Well, that was the weekend that was. Easter, the time for the National Folk Festival! We always get season tickets, because it's only ten minute's bike ride from our house, and has the added bonus of some of our lovely relatives working there (they run the stall that sells the official Festival t-shirts, along with other lovely things), so it's our chance to spend some (reasonably) quality time with them.
I don't actually do a lot at the Festival; I find that once I'm through the gates, I leave the rest of the world outside, and my poor overworked brain just goes into meltdown. I tend to sit quietly in corners and watch the other people getting excited about the gigs, and I also grasp the golden opportunity to spend hours doing nothing but reading -- so if you were there, and you saw a woman sitting in the corner of a concert reading a novel and tapping along absently, that was me. I read the whole of The Kite Runner yesterday.
The quiet starts to each day gave me a chance to whip into the BookStud and do some printing. Today I managed to print about 150 halves of a brochure before I rode up to the Festival. Feels good to flake out knowing that something's been done to lower the tideline of the in-tray.
Anyhoo. I did catch some good acts, mostly because each day I went to the Infinity Tribute session. Every year they choose a corny theme, and invite Festival acts to participate in a competition to play covers according to the theme. They started years ago, unimaginatively, with Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven' (making it any Led song would have been Teh Bomb), and since have progressed through Bob Dylan (limiting it to the 'Blood on the Tracks' LP), ABBA, Queen, The Sound of Music, and this year they did Grease. It's a fabulous way to get a taste of a variety of acts, and I invariably discover someone/something that I later follow around the festival like a puppy dog.
This year my crush was on a group called The Fourth Realm, who used to be The Fellowship of the Strings. Imagine Anna and Agnetha, mix them up with Stevie and Christine, throw in some dulcimer and harp and some very 70s folk rock, and you have a heady mix of fabulousness. I saw all their gigs at the festival, including what turned out today to be their last. gig. eva. [sob]
Martin Pearson, one of my fav funny men, had quite a low-key but excellent contribution to the festival this year. He gave a book reading of Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man, divided into four sessions. I only missed the second part, thanks to a programming irriot who put the Grease heats on at the same time. Choices, choices! I knew Martin would give a precis of the previous episode each day, so I followed the action.
The readings were terrific; he's a very clear, expressive reader, and he does excellent voices. I'd be very happy to buy him narrating Pratchetts for audio books, and I hope he recorded this one for release. Unfortunately the crowd dwindled more each day -- but those who remained were quality crowd :)
Mal Webb, my other darling festival funnyman, did an excellent job with his Grease act. He did so well that he won the whole thing. He worked out that most of the songs in Grease use the same timing, and took advantage of this (and his magic recording pedal) to make a vertical medley. I recorded it -- but in one of my best DOH! moments, I've done it sideways on my camera (he looked so good in a portrait format!). If you have a bad neck, don't try to watch -- until the last minute or so -- but it's really, truly worth a listen. In the first few seconds his microphone is having problems, but then it kicks in. He's so frigging clever. And do hang about for the high kick at the end, lithe bugger.
I taped a few other acts, which I'll add later, because they're taking forever to download.
-- Liz Frencham (as ever. That woman can do NO wrong)
-- Rory McLeod
-- Dr Stovepipe
-- King Curly
-- Martin Pearson's blackboard gig last night, when he sang his triumphant "Farewell John Howard" song (that's the polite way to describe it), to the crowd's utter delight.
-- Catching Zoe's choir performance. Zoe has joined a world music choir, delighting in the fact that with world music she only needs to learn bits of songs. Unfortunately she is too tall to hide amongst the other singers, pretending that she knows the words:
Zoe is not standing on a box.
Luckily she seemed to know the words and looked like she had a lot of fun.
Over the weekend I drank a hell of a lot of Troubadour mulled wine, and ate a lot of chocolate. Bumblebee ran wild all weekend, and is now sleeping like a log after being completely exhausted and in tears all evening. Tomorrow will seem weirdly mundane after all the colour and fun.
PS: I did forget to write last night (half asleep!) that if you want a really good low-down on the Festival, check out Enny-Pen's efforts. She did lots more than me, and has better photos. And I'm glad she covered the weirdest act in the Grease heatlap trials. BTW, Enny, I had a similar reaction to your mum re. David LaMotte, but I warmed to him eventually. I think it's the Michael Bolton hair and the accent. He'd look ever so much better with a short back and sides :)