Okay. First time at Warwick Folk Festival. Can’t remember what made us pick this one to do earlier in the year, but back in January it seemed like a good idea. We’d booked Broadstairs and were looking for something different.
And it’s a very different festival to Broadstairs. For those of you who don’t know, the Broadstairs Folk Week is a big festival at the seaside in the middle of August. Camping is all at the big senior school about a mile from the sea front, and the venues are scattered around the town. It’s like Edinburgh as a University – accommodation here, lectures here, here, and here. Warwick, on the other hand, is all on one site. It’s a campus university, everything’s within walking distance. And that includes the beer festival!
Some of the acts at Warwick we’d seen before. Okay, one of the acts we’d seen before – Granny’s Attic. But their ABBA tribute act was new to us! That might need a bit of explaining. One of Warwick’s “One Unique Things” (quick 13th Age reference there) is their non-folk session. Each year it’s themed, last year was The Beatles, apparently, and this year a dozen or more acts covered ABBA songs. This session was supposed to last for an hour. I think it was nearly 2 by the time it finished! It was compered by one of my favourite acts of the weekend – Keith Donnelly.
Wherever you turned at the festival, Keith was there. He finished the Friday night concert on the open-air stage. He performed several shows for kids. He hosted the ABBA gig! He performed at and compered the final concert of the festival itself. The man’s a genius.
Les Barker, performance poet, introduced us to a number of ridiculous little poems, including one most of the audience knew about the iceberg that sank the Titanic.
A common theme running through Keith Donnelly’s work was poking fun at “Show of Hands”. We’d never heard of them, but when they were headlining the Saturday night concert, we figured we’d check them out. Wow! Just incredible. And they had to come on after Korontzi had rocked the hall with some incredible accordion and tambourine playing from the Basque country. You had to be there.
And my award for the “band to watch” goes to Man the Lifeboats. Superb folk/rock from London.
Everything’s on one site. You can stroll from your tent to the food, the stalls, the concerts, everything. Plus we were in the neighbourhood for my brother-in-law and some friends from Uni so got to do some wild swimming in the Avon, had a cracking lunch at the Cottage of Content, and a picnic in the park.
The food was incredibly good – so easy for festivals to be lazy and get some so-so trucks in but the Old Granary Pierogi set the bar damn high and everyone else upped their game to meet. Leon’s vegan food was amazing. And the beer… the cider… Over a dozen ciders, 30+ real ales! Fantastic.
The acts were great – a huge range of styles and genres. A whole host of stuff new to us. Brilliant.
There’s a lot of clashes in the programme – 2PM every day there’s 3 different concerts in 3 different venues, and a ceilidh in the hall. Likewise at 8PM. You’ve really got to prioritise who and what you want to see/do. Broadstairs seem to have it covered where the ceilidh finishes then, giving you just enough time to amble up to the marquee for the afternoon concert… Just haven’t noticed the clashes in the schedule.
Massively underrated, your Morris dancing. Massively. I leave you with the Black Swan Rapper.
Are we going back to Warwick?
I reckon so, yes.