Festival Folk Music

An Auspicious Beginning in the Sun – Beardy Folk Festival 2018 – 21st-23rd June 2018

An auspicious beginning in the sun, Beardy brings the breadth of bigger festivals to you in a space which is convenient, friendly and relaxed

Like when the blacksmith’s hammer is at it’s hottest, June this year was aglow with fire, heat and sparks.

Festival season was underway and the musical magic about to happen for many people who get to choose their poison (alcohol, cola, tea) and go to a festival to choose their other poison (pop, jazz, folk, hip-hop). For a few days over late June we decided to opt for Folk as our medium of choice and travel down to Shropshire for the first of what is shaping to a nice additional to the festival calendar, the “Beardy Folk Festival.”

It lived up to it’s name, that’s for certain. One of the artists (I cannot remember which) did point out he thought he’d walked into a ZZ Top Convention. Yes there were beards and they were that impressive, my boy stubble was of no compare.

Bearded stuff aside, the festival was home to some children’s entertainment, a mini funfair and opportunities to eat, drink and buy around the fantastic walled Hopton Court. Thankfully with the expansive, warming sun we found a few areas of shade to cool off and certainly left the festival with a tan! We are certainly liking the trend in festivals where the bar is encouraging people to hire the containers or bring their own. Beardy had their own take where they sold you a commemorative container for £1 and you keep it for the festival all the way through and beyond. Certainly environmentally better than binning a pile of plastic.

We also found that there was excellent sound quality all around, good scheduling (you could see absolutely everything) and some brilliant acts to boot; the beer was quite awesome too. It’s more contained than expansive city festivals (like Oxford Folk Festival) so what it loses in it’s varied sprawling historical setting it makes up for in convenience and pleasant surroundings. The only musical tent being an acoustic tent was good also, not much need for jostling to get to the front, everyone can see and have to bring their own seats.

That’s the festival generally. What were our musical highlights? See below and have a quick sample!


We continue to sing the praises of this modern, psychedelic outfit that brings the animation of yesteryear folk and collides it with the vitality of youth. Singing a number of folk songs, some bombastic in their rock interpretations (The Lowlands of Holland) with other more considered numbers (such as a version of “At the Harbour”) or bloodythirsty tales of revenge, “The Smuggler’s Tale”, they continue to be a a festival catalyst. Like the spinning leaves of Autumn that trigger a beautiful memory as they crunch underfoot, the Joshua Burnell Band always liven up the place. Their belting of Scots set, “Plane Tree & Tenpenny bit” is like the crack of a lion tamers whip as it curves around the stage, it is even more with the recent addition of Holly Brandon on fiddle, they really are hitting their groove in style.

With a big band rock edge, inspiration can be seen from Steeleye Span with their spin on “Blackleg Miner” and Fairport Convention’s “Tamlin” and these models certainly suits them as the joining chorus of instruments keep pace with Burnell’s dancing hands and swaying hair.

Always a pleasure to see and hear. For us the Joshua Burnell Band are like the person at a party who finds and open the champagne in the middle of celebrations!

Go to and find some more out about them.


We admit that the sun always shines on us with the Carrivick Sisters. A duo who have been influencing and informing folk and bluegrass for a while, it is statistically possible that their down-to-earth characters and earnest, exploratory songwriting could not do the trick one day.. but that would be a sad day indeed (and we do very badly at maths).

At Beardy, they were joined by Kieran Towers. Kieran has made an album with Charlotte Carrivick, “Wolves a Howlin'” that looks at Appalachian Folk Music with new eyes, and his presence here was very welcome indeed. They performed some excellent songs including the historically drenched “1912 House” that oozed sadness and the feel of another time, the burning and aching wonder of their take on “The Blackest Crow” and the delicate racing burst of “Piggy Bank”, an instrumental that reminded of the sugar rush of crushed skittles.

They also sung of Snowdonia and maps, responding to a Yew Pine Mountain in an original track (“No Yew a Pine Mountain”) and an old tortoise, in a great set of versatility.

Dynamic and versatile, Towers and the Carrivicks make it look easy and effortless. To hear more of Charlotte and Kieran go here, for the Carrivicks go here



Imagine a quiet cave with you inside and your thoughts on the walls around from a mythological adventure you have returned from. This is how you might come to understand the music of Kitty Macfarlane. We have been waiting to see her for quite a while, the last time we caught any of her set was at Oxford Folk Festival last year.. but that was literally ten minutes (we got lost on the windy streets).

Beardy Folk made it very easy to find her this time so there we were! Kitty’s set didn’t disappoint.

Several of the songs tickled our interest of legend and story such as the “Glass Eel”, the world-spanning creature and “Avona and the Giant” about the muse of brothers “Goram and Vincent” from Somerset lore. The latter is much like the singer herself: quiet and effective as it makes it’s way into the world. The afternoon sun definitely got softer with her musical presence. And then there were other songs such as her song about fishermen in North France “Tide and Time”, and a new song she had composed for a newborn in her family “Dawn and Dark” about there being bigger challenges for the child as they grow up and even better things to come in the future.

Enjoyable, mellow and contained we recommend you see her where you can.

At the point of Kitty’s debut album is on it’s way on 21st September, “Namer of Clouds.” Go to her website for more information


With Granny’s Attic we feel that they are at the point where their lightening might strike, we have heard the rumble of thunder and now the energy is coming down from the skies. With a fairly extensive tour schedule and

Granny’s Attic are a trio of young, exasperatingly talented musicians who (we think quite rarely) sail their boat around the rock of traditional folk. There aren’t the only young group who are, its just that few seem to accomplish it with the kind of trad-purity and dedication to the cause. Like a herd of plucky mountain goats you can try to catch their sound and energy but they will run away with it.

Our favourites were “The Wheels of the World” with a particular message about society, the great titled “What I Saw In My Dream (As I Slept in My Chair)” a kind of delirious dream of what the world could be like, and of course their saline, punchy version of shanty, “Away to the South’ard.” The winds of the world were blowing indeed and these guys answer the call.

A funny bit of the set was how the band described how they might have burnt their bridges in local Worcester venues (because they weren’t very good back then) and have found fame elsewhere. It is certainly encouraging to hear how musicians always start from somewhere (and it happens they are from near where we grew up).

They are a young image of folk that takes everything you like about the traditional scene and adds a dash chilli to heat it up, go to their website for more info


Dishing out intricate musical performance with the energy of a piston engine, the Urban Folk Quartet opened with “Long Time Traveller” an earthy, rich hewing of ancient wood and soil. There is plenty here with fiddle, guitar, banjo and some serious percussion that extends it’s grasp into those areas between experiences that spread beyond geographical boundaries. Awfully tongue-in-cheek with their prowess there is so much to like whether it’s Dan Walsh’s clambering and speeding “Whiplash Reel” (after what we presume is an intense Indian car journey) or a three piece tune that celebrates the experience of joining (and then running away) from the circus; there are many things to be happy with and many subject matters to get lost in. “The “Whiplash Reel” rolls off the banjo almost effortlessly and sings of unfamiliar streets, the song is layered like a strata of land that bristles with India’s many precious metals perhaps inviting you for a prospect of your own.

Enjoyable and reaching for those places you didn’t know existed, the Urban Folk Quartet are another band to add to your list,

There were many other sets we enjoyed at Beardy too. There was a rare appearance by Richard Digance, comedian and singer who sand many from his repetoire “What’s the use of anything?”, “Jack of all trades” and “Sod’s Law.” An all-round entertainer, Digance explained the showbiz world and where he feels he fits in it, it was surely entertaining to realise where all those daytime TV guitar numbers had come from. Grace Petrie was a force of nature. We hadn’t seen a full set of hers until this time (previously caught her as part of the Coven) so it was a joy to hear a strongly political (but often personal) voice to the mix of proceedings here. Extremely self-aware (her musing about just how “left” she is is telling, and something I battle with myself) she was a thundering cannon on these thoughts in “Nobody Knows I’m a Fraud” before launching into “Ivy” a runaway hit of her set (and would have been at the festival were it not for the Graceland set). Her self and being is held up for all to see, a heartfelt performer that laments her lack of finding a particular niche but exhibits the qualities of freedom and break from tradition that much folk shys away from.

We also enjoyed the continuing success of Kim Lowings, which was seen even more here and the comedic but vivid waves of tunes from the Jaywalkers who supplied not only the offbeat, unexpected numbers around burnt chilli and a “Mountain Chicken” but also a very fine cover of “Tainted Love.” Bright and piercing like an arrow of light, they are a quality act. Other musicians of note were Roberts & Lakeman, Skinner & Twitch, and Jim Moray but there are too many to mention here.

Beardy Folk was an incredible success. A good opener with a recognisable and varied type of artist, an open location with a complimentary sound setup.

Keep your eyes to their website ahead of their festival I’m sure will be happening same time next year!


Festival Folk Music Interviews Uncategorised

Beardy Folk Festival 2018 – Artist Interviews – Part #2


The time is very close indeed for the first-of-it’s-name “Beardy Folk Festival” down in Cleobury Mortimer.

As I keep bleating about, there is an astonishing array of artists from the folk tradition there, quite a haul really for the first festival.

We have spoken to some of the artists going, and very kindly they have allowed us to interview them!

Click here, for our first range of interviews that includes FALSE LIGHTS, THE JOSHUA BURNELL BAND, and ERIC SEDGE.

And if you haven’t checked it out already, go and see the full Beardy Folk Festival Lineup at:

Now on to the second round of interviews!


Playing on the Acoustic Stage at 8.30pm on Saturday 23rd June. For further information on Fly Yeti Fly visit

I: Tell us more about yourselves?

Darren and Lorna: We’re Darren Fisher and Lorna Somerville. We met six years ago at an open-mic night in Torquay, Devon, and we spent the rest of that night sitting under the stars together writing songs until sunrise. Shortly after meeting, we moved to Belgium, lived in a caravan and worked on an allotment, and it was during that time we wrote a lot of the songs that are on our first album. We then moved back to Devon and started gigging together, getting known locally as ‘the yetis’ and sharing our music with people all over the south west. We’ve since got married, and we now live on a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon Canal – we draw a lot of inspiration for our music from the natural world and the people we meet. People say that our sound is reminiscent of the late-60s folk scene, and we released our debut album, ‘Shine a Light in the Dark’, last year.

I: Describe your music in five words?

Darren and Lorna: Dreamy, honest, delicate, quirky, enchanting.

I: What’s your favourite song to perform and why?

Darren and Lorna: That’s a tough question, because each performance feels different, the room is different, the audience is different, so it can change all the time! At the moment, we really enjoy playing ‘The Mermaid Song’. It’s a song we wrote based on the Cornish folk story about the Mermaid of Zennor. The song is romantic but also dark, and as it progresses, a change occurs in the music and it morphs into something quite psychedelic.

I: What are you looking forward to most about performing at the festival?

Darren and Lorna: Well, it’s a brand new festival, so we’re excited to visit the site for the first time and meet lots of new people. We’re playing on the Acoustic Stage, and we really love playing smaller stages that give us a chance to interact with people, get a feel for the ambience, and vibe it. That’s the best thing about performing live.

I: Who else are you looking forward to seeing perform at the festival?  

Darren and Lorna: We’re particularly looking forward to seeing Jim Moray, because we’ve followed his music for some time but have never seen him live, and also 3 Daft Monkeys, who are loads of fun to dance around to! There’s also a lot of acts on the Acoustic Stage that we’ve never heard of – festivals are a brilliant way of discovering new music, so we look forward to catching lots of other acts.

I: What’s next for you after the festival?

Darren and Lorna: After Beardy Folk Festival, we’ll be travelling to Dorset to play ‘Folk On The Quay’ – a fantastic free festival which is organised by the masterminds that also created the wonderful Purbeck Valley Folk Festival. We’re also looking forward to playing Cornwall Folk Festival in August, and Glastonbury Abbey in September. We’ve got a really busy summer ahead, with lots of gigs in country pubs and smaller festivals too.


Playing on the Main Stage at 10.30pm on Saturday 23rd June. For further information on Skerryvore visit

I: Tell us more about yourselves?

Alec from Skerryvore: Skerryvore create a unique fusion of folk, trad, rock and Americana that represents all the different personalities and upbringing of the 8 band members who hail from different regions of Scotland


I: Describe your music in five words?

Alec: Traditional, contemporary, progressive, raucous, uplifting.


I: What’s your favourite song to perform and why?

Alec: Usually our favourite song to perform is the latest single because it’s what you’ve most recently put all the hard work into and it’s still raw and fresh to perform. Our latest single is ‘Take My Hand’ And it’s great to get the audience reaction on a song they’ve probably never heard before.


I: What are you looking for to most about performing at the festival?

Alec: It’s always fun to play to a new audience and we love playing at music festivals. It’s an exciting challenge to convince an audience to join you in having a great time.


I: Who else are you looking forward to seeing perform at the festival?

Alec: I think the most interesting part about seeing other artists at a music festival is discovering a hidden gem that you’ve never heard before so we’re looking forward to discovering and adding some new music to the soundtrack of long van journeys.


I: What’s next for you after the festival?

Alec: The next big one in the calendar after Beardy is Moonbeams Festival at the Wold Top Brewery in Yorkshire. It’s a fantastic festival run by our lovely friend and booking agent Leila and we’re the patrons so it’s always one for us to look forward to!  


Playing on the Main Stage at 5.15pm on Sunday 24th June.

I:  Tell us more about yourselves?

Gary: We’re a bunch of Yorkshire-based happy-go lucky musicians who get together to play this awesome Album of South African music. The band comprises of musicians from other bands-three of us play in Hope & Social,one of us plays in Wilful Missing and our drummer used to play for Nightmares On Wax and is currently Peven Everett’s drummer.


I: Describe your music in five words?

Gary: Sunny. Jangly. Harmony. Drenched. Loviness.


I: What’s your favourite song to perform and why?

Gary: I love playing The Boy In The Bubble as it’s our opening number, and it sets the rest of the show for us. And I just love the opening with the massive drums and accordion!


I: What are you looking for to most about performing at the festival?

Gary: It’s a new Festival so there is the expectation that we’ll play to a whole bunch of new people and that these people will come and see us play ‘Graceland’ again and again 🙂 Also,if it’s sunny then I’m looking forward to playing a lovely stage of lovely people in the Sun!


I: Who else are you looking forward to seeing perform at the festival?  

Gary: Urban Folk Quartet! Chris Helme is amazing. What a voice. My mate Dan Webster is also playing so I’ll be sure to catch him also.


I: What’s next for you after the festival?

Gary: More Festivals Ha! We have Moonbeams, Respect Festival, Just So, Head For The Hills to play and then we’re off to Portugal in October for Costa Del Folk (and a long awaited holiday!).


Playing on the Main Stage at 8.15pm on Sunday 24th June. For further information on 3 Daft Monkeys visit


I: Tell us more about yourselves?

Tim from 3 Daft Monkeys: Bringing vibrant and sparkling new songs from their new album “Year of the Clown”, festival favourites 3 Daft Monkeys return to perform a brand new set of their quirky, original and upbeat fiddle-driven tunes. Now with a four-piece line-up, the band are taking their famously dynamic live show to new danceable dizzy heights.

I: Describe your music in five words?

Tim: Lyrical, Tuneful, Danceable, Wild and Original


I: What’s your favourite song to perform and why?

Tim: Year Of The Clown as it’s new and relevant


I: What are you looking forward to most about performing at the festival?

Tim: Playing to a whole new audience is always a buzz.


I: Who else are you looking forward to seeing perform at the festival?

Tim: Never seen Urban Folk Quartet but heard good reports.

I: What’s next for you after the festival?

Tim: Lot’s more Festivals !!!

And finally … interviewed Kathyrn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, who will be performing on the Main Stage at 2.30pm on Sunday 24th June, to promote their new album Personae. To read the interview click here