Let me make this clear right from the start. While last year's inaugural NDFF was excellent (see here) this was better on any and all objective measures that I can think of. It was indeed only matched by one or two other days in music that I have experienced in the preceding year. Now I need to try and explain why. It is likely to involve more than one post.
This year, at Marnhull Village Hall, North Dorset Folk Festival commenced with Bob Burke. He was to be seen at North Dorset Folk Festival last year too, if you remember, appearing with Tinderbox. This time he was solo and while his blend of acoustic singer-song writing is ample, it is better show-cased live by his in inter-song banter about the road-trips shared with his teenage son and suchlike. It seemed infectious too, and that it is a very important aspect of folk music of all kinds.
He did, however, suffer from a perennial problem of mine - that being that right at the start of any event I have an inability to take worthwhile photographs. I don't know why this is so, but it is true. I've tried several suggested remedies but none has proven to be in any sense reliable. It is not unfamiliarity with the venue, because it happens at ones I know very well, and at least as it seems to me not nervousness as it doesn't feel that way to me at the time.
The next to play was duo Ninebarrow, who are local and hail from Swanage, Dorset. Ninebarrow is a hill topped with ancient burial barrows in that locality and to which many legends and superstitions are attached. Their song writing is mostly about places and times but that which sets them apart is their vocal harmonies.
I had never seen or heard Ninebarrow live before and it was a pleasure to do so. You can stream some of their songs here - but I wholeheartedly recommend seeing them live. They are currently recording a new album too.
As regards the next act I have an admission to make - I had never even heard of it before it was announced to be playing. ODi is another duo - who both sing and play stringed instruments and sometimes a small piano accordion. This is ODi live last Saturday afternoon.
They were mighty impressive, and Dave Readfearn's contribution is absolutely vital, but the secret weapon is Claire Odlum's song writing and astonishing voice. A native of Co. Wexford, where not much of interest happens apparently, she has certainly made good use of her time there. ODi may yet not be that widely known but I suggest that this is just a matter of time. Listen to some songs here. The craic, and the all-round stage presence, is already there too.