The Fatea Magazine 30th Birthday Bash, which was summed up perfectly by Amy Goddard "It's like a works party!" and indeed it was. One of the best festivals I've ever been to it was wall-to-wall incredible music with a fantastic atmosphere and good friends.
I can only get so many pictures into the review, but Fatea have created a special album of pictures from the event and will be adding video footage to the Fatea Festival YouTube Channel, keep an eye out
Friday opened with sets from locally based bands and really kicked things off. Bournemouth based Plastic Jeezus write and perform wry songs with a lot of careful observation and well crafted music.
Polly Morris Music is a whirlwind of song and theatre all combined in a package which leaves audiences gasping. Whilst best known for the excellent comedy songs you shouldn't overlook the quality of the ballads and everyone in the band has something good to contribute. As you go through the photos in the gallery just accept there's a man tied to a chair and a line of washing. They're long stories, go along to a live show to find out more.
There'll be more than one shout out coming to Neil King and Jo Elkington as the pictures come along, but this was their success and they deserve all the plaudits they're going to get
You always expect clashes at a festival, part of the fun is deciding who to see but this became a real dilemma because I wanted to see EVERYBODY! The only solution was to flit, which meant catching half of each set and trying to fit in the occasional G&T just to keep my strength up.
The day started with Folk Orc delivering a Festival Session at the back of the Mulberry Room and featuring musicians and singers of all ages and ability, all having fun and united by a passion for music.
First flit took me into the bar for workshops on approaching the media, Neil King and publishing and royalties by industry lawyer Luke English followed by a very active Q&A Session.
The Mulberry stage saw the first music action of the festival with an unexpected appearance by Show Of Hands, who had dropped in on the festival on their way to their own gig in Salisbury in the evening.
They opened the Fatea 30th Birthday Bash with a short set of their own and some anecdotes about both theirs and Fatea's early histories, a really heart warming moment. There was even time for Odette to join Phil Beer for a couple of numbers
The Mulberry stage was the more open area and had an incredible line-up of talent starting with Robert Lane who's a favourite of mine. His almost folky blues has got an edge to it and he works really hard at getting his music across to people.
Even the best laid schemes gang aft agley (whatever that means) so I only caught a few songs by Trevor Babajack Steger , but I like what I heard. His big bold blues mean you can't stand still and he's one I want to see again.
The same goes for Ben Robertson who impressed everybody with his guitar virtuosity in a breath-taking performance. Do check his music out because I think you'll be hearing a lot more of him.
Another quick refresher at the bar also gave me a chance to drop in on one of the sessions run by a half of Murphy's Lore which was well and enthusiastically attended throughout and is an essential part of any festival. It's such a joy to see people enjoying their music.
The final act covered here is another favourite, Zoë Wren. I always feel slightly sorry for people who've not seen Zoe before because they're not prepared for how amazed they're going to be listening to one of the finest voices I've ever heard coupled with a really strong songwriting ability.
It was breath-taking and this was only one half of the afternoon session, with the other stage having an equally high talent rating.
The question was could the other stage being used live up to its neighbour? Oh yes, it could. Opening with big and bold Americana Country Folk James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band, all the way from Scotland, gave a great start to the stage.
It's always a joy to see Iona Lane who is a real rising star, constantly looking to innovate and progress and she found a lot of new fans with beautiful songs.
Having seen one great guitarist already it was a real treat to see Will McNicol, accompanied by Luke Selby, who takes guitars to a whole new level and plays such a range of music in way that lets you concentrate on the music.
Closing the afternoon session, who doesn't adore Lucy Ward? A performer who doesn't have an act, but gives everything of herself and can make you roar with laughter, snigger like a schoolboy and cry in the space of three songs. Always a delight to see and on really great form her set was a delight.
We still had the evening to come!
Anticipation grew throughout the day for the evening concerts and the culmination of what had already been a great festival. Before the main events though there was still music going on with a very successful open mic session in the bar. A real find here was Odette Michell who, I was amazed to discover, comes from just down the road from me? How had I managed to miss her? That's a mistake I'm glad I've corrected and I'm thoroughly enjoying her EP "By Way Of Night" which is full of beautiful songs that make the most of her voice. It was also very good to see Greg Hancock again and hear his intelligent, thought provoking songs that are still marbled with touches of humour. Such was the amount of music I managed to miss Amy Goddard and her new song "Cornish Mist" which luckily I'd heard the week before. Sorry Amy.
The theatre stage was a programme of musicianship of the highest quality. Will Pound drew gasps of amazement as he plays the harmonica and accordion - at the same time! That's something I've never seen before.
Oka Vanga are well known for the quality of their playing, of course, with Angie's lovely voice and Will's jokes providing the full package that will always guarantee good entertainment. there's such a charm in their music.
Luke Jackson, what can I say that hasn't been said hundreds of times already? One of the very best singer-songwriters his folky blues have given him an enviable reputation and yet he's still got a lot more to come. He will be one of the greats and isn't far off it now.
Reg Meuross Music is one of the greats, without doubt and totally commands the stage. I was so pleased he played "My Name Is London Town", a recent song that's become one of my all-time favourites.
Yes, the theatre stage was the place to be if you're a music lover. Trouble was, so was the other stage, which meant a lot more dashing about and each trip took me past the bar. Then I discovered the barman knew how to mix espresso martinis. It was going to be a long night
Last, but by no means least, the Mulberry stage continued the theme of the best music around.
The Shackleton Trio have been on my wish list for a long time so it was a delight to finally get to see them. In the Americana camp but with folk influences and self-written songs they picked up a lot of new fans, I'm sure.
Also rocking up the area were The Trials of Cato, who I first saw early this year, not too far away in Wimborne. I've seen them since and their powerhouse folk always impresses, They're making big waves and are certainly worth checking out.
Merry Hell, well, what can you say? I once left a festival a bit early after seeing them because I knew it couldn't get better than that. They had the audience, as usual, on their feet and joining in with the actions but Merry Hell aren't just a party band. They have that political edge and lyrics that can hit home. It was also lovely to see Virginia Kettle playing her own songs, away from the mics and in with the audience.
So to the last act. Kadia (The Band), in their final show, and Said The Maiden, who are also about to have a personnel change, could have made for a slightly sad end. Instead it became a Thanksgiving to two groups who've brought huge pleasure to so many. As a combination they worked so well, too. STMs beautiful harmonies combined with the voices and instruments of Kadia to give something really special.
The festival may be over but the memories will stay for a long time. Huge thanks, obviously, have to go to Jo Elkington and Neil King for being the driving forces behind it. We have to remember, as well, that we were only there because of the efforts Neil has made over 30 YEARS (that's older than a lot of the performers) to encourage and support independent music.
Thanks also have to go to the volunteers from the The Shelley Theatre who remained cheerful and helpful all weekend, the Fatea Magazine helpers on the merch table and stages, the sound and lighting engineers and the sponsors. A final shout out to all the performers, too; it would have been a bit quiet with you! It was a real community and one I'm so lucky to be a part of.
Incidentally, I may a mentioned gin on a couple of occasions. It comes from Conker Spirit, based in Bournemouth. It's very worth finding.
Words Tony Birch, pics Tony Birch, Dorsetbays
The Fatea 30th Birthday Bash wasn't just about celebrating 30 years of the magazine, it was also a fund raiser for the Fatea Archive Project. More details here.
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