Thursday, July 05, 2018

Beardy Folk Festival 2018

Back in the cold, dark days of January I started to think about festivals again. Even the wet days of the previous summer's shows somehow seemed less discouraging after four months or so. I had already made a decision that at least one new (at least new to me) festival would have to be included in 2018. That was about as far as my planning had got until near the end of January a brand new festival came to my attention.  I can't really recall how I became to know about it, but it was known as Beardy Folk Festival. The line-up, in so far as it was then available, looked very good indeed and there were super-early-bird tickets on offer. I bought one pretty much on a whim on 30th January. What is more, being in June it was well apart in time from all other festivals that I had ideas about attending.

Just what a fantastic decision that was only revealed itself last weekend. On Friday morning I headed north over the old Severn Bridge in glorious sunshine and then followed the river Wye north, pausing at Tintern and Monmouth, before arriving at the festival site near Cleobury Mortimer at about 12:40. Once was actually there I discovered just what a stunning location this is.  More importantly though is that it soon became obvious the level of attention that had been put into organising this event. If you did not not know that this was the inaugural edition then you would not have guessed that it was the case.
The stage premise was very simple - just two the performances on which never clashed. The smaller, acoustic stage shared a long open-sided marquee with the bar at the top end of the walled garden and the Main Stage was at the bottom of the slope at the other end. Approximately 300 yards separated the two. Around the sides of the upper half of the garden arena were the food stalls and the quality on offer was really good.
What had attracted me back in January was the list of acts announced then, and in particular some of those those lower down the running order.  One huge exception to that generality was, from Scotland and the main stage headline act on Saturday - Skerryvore.

Skerryvore, main stage, Beardy Folk Festival, 23 June 2018.

I had never had the chance to take live pictures of bagpipe playing before. Various small pipes yes,  but not the real deal. Then I ended up with two for the price of one! The band's latest LP 'Evo' was released 11 June 2018.
Up at the other end of the garden was another artist that I really wanted to see live and on the back of her two EPs 'Tracks and Trails' (2016) and 'Dandelion' (2017). It could hardly be further from the bombast of the above. Just voice and acoustic guitar, clearly British and she is based in the West Midlands, but quite evidently country-tinged. 

Demi Marriner, acoustic stage, 24 June 2018.

Next is an artist that I have seen live before and that, as a result of which, I was most keen to see live again.

Kitty Macfarlane. Main stage, 24 June 2018.

She played both stages that day and included several new songs. Her début album is scheduled for release this autumn. Her 'Tide & Time EP' was released in 2016

Another artist that played both stages was Kim Lowings and The Greenwood.  Whilst much of the music was from the traditional British folk canon the instruments were not so much so.  In this case Kim Lowings on mountain dulcimer and Andrew Lowings on bodhran.
Many of the songs were taken from the album 'Wild & Wicked Youth' (2017).

Kim Lowings and The Greenwood. Main Stage, 23 June 2018.

That's just a few of my highlights from what was a truly memorable weekend. My thanks to the main organiser, known only to me as Dave, and everyone else that made it such a great occasion.
I have no doubt that I shall be posting more about it very soon. Super-early-bird tickets for Beardy Folk Festival 2019 are available here.

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