London Folkfest (Day 1) – The Bedford

No video of the Folkfest. There were so many great acts that it would be unfair to pick one to include.

Why This Gig?

Because if they’re going to put on a festival of great music in the pub at the end of my road, there’s no way I’m not going to go. This is the third year of the festival and I’ve been every year.

Acts

Seem unfair to split people into “support” and “headline” acts. The joy of a festival like this is that you haven ‘t heard of most of the acts, so you wander pick stuff at random and often chance upon something wonderful.

There were four stages to choose from at the Bedford. I decided that by stationing myself on the first floor I could see everything that happened on the two biggest stages –  the Ballroom and the Theatre. This probably means that I missed something awesome on one of the other stages, but that’s just the way it works.

I’ll go through the acts in the order that I saw them.

Sabiyha

So much of the music I’m enjoying currently is young women with acoustic guitars. Sabiyha fits into this category and, in the right mood, I think I would have loved her. But something about her didn’t grab me so after a couple of songs I wandered off to the Ballroom.

Patch and the Giant

The Ballroom started the evening and the stomping and shouting room. This was folk music with some real power. They were a lot of fun.

Willie Campbell

Is it Ed Sheeran who has made loop pedals so popular? Or is he just the most successful loop pedaller? Anyway, Willie Campbell has a loop pedal and he know how to use it. I really enjoyed his set.

Keston Cobblers Club

Back to the Ballroom for more stomping and shouting. To be honest, I’m having trouble differentiating between Patch and the Giant and the Keston Cobblers Club. It didn’t help that during their set the Keston Cobblers Club invited Patch and the Giant to join them. But even if I’m not 100% sure which is which, I know I enjoyed both of them.

Blair Dunlop

I didn’t recognise his name, but when he came on stage he looked familiar. Turns out he was involved in a Sandy Denny tribute night that I saw at the Barbican last year. At first I thought he was just another singer with an acoustic guitar. But he has an interesting playing style and his songs really draw you in.

Matthew & the Atlas

Just as you think you understand how the night is organised, they change it and confuse you. Matthew was in the stomping and shouting room, but  there was no stomping or shouting. Just nice laid-back acoustic guitar songs. Matthew is a solo artist; I never found out what the Atlas was.

Ryan Keen

I knew who Ryan Keen was. I’d seen him before at the Bedford. I don’t know anyone else who plays the guitar quite like he does. He plays his guitar like someone who has never seen anyone else play a guitar. He’s picking strings with his fret hand, drumming on the body with his picking hand and occasionally playing in something approaching a conventional style. It’s incredible to watch. He mentioned that he has recently signed a record deal and that he has his first major UK tour coming up in October. This time next year he’ll be far too big to play the Bedford – and it will be well-deserved.

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