If you're looking for one of my meandering, stream of consciousness reviews covering the bands, the food and the beer, you may find this one a little different, largely because it was my first Folkstock, heck it was everyone's first Folkstock, but don't worry, the bands and the food will get a mention. Unfortunately, the beer won't because I didn't touch a drop all day, genuinely. That said the coffee was of a high caffeine level and it more than sustained the fourteen plushour working day. Well that and two good food stalls.
It's always great to hear of new festivals, particularly ones that give good opportunities to rising talent. One of the big complaints I hear at festivals is that it's always the same name, not an allegation that could be levelled at Folkstock, that drew in a fair number of rising names from up and down the country, not just its Hertfordshire base. In addition to which a number of those acts also got opportunities to play warm up events to help publicise the new festival.
Whilst I digress that, in its self, should tell you something about the thought processes that went into the organisation of this festival. Most new festivals start off single venue or single stage, many in a field at the back of a pub. What it did share with a lot of those types of festivals was that Folkstock was only one day, but that was the only place where it didn't think big.
With four scheduled stages, a turn up and play stage, as well as sessions in the bar, with well over seventy named acts on the bill, plus those that just turned up, this was an ambitious start for a new festival. Advanced publicity was good, pricing was well structured especially allowing for the new names that festival goers, crave and want an opportunity to 'discover' and the headliners sufficiently sized to catch the eye.
The build up to Folkstock was everything I would expect to see from a festival organiser, plenty of publicity and awareness generation with great engagement via social media to boot. With very few minor hiccups Folkstock ran like clockwork on the day. I have been to many longer established festivals that have been more poorly organised and less able to react to issues.
Stages ran on time, with very few exceptions the performers were excellent and even if you didn't like what was on, there was plenty of choice elsewhere, though that also meant that you might have to choose between two favourites, but that's the big plus and minus of a multistage festival. The feedback from the bands was great, as was the atmosphere and the attendees thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
In face there were only two real problems. The weather gods let Folkstock down, the promised sun didn't break through until late in the afternoon and there weren't enough people there, weather related or not, too many music fans missed out on a great day in a Hertfordshire field surrounded by great music.
There were enough to ensure the bands had an audience and there was an atmosphere, but come on people, if we don't support innovative festivals like this, that actively encourage new talent how are we going to discover our next big things? By any other mark, except attendance, this was an exceptional festival, one of the freshest I've been to, the enthusiasm of those involved was worn on the festival's sleeve like a badge of honour and it built everyone up on site.
It was interesting listening to the comments of some of the locals, those that turned up because it was an event on their doorstep, the main focus of those comments being the quality of the music they listened to, singers and bands that they didn't know from Adam (or Eve), but found they wanted to know more about. One of them even said "I thought I hated folk music" well there's a convert for the Fallows.
Folkstock covered the acoustic spectrum, the bands, singers and runners of the crepe and burger stalls all delivered an excellent end product. Folkstock showed its self to be a festival with a real heart and whilst it's birth may have been low key, it was one heck of a bonny baby, one that I would love to see go from strength to strength in the forthcoming years.
To the bands and the fans that made it a great day, well done, but here's to Helen and the rest of the organisers, the stewards and the team that made this folkin' rock. Oh yes and apparently I'm now known as 'the man with the bush hat'.
pics:Two Coats Colder, Minnie Birch, The Fallows
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