. I'm about as good at that kind of thing as I am with DIY!

I played my first set on the Friday night - Annie had just finished playing to a packed tent and I remember having the shakes as I put the needle on my record as I took to the decks.  My nerves quickly disappeared as the well up for it crowd continued to move to whatever I played for them, be that funk, nu jazz, soul, broken beat, house and hip hop.

Friday night came and went. I hung out behind the Trailer Trash tent all night and was most impressed with what the residents played. Each had their own style and between them they covered everything from reggae, dub, US house, breaks, funk, soul, jazz, afrobeat, techno, disco and punk.

I woke up the next day wondering where the heck I was?... what's that hard thing sticking in my hip?... why am I lop sided? Then it came rushing back to me. I'm at The Beat-Herder, I'm wrapped around my record box, and I'm on a hill.  I unzipped my tent and no less then 30cm's away from me was a 3 foot wide puddle. It had rained and if James and Martin hadn't moved me up the hill I would have been swimming in it!

On the Saturday I had a couple of wanders around the site, I love people watching and it was a pleasure to see everyone getting down and having a great time. I caught a bit of Andy Weatherall, Dub Pistols and Tayo, hung around the Bush Rocker Hi Fi for a bit then sloped back off to the Trailer Trash tent.  At this point most, if not all, of the music stages were in the main field. I recall getting some beans on toast from a vendor in the top field where Trailer Trash is these days.

The Saturday night was a late one. I crawled into my tent around 6:30am and fell asleep to the sound of people chatting, laughing and some tribal drumming in the distance. Around 8am the camp got a bit quieter as more people got some shut eye but come 11am people were back on their feet and the stage was being set up for another day of beats and barminess. At 12 noon the sounds systems fired up and we were off again.

Sunday went really fast, the numbers had thinned out a little as the day trippers left and only the hardcore remained. There were some sights on that Sunday believe me ;)  12 midnight came too soon but the crew party carried on discretely, quietly and respectfully until the early hours.

Although there was a variety of tents to choose from I spent most of the weekend in the Trailer Trash tent because, and I can say this honestly, that is where the best music was being played.

I left that field still shaking my head in disbelief that I'd just been to the best festival I had ever been to and it was only 40 minutes away from my house. Incredible.

For the next few weeks I told everyone that would listen about my new found love. I talked about it pretty much every week on the radio and was made up when James Deane contacted me to ask if I wanted to play again in 2008. "Yes please I'd love to" was my immediate response. I have been lucky enough to be asked back every year since.

Over the last 7 years we have seen the festival grow and become more and more popular. All of my friends go now and it is one of The highlights of the year for myself and many others. And the way that the Beat-Herder crew have nurtured their baby as it has grown is a pleasure to see. They do it without a load of corporate sponsorship, you never hear the word 'brand', there are underground tunnels that bring you out in the weirdest of places, the camping fields have proper sinks and taps in them, and there are even showers.

Each year the Beat-Herder crew build a bit more and surprise us with something new. Be that a cinema with an underground bar, a new street with a Hotel California, a scrap yard containing clapped out classics fitted with a DJ booth, The Parish Church, a sword in a stone or a full size Fortress. This year the new stage is called The Ring.

As with previous years, tickets for 2014 sold out about a week ago. If you missed out but still want to go, check out the Beatherder Ticket Exchange on Facebook and you might get lucky.

This year as well as doing my traditional Trailer Trash set, that I have shared with Chris Holt since 2011, I will be playing in The Perfumed Garden with the Cowbell Radio DJs, and then I will playing some more with Chris in the Snug on the Sunday.

Beat-Herder 2014 Set Times

The Perfumed Garden Opening Party - Friday 4pm-7pm
Paul Thornton with the Cowbell Radio DJs

Trailer Trash - Saturday 4pm-6pm
Paul Thornton & Chris Holt Back To Back Freestyle Set

The Snug - Sunday 4pm-8pm
Paul Thornton & Chris Holt Back To Back 7" Soul Set

Just some of the Festival highlights for me this year include Coleman Brothers, Dave Angel, DJ Format, Ed Mahon, Galaxians, Greg Wilson, Howard Marks (DJ set), John Berry, John Morales, John Tree, Karl Roscoe, Macka B & The Roots Reggae Band, Mark Turner, Mr Scruff & MC Kwasi, Phil Smith, Raikes Parade (live), Red Tin Dave, Sean P, Steve Cobby, Stone Penguin DJ Collective, Tayo meets Acid Rockers, Templebys, The Lumberjack Cowboy Heartbreak Trucking Company, The Orb (live), Trailer Trash residents and Underground Roots Soundsystem.

Check the full line up for 2014 at


Paul Thornton & Chris Holt have built a reputation as one of Preston's finest DJ tag teams. The vinyl enthusiasts have lugged their crates of black wax to clubs and festivals all over the UK.

Both obsessive record collectors, their sets come rooted in the past whilst giving a nod to the future effortlessly joining the dots between funk, soul, disco, boogie, hip hop, jazz, afrobeat, reggae, bass, house and techno.

Seasoned club and festival regulars, Thornton and Holt have supported live acts from as far a field as the USA and tore the roof off The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club 3 times in a row!!!

At last year's festival the duo's set wrapped their love of 'good music' into a neat little Beat-Herder bundle and took dancers in the Trailer Trash tent on a 2 hour journey from reggae, funk, soul, latin jazz, hip hop and Scruff style beats through to disco, boogie, afrobeat, house and techno. Plus they managed to squeeze in a Sunday Soul set in The Snug, and Paul played in the Perfumed Garden as part of the Cowbell DJ crew.

Back again this year for the full weekend, expect to hear some serious slabs of vinyl when the duo get together.

Check out Paul & Chris djing back to back at past Beat-Herder's:

Paul Thornton:
DJ, radio presenter, itch resident, Boogizm regular, Trailer Trash crew, Beat-Herder Festival veteran and general vinyl hoarder, Paul Thornton is a key-player at Preston's longest standing club night, Itch, and presents the Dig Deep show on the mighty Cowbell Radio.

Recent guests on the show have included Rahaan, Mr Mendel, Marcel Vogel, John Morales, Danielle Moore, Zernell Gillie, Boogie Nite, Bruce Ivery, Cottam and Simba.

This is Paul’s 8th year playing at the Beat-Herder Festival! You can find a huge archive of Paul's mixes, live sets and radio shows by visiting:

Chris Holt:
Collector and self proclaimed Vinyl Junkie with a career spanning twenty-plus years as a DJ, radio presenter, producer and record label owner he continues to be a familiar face at many of the North West's best parties.

As a key player in the Source 49 collective in the early nineties, Chris pioneered and perfected his trademark blend of soul, funk, latin, ska, reggae and afrobeat which has stood him in good stead ever since. Numerous forays into club-land followed, including stints at the legendary Corner Club and residencies at the legendary Jazzy Kex, the Black Horse and Jazz in the Park as part of The Outbreak Collective.

His Four Corners Radio show running now for over 8 years has attracted some Key players in the Funk/Soul and Disco scene and is going from strength to strength...

Listen to Four Corners anytime at

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