Despite in being virtually on my doorstep, somehow I'd never managed to make it to Purbeck Folk Festival, events have always seemed to conspire against me. It was beginning to look that way again this year, the festival's fourth, I'd originally intended to go for the whole weekend, the it looked like I wouldn't be going t all, then a window of opportunity opened up and I found I could make the Saturday.
Making my way towards Milkswood Farm, home of the festival I was really hoping for two things. One that it would live up to its billing of 'how festivals used to be" - friendly, great for kids and adults alike, and small enough to be able to wander around and not lose your friends' and, secondly, that the weather would hold.
The festival is nestled into the Purbeck Hills just outside Langston Matravers, not too far from both Swanage and the Jurassic coast and the famous "Square And Compass" pub. In fact if you were at the festival site early enough, you could join in a guided two hour guided walk of the area and still have been back in plenty of time before the music started. If, like me, you did miss out on this Jurassic Jaunt, you can always contact the walk's organiser through their website and organise one for another day.
I parked up in the day car park, choosing the space at the very top of the hill, just in case the rain hope didn't pan out. It would mean a longer walk there and back, but also not having to push if the worst came to the worst. Program bought at ticket exchange, I make my way down to the festival site.
The site it's self is nice and compact, three main stages centred around the farm buildings and a good array of eateries and festival stalls in the connecting areas. In addition there were plenty of other performance spaces and places simply to take the weight off your feet and lots of activity for children of all ages, both organised and commercial. Really pleased to see the smiles on the face of children using, lathes, files and chisels to make their own rounders bats.
There were also a lot of workshops going on, singing and morris dancing when I got there, in the rapper variety I believe. Bumped into Kat Gilmore and Jamie Roberts in one of the cafes, who as well as having a new album out and playing later were just getting a coffee in before running a guitar and fiddle workshop.
The weather was holding up and there were quite a lot of people around that I knew, apparently I'd missed a cracking set by Larkin Poe the night before and Hat Fitz and Shooglenifty had done a grand job in making people forget about the rain. All in all a promising start.
By the time I'd finished exploring the site, caught up with people, managed to sample one of an impressive array of ciders and real ales on site, it was time to head down to the High Barn and watch my first act of the day, Kaia Vieria opening up the Fire Stage, the only one of the three programmed stages not in a barn, though I had managed to catch Emily Kraemer sound check earlier, which did put her into my thoughts of someone to see later.
Still in her teens, Kaia Vieria is one of the rising stars of the Poole/Bournemouth and judging by her slot opening the festival on the Saturday, she's an artist that is, as they say one for the future. She's still learning her craft, which is why slots like this one and a later showcase on one of the two bigger stages are so important.
The only area that I could find as a weakness in her appearance was her between song banter and that really is something that can only come with experience. During her songs she definitely engages her audience, which were spread along the hillside looking down on the stage predominantly and very mixed in terms of ages.
They also know a good thing when they see it. The Fire Stage is ideal for singer/songwriters and duos, the actual stage area having a nice compact feel to it. Should an artist be a bit nervous, keeping eyes on the level it leads to an intimate crowd, look up and the rest of the audience comes into view.
After a slightly nervous start, Kaia quickly found her feet and really justified her up and coming status, she's a strong performer, one that is easy to warm to and also appears to be more than happy to explore her songs in a live environment. She's an artist that I'm looking forward to hearing more of.
Looking at the line-up for the afternoon, I decided to pretty much base myself at the High Barn, by coincidence all of the first three acts have been on the Fatea Showcase Sessions, though so far I'd only managed to catch Gilmore Roberts live in anything like recent times, an omission I was definitely be correcting in very short order.
Opening the stage was local lass Krista Green. I'd last seen Krista live back in 2011 when she won BMTH Unplugged, not long after which she contributed "Cherry Pie" to our Winter 11 compilation "Inspiration". She's an artist that is very focused on both her songwriting and performing, spending a lot of her time busking when not performing on more conventional stages.
Busking skills are a great way of honing a stage presence and making sure that you've not only got hold of someone's attention but that you've held it long enough to switch someone from ignoring you or just throwing a few coppers into the guitar case, to someone that might throw a pound coin or two or, who knows, even buy a cd.
On the cd front, there's some excellent news, Krista has just put together a new release, "Krista Green Live" an album of ten songs, recorded studio live that is imminently due out, if not already by the time you read this, naturally it also provided the focal point for her set. The songs, and the set, were a grand combination of the personal and the political and great examples of observational songs. That also includes a number of feel good songs and really gets things going on the stage with a kick.
We're still working on the pictures, but are delighted to announce that we've opened this year's gallery with a series of wonderful watercolour sketches of the festival from Sarah Bibra. (Opens in new window)
The Fatea Showcase Sessions are a series of downloads featuring acts that we've really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear.
Click Here to get the latest session