London Folk And Roots Festival

Venue: Amersham Arms
Town: London
Date: 28th October

Before I get into the review proper, apologies to the artists that I don't have space to give more depth too and those that lost out to the transport issues of having to get away earlier than anticipated because it was a Sunday and trains etc. can't seem to cope with that.

The trip up from Dorset was a good one, trains all the way through, no buses, met up with fellow writer, The Jacket, left the station in New Cross and there was the Amersham Arms bang in front of us. Apparently there had been an issue with the venue toilets a little bit earlier, but nothing a whole load of Detox and joss sticks couldn't sort out. Simon Stanley Ward was taking time out of his sound setting up to record an impromptu video for a Spanish team that are there.

Neither The Jacket, nor myself could remember going to the venue before, it's a little bit chalk and sawdust, but there are two performance spaces outback with the London Folk And Roots Festival utilising them both, mainstage for the bigger acts and the Lantern Society Stage predominantly for the solo acts. IT has to be said that during the course of the festival the switching between the stages was slick, losing barely any, a good thing with the number of acts. A big hands up to the organisers and the sound team for that.

Despite the name, the festival reached out to number of parts of the country for acts and so it was that East Anglia's Marina Florance became the festival's opening act. Recent winner of the inaugural Oldies Songwriting Competition, Marina, has a strong and knowledgeable audience. The artists slots were relatively short, so she quickly chipped in with "I'm not going to talk, I want to get the songs in" And get them in she did.

Marina has a maturity to her writing, one that can really only be gained through living life and getting different experiences, it comes through loud and clear in her songs. It was a grand set and there was even a spontaneous sing-a-long in the chorus of "The Tale Of Marcy Borders" a song which otherwise stung the audience into silence.

Opening the mainstage was The Galleons, a band that hail from Brighton and who also happen to be appearing on the next Fatea Showcase Session:Homewards(1st November). Leaving plugs aside, the band have been gradually building their audience, both through their recently released debut album and their live work and on this, albeit short, outing, it's not hard to gauge why. The performance was assured, full of life and definitely on the pop rock side of the genre. They are a band well worth keeping an eye out for.

Barely had the clapping died down for The Galleons than Lucy Kitt was striking up her opening notes on the Lantern Society Stage. Before today I had really only heard Lucy on Bob's Folk Show. She's an artist that has got promise, there was an element of formula in her set, but importantly it was a set that also highlighted an artist that is pulling together her own style.

Dylan Walshe takes to The Lantern Society Stage. I've been lucky enough to share a studio and a show with Dylan and as well as being a highly personable bloke, he's got the ability to take that into his songs, making it very easy to relate both to musician and his music. Having suffered a nasty accident earlier in the year, it's great to see Dylan well on the way to recovery and gigging again. Of all the instruments not to get working on the day, Dylan's mini stompbox was the least likely, but them's the breaks, fortunately there was quite a lot of volume to be had from the stage its self, leaving Mr Walshe to deliver a fine an rousing set of folk blues.

From the comparatively delicate sounds of Dylan Walshe, it was time to crank it up to the full band sound of Indigo Earth, a band that have probably never got through a live review without the word Pre-Raphaelite being used as part of the impassioned description of their singer Amy, although she's very much part of the vocal dynamic of the band, which sees great harmony and interchanges during the course of the set. The band released their self-titled debut EP earlier in the year and by the sounds of this, hopefully more will follow soon. So far the ridiculously cheap entry fee has delivered way, way above value.

Maggie Rose, another artist I'm seeing for the first time moves onto the Lantern Society Stage. Maggie has developed a sound that's strongly songwriter lead, but has that nice fuzzy around the edges feel to it, both in the lyric and the guitar work, it's sort of got overtones of Pentangle to it without there really being an easy comparison to the style of delivery, sort of intangible, difficult to pin down, always an exciting value, an artist that I want to hear more from.


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