London Folkfest (Day 3) – 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

As with the other two day, I’m not going to split the acts into “support” and “headline”. They’re all great acts who are worth checking out.

I was going to stick with my previous plan of flitting between the Theatre and the Ballroom, but it was quite a lot busier on the third night, so I stayed in the Theatre for fear of losing my good spot. This meant that I only saw four acts.

Hannah Beth

Hannah Beth is a lovely woman who sings great songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar and her friend on violin. It was a pretty low-key start to the evening, but really very good. I will be seeing her again.

Josh Record

My initial impression was that I didn’t like Josh Record. I’m not sure what it was, but they just didn’t seem to have the spark that I’ve come to expect from Folkfest acts. But I stuck with it and they really changed my mind. By the end of their set I was really enjoying myself.

Kathryn Williams

You’ll have noticed that most of the acts at the Folkfest are up and coming acts. You don’t often get acts that you’ve heard of. But here’s something completely different. Kathryn Williams is, of course, on of the leading lights of the British folk scene. When the Folkfest announced that she would be playing, any doubts I had as to whether or not I would be going were immediately removed.

It was a pretty low-key set. She sang and a friend played guitar. But it was lovely. She’s playing in London again next week and I’m going to that show too. I’m really looking forward to it.

Leddra Chapman

I don’t think I get Leddra Chapman. To me, she seemed a rather strange way to close the festival. I suppose what she plays is folk. But it’s a rather modern and urban folk. She sings songs about the life of a twenty-something woman living in London. It’s closer to Kate Nash or Lily Allen than Kate Rusby or Eliza Carthy, but I didn’t really enjoy her. I’m happy to admit I’m in the minority here. Most of the audience were loving it. But, for me, it was a rather disappointing end to three days of (mostly) great performances.

London Folkfest (Day 2) – 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

As with the first day, I’m not going to split the acts into “support” and “headline”. They’re all great acts who are worth checking out.

I stuck with my first day plan of flitting between the Theatre and the Ballroom. And, again, there’s a danger that I missed something totally awesome on another stage.

Euan Ryan

Hmm… it’s less than 24 hours ago and I really can’t remember much about him. Chap with a guitar. Made no impression at all, I’m afraid.

Irenie Rose

Great singer from Lewis. Lovely songs. Lovely personality. Simple but effective. I’ll look out for her again (but it might be a long wait – this was apparently her first time in London).

Luke Jackson

I’m pretty sure that someone told me to check out Luke Jackson many months ago. And now I can see why. He was great.

Autumn Red

Their web site describes them as a “banjo led folk rock band”, but all we got was one man with a banjo. I’m not sure what happened there. But what we got was very good. Particularly at the end of his set when he turned off all the amplification and played completely acoustic. My enjoyment of this set was slightly marred by standing near the back of the hall surrounded by people who thought that their conversations were more important than the music.

Snow Apple

So far, Snow Apple are definitely the find of the festival for me. Three mad Dutch women with cafe society feel to their music and an occasional full-frontal operatic attack. I will definitely be checking them out again and I highly recommend that you do too.

Skinny Lister

Returning to the Ballroom following the Snow Apple set, I could tell t hat something special was happening. Skinny Lister had returned the Ballroom to the “stomping and shouting” room that it had been on the first day. They sounded great, but it was one of the hottest days of the year and most of the audience were on their feet dancing. This turned the Ballroom into a furnace and I only lasted a couple of songs before retreating into the relative coolness of the Theatre.

The Hummingbirds

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of the Hummingbirds before. I may even have seen them at another festival at some point. They were perfectly workmanlike and put in a fine performance. But after the inspired insanity of Snow Apple and the sheer energy of Skinny Lister, I’m afraid it all fell a little flat.

 

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.