Saturday started with plenty of sunshine again. Tents were festooned with everything clothing and sleeping bags in an attempt to dry out gear from the night before. You could almost hear the semi-drowned rat creak as he rose to his feet and went off in pursuit of some breakfast.
Saturday kicks off at 10 if you really want to learn how to juggle. Sane people have to wait until 12 when the music gets going again. That said there was a flute and whistle workshop in the Folk Tent, but it wasn't noticed until too late.
The junkkulture crew eased into the morning in typical laid back fashion. A break for elevenses the only interruption to a relaxing start, that saw another rummage through the market area and a chance to catch up with the news.
A tip-off gave the impression that one of the best places to start musically that day was up in the folk tent, it proved to be spot on. An Aussie singer/songwriter regaling under the name of Penelope Swales had been signed up by the Mayflower Folk Club for one of their sessions and a real discovery she turned out to be.
Her songs were a well balanced assortment of the political and the personal, with the personal songs being a mix of emotional numbers and songs about her time on the street. These were songs with conviction as well as plenty of attitude.
Her distinctive voice with it's antipodean twang was complemented by some strong guitar that at times bordered on the downright aggressive. The songs sometimes seemed at odds with the waif like figure delivering them, but the whole effect conspired to give the impression that here was an artist that had both character and integrity.
Those same songs also gave the impression of someone that loved her country and the peoples of her country, but felt the need to expose the flaws of that country in an attempt to try and force change. Most import was that the songs worked. Swales has a strong style, not unreminiscent of that of Michelle Shocked, or in it's own way Billy Bragg, but is distinctive enough to be hers. A subsequent listen to one of her albums showed that the songs work in a band setting as easily as they do solo. Given the right break, Swales has the potential to be a star of the future, by which I mean along the lines of a Jane Siberry or the Indigo Girls, rather than a Madonna.
There was time for a quick lunch before being forced into another one of those decisions that afflict multi stage festivals, what to watch next. Stage 1 featured Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas, who lost out to the rolling session that is a Stage 2 tradition on the Saturday afternoon, though we stayed long enough to catch an excellent version of "The Free Mexican Airforce" from Rowan & Douglas.
The Festival Session features a series of virtuoso performances by instrumentalists from the various acts on the bill. It gives the audience an opportunity to see something they are unlikely to see anywhere else and the artists a chance to perform something that little bit different.
The majority of the performances use string based instruments. Personally I find the session is something to drop in on and sample different acts depending on the bill elsewhere, but there is a good sized minority that swear by the Saturday Afternoon and would only be dragged away by wild horses and then not without a good fight.