It’s only celebrating its fourth birthday this year, yet the Ramblin’ Man’s reputation is already second to none. Priding itself for showcasing the finest in classic and contemporary rock, prog-rock, blues and country, this annual Kent-based bash is fast becoming a mandatory pilgrimage for the discerning rock fan, and Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018 looks set to become one of the biggest and best yet.
Designed by rock fans for rock fans, the festival’s mission statement is to “create the ultimate festival experience” and it’s well on its way to doing just that. Renowned for its enviably eclectic bills, Ramblin’ Man has already attracted legendary artists such as Scorpions, Whitesnake, Hawkwind and Camel, while the inaugural 2015 event featured the legendary Gregg Allman’s last ever live performance on a British stage.
Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018 is presaged by a three-band Friday night show at the Maidstone Leisure Centre on Friday, 29 June, due to feature sets from Kris Barras Band, Florida blues-rockers Thomas Wynn & The Believers and incendiary Irish rockers Therapy?.
Located in Maidstone’s picturesque Mote Park, meanwhile, 2018’s main event across Saturday, 30 June and Sunday, 1 July, is again typically long on quality. On the Saturday night, the Planet Rock Main Stage is packed with talent, with the headliners including controversial US metal parodists Steel Panther, inimitable glam-rock legends Mott The Hoople (featuring original members Ian Hunter, Ariel Bender and Morgan Fisher) and potent Nashville roots-rockers The Cadillac Three, whose recent album Legacy has met with considerable acclaim.
On the Sunday, meanwhile, the Planet Rock Main Stage plays host to a remarkable line-up. Headlining are iconic ‘80s hard rockers The Cult, led by Ian Astbury, though they’ll have to be on top form to ensure they’re not upstaged by hotly-tipped Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke, rising Grammy Award-winning stars Halestorm and one of the 2017 Ramblin Man’s biggest hits, the hard-hitting Nashville classic rock revivalists Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown.
Elsewhere, Ramblin’ Man’s inherent diversity again spreads liberally across its other stages. Over on the Outlaw Country Stage, Saturday night’s undoubted highlight is Steve Earle & The Dukes, led by three-time Grammy Award recipient and iconic Americana cornerstone Steve Earle. Also big draws are Myles Kennedy (already well-known from critically-acclaimed rockers Alter Bridge and as the voice of Guns N’Roses Slash’s band The Conspirators), tireless Southern rockers Skinny Molly and the enigmatic Me & That Man: a brilliantly unlikely roots-y offshoot from Polish black metal outfit Behemoth.
The festival’s Blues Stage, meanwhile, welcomes much-vaunted Southern rock jam band Gov’t Mule, all-round British institution Chas & Dave, the hi-octane outlaw country blues of Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind and stars-in-waiting Kris Barras Band among others.
Prog-rock fans are also well catered for with luminaries such as Mostly Autumn, Finland’s Von Hertzen Brothers, ex-Marillion legend Fish and Goldray, an impressive new psychedelia-tinged outfit founded by ex-Reef guitarist Kenwyn House.
That’s still not all, either. Indeed, when fans also take into account The Rising Stage, which this year plays host to ferocious Welsh garage-blues meisters Henry’s Funeral Shoe, London quintet Dead Man’s Whiskey and hard-edged Sussex rockers Icarus Falls and more, then they’ve got a myriad of reasons to get down the front and experience the very best of a formidable event that Classic Rock has declared to be “the best new festival in Britain”.
Follow the Best Of Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018 playlist here.
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