Monday, 2 September 2013

Six acts that latecomers missed at Moseley Folk

It wasn't just about the headliners over a sunny weekend of music and more. 

I love the days at Moseley Folk Festival. There’s not the same focus as night-times. Instead, there’s a delicious open fluid vibe. People meet and collaborate; alliances and friendships are formed. Careers are launched. New talent is generously received by warm audiences; hardened established acts stop to check out the host of new local faces the festival showcases. 

I spent my time buzzing from stage to tent to stage, snapping, gassing, interviewing and recording; some of this is after the jump. The shots are mine except where credited. All but one of the recordings were taken live in the audience: warts, kids and crowd noise and all, and my deepest thanks go to the artists, and Moseley Folk Festival, for letting me post them. 

Washboard Dan and his bands

Several of our brightest talents stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park.Here’s Washboard Dan, backstage after his set with Abie’s Miracle Tonic, who did absolutely right by Friday afternoon

Dan Wilkinson This kit came from Mick Howson, the hurdy gurdy player. He gave me this for my 30th birthday. I took everything off and rebuilt it – quite a long process. Everything’s screwed on with bits and bobs. An old pineapple tin, which makes a good miniature washboard, played with thimbles, a Chinese woodblock, a standard woodblock, three cowbells, two cymbals... 

My favourite thimble is a thumb thimble, which has a hole in it, glued to another thimble. So it’s really heavy….. 

Mendi Sngh with Global Folk. Photo courtesy of Richard Markham
At that point a VERY loud band kicked in on the main stage, so we truncated the interview. But Dan cropped up again the next day with Global Folk, who, currently, are Mendi Singh on Tabla – a particularly lush tuned array - and Dan and Leighton Hargreaves, both of whom play in the Destroyers, on, between them, harmonica, banjo, kora, guitar and fiddle

Leighton We only do about two or three gigs a year – but we’re hoping to pick it up this year. We’ve been going with different linen-ups for a few years now. It’s an eclectic set, especially when you’re trying to fit it all into 30 minute set. Today we’re playing a set of Irish tunes, a traditional tune from Rajasthan, a couple of tunes from Africa, some American stuff…

From volunteering to the Lunar stage

Nadi and Rukaiyah backsatage after their set... Happy or what?

Two years ago, Cannon Street volunteered at the festival. Last year they popped up at Oxjam and Folk For Free And this year, they waltzed on to the Lunar Stage and did themselves a power of good.

Things are moving fast for you guys. Can you measure what’s happening?
Not at all. We’ve just played the Lunar stage, we’ve only just released some songs – we’re so grateful for the opportunities. Before we went onstage, we walked up and down backstage – that’s where we sang to Stornaway when we were volunteers, that’s where we were stewarding, and now we’re about to play. This day has been so surreal. And we've got new songs on Soundcloud - would you mind putting in a plug?
Be my guests...
Yay. It's at ... So great! 

No Woman No Cry. Hey, you're in the beer tent with Mr Drummond

Over in the beer tent – sorry, the Centre Court Stage - acts had a bit of a tough gig, warming up crowds who generally rolled up for the drinks, and contending with BIG pa from the main stage, and the odd stroppy Morris team just outside. That didn’t slow down Ben Drummond one little bit; he filled an empty tent during his set. Here he is rocketing through Superstition to close out. Stupendous guitar work. 

On the main stage for the first time

Katherine onstage at the start of her set. Snappers; lots of snappers
Katherine Priddy got her first shot on the main stage after a fringe stage placing this time last year. She did the same as Ben – pulling in a large and very appreciative crowd, this time on a lazy Sunday lunchtime. By the time she was done, she had the crowd in the palm of her hand. Poised and elegant; a real singer. And she's hardly got started. 

KP checks her performance backstage
Katherine Priddy: Last year I played the Bohemian Jukebox stage, got to support Michael Chapman, toured with Scott Matthews… released an EP, and I’ve got another EP to tie in with my set. I think I’m a bit more confident now, a bit more brave in what I do. The second EP is a bit more experimental - I’ve used different instruments I would really like to get a little band together for live performances. 
But the EP is a bit of a cottage industry for you?
Yes. I do it in my kitchen. I spent Thursday afternoon in my kitchen stamping and wax sealing all the envelopes. They were all over the floor and the table, much to the annoyance of my mum, who was trying to cook… 
Katherine sold the entire run of her second EP before she even got to the merchandise tent to meet and greet after her set. She wasn’t the only one to do well. 

Shifting the merch...

Also on Sunday – and you had to be early to catch them – were the Cadbury Sisters, who also, to their delight, shifted large quantities of CDs. On stage, they were lovely. Three-part inventive, graceful harmony work from three sisters, delivered with charm and power. A solid combination, with bags of appeal and creativity; they did themselves no harm at all, scoring a boatload of praise from musos and media alike. 

What else? oh, quite a lot...

The local Morris side extends a warm welcome to festival goers
There was more, much more. And, finally, it was so good to see, at last, some radio love for local music. Props to BBC WM, who put a crew on site to record acoustic sessions and collect interviews for a two hour show aired the following Sunday, 8th September. 

It’s not before time, but it's very welcome nonetheless. I’ve been talking up the benefits and synergies that local music and local radio can bring to each other, ooh, for decades. Usually, this idea is met with withering scorn and/or incomprehension at commercial radio, and, sadly, also at national BBC level, some of whose production teams inexplicably seem to want to distance themselves from local music-making. Inexplicable, because right here, where the new talent grows, is where you find some of the freshest, untainted and uninhibited music making in this country - wherever you are. 

It's a simple argument. The best acts in each region matter. They have followings, built through hard work, solid marketing and live gigs. They connect in their markets, and they have loyalty that no X Factor fame whore can ever dream of. Judiciously handled, that relationship can be a seriously useful part of the programming mix for local stations. A relationship that builds audiences, slowly and steadily: the kind of listenership that stays. This sort of thing flourishes at places like Moseley. 

It makes sense to me, and it built audiences - huge audiences, in fact - when I went down that route half a lifetime ago. Go figure.


Abie's Miracle Tonic
Ben Drummond
Cannon Street
Cadbury Sisters

Global Folk
Katherine Priddy

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1 comment:

Sarah Birks said...

Absolutely marvelous on and I would say to any BBC Radio Station that to be at the cutting edge of new music they would be well advised to send their talent scouts into local venues and discover the amazing artists that are growing there....anyone with an appreciation for music would have their senses filled with something so real...the human soul at its best! Don't take my word for it...go and discover it for yourself!