Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

Great news – 2012 has officially been named The Year of Folk, Folk-Rock, Singer-Songwriter and Roots-based music! Just like every year since 2006, when FolkCast began... Quite a coincidence, eh? :-)

Thanks for downloading our podcast, reading our blog, following us on Twitter, befriending us on FaceBook and generally being fab.

All the best for the next 12 months. Keep our finger in your ear for the latest news from the best music in the world throughout 2012! 

From everyone at FolkCast

Monday, 5 December 2011

Great British Folk Festival 2011 - Day 3

An early queue!

As Franceska and I left the Yacht Club restaurant after another late breakfast, we were surprised to see a long queue that had formed outside Centre Stage.

“Must be keen to see Fairport Connections”, she said. 
“But it’s only 11:15am,” I pointed out. “The doors don’t open till noon and they aren’t on until 12:30pm”.

Processing photos, writing reports and uploading them to this blog takes a little time, so Fairport Connections had been on stage for ten minutes or so before we were able to return – to find “House Full” notices up, and still a queue. Admittance was dependant upon people leaving, and precious few were, so I resigned myself to another standing room only gig.

Fairport Connections - (l-r) Anna Ryder, Dave Pegg, Anthony John Clarke, Gerry Conway, Bob Fox
Bob Fox and Dave Pegg
We eventually gained access just after 1pm. This first appearance of the "Connections" consisted of the Convention's bassman (and occasional mandolin tickler) Dave Pegg and drummer/percussionist Gerry Conway, plus some of the band's regular collaborators, contributors and colleagues: Anna Ryder, Anthony John Clarke, Bob Fox, PJ Wright and Steve Tilston. They performed as duos, trios and more, each performing their own mini set. 

Amongst the highlights were Bob Fox’s “The Waters Of Tyne/Big River” which had the audience joining in with the chorus, and Anthony John Clarke’s very funny “Tuesday Night Is Always Karaoke”.

I was unable to see the entire set, as they over-ran (“It’s the first time we’ve done this, and we weren’t sure how long it would last,” Dave Pegg told me later), but we had a pressing engagement in the late afternoon. Franceska was booked to play the flute with a band at the open mic session in Jaks, and I can report that her playing went down very well with the 200+ crowd there.

Some time later...

Martyn Joseph delivered such a storming set that I completely failed to make any notes at all! A highlight of the weekend. 
Martyn Joseph
Some people engage with the audience by establishing a bond from the stage – Martyn does it by walking through the crowd and serenading individuals. Many thanks to Dave Hill, who allowed us backstage to capture some images of Martyn’s view of the room.

In the spotlight: Martyn's view from the stage

Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle – "such consummate musicians", says classically-trained Franceska. Me? I just like the noise they make.

As the night ended, we sat and thought back over the Great British Folk Festival experience. Our verdict: a damn good weekend! Can we come next year? And more urgently, now we’re finishing up, can I have a pint? (What, another?!? Ed)

I'll write up my further thoughts and an overview soon, but for now, there’s just one last choice to make: will it be the Pedigree or the Hobgoblin?


  • Did you visit the Great British Folk Festival 2011? Send your review and/or photos to us via email and we'll add them to the blog. Or simply leave a comment, below.
Jacqui McShee

Dave Pegg - Mandoman
Peggy 'n PJ
House Full for those with Full House Connections...

Great British Folk Festival 2011 - Day 2, Part 2

Saturday Evening

Night falls at Butlin's

I’ve never been what you’d call much of a swimmer, being more of a natural drowner, but FolkCast snapper Franceska Dante persuaded me that a trip to the pool would be Fun. Luckily for you, no photos exist of my dip...

Steve Gibbons - ghosts
Having bobbed up and down in the waves, been powered through the rapids, soaked by unexpected eruptions of compressed air, bubbled, flumed and submerged, your now much-diluted correspondent can only agree. Splash Waterworld serves up huge ladlefuls of Fun ... with a capital “Kersplosh”!

The fun continued with a solo set from Steve Gibbons in Centre Stage, where he let loose the ghosts of Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan and Elvis. 

A pity to miss Merry Hell in Reds, but those are the choices that are made at a two venue festival.

A colourful character at the fest
No problem with choosing the mid-evening artiste,  though – sorry, Matthew’s Southern Comfort, but Cara Dillon and her band were too big a temptation.

Cara Dillon - warm embrace
With a set that ranged from older numbers to some that were new to me, her glass-smooth, velvety vocals had a near capacity audience held in a warm embrace for ninety minutes.  A flawless performance of ‘There’s No Peace For Me’ drew the most applause of the night.  Cara recorded the closing song for the Disney film ‘Tinkerbell’s Dream’ earlier this year, and if audience appreciation for ‘Fly With Me’ is anything to go by, she’s going to sell a lot of CDs. 
CD business - selling sounds at the Great British Folk Festival

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Great British Folk Festival 2011 - Day 2, Part 1

Day 2 - Saturday afternoon at Skeggy!

While I enjoy the business of erecting a tent in a field, inflating a mattress, fetching water and brewing coffee on a one-ring gas burner as much as the next man, there’s no doubt that such efforts can be badly affected if it’s raining. Or cold. The Great British Folk Festival may have spoiled me for future events, because I’m now quite keen on having a chalet to return to, where hot water is immediately available and someone comes in every morning to make the bed. A warm and comfortable bed that’s not easy to leave. Luckily, Butlin's take the needs of the lazy festival-goer into consideration, and serve breakfast as late as 11 a.m.

Wobbling slightly under the influence of porridge, orange juice, full English, toast, marmalade and coffee, we decided that lunch would not be required. Quite possibly for several days. To the music, then!

Richard Digance - reliable
Richard Digance is always a good bet for a lunchtime session. You know exactly what you’re going to get. Plenty of audience participation, singalong songs, jokes, sharp observations (“Is a game of charades the very worst time to have a heart attack?”) and one or two items that make you think. It’s a good-humoured wake-up session, and Richard didn’t disappoint.

Joe O'Donnell
He was followed by fiddler Joe O’Donnell and his band Shkayla, playing a selection of Irish and Breton tunes from the rockier end of the folk/rock world.

The last band of the afternoon session were The Wurzels, always something of a Marmite band in my opinion. If you like their music, they deliver it very well, with lots of quips between songs and much interplay with the audience. If, like me, you’re less keen… well, there’s a lot of alternatives to tempt people here at Butlin's.
The Wurzels
There’s an open mic and jam session going on at Jaks every afternoon, football in 3D over in Hotshots bar, snooker in the Green Baize games room, Adventure Golf, go-karting, a cinema, a spa with hot tubs and many treatments, archery, fencing, ten pin bowling, and table tennis. 

Oh, it’s all going on, here in Skegness!

(Check back here soon, I'll be posting more reports by me and photos by Franceska Dante)


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