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Preview: Lounge On The Farm at Merton Park

Published 22 May 2011

The Lounge on the Farm started only in 2006 and has quickly built itself a reputation as one of the best festivals in the country.

The line-up never scales the grand heights of Reading/Leeds or Glastonbury but you can be sure to find an eclectic mix of great up-and-coming bands as well as a few bigger names from years past.  It has justifiably won a reputation as one of the best festivals to catch acts that will be on bigger festivals main stages in the year ahead.

The festival itself is held at Merton Farm in Canterbury but the media launch event was held in the considerably smaller Hackney City Farm in East London. Featuring a brief preview of some of the acts (Marques Toliver & Marcus Foster), the event had a casual atmosphere, plenty of media-speak (love your blog dahling!) and an open bar.

Free booze is a tried and true method of getting press to attend your event but in this case it was slightly counter-productive. The stage was set in a small room which opened out into a nice little garden with a bar and BBQ. However, the two acts performing were both acoustic based, which meant the dozens of drunken conversations going on meters away from the stage were quite distracting for anyone actually trying to listen to the music.

Not that they missed much from Marcus Foster, who mines a nu-folk/blues sound that is as embarrassingly pretentious in its contrivance as hopelessly generic in its execution. Each song was a tuneless two note blues riff with accompaniment from someone whacking a percussive box that dragged on into jams, despite the songs running out of ideas ten seconds in.

Sadly, those too captivated by the free bar missed out on Marques Toliver, whom it would be modest to describe as a musical genius. Performing solo on violin and vocals, he combined fantastical yet personal lyrics into stunning narratives on love and loss.

His voice combined all the best elements of soul, r‘n’b and jazz singing while his arrangements and technique on the violin were simply stunning. The accompaniment to each song was fairly similar, but no less impressive each time, as gently plucked arpeggio’s gave way to dizzying runs that morphed into gentle tides of sound. It truly has to be seen/heard to be believed.

Though his style and sound are far too idiosyncratic to reach a mainstream audience, he is sure to find a very dedicated following in years to come. Marques Toliver is certain to be one of the standouts among an already impressive line-up at the festival proper in a few months time.

Lounge on the Farm will be held at Merton Farm in Canterbury from the 8th to the 10th July 2011. Festival tickets available from TicketLine.