Issue 6 10/98

FolkWorld Live Review

Warwick Folk Festival 98

July 1998

By Michael & Christian Moll

Jane Sherburn; photo by The Mollis The small town of Warwick is best known for its beautiful big medieval castle that lies romantically above a small river. In this lovely setting a folk festival is truly at the right place; and the Warwick Folk Festival is already old established, now in ist 19th year.

Lucky enough the organisers and fans were as the festival weekend was one of the first (and only) dry days this summer and it was not only dry but there was also quite a bit of sunshine and warm temperature. The centre of the festival is Warwick school with its big school green used this weekend as campsite. There are also the main venues one being a big tent the marquee and the other being the school's Guy Nelson Hall. But still there is also a lot happening in the pubs and streets of the old town of Warwick. The programme has quite a lot of different acts to offer; and you always have to choose between several concerts.

Friday night in the marquee saw an English programme. The singer Bill Caddick seemed a bit lost as openener on the big stage of the marquee, still he was friendly welcomed by the audience. Following on was the Cambridge based medieval folk rock band Shave the Monkey, doing an attractive mixture of trad, modern and self written pieces with exciting arrangements on medieval instruments like hurdy gurdy, melodeon, sax and flute. Their music sounds very fresh, sometimes even reminding of the legendary French folk rockers Tri Yann, but it seemed to me that they still have to improve a bit their live performance.

The Peat Bog Fairies' Peter Morrison; photo by The Mollis Meet on the Ledge are a local rock band who are doing also some folk pieces, so they were invite to play the festival well but as said it's more rock than folk.

The finishing act in the marquee was one of the highlights of the festival: Keith Hancock's Famous Last Words. Keith, one of England's great singer songwriters playing the melodeon, has brought together four superb young musicians to join him two boys on guitar and violin, two girls on viola and cello/sax/whistle. With this line-up Keith's songs get a bit of a classical feeling, but still remain folk songs with lots of power and fun. The live performance of this five piece is extraordinary and true, appealing to any audience watch out for them!

Still the night was not over yet there was still the late night extra concert starting at midnight with the Peatbog Fairies from Scotland with their eclectic and dancy Scottish trance music. Watch out for an interview with their piper in FolkWorld!

Chris Sherburn and Denny Bartley; photo by The Mollis Saturday the programme started about noon, with lots of the smaller acts playing at diverse places, and as on Sunday Morris Dancers dancing all around the town. The highlight of the whole festival came in the evening the marquee concert bringing some of the best new trends trad music has to offer. Our favourite and craziest English folk act started off: Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley, this time again with Chris' always smiling sister Jane on the bodhran. As always, the audience could laugh tears about their always remaining silly jokes and their strange treatments of well known trad songs. (Interview in FolkWorld's last issue!!). Following was the new shooting star of the English scene: Young fiddler Carlene Anglim and guitarist Ali. Carlene plays with a virtuousity and intensity that just takes you away; Ali's subtle guitar accompaniment makes the sound perfect. One of the best fiddlers I have seen in my life.

After a set of the Ex-Afterhours singer Alan Burke, his singing full of power and feeling, the final act was celebrated - Solas form the States. No wonder that they are top stars of the scene they have a trad line up, play also trad music but bring in the power of today, somehow weaving a very modern feeling into the music. Add to this the beautiful voice of their singer Cathy Ryan, and you can be sure that the band is celebrated anywhere they are playing. Great stuff!

Carlene Anglim; photo by The Mollis There were also several acts in the programme that not really appealed to us, still surely that makes the festival attractive for a broader range of people. Some more names well worth to see that played this weekend were Fling, the nice Australian Celtic band (read review in last FolkWorld) and the legendary Scottish fiddler Brian McNeill. The latter finished the festival on Sunday night, after a set of the Albion Band (I always have the problem with the Albion Band that they somehow seem to be not one unit although there are often great musicians in the band, it often looks to me like a mixture of individuals who cannot create one unit of sound and performance well but maybe it was this time also because it was a single gig of the band...). After Brian's set a kind of a village party started everybody knew what was happening then; jokes, children's games, fun. It seems that this finishing of the festival is already cult in Warwick, and the audience obviously enjoys it still we as non-locals felt in this village atmosphere like being at a wrong party...

All in all it has been an enjoyable weekend where we have met several friends (also one of our contributors for the first time), got a bit of a sun tan and enjoyed the music of several great bands in the shadows of Warwick town and castle.

Photo Credit: All Photos by The Mollis:
(1) Jane Sherburn; (2) Peter Morrison of The Peatbog Fairies; (3) Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley; (4) Carlene Anglim.

Infos for future festivals available at: Warwick Folk Festival's homepage

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 10/98

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