Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Village Pump Folk Festival 2015.

We had a great time at the Village Pump Folk Festival this year despite all the rain. This is what happened.
                                                                            My friends Jacky & Bill arrived at my house in Westbury on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon we loaded up the car and headed for the festival site which is only five minutes away. We collected our wrist-bands at the entrance and soon found Margaret, Wayne, Hannah, Sam, Ellen, Daisy and the one and only George. Hannah's brother Paul joined us on Saturday to complete our gang. As well as their tents they had also brought an event shelter which was great when it rained and was the envy of the camp-site. Lots of people asked where it came from and with a long table,lots of chairs and Sam's music machine we partied in there every night. The festival didn't officially start till Friday evening so after a couple of hours at the club house we chilled out most of the night back at camp. Outside the club-house though I got talking to a lady from Kent who was playing the violin in some band and it turned out that she is a good friend of Rob & Alison who were my mates on the litter-picking at Glastonbury. What a small world it is.

                                                                                       Friday morning I was rudely awaken by the sound of rain on my tent. Jacky, Bill & I went back to my house for breakfast and the rain got heavier. Apparently a months rain fell in one day on the Friday. We were in no mood to hurry back so we didn't return on-site till about 5.00. At about 7.00 I decided it was time to hear some live music so I wandered down to the White Horse Stage and caught some of  Jez Lowe  who I thought was really good. I discovered him years ago listening to Mike Harding's radio show.

Then on the main stage were a great band from Wales called Up The Creek. I suppose they could be described at Bluegrass music but they did some great cover versions of all sorts of genres of popular music. They are really nice people as well because we had a little chat with them later on. The Broonzies were on next and they are a super-group of legends from the folk world comprised of Jez Lowe, Rod Clements, Ian Thompson, Maggie Holland and Chris Parkinson. They were excellent. The last band I saw on the main stage on Friday night were Willie And The Bandits. I think they come from Cornwall and I find it very difficult to describe their music. Some of it sounded like progressive rock. I only listened to about twenty minutes of their set because I lost my friends after I went to get a pint. I found them again listening to Barbara Dickson at the White Horse Stage. I thought she was really good especially a song from the play Blood Brothers which she was in . After that the night was a bit of a blur. It stopped raining about 1.00 in the morning and we partied till about 2.30 listening to Van Morrison, Christy Moore, Dylan, Neil Young and lots of other stuff.

                                                                             Saturday was the best day. It was sunny all day long. We went back to mine and after breakfast Jacky & Bill went up to the White Horse for a while and I went to bed for a couple of hours and walked back to the site in the afternoon. I found all the gang up by the main stage. It was incredible after all the rain how quickly the ground dried out and you could actually sit on the grass and listen to the music. I can't remember who we were listening to on Saturday afternoon because we spent a lot of time outside chatting and telling jokes. I know Saturday evening I saw Polly Barrett on the White Horse stage who I had never heard of before. She comes from Cork and I thought she was great.
The Carrivick Sisters were really good as well. On the main stage we caught some of the Roving Crows, Show Of Hands who were excellent and recorded their set for a live album available only to the festival goers and Edward 11 a great reggae and folk influenced band. The last band I saw on Saturday were Treacherous Orchestra who are a Scottish band hard to define. I thought they were great at first and there is no doubt they got the crowd dancing but after a while I started to get a bit bored. Like the Peatbog Faeries last year, without songs as such it starts to sound a bit samey to me. I went back to camp and found my friends. One of the great things about Saturday had been meeting up with some local friends such as Andy & Alex and quite a few others.

                                                                                 The rain returned on Sunday but I really enjoyed the day. Jacky & Bill love walking so on Sunday afternoon I took them to Lake Shearwater and we had a nice walk round it. It was raining but we had all the wet-weather gear so it didn't matter and stopped off on the way back to site at a nice pub called the Angel Inn. That's the great thing about the Village Pump Festival if you don't want to be on site all the time there are lots of nice places to visit nearby.
                                                I got back in time to catch the end of a performance by Keith Christmas. He is a great singer-songwriter and guitarist who I have seen a few times now. I think Keith was the first act ever booked for the Village Pump Folk Club at the Lamb Pub in Trowbridge in 1970 so it is great to see him still going strong. I particularly liked the final song called 'If The Kids Won't March' which is a new song and shows Keith is still writing topical relevant songs. I'm looking forward to a new album soon from Keith.
                                                                                                                                                   At the main stage I just had time to hear some of a great set by a Welsh band called Calan. Then I dashed back to the White Horse Stage because I wanted to see two legends of folk music Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick. I have been a fan of Swarb' for about 45 years,ever since he joined Fairport Convention and he has survived some terrible health issues in recent years so it was great to see him still playing his violin and he still has his great sense of humour. I last saw Martin playing in a band called Imagined Village with his daughter Eliza at the Cheese and Grain in Frome a couple of years ago. I think their set was the musical highlight of the weekend for me.
 Later that evening we saw Jenna Witts followed by the Kelston Cobblers Club who were a last minute addition to the bill after the Strawbs had to pull out. They were great. Another great performance was The Oysterband  who really set the place alight. We went back to camp then to see what was going on but after a while me and Sam went out for another walk and caught some of Mad Dog McRea and finally ended up in the club house. I don't know who the band were but they were doing cover versions of all sorts of hits which had the place jumping. It was a great atmosphere.

                                                                                                                I crawled into my sleeping bag about 2.00 in the morning and next day we had the tents down and packed and left by about 9.00. It had been a brilliant weekend despite the rain. Thank you very much John Alderslade and all the team for all the hard work in creating such a great festival for us all to enjoy. Long may it continue. See you next year !

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