The Bath Folk Festival 2016 kicked off in fine fashion at the Widcombe Social Club with a rousing display of clog dancing from the recently formed Stepling.
It's not often this subgenre of traditional music-making gets an outing in this part of the country and so it was a rare pleasure to see the clog shod feet of dancer Toby Bennett in full flight. The speed and complexity was breathtaking at times and the accompaniment from Deb Chalmers on fiddle and vocals, Jo May on spoons and other percussion and guitarist Adrian Lever was equally impressive.
Traditional hornpipes from Lakeland and the North East formed the bulk of the set but one of the most memorable tunes was the jolly Bomb Crater Hornpipe written that afternoon at a festival workshop at Bath City Farm.
Headliners Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party gave a polished performance starting with Green Gravel, one of those macabre folk songs which manages to combine the rules of a children's game with imagery of freshly dug graves.
This was swiftly followed by the upbeat Katie Catch, 'a bit less dark' admitted Fay.
Religion, ghosts and life on the ocean wave were common themes with Morris tunes and singalong sea shanties thrown in to lighten the mood. But the standout performance was the moving and mainly a capella Tom Waits song The Briar and The Rose.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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