Folk On The Farm

Venue: Tyddyn Mon Farm
Town: Anglesey
Dates: 17-19/7/15

The Folk On The Farm Festival on Anglesey is now in its third year and going from strength to strength if this year was anything to go by.

It is set at a centre for adult learning on the beautiful North East coast of Anglesey, with festival proceeds going to help the superb work carried out there.

Tyddyn Mon was created around 25 years ago by parents concerned about where their children would be educated. They bought a derelict farm and developed it into a quite wonderful centre that caters for adults with learning difficulties.

The music festival stretched over three days, with an on-site campsite overlooking the sea.

It has been run since its inception by Jon Hippy, who kept everyone guessing by changing the colour of his beard each day!

A colourful outdoor stage, with the coastline as a backdrop, set the scene. The weather had other ideas however and strong gusting winds meant the festival started on Friday night in a handy nearby barn.

The weather improved on Saturday and we basked in the sunshine but the wind was still an issue so it was back in the barn for the evening performances. Sunday dawned bright and the outdoor stage came into its own.

On Friday there were strong performances by young Welsh guitarist Ben Robertson, singer-songwriter Alun Parry and the Southbound Attic Band from Liverpool.

The packed barn were treated to a charming impromptu set from Henry Priestman and Les Glover as we waited for the Goat Roper Rodeo Band to arrive. They were traveling from another gig in the West Country.

The last time I saw this band was at BAMfest where they went down a storm. This time they were even better as they blitzed through their set of up-tempo country blues. Their two beat-up guitars and double bass took quite a hammering and the audience loved them, demanding and getting a richly deserved encore.

Away from the stages, there were late night singarounds and singing and drumming workshops.

Despite the best intentions of the strong wind, the outdoor stage burst into life with an entertaining set from Les Glover aka Loved Up Les that included tracks from his new album The Love Terrorist, plus enjoyable romps through Motorhead's Ace of Spades and Abba!

There was a buzz of expectancy as Tir na Nog took the stage. The duo from Ireland are regarded as one of the first progressive folk bands to emerge in the 1970's, touring with the likes of Jethro Tull.

Armed with an impressive set of gizmos, the duo entranced the crowd with tracks from their first studio album since 1973 - The Dark Dance.

The twin guitars blending superbly to create a magical sound and it was no surprise when they were invited to do an encore. Great stuff.

A late addition to the line-up was a five-piece band from North Wales called Mouton, who play Breton dance music. They suffered more than most from the strong winds but battled on admirably.

Reckless Elbow, a five-piece band from Wallasey, brought the Saturday afternoon proceeding to a toe-tapping conclusion with their Irish-flavoured set.

Saturday evening and we were back under cover to listen to Galw, a Welsh/English duo and local singer Gemma.

Roisin Ban, a band from Yorkshire who play Irish music, really got the party started with their imaginative set of jigs and reels, which also included some lively Irish dancing.

But the roof almost came off the barn roof when the final act of the evening, The Duncan McFarlane Band took the stage with their storming set of folk rock.

Festival-goers danced into the night as Duncan and his band went through their paces, including The Levellers' hit Beautiful Day, which was very well received.

The final day of the Folk On The Farm festival was blessed with light winds and plenty of sunshine. We had another set from Roisin Ban, which had people dancing away but it was set from Pembrokeshire singer Lowri Evans that caught the eye.

The singer sang in both English and Welsh and was accompanied by guitarist Lee Mason.

Their set was quite stunning, with both guitars complimenting each other, with sublime singing. Lowri is working a new album and this will be one to look out for.

The Steve Blackstone Band ran through a few blues numbers before Henry Priestman and Les Glover closed the festival with a thoroughly professional set which featured songs from Henry's two solo albums - Grey Is The New Blonde and The Last Mad Surge Of Youth. A feature of the set was the relaxed banter between Henry and Les which perfectly summed the relaxed vibe of this marvellous small festival.

Folk On the Farm is a special festival in many ways - it has a special site, special people running it, and is all for a special cause.

The organisers deserve a pat on the back and I, for one, look forward to next year's event!

John Knighton

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