Monday, 29 June 2015

Jinney Ring Folk Festival

A folk music festival at a craft centre? On Glastonbury weekend? Really?! Well, yes, when it's organised by the people from The Roving Crows and several great acts take time out of their Glastonbury experience to come and play.

At Willowman the week before, Rob Bazley mentioned he was going to this and when we heard the lineup our free weekend suddenly acquired a trip to pretty part of Worcestershire near Bromsgrove we'd never been to before. £23 each with camping seemed like a great deal for a one day festival with at least four top acts.

Claire Boswell
Camping was in a good grassy field right next to the single stage in a marquee with beer and food in an adjacent tent. The craft centre also had food (and all the other stuff you'd expect from a craft centre) plus proper toilets for campers! Luxury!

First on was Claire Boswell with some gentle folk guitar and singing. Perfect for the relaxed atmosphere at the start of a beautiful sunny afternoon. Her voice is superb, mostly put to work on her own songs but also covers like a particularly nice rendition of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. She has an album out. Check it out - it comes recommended by none other than Mike Harding.

Foreign Affairs
Moving swiftly on to folk rock trio Foreign Affairs. This was the first of the acts that had made the trip up from Glastonbury where they were featured on BBC Introducing in the West. Their lively, up-beat guitar based sound is heavy on americana and not as folky as some similar acts I've seen. They've just released a new EP, "The First", launched at a sell out gig in their home own of Bristol. This is clearly a band going places and worth looking out for.

Gaz Brookfield
Up next was the brilliant Gaz Brookfield, also taking a sabbatical from the Pilton colossus. His set is gradually accumulating more songs from the excellent new album, "True and Fast" (which is thoroughly recommended by the way). Songs like Sailor Jerry's Kitchen, The Diabetes Blues and Ode to Ozzy are fast becoming mainstays of the live shows along with occasional goodies like Maps, which as a fellow cartophile I love. The early hour and relatively small crowd meant only a handful of hardcore dancers clustered near the stage with far more singing along to the old favourites from the comfort of seats a little further back.

The Leylines are a relatively new band that seem to be taking on the festie-folk scene one festival at a time. If you haven't caught up with them yet you soon will and you should. Led by the inimitable Steve Mitchell this is happy, dancy, fiddle-backed music delivered with enthusiasm and great character. The horribly catchy single "Sat in a Field" is fast becoming the sound of the summer. Have a listen and you'll wish you were "drinking cider in the sun, having festival fun" with these guys playing on stage. Although if it was me I'd not be sitting down. This was the point in the day the dancing started in earnest!

The Leylines
There's no doubt that Babajack splits opinions. I think if you've got any sort of blues background though you're gonna love it. I was really impressed when I saw them for the first time at Bearded Theory last month. Great skill and passion oozes from the stage as Trevor Steger's slide and harmonica blend with Becky Tate's vocals and expressive cajon or djembe. You can let yourself get lost in the performance as you feel the beats and melodies roll around you, sometimes like a train lumbering across the desert at others like a hot, lazy evening in a smokey bar. Rootsy blues at it best.

Headlining were hosts The Roving Crows. The cider had really hit the spot by this time and the tent was packed with revellers well up for the party. Paul O'Neill led the folk-rock ensemble on a riot of fun tunes, occasionally lapsing into full-on hoedown with some great fiddle from Caitlin Barrett, and had us all dancing madly (my phone battery had gone but there might not have been any photos in any case). The marquee support in front of the stage saw some action from aspiring pole dancers and kids enjoying a bit of height above the crowd. The encores kept coming and it was a great show and a great end to a marvelous little festival. Huge thanks to Paul and the team for putting it on.

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