Written by Cerys Matthews


7 Wonders: Cerys Matthews

Are you ready to have your minds expanded? Musical magpie Cerys Matthews’ Good Life Experience festival takes place next weekend and the lineup is the very definition of eclectic. We guarantee there is something for you on this playlist.

Dom La Nena photo by Jeremiah.

Dom La Nena photo by Jeremiah.

Dom La Nena – Sambinha

I adore music from all over the world, so every year when I pick music for the festival I try and pick from a huge array. Dom La Nena is Brazilian but she sings in Portuguese, French and Spanish, and she’s absolutely great.

This year we have Gilles Peterson DJing a Brazilian set to keep the Olympics celebration going. Part of the Good Life Experience is celebrating different cultures and we try to represent that in everything, both activity-wise and music-wise.

Mercury Rev – Observatory Crest

We’ve actually got Jonathan Donahue from Mercury Rev flying in especially for the festival. He loves different cultures and languages and he’s got a great music taste. This (a Captain Beefheart cover) was one of my and John Peel’s favourite songs by the band.

Buena Vista Social Club photo by XIIIfromTOKYO, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Buena Vista Social Club photo by XIIIfromTOKYO, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Buena Vista Social Club – De Camino a La Vereda

For me, Buena Vista Social Club is one of the best albums in existence. It just evokes balmy evenings in Cuba, hand-rolled Cubans and Mojitos.

If you do smoke and you’ve never rolled your own cigar, we have Luis Fernando coming especially to the festival from Cuba. He’s an example of one of the reasons we wanted to set the festival up in the first place: because we have extraordinary friends and we want to share them and their experiences with as many people as possible.

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra – Charleston

I picked this song because I’m a huge fan of early jazz, but also of music that makes you want to dance, whether you’re a dancer or not. To represent this kind of music, we’ve got top early jazz players, The Shirt Tail Stompers.

We’ve also got Swing Patrol, who teach the Lindy Hop, the Charleston and tons of other old-school dances. The great thing is that once you buy the ticket to the festival, more than 95 per cent of all the activities are included in the price, including these dance lessons.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968. Photo: Reprise Records, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968. Photo: Reprise Records, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jimi Hendrix – Catfish Blues (BBC sessions)

Firstly, Jimi Hendrix is ace and this is an ace live recording. I love live music. Secondly, Jimi Hendrix takes quotes by William Gladstone and it’s William Gladstone’s land that our festival is set on. “We look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”

This really is a great foundation for what our festival is all about. We’ve got lots of great guitar bands at the festival. Jeff Barrett’s curating a huge tent with bands such as Stealing Sheep and Hooton Tennis Club.

Donnie Elbert – A Piece of Leather

This is just one of my favourite songs of all time. We don’t want anyone to come to the festival and not find anything that they enjoy, so we make sure that we have a huge range to offer. Other than music, there’ll be great local foods, great craft beers, literary figures (including Michael Morpurgo) and tons of free activities from more than 40 different types of craftmakers. This song represents them.

Max Richter – Dream 3 (In the midst of my life)

The album Sleep was one of the standout releases of last year. Max Richter is our foremost contemporary classical composer, and we have the great privilege of having a UK exclusive of his Recomposed performed by the 12 Ensemble and Norwegian virtuoso Mari Samuelson.

Every year we try and make sure that the lineup has a really wide reach. Nothing is there just because we want to please a business, it’s there because it’s the best of the best. They are all just really top-quality and passionate people. Also, there’s no VIP area so all these guests will be walking around so you can chat to them.

The Good Life Experience takes place in Flintshire on 16-18 September.


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Written by Cerys Matthews

Cerys Matthews MBE is a musician, author, broadcaster and festival owner (The Good Life Experience). She’s a DJ on BBC World Service and BBC 6 Music where she programmes and hosts an award-winning weekly show.