Sunday, 12 July 2015

Ely Folk Festival 2015

The observant and analytical among you will have figured out by now that John was at Ely Folk Festival on Saturday. It's not the biggest festival in the world, or indeed in Cambridgeshire, but it is one of the nicest and friendliest and can always be relied upon to unearth talent which you might otherwise not have noticed. 

Like most other people I always try to plan a way to get around to see everyone and everything.

But it's difficult - so very difficult. On the way in I heard an unaccompanied female voice come floating high and clear through the air....

....Hannah Sanders. I'd heard she was good but I didn't realise she was that good! Beautiful traditional and contemporary songs, with guitar and dulcimer backing sending me cartwheeling back to the early days of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.

Enough to inspire you to go and buy a guitar, or make you give up entirely!

There's Morris dancing too, some more traditional than others! Gold Star Morris from Norwich (above) and the Gothic alternative, Hemlock Morris from Bedford (below).

Meanwhile what's this in the main marquee?

A bluegrass band from Essex, England? The New Essex Bluegrass Band are just that, all gathered round a single mic in traditional bluegrass style. The choreography involved in getting each soloist up front at the right time is worth watching itself. And the music's good too.

Lots of activities for children too, including painting this wonderful bus. They've been painting all weekend and they ain't done yet!

It was great to catch the three-part acapella harmony of Artisan. They've been singing together all over the world for over thirty years, but it's a long time since I've heard them live.

Then it's time to take a breather before the evening concert. Because I needed to catch a train home I could only see the first couple of hours, but it worked out that I saw two acts that I'd been looking forward to.

The unusually named Hut People are a wonderfully hard-working and entertaining two-man band. Sam Pirt plays accordion, does a bit of Quebecois foot-percussion and dancing while Gary Hammond plays a wide assortment of percussion instruments including plastic pigs - I kid you not! Add to this a repertoire of tunes from all over the world and madcap humour and you've got The Hut People.

Finally, for me anyway, Nancy Kerr And The Sweet Visitor Band. She's been making music with various combinations of musicians for eighteen years or so - and it's all good! A great fiddler, a fine singer and recently she's been writing some wonderful songs too. We'll let her finish this post with her usual flamboyance...

...take care.


  1. Looks great musik happening
    We also have some big music events, where people are sitting in a lawn. And the lawn is always afterwards trashy and there are a lot of debris. But everybody have had a great evening..

  2. It looks good! Great collection of photos!

  3. Sounds like a nice music festival to go to. We go to a small and personal celtic Festival here once a year usually, and it's great fun. First I've heard of a Gothic Morris dancing group!

  4. Looks fun. I like the idea of a small festival.

  5. My first husband and I used to be heavily involved in Early Music John - both listening and performing - I usually played harpsichord or sometimes recorders, crumhorns and the like. We toured round places and had the most marvellous time. I envy you being able to go to these places.
    My life now is totally different - but equally enjoyable - as I seem to follow your other hobby of nature and wildlife and ancient architecture and its history. What interesting lives we both lead.

  6. Oh I was hoping for one of your short videos with a little sampler of the music John :) but then who would be able to choose an artist :)

  7. I checked out the New Essex Bluegrass Band on YouTube. They're authentic, which is quite a compliment for folks who didn't grow up exposed to bluegrass music. Very good, thanks John.

  8. Looks like a great music festival there. I would love to hear voices that evoke Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. Two of my most favorite women on the planet.

  9. I want to check out some of these...listening a bit to Nancy Kerr...such a clear voice!

  10. I'm listening to the New Essex Bluegrass band--they couldn't sound any better if they were natives of Appalachia. I'm sure you know much of the traditional music of Appalachia and the Maritimes had its roots in the British Isles.

  11. It's always fun to be on festivals like this one and it's very enjoyable to look at your photos. They all made me smile, they have such lovely full of life atmosphere!!!!

  12. John, it is good to see you back posting again. I would have had a great time at this festival, and I suspect I would have enjoyed the singer you start your post with, before spending much of my time entranced by Morris dancers.

  13. So many good events seem to happen in East Anglia. I went to the weird and wonderful wood fair in Suffolk in May and there was some good live music there as well as all the other attractions. There always seems to be something going on whereas up here in the Derbyshire/South Yorkshire area there doesn't seem to be anything much. May be I'm not looking hard enough!

  14. So much talent!

    What a blessing to have all of this beautiful music around us.

  15. I've been to events at other places, but this was my first time in here. Great place. Food was good and seating was very comfortable. Also, very good view from where I sat. This is such a cool event space nyc and the atmosphere was equally amazing.


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