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 Interviews

Beardy Folk Festival 2018 – Artist Interviews – Part #1

Hi all, hope the sun is as radiant as ever wherever you are!

We thought we would take a moment to bring you some words about an upcoming festival in Cleobury Mortimer, it is called the “Beardy Folk Festival.”

In Shropshire and it’s first year Beardy Folk Festival is looking like a stand out event. You might often hear us wax lyrical about festivals, but this one is particularly special.

First of all, the artists. For the first of it’s kind it has attracted a good, wide beardy net of well known folksters. For starters you have “Skerryvore”, “False Lights”, “Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman”, “Grace Petrie”, “Granny’s Attic”.. the list goes on. Pretty much everyone and their dog is going so it seems like there is a great opportunity to see some big names and hang out within a 19th Century walled garden (this does seem like a very nice dream).

But it’s not just that, there is a nice selection of other activities too. Lots of stuff for children (under 13’s go free), enchanted woods, storytelling, and for a adults freestyle yoga, a cocktail bar and real ale. There should be plenty of fine things to eat too if you get fed up of beans on the camping stove!

Anyway.. the festival begins on 22nd June 2018 and ends on 24th June 2018. In the meantime get yourself to the website here, and check out in more detail!

In anticipation of the festival, ourselves and our fellow lovely blog “Last Night I Dreamt of” ( reached out to some of the artists for some interviews.

This is part one of our interview sessions, starting with “False Lights.”

False Lights

At the forefront of Folk Festivals for the last year or two, we have to admit we haven’t yet heard their set. Boo.. I hear you say, but we are hoping to rectify that this year.

Sounding positively interesting and wide reaching, False Lights are playing on the Main Stage at 10.30pm on Friday 22nd June. For further information on False Lights visit In addition, Jim Moray will be playing on the Main Stage at 7.30pm on Saturday 23rd June.

I: Tell us more about yourselves?

Jim from False Lights: False Lights was formed by Sam Carter and Jim Moray to try to play traditional songs and the 90s guitar music we’d grown up with at the same time. We invited some more of our favourite musicians to join us and released our first album Salvor in 2015. People seemed to like it so we thought we ought to to keep pushing further and our second, Harmonograph, was released in February.

I: Describe your music in five words?

Jim: Space folk guitars fiddle. Marmalade.

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

Jim: With two albums to draw on we get to choose the most enjoyable songs for every set, but I think we all love to play our customary set-closer Crossing The Bar. Its a poem by Tennyson, set to a church/anthemic/samba arrangement and ends with a 16-bar drum solo which is the most uplifting way to play a song about positivity around death.

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

Jim: Everything we’ve seen of the festival so far looks really exciting, so we hope to be able to bring what we do to a like-minded audience in an idyllic location. Because Beardy Folk is a new festival there is a great opportunity for the audience to help define the feel of the event and shape the direction it takes in the future. Finding new ways to showcase our kind of music is what we live for, so we’re incredibly pleased to be invited to play.

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

Jim: Our friends Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, Jess Morgan and Kitty McFarlane are all great. And, as we said above, this band grew up in the Britpop years so its only right that we go and see Chris Helme.

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

Jim: We’ll be playing a few shows in the autumn and spring. Sam and Jim both have tentative solo albums out in 2019, and then we’ll regroup again after that to try to push the ideas we have in False Lights further again. There’s loads that we want to do, the difficulty is just in deciding which to devote the time to. But that’s the best kind of problem to have!

Joshua Burnell Band

We saw the Joshua Burnell Band last year at “Beverley Folk Festival”. It was pretty much music to go questing to with it’s rather epic, catchy melodies and steel determination of the band to entertain. They are playing on the Main Stage at 1.30pm on Saturday 23rd June. For further information visit

I: Tell us more about yourselves?

Josh: Matt is responsible for the lower end of our frequency range, and has been for every other band in York at some stage. He’s from Texas and makes a wicked potato salad. Frances ‘Fe’ Sladen is the one with the magnificent voice that makes everyone stop what they’re doing and listen. She also looks scarily like me when we both wear sunglasses, which has led to the band game of ‘Is-it-Josh-or-is-it-Fe?!’ involving tour photos and a catchy theme tune. We’re fairly certain we’re not related, which is just as well, since we’re getting married in August. Nathan is like Brian May combined with Steve Hackett. Even though he is the band member with the highest centre of gravity, he loves a good stage dive. Holly is the latest addition to our band. She’s a superb fiddle player and very friendly and at the time of writing this, I’ve only met her twice. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say about her in July. Ed’s an ex-policeman, and now full time Dad and drummer. He told me to tell everyone that he’s ‘dangerous’ and certainly not a ‘cutie’ or ‘sweet’. And I’m a part-time primary teacher and part-time dreamer, and spend most of my efforts trying to find ways to pull everyone else into my dreamworld with me!

I: Describe your music in five words?

Josh: Energetic, ambitious, enthralling, fun, hopefully.

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

Josh: Blackleg Miner. It starts off with a super-folky a cappella introduction and I feel like I channel Maddy Prior for a brief moment. Then, at the end, the whole band gets to rock out with blistering solos on electric guitar, fiddle, bass, drums and 30 watts of distorted Hammond organ, just as they have done for centuries throughout the folk tradition.

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

Josh: Whenever we play – or even just gather in the same room – we have such a great time. When there’s an audience, that translates and everyone in the room has a great time. I also just love being on a stage, making a massive, loud noise – who wouldn’t? It’s amazing to be part of a brand-new festival, so I think this is going to be one we look back on very fondly at the end of the year.

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

Josh: Jim Moray does some beautiful things with traditional material, and since I’ve been doing my Seasons ‘song-per-week’ Project, I’ve had to get completely immersed trad music. It’ll be really exciting to hear some traditional ballads live, especially played by someone as accomplished as Jim Moray.

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

Josh: Festivals, festivals and more festivals, then yet another album. A highlight will definitely be playing the main stage at The Great British Folk Festival in December. It’ll be one of our biggest audiences to date, and we’ll be playing stuff from the next album; The Road To Horn Fair.

Eric Sedge

Eric Sedge is seemingly like a meteor, he has made huge strides in a relatively short time. With quite punchy acoustic songs and the ability to hold an audience, he is playing on the Acoustic Stage at 4pm on Saturday 23rd June. For further information visit

I: Tell us more about yourself?

Eric: I first arrived on the folk scene in 2010 as one half of a duo called “The Broadside Boys. We played a lot of gigs regionally in East Anglia at Folk clubs and festivals till Mat my partner, was diagnosed with serious illness and had to withdraw from gigging. since then I have been performing as a solo singer/guitarist. I am currently on my second UK tour as special guest of Richard Digance.

I: Describe your music in five words?

Eric: Three chords and the Truth!

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

Eric: Oooh a bit of a toughie! Probably the songs in which the audience are encouraged to sing along to, at least on a good night it tells me that they have engaged with my performance and are with me…..which is a lovely feeling.

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

Eric: The best thing about festivals is being able to play to a different audience, and having the opportunity to make new friends, but also to see other artists and be inspired by what they are doing.

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

Eric: Even though I have seen Richard Digance play a hundred times I always look forward to seeing him perform. There’s always something to be learnt from watching a master at work!

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

Eric: I am touring with Richard through to the end of the year, I also have some solo dates in Scotland in October, as well as Summer festivals including Cropredy in August, and the Great British Folk Weekend in December… lots to look forward to.

So this rounds up Part #1 of our interviews, stay tuned for Part #2 where we speak to “Fly Yeti Fly”, “Skerryvore”, and “Gary Stewart’s Graceland.”

And don’t forget to check out the Beardy Folk Festival website.. get yourself there for its inaugural year, be a part of history!