Line up: Band From County Hell /Dan Webster / Blazin’ Fiddles / Clutching At Straws / Steeleye Span / Fotheringjay
Venue: Butlins Resort (Skegness)
Date: Dec 4/5/6
Review By: Sarah Houben
Photos By: Ian S. Russell (MORE HERE)
The Band from County Hell – Reds – http://www.bfch.co.uk/
Last year’s Sundays Introducing Stage winners opened the final festival days for us. Already the dress style of The Band from County Hell, with a mix of Celtic and (steam) punk elements promised that this was going to be a lively act. BfCH started with an instrumental act before lead vocalist Joolz McLelland welcomed the audience to their celtic
folk rock performance. For the next songs she played the bodhrán and shared the vocals with her husband Jock McLelland, whilst Ben McLelland, Mark Mclaughlan, Phil Harris and Russ Smith formed the rest of the band with fiddle and tin whistle, percussion, guitar and bass. Small dance choreos complemented the cheerful music, whilst the band performed a selection of originals from their six albums. The song “Pussycat”, once written by Joolz for her son Ben, was fittingly led by her vocals as well as a strong fiddle tune performed by the aforementioned son. Listening to the music of the Lincolnshire based band, it is evident why they say that they are influenced by The Pogues and alike. Songs like “Never Gonna drink that Stuff” soon had people dancing and singing along, before the final song of the set, “Shifts and Changes”, had people clapping along.
Dan Webster – Introducing Stage – https://www.facebook.com/danwebstermusic/
Aiming for a spot on next year’s Red stage, Dan Webster was up next for us. Performing on the introducing stage, Dan Webster showed his skills as a seasoned singer-song writer, whilst being accompanied by his fellow musicians Rachel Brown, Mark Waters, Yom Hardy and Ali Lawrence on cello, percussions, bass and guitar. Being more in the style of a “troubadour”, the folk music had people sitting and listening to the lyrics. In between songs, Dan chatted to the audience about the disadvantages of shower opportunities at festivals (recommending not showering in order to get the proper festival feeling) and successfully asked for a beer in exchange for one of his cds. One of the songs, which stayed in mind due to its lyrics, was the break-up song “Caroline”, despite the set ending on more cheerful notes.
Blazin’ Fiddles – Reds – http://www.blazinfiddles.com/
The Blazin’ Fiddles proved to be a contrast to the aforementioned act, as their energetic music used no lyrics, relying merely on the power of the instruments: four fiddles, played by Jenna Reid, Kristan Harvey, Bruce Macgregor, Rua Macmillan, accompanied by guitar, played by Anna Massie, and keyboard, played by Angus Lyon. With the band performing songs from their new album “North”, the lively fiddle music from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, soon had people clapping along
Clutching at Straws – Reds – http://www.clutchingatstraws.com/
In the evening, the doors reopened to the indie folk trio Clutching at Straws. James Baskett (bass, cello, vocals), Jake Mahal (percussion) and Thomas Simm (vocals, guitar, keys) started their set with a slower tune but the pace of their music soon quickened. The songs they performed partially hailed from their new album “Bamboo Bridge”, of which the raised money goes to an isolated community in the Philippines. In between songs, the band members explained their ties to charity work and Jake’s developmental work in the Philippines, putting the content of the songs into context. Thus, even if the music didn’t have everyone up and dancing, the great music, as well as the written lyrics, such as in “This Table Changes Everything”, made seeing Clutching at Straws more than worthwhile.
Steeleye Span – Reds – http://steeleyespan.org.uk/
The second headliner of the festival was Steeleye Span. Formed already in 1969 this group is one of the major folk-rock bands around. The 6-piece band of virtuous musician led by the voice of Maddy Prior performed on the Reds stage in front of a full and cheerful audience. Starting with ballades, telling entertaining stories of love, knights, gardeners and spies, the set initially had people calmly and intensely listening. Before long however, the rock-music side became more apparent and had people up and dancing. Especially the songs from their album “Wintersmith”, which Steeleay Span had written in cooperation with Terry Prachett, proved to have very catchy and lively tunes. Based on Pratchett’s Wintersmith novels, they told tales of ancient rituals and folk dances, with “Crown of Ice” being a personal favorite.
Fotheringay- Centre Stage – http://www.fotheringay.com
We didn’t stay to see the entire Steeleye Span set, as we wanted to at least get a glimpse of Fotheringjay, which was playing at the same time on the Center stage. Also going back a long way, this 1970 formed band was on their reunion tour. The songs we caught were quite laidback and we’ll be checking some more of their folk-rock music. Listening to them, definitely was a good end to the festival.