_MG_0783Welcome home, welcome back, welcome to Smallworld. An inter-dimensional portal to a world in which everything and nothing is real. A place to go to lose your mind and find your soul.

The very first time I went to Smallworld I brought nothing but the clothes on my back. Falling in love instantly, I reported on the event for an arts journal and since then I’ve been a regular. The coloured lights and bonfires dance around the darkness of a kaleidoscope of adventures and for a few days, everything is shaken up and falls back into place. This is the second time I’ve had the privilege of writing about the event, this time for Hastings Independent Press.

The focus of this review is Buddha Triangle, a Hastings based folk-funk fusion band centred around lead vocalist and guitarist Sam Magerison – Sam has travelled around the UK and Europe writing a collection of folk songs about social justice and pirates, about kissing my back, about polar bears. Backed up by vocalist Mehdi Hamed, guitarist Ben Hamilton, and George Macdonald on cajon, Buddha Triangle raised the roof of the Solar Stage. George and Ben have been playing together for years and their enthusiastic improvisations are perfectly in sync with each other. Mehdi’s vocals accentuate the smooth lounge style of a group that has worked together for so long that everything gels perfectly, even though nobody appears to know what’s going on.

Before they play, these guys will be out mixing with the crowd, jamming, making friends and inviting people to the gig, so that, by the time they perform they are familiar with nearly everyone and the audience can join in with the songs they know. The songs have great hooks and George gets up from the cajon to bring everyone to their feet and join in the verses.

The artist/audience relationship is what makes Buddha Triangle one of my favorite bands to see at this great event; “A five day festival of creative spirit & sustainable living. Powered by the wind and sun. An intoxicating blend of performers, artists, healers, craftspeople, colourful characters, jesters, magicians, families and party people. Reducing our carbon footprint can be a pleasure not a burden.”

The next Smallworld will take place at Headcorn, Kent, from Thursday August 25th to Monday August 29th. Smallworld has a focus on sustainability and is considered a vegetarian festival, (no-one actually enforces this, it’s just that none of the stalls sell meat) and renewable energy is used wherever possible. The whole thing is a living, breathing organism and a microcosm of a world that could be, if only we could keep it up. The festival reminds me of the inverted asylum in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with the entrance on the inside facing out, keeping the one sane person in the universe safe from all the insanity outside. At the entrance is a sign saying ‘Welcome Home’; I’ve always liked that. Smallworld is your home, where things are safe and normal. It’s everything else that is strange.