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Tramlines 2012 : The Folk Forest

LOST IN THE WOODS. part 1

Twelve Noon, Saturday and the Sloucher Delegation having had coffee to sharpen the senses joined a small gathering waiting for Black Gold of the Sun. Worried about not having the drummer present, B.G.O.T.S. opened the day with an absolutely sublime set of songs perfect for a sunny day. Looking every inch as good as they sound their haunting Psych Folk is almost perfect and magical in this setting.

Next up denim clad Mike Hughes armed with his guitar proved that the tradition of the singer /songwriter is alive and kicking. He performed a flawless set, the spirits of Dylan (yes), Chapman and Wainwright listening happily among the leafy branches above.Very impressive.

Folk Foresters were waking up and beginning to swell the crowd. Most had missed two fine performers who were already making tracks to the Cathedral. Magpies are possibly the most low key band I have seen but their quiet stage manner doesn’t hide an engaging and enchanting set.
I’m not sure if Magpies were to blame but a sudden hankering for falafels descended on the Sloucherettes so we were slightly distracted when the talented Michael Tinker was playing. His percussionist (Washboard Sam) was quite amazing. Blow me if Fallen Leaf turned out to be a rather engaging Scouser with an excellent turn of phrase and a smart line in song construction. A lazy Saturday afternoon crowd really took to the guy as did we.

Maybe Myrtle Turtle were interesting. A kind of cross between celidah band and an eastern european folk group – up tempo and appeared slightly insane. No way I was dancing though.

The Big Eyes Family Players exuded class and confidence in a gentle manner. Lovely tunes. A five star performance by a group of masterful musicians highlighted by half a dozen or so children hanging over the barrier transfixed by the music but slightly marred for me by the two Becks swigging couples yakking loudly about shit no one cares about.

The appreciative crowd hung around for James Yorkstone and, as the sun dipped behind the trees, bounded on stage not waiting for an introduction and not needing one. A fine entertainer and a crowd pleaser and the perfect way to close the day’s proceedings.

I couldn’t help thinking that the perfect end to the day would have been Black Gold of the Sun’s atmospherics as the early evening sun cast dappled shadows across the park.

No complaints though -A lovely day.

LOST IN THE WOODS part 2

Sunday in the Folk Forest….er well the Slouchettes arrived late. It’s hot and crowded, much pear cider is being consumed. Some people around do not seem very bothered about what is happening on the stage. Still, it’s a festival and fun is the order of the day

We make a little fort and lo and behold, the Payroll Union are on stage. They play a hot (sorry) set of what I am going to call “Shefficana”. Damned if they are nothing short of brilliant. The Band? Richmond Fontaine? Rootsy, tight and very, very good and I would have liked to own the bass players hat – see them as soon as possible. This set included one of my highlights of the weekend, when a lady with purple hair and
matching hat stood bang in front of the Union, totally captivated by their set!

Rachel Dadd is next up. She plays a fragile set of slightly oriental folk drones, perfect for a blissful Sunday afternoon. Katrina Gilmore and a guy whose name I missed follow. I have a feeling these two could go a long way if Folk Roots discover them. They play an extremely professional set that causes people to rush forward to buy cds at the conclusion of their set, which sits fairly and squarely in the “new folk” camp. Guitar and fiddle and good strong vocals. Expect to see them around in weeks to come.

Changeover time so Nicky gets us a fantastic stone baked pizza ,the sun is shining and it is going to be Mary Hampton. I have been waiting for this since My Mother’s Children enchanted me 18 months ago. Folly is a wonderful record. I am praying that the now fairly well oiled gathering will be respectful to the music. The Cotillion (her group) are superb. It is strange and captivating music, mystical and intriguing. Many people are clearly engaged and we are too. The 30 odd minutes pass in an almost trance like state muted trumpets, strange sounds, Viola, bodhrán, guitar,violin, a capella vocals. This is truly wonderful!

So wonderful that we don’t stay for the legend Roy Bailey. Sorry about that. Lets hope we don’t get the push!

What a great event and no rain. Families and hipsters alike had a great time. There is so much more I would love to have seen this weekend but for now this will suffice.

Words: Keith How.

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