The Big One: Hop Farm 2010

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 25 June 2010

What is it?
Hop Farm 2010 is a meeting of old folk and “nu folk”, both in terms of punters and performers, all wrapped up in an endearingly anti-corporate package. It's also the only place in the UK that you're likely to catch Bob Dylan live this summer, which is why a lot of people will be there.

Where and when?

The festival takes place on 2-3 July at The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent. A former working hop farm (funnily enough), the site is now one of Kent's biggest tourist attractions, boasting enough high-concept kid-pleasing activities and play areas to wear out an ADHD school trip...on speed.

Five to watch:

Ray Davies

Were it not for the presence of a certain American singer-songwriter, Davies would be far and above the most influential artist at the festival. As lead singer and chief songwriter for The Kinks, he penned some of the most sublime songs in the history of British pop music. If the sun shines you might be lucky enough to hear him perform ‘Waterloo Sunset’ at that optimum time of day. Therein lies an ultimate festival moment.

Mumford and Sons

These banjo-duelling nostalgists have risen to the forefront of the UK's “nu folk” scene over the past year with rousing tales of woe that marry an epic modernity with Appalachian Americana. Foot stomping good times are guaranteed.


They might look like the last names on the list at a Nicky Clarke dinner party but these new wave New Yorkers have a back catalogue littered with jump-around classics that will probably provide most of Friday's key highlights. ‘Atomic’, ‘Denis’, ‘Maria’, ‘Call Me’...need we go on?

Peter Doherty

As the legendary band with which he made his name prepare to stage their comeback, the tabloids' second favourite musical car crash will be strumming and humming his way through material from last year's surprisingly impressive solo effort, ‘Grace/Wastelands’... assuming he turns up that is.  

Seasick Steve

This American hobo-turned-massively successful, globe-trotting blues musician is a tireless performer and a wonderfully charismatic presence. If authenticity is what you look for in music, look no further.

One to miss:

Van Morrison

It's scandalous to suggest in some quarters but the sad fact is that Van the Man is a dull as bones performer, not to mention an often cantankerous curmudgeon. It's a set that will probably have its moments – ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, anything from ‘Astral Weeks’ – but there's a distinct possibility you'll find yourself groaning with boredom waiting for them to arrive.

Playing a rare UK festival date:

Bob Dylan

That's right, as already mentioned, Mr Zimmerman himself will be gracing Hop Farm with his presence this year (hence how organisers can get away with charging £65 for a day ticket). Though an insatiable live performer, Dylan doesn't tend to visit too many fests. And quite what set the notoriously enigmatic and unpredictable folk-rock icon will deliver is anybody's guess. If he's feeling generous, there'll be a good number of classics. If he's not, don't go expecting to recognise many of the songs.  

Inside tip:

Kill It Kid

This spirited Bath five-piece make a wholesome rock/country racket that bounces along on the back off dirty slide guitar, classic fiddle and great male/female combo vocals. Think Black Crowes with Roy Orbison on guest vocals.

Worst clash:

Ray Davies Vs Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Admittedly, it's annoying that Dylan clashes with Devendra Banhart, but there isn't really much competition there. More galling is the scheduling hash-up that pits Davies against these groove-tastic, Gorillaz-collaborating, all-round awesome party starters. Gutting.  

Be at Hop Farm if...

You enjoy a multi-generational crowd experience. You're as likely to hear teenagers cooing over Laura Marling and Pete Doherty as you are mums and dads discussing how Dylan's live act has evolved over the decades.

Avoid if...

You're looking for banging beats and all night dancing. Or if you have a problem with beards, banjos and musical introspection.

Festival tactics:

Don't try to pretend you know lots about Dylan. There will be a fair amount of people there with nigh-on encyclopaedic knowledge of his many ups and downs and you'll only look like an idiot if you mix up your Hollis Brown with your Hattie Carroll.

The only festival that's...

Got Bob Dylan. Plain and simple. Other than maybe McCartney (though that's debatable), he's probably the most influential and important musician alive in the world today. From what we can tell, Hop Farm also boasts the UK festival scene's only Celebrity Soccer Six tournament.

Fashionista or folky?

Do you really need to ask? There's plenty to attract the young and hip but Hop Farm is still folkier than Joan Baez's cardigan collection. Look further down the bill and you'll find stalwarts of British folk such as Richard Thompson.

Alcohol of choice:

Beer, of course. It's a hop farm after all.

Take your mum score – 10/10

The line-up is as generation-spanning as it gets, with many of the artists plucking sets from multi-decade careers that will spark misty-eyed trips down memory lane for the older crowd members. Not only that but, joining all the bus passers are the most acceptable, parent-friendly faces of contemporary yoof music (with the marked exception, perhaps, of a certain Libertine).

Can I still get tickets?

Yes. Tickets for Friday's notably less impressive line-up are £45, while the Dylan-headlined Saturday is £65. A ticket for both days is £110. A camping ticket is an extra £25.

Click here to buy Hop Farm tickets.

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