With Band of Horses headlining, and Billy Bragg getting all protest-y on us, the second of year of the Black Deer Festival more than lived up to the promise of the first. From its gloriously eclectic line-up – including brilliant sets from Fantastic Negrito, Kris Kristofferson, Yola, The Sheepdogs and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton – to its special partnership with Nicolas Winding Refn, screening restored vintage Americana films handpicked by the director of Drive, this was an event ready to flex its creative muscles. It even introduced a new Livefire stage, dedicated to cooking demos and BBQ contests.
Walking around Eridge Park you couldn’t get over spacious feeling, with the beautiful green hills of Kent rolling away in every direction. Despite increasing capacity to 10,000, Black Deer still feels like one of the most pleasant and laid-back festivals on the UK circuit. This should be no surprise given that its creators, Gill Tee and Deborah Shilling, worked on the late lamented Hop Farm Festival, which always put music first and commercial considerations second. Here’s hoping Black Deer will be around a long time — and in the meantime, revisit the fest in photographs.
Lede photo: Ania Shrimpton