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Reflections on Warwick Folk Festival 2011

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We had a wonderful time at the festival this year. A dear friend introduced me to folk music by inviting me to join him for an evening about fifteen years ago whilst I was setting up at a nearby bible week in Stoneleigh. Well the bible week stopped in 2002 and I think I’ve attended virtually every Warwick Folk Festival since then. What started out as “Dad’s weekend away for some time out with mates and music” has over the years become a calendar fixture for the whole family. My eldest two daughters both brought a friend each this year and introduced them to the world of folk music.

So this years highlights for me

The blur beside me in space where a daughter and friend had been sitting when ahab invited folks to dance with them on the stage

Hearing the blue haired Lucy Ward who reduced me to tears with her aptly described most miserable song

Kristy Gallacher’s very astutely observed song about depression

Listening to Matt Tyler and Kristy Gallacher and eating tapas in the Catalan restaurant

The Women’s song session including ballads from Lucy Ward and Kirsty Bromley

Pound and Walsh’s late night set

Keith Donnelly being silly and especially at 1am after completing his gig with the impersonating a piece of bacon thing, as we were all leaving, he overheard the 12 year old lad with me saying he’d had a great idea for an impersonation. So Keith asks him what and then in the side passage of the Bridgehouse theatre promptly performs yet again as “man falling off cliff” – class act.

Tom McConville band playing just really great folk music

Reaching the really mellow Sunday afternoon at the festival feeling having relaxed through much good beer and great music.

How the beer tent saved the best till last and put Kelham Island on for Sunday night.

The way listening to real people play real music inspires young people – as I type this my eldest daughter is teaching my youngest to play guitar !

How the festival’s marketing team brought twitter to the festival for the first time – kind of special to bounce messages to and fro with artists who are also on twitter.

Other Observations

The average age of the morris dancers seems to be getting lower

The number of young children on site is increasing as more and more families come – I remember about five years back there was an increase in the number of teenagers at the festival, perhaps there’s a link here.

This year there seemed fewer ‘big acts’ and for me the festival was no poorer for it

The site was really clean – probably the Action 21 volunteers going round keeping everywhere tidy

The trading area didn’t seem to quite work. Great to see so many stalls and what might have been a village concept of little lanes, some somehow it just felt a bit tucked out of the way. Notwithstanding that we bought a load of stuff including a nettle fabric shirt!

One Regret

I wished the festival had more of a political voice. Given the strong tradition of social justice in folk music it was a little surprising that I heard no protest songs. Would have been good to acknowledge the massacre in Norway and express solidarity with the Norwegian Labour Party in some way. I expect had Tony Benn, Bob Fox or John Tams been there this year they would have said or maybe sung something.

Thoughts for the future

Wonder if it would work to sell tickets for next year on the last day of the event. I remember buying Greenbelt tickets for this month’s festival on the last day of the event last year. Might help with cash flow for the festival.


Written by prestolee

August 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. It was yet another great Warwick – I think our 15th or 16th – it’s one we just have to keep coming back to.

    On your point about protest songs: they don’t seem to be very much in currency in folk music any more – there’s more navel-gazing among today’s singer-songwriters. Steve Knightley turns out some sharp protest songs, of course, and I very much enjoyed the SoH set on Friday night.

    The Quizzical Observer

    August 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm

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