Purbeck Folk Festival

Venue: Wilkswood Farm
Town: Isle Of Purbeck
Date: 24th to 26th August
Website: http://purbeckfolk.co.uk

Saturday 25th

There really is a great selection of food on site with veggies well catered for as well. Unfortunately it's also started raining so I'm opting out of heading outside, tempting though the hog roast is. Also very temping is the pie, mash and peas being sold near the bar and crying out to be washed down by a decent real ale. Having missed out on lunch, I acquiesce.

I find a space on one on the tables fashioned out of reclaimed wood and surrounded by mix and match old sofas and sit down to eat, bumping into an old friend, who had happened to have lead the walk around the Purbecks in the morning. Good food and great company with more music to come, Purbeck Folk Festival is definitely living up to that promise and talking to a family that happen to be sharing the same table, they are definitely content with the activities laid on the kids, today a giant treasure hunt to fit in with a pirate theme.

Suitably fed and watered time to get back to the music. The early part of the evening starts for me with Wiltshire based four piece, The Yirdbards. In all honesty the band name really should have served as a warning so in many ways I've only got myself to blame, but as it turned out, they were my most disappointing act of the day.

As a unit they just didn't click for me, though not for the want of trying. Including the likes of Verity Sharp and Paul Darby in their number, it would be difficult to fault the quality of the playing, in the end I think it was just not connecting to their songs.

I decide to cut my loses and head off to the Fire Stage, where I bump into Pete Christie, who will be playing later, on my way to seeing guitar maestro Chris Woodford. Chris plays a multitude of guitars, but for most of the performance I catch him for, he concentrates on playing 12 string and Weissenborn guitar.

As it turns out, he's the only exclusively instrumental act that I see during the day. Apart from a couple of small murmers between songs, it appears Woodford is a man that's more than content to let his instruments do the talking and when he's playing the 12 string, I'm sure one of the things it would like to say it ouch. On that particular guitar his style is aggressive to say the least. If the instrument was flesh and bone, it would be black and blue by the end of the set, but boy what a sound he makes with it.

Similarly, though his approach with the Weissenborn (See photo to get an idea of what one looks like) is more delicate, he still manages to wrest quite a sound from it. Chris Woodford is an artist that I've not seen before, but on this showing, he's definitely an artist that I'll be looking out for again.

Next up is aforementioned Pete Christie. Pete is a singer songwriter that I've long admired. He's got the common touch in terms of his song writing. His songs portray an attitude of dogged determination and have plenty of character.

Some of his material definitely falls into the protest singer category, but others also have a far more personal touch, symbolising an individual's inner struggle and their relationships with people and society around them offering a counterpoint to songs coming more about society.

Pete always gives off the vibe of a musician totally absorbed in what they are doing on stage, coming out of it to talk to the audience between songs. He plays his songs very much live, meaning that even the songs of his you think you're familiar with may well throw you on the day. It's also a set that sits on the cusp between night and day and that's a good metaphor for the performance, the clarity of daylight dwindles and the uncertainty of the night begins to take hold. Issues aren't black and white, events tend to be impacted by what's in the shadows and Pete's songs reflect that well. This is a performance to savour, one to take onboard and definitely one to experience, Purbeck Folk festival has chosen it's acts well.

The Fire Stage is running a bit behind which means that by the time Pete's finished and I've crossed the site, the Moulettes are further into their set than I'd anticipated.

Two thirds of the Long Barn have now been given over to standing, there's also a clear path down through the chairs to the front of the stage and the working area on the left hand side, which turns out to be a useful channel to get down closer to the band.

The Moulettes have been a breath of fresh air on the folk scene in the last eighteen months, their no holds barred approach to folk music has given them an idiosyncratic sound that comes with a powerful sense of drive, expectation and atmosphere.

It's an attitude that extends across the range of what they're doing, instrumentation, arrangements, song style. It gives them massive amounts of flexibility as a unit. The set includes songs performed by a full band as well as seeing/hearing them drop down to a duo, trio etc. This is folk music as a show, folk music with a real sense of theatre, but all the time remembering that the most important elements are the words and music.

There are bands made for festivals and it always feels that the Moulettes fall into that category, but they are not going to let it define them as when you hear their albums you know that they are a band that knows what it wants to do with it's recorded work and able to make sure their songs pretty much fit anywhere.

There were lots of demands for an encore, unfortunately they couldn't be met, festivals have a life of their own and that involves having to keep to a schedule no matter how unpopular that may seem when you're caught up in the moment and such was the case here.


Purbeck Folk Festival Gallery 2012

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)

Chris Woodford


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