Saturday, 3 December 2011

2011 Great British Folk Festival at Butlin's, Skegness

3 Daft Monkeys at The Great British Folk Festival 2011

FolkCast dispatched our folk historian, Babba, to the GBFF 2011, held at Butlin's, Skegness. Here's the first of his weekend reports (photos by Franceska Dante)


If there’s one piece of advice that people going to the Great British Folk Festival at Butlins, Skegness, should be offered, it’s “Grab a seat early, or you’ll be standing all night.” 

Athene Roberts of 3 Daft Monkeys
This is a very popular weekend, as the packed audiences for 3 Daft Monkeys, Chumbawamba and Ralph McTell proved. 

There are two principal venues – Centre Stage and Reds – both capable of holding over a thousand people, and both were full to near-capacity.

Two venues, though, means that hard choices have to be made. I chose to see Ralph’s set in Reds rather than Chumbawamba in Centre Stage, but I’d prefer not to have needed to make the choice at all.

Waiting for Ralph
Any regrets were soon dispelled by a fine set from Ralph, featuring a few songs from his recent album, “Somewhere Down The Road” and a selection of well-loved numbers from a career that’s now in its fifth decade. 

Ralph McTell
From the opening “Nanna’s Song”, through newer songs like “Reverend Thunder” and “Around The Wild Cape Horn”, and classics like “Barges” and “Peppers And Tomatoes”, this was a performance that will have pleased not only long-term fans but also those who only know Ralph McTell as the composer of “Streets Of London”.

Which he played… and it’s a magical thing to be part of an audience that is gently singing along, almost to themselves, part of a shared, yet private moment.

Ralph gets twiddly
The recent death of Bert Jansch has left the folk world much poorer, and Ralph shared some of his memories of his sometime collaborator, drinking partner and fulltime friend, before playing Bert’s “Anji”.

Time flows too fast when there’s a master guitarist and songwriter on stage, especially when that master is clearly enjoying playing as much as we were enjoying listening. An encore of “The Ghost Of Robert Johnson” just left a cheering audience wanting more. But then, I reckon that another ten, another twenty songs would not satisfy that want. A set that was worth the price of the weekend ticket on its own.

Ralph McTell on stage at the Great British Folk Festival 2011

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