It has to be said the organisers of The Wimborne Minster Folk Festival couldn't have asked for a better weekend. Mainly sunny, but occasionally overcast, it meant that people took the opportunity to explore both the outdoor and indoor events at the festival and for two of the days, the indoor events included Folk 21 sessions in the afternoon. To learn more about what Folk 21 do, check the link, but essentially it's to allow artists to showcase outside of their area, to try and give organisers at clubs and the like a chance to see artists they might not otherwise get a chance to see as well as provide great entertainment.
Essentially, Folk 21 Showcases are to help support the club and small venue circuit, by helping bands get seen out of their area and give clubs in the area where they are held a chance to see new acts.
One of the things that I liked was that the organisers of Wimborne Minster Folk Festival had placed the Folk 21 Sessions in the mail hall at the Allendale, allowing as many people as possible to see the acts that had travelled from lots of different parts of the country including a couple whose journey could be measured in minutes rather than hours.
There was a bit of a shuffle at the start as the first act had had transport problems and had been unable to turn up, which meant that George Papavgeris who was due to be the onstage compere had to reach for his guitar, giving him the dubious pleasure of having me do the MC bit of welcoming him to the stage.
George is a gregarious out going performer with a number of albums to his credit. He's been involved with folk clubs for more years than he'd probably care to remember and he really knows his way around observational songwriting. George's appearance was much more than a silver lining in the cloud as it meant that acts new to the area had the benefit of a warm up from someone well versed in the art of getting an audience going.
George's set was on the lighter side and perfectly matched the mood of the day, he even played one of my favourite songs of his, "Watermelon Seeds" a song about the need to tender children, even if they can be a bit of a pain. His unexpected set complete he handed the stage over to Manchester singer-songwriter, Little Rach.
Little Rach is an artist that is totally new to me and consequently one of the artists that I was really looking forward to hearing, having absolutely no preconceptions about what I was going to hear except that it was just going to be Little Rach, her voice and guitar.
She surprised everyone by kicking off with a cover version of the 'classic', as opposed to traditional, "You're The One I Want" slowed down and stripped away from being a duet, Little Rach really showed the strength of the song as well as showing that she's an artist that is able to find her own take on songs as well as writing her own.
She explained where her name came from, being somewhat diminutive and called Rachel, she introduced us to few things that might be less obvious, like her love of biscuits. From this point forward she pretty much stuck to her debut "If You Go" and showed that she's a really versatile writer who can move from personal songs and slip easily into more observational material.
Little Rach made a real impression on her audience. She's got a good stage presence and interacts well, not only that she has a voice that can really capture the mood of a piece and hold you there, once she's finished a song that I would guess is her current signature tune, "Made To Love Music" that was an incredibly short silence, where you could have heard the proverbial pin crashing off the floor, before the enthusiastic applause kicked in.
Following Little Rach was the Jess Vincent Trio, three being as big as the bands got although the afternoon. Jess Vincent, one of the runners up for Fatea Song Of The Year 2013, with "Anny Bonny", can perform either solo, a duo with Marcel Rose or a Trio adding current Fatea Male Vocalist of the year, Reg Meuross.
Jess Vincent is an artist that incorporates different parts of the acoustic spectrum into both her writing and her performance, something that really allows her songs to take what they need to sound at their best, rather than being shoehorned into a specific genre. It leads to a very varied set and one that is rich in textures, something helped by the undoubted quality of the musicians around her.
She's an artist that is inspired by a wide of influences and as songs like "Anny Bonny", which went down exceptionally well, show, she is able to look at a life story of a character and compress it into a five minute vignette. In addition to guitar and uke, Jess is one of a growing number of artists making use of the shurti box, sometimes nicknamed the musical brief case, something else that builds that feeling of variety into the set.
The Jess Vincent Trio know how to put on a show and even though the set was shorter than anyone would have liked, the unfortunate downside of sessions, as they were excellent throughout and this highlighted Jess as an artist to keep an eye out for, Jess is currently promoting her current album "Seesaw Dreams".
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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