We had a great day at Folk East 2014 last year, and this year got there on two of the three days. Perhaps the full event next year??
As with last year, our trip started with young local singer Tilly Dalglish, with her mandolin and melodeon (but without her top hat and long hair). We aimed to get to the other end of the age spectrum (with all due respect to him) but St. Andrew’s Church was full to bursting for living legend Martin Carthy. We could possibly have squeezed in, but having seen him twice in recent years we left others to take our place. The church was a new setting for Folk East, as was the Garden Stage in the grounds of Glemham Hall. It was similarly hot inside the marquee, and also packed, for Leveret, instrumental trio of Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron, who gave a great set in the sweltering conditions.
We had to miss The Urban Folk Quarter on the main stage, in order to get into The Broad Roots Stage early enough to bag a seat for BBC Radio 2 Folk Band of the Year The Young ‘Uns. And it was standing room only when they started, and they gave their usual barnstorming performance with a range of songs from old sea shanties to their own modern songs with a political dimension (which went down well with the audience). Sadly folk legend Vin Garbutt was laid low and couldn’t perform, but at least The Young ‘Uns David Eagle gave a good impersonation of him to round off their performance. (A word of warning : be careful about shouting out during their set, one audience member who got a bit over-excited found his non-sequitur about Billy Bragg and Snape Maltings had him up on the stage at the end of the set).
There was plenty to see and do on the site in the warm weather, with lots of children’s activities, making it a family-friendly festival. There were a huge number of tens, campervans and caravans, clearly marking out the festival as something that has found it’s place in the festival calendar. Lots of food stalls, two beer tents, arts and crafts stalls, workshops, folk dancing and much much more. For a short video of some very cute folk dancing puppets click here.
Sunday dawned quite a bit cooler than the Saturday (which had been baking hot) with heavy rain forecast, and sure enough, it turned up mid-afternoon. We sought shelter from the rain in one of the beer tents, close to Quay Street Whalers, a local sea shanty band. We’d just seen their performance on the Broad Roots Stage, and they were scheduled for a three-hour slot in the beer tent, and looked like they would have been happy to sing all day long. A small square of plywood was used by a couple of ladies who accompanied the music with some excellent folk dancing.
Unfortunately there was a mix-up and Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker were a no-show for their slot on the Broad Roots Stage. They were rescheduled on the main stage later that afternoon, but that co-incided with the downpour. Waiting for them gave me the chance to have a natter with young singer Maz O’Connor, and we enjoyed her set later under canvas, notwithstanding the torrential rain for the first hall. (As an audience member I feel I have to apologise for the syncopated audience clapping which was somewhat unsyncopated!)
With the rain mostly gone we watched Philip Henry and Hannah Martin on the main stage, who were excellent, with some amazing harmonica playing. They were closely followed by Canadian band Ten Strings and A Goat Skin, who continued with the lively uptempo vibe. It was dark by then, quite damp and cool, and with an hour to wait for headline band The Unthanks, who we saw earlier this year, and who are pretty much on the opposite end of the ‘lively and uptempo’ spectrum, it was time to head home.