Offering music as diverse and unpredictable as the weekend weather, the 36th Warwick Folk Festival brought colour, culture and (hopefully) cash in large amounts.
A terrific line-up of acts, coupled with the noise and colour of hundreds of Morris dancers, entertainers and stalls selling everything from multicoloured clothes to multi-stringed instruments, guaranteed another artistic and financial success for the festival’s organisers.
It was hard to reconcile the rainswept outdoor stages and arenas of the campsite on Friday and Sunday with the sun-drenched hive of fun and activity it respresented on a glorious Saturday. But whatever the clouds chose to throw down, the music went on and did the organisers proud.
As with any festival boasting multiple stages and venues, it’s impossible to experience anything other than a healthy slice of what was on. Barking’s finest Billy Bragg opened the show in fine style proving that although the 80s may seem distant, the similarities are still there for those of a political nature keen to pick them out.
The Demon Barbers XL headlined on Friday with a monster of a show combining thumping folk rock, clog dancing and fantastic street dance too. The atmosphere in the packed main marquee for sets like these is hard to beat and – thanks to the modern miracle of the web – those unable to attend in person were able to watch a very successful live streaming of the main stage acts.
One of the strengths of any festival is the chance to witness the performers themselves interacting and this time round their were so many ‘other bands’, collaborations and side-projects that it wouldn’t be impossible just to follow one performer all weekend cropping up in various guises.
Nancy Kerr was once such artist, wonderfully impressive with her trio or with the full award-winning Sweet Visitor Band.
Like all good festivals there was diversity too. Lil’ Jimmy Reed’s stunning blues set late on Saturday, Les Barker’s ever-popular poetry set and the simply stunning Taiwanese musicians on Sunday were just three examples of the organisers displaying a creditably open mind when it comes to programming.
Festival Director Dick Dixon took to the stage just before the final curtain to thank the army of volunteers who make this friendliest of festivals run smoothly and in good spirit bringing thousands of people – and their welcome custom – to the town.
Roll on next year.