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Simon Taffe's End of the Road Picks 2014

27 August 2014, 11:00
Words by Sam Briggs

The wait is nearly over for one of our favourite events of the year – the magical, enthralling boutique gem that is End of the Road Festival.

​As ever, alongside the richly detailed array of extra-musical activities, beautiful forest surroundings, and handpicked food & drink offerings, there’s a top-notch bill to rival any – packed with the best of the old guard, up-and-coming talent, and one special show that the UK will only experience once. To whet our appetite before heading to Dorset’s Larmer Tree Gardens this weekend, we talked to Simon Taffe, the festival’s co-founder, for a little insight into the process of booking the once again sold out festival, his picks of the acts not to miss over the weekend, and a playlist of tracks to get us warmed up. For a fuller selection of the acts Simon’s booked for this year, check out the compilation he’s curated for Rough Trade. See you in the woods!

Lonnie Holley

Saw him at Le Guess Who? Festival in November, the Dutch experimental festival, and it was just amazing. It’s all improvisation and he’s a pretty crazy, far-out character. He builds folk art and sculptures. He claims he doesn’t know who his parents are and he doesn’t know how old he is, and that he got traded for a bottle of whiskey when he was four years old to his adopted parents. He’s been at it for years – I think one of the guys from Sonic Youth discovered him. He’s this real artist – African-American dude – when he performs it’s just magnetic. So I booked him. He’s from America – I think he’s from Alabama. I’m pretty sure he’s from the South somewhere. I’ve never seen him play over here, only over there – I don’t think he plays that much. He’s an interesting character – he’s the 7th child of 27 kids, apparently. He has got recordings, but it’s all improvised as he goes.


Stealing Sheep

Saw them at a festival last year, and just thought they were amazing live. I love what they do with their show. I saw them with this 20-piece marching band that came through the audience, so we’re going to do something similar to that – a late-night bit of fun. I think they’re a really promising new band from Liverpool, part of that whole psych thing that’s going on there. I’m really looking forward to it, and what album they do next. It’s the first time they’ve played.


The Gene Clark No Other Band

I think it’s such an overlooked album – I think it’s up there with any Gram Parsons album of that time – it’s got a similar thread to that. I think Gene Clark’s an incredible musician and songwriter, and it’s great that all the guys from both bands – Fleet Foxes and Beach House and all that – got together to do it. I feel quite privileged that it’s the only UK and European show they’re doing – I think it’s going to be their last show, so they’re rehearsing right now in Portishead’s studio. I think it’s going to be quite special. All of the bands have played the festival before, obviously the Walkmen and Grizzly Bear and Beach House. I’ve just seen it online, and I’m a huge fan of Clark – so I’ll recommend something off the record – “Life’s Greatest Fool” – which I think Robin Pecknold sings, which is nice. It’s the whole record start to finish, and then a couple of Byrds songs for the encore. They’re playing the Garden stage. We were originally going to have them on the main stage, but I just thought the show was so special that it had to be there.


Daniel Rossen

We got him as a last minute replacement for Mark Kozelek, which I’m really happy about – he’ll be playing songs from his own solo record, plus the Department of Eagles record In Ear Park, which is one of my favourite records of the last ten years, so I’m really happy. I never actually managed to get them, but this is as close as I can get. I actually had the other guy from Department of Eagles play solo last year, but I think Daniel will be amazing. They’re old school friends, it’s just the two of them, but Daniel’s the main singer. It just went a bit missing – I think it’s just as good as any Grizzly Bear record.


Ezra Furman

I manage him, so I’m biased I guess – but I booked him for the festival before that came about. He was one of the first acts we booked. I just heard that Day of the Dog record – all my friends got into it separately, it’s weird because a lot of my friends are really particular, and they all seemed to click at bit. I saw him live at the Sebright Arms, and thought he was this amazing mix between Jonathan Richman, the Pixies and Bruce Springsteen, and with such a good live presence on stage, so that should be quite a show. He’s definitely doing two shows as well, and will be with a full band – even though he’s quite good solo!



I actually haven’t seen them live, as they pulled out of the show that I was going to see them at, but I love the record, and everyone I’ve met have said they’re amazing live, so I’m expecting them to be good. I think it’ll be pretty loud, crazy fun – they’re one of the great English bands of recent times, so I’m looking forward to that.


Cate Le Bon

I think she’s amazing. We’ve put her on loads of times – promoted shows in London with her, and I’m so happy she’s doing so well off this record, and she’s getting what she deserves. I do think it’s the strongest thing she’s done – she just gets better and better. She’s been around a long time, but it feels like now’s really the time for her. Sweet Baboo I love as well, who plays in her band. We’ve got a whole Welsh day – Cate Le Bon, Gruff Rhys, Sweet Baboo & 9Bach on the same day, and Perfume Genius on the same label, who also sings on her record, or vice versa.


White Denim

They’ve played before, but I like them live even more than on the record. He’s one of the best drummers around, it’ll be brilliant – they’re headlining the Garden Stage on the Sunday. They just give it all and give everything back, so I’m really looking forward to that. I think this is the only UK festival show they’re doing this year.


Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

I’ve been trying to get him for years, I think the new record’s great. I don’t see that much difference between his solo stuff and Pavement, it’s just as good for me. I’ve seen him years ago with the Jicks, around the first record – I think that one’s the favourite for me, with “Jenny and the Ess-Dog”, so looking forward to that. I got into Pavement a little later, but saw them on the reformation - I’m a big fan for sure.



I just think they’re fantastic live. They’ve played before about three years ago – and I saw her at Glastonbury this year and just thought she was incredible. She just gets better and better. It’ll be a great late afternoon slot on the main stage.


End of the Road festival is sold out, and takes place this weekend from Friday 29 - Sunday 31 August. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news from the festival.

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