Among this year’s Broadstairs Folk Week lineup are many folk radio favorites who are sure to help deliver a fully-fledged festival for 2022 (August 5 – 12, 2022).
Among the top of my list are Spiers & Boden, who reunited this year and delivered one of the best folk albums of the year – Fallow land. While we had to wait thirteen years after the release of Vagabondit was a triumphant comeback and, as noted in Billy Rough’s review of the album, at the heart of the album is the utter joy of two friends making music together.
Although this reunion surprised many, there was a new group that was equally compelling. Anglo-Scottish Quintet The arc of the magpie with Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and adam holmes alongside the multi-instrumentalist and producer Tom A. Wright and bassist Alex Hunter celebrated folk-rock through three tantalizing EPs… In Alex’s own words: “We’re not trying to reinvent the folk-rock ‘wheel’, we’re just sticking our own brand of tires on it!!” They certainly succeeded in doing so.
Another group that comes with its own unique sound is Yorkston/Thorne/Khan. This trio dates back to 2011 when James Yorkton struck up a chance friendship with Suhail Yusuf Khan, a singer from New Delhi (who also happens to be one of the world’s most acclaimed players of the Sangari, an Indian stringed instrument said to sound like the human singing voice). The duo became a trio when Yorkston invited a former collaborator and jazz-trained double bass player. Jon Thorne to join them. As Thomas Blake said in his review of their latest album, 2020’s Navarasa: Nine Emotions – their influences are clearly visible, but the way these influences come together creates a kind of music that is original, exciting and completely unique.
A trio sure to get the blood pumping are John Doyle, John McCusker and Mike McGoldrickwho released his first studio album in 2018 – The wishing tree. From the catchy traditional and original melodies to their intuitive ensemble playing, this is a trio that knows how to entertain a crowd.
In 2020, progressive folk outfit Laura Cortese and the dance cards book better bitter, supported by their love for dance. As Danny Neill said in his album review, their love for dancing is something that positively comes out of their music. They are full of life; even contemplating its ups and downs, there is an energy and vitality to the work.
Broadstairs Folk Week has put together a varied range to suit many tastes. A group that offers musical atmospheres and varied songs is The little unsaid, the songwriting vehicle of south London-based John Elliott. Its dark, personal lyrics and skillfully spun melodies have invited comparisons to Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell and Mike Scott. Elliott can, on the one hand, deliver a more subdued sound as he demonstrated recently on december songs during Licking the lips of the future, we’ve seen the band at their most accomplished and varied, giving us funky basslines, country waltzes, dreamy Peter Gabriel-esque soundscapes, and plenty of unexpected points in between. If you want variety, they have it in spades.
A group that has been reintroduced into the folk scene is lookincluding comeback album 2019 Again makes quite a fuss. As Dave McNally said in his album review, Again picks up where Flook left off Haven 14 years ago, delighting us, yet again, with their unique, exciting sound and ever-inventive arrangements. Expectations more than fully met – simply a brilliant album. You just know you won’t be disappointed with these top notch performers.
The ever-popular duo megson will also be performing, alongside their originals we will also be able to hear some of their Northern favorites as covered in their latest release’Unknown waters‘ which featured songs by Alan Hull, Jez Lowe, Richard Grainger, Vin Garbutt, Matt Chipchase & Young Rebel Set and Chris Rea.
There are some highly sought after headliners including Lindisfarne, Show of hands, The frightening choir of men, Sharon Shannon, The longest pants, Tim Edey and the above Arrows and Boden, The arc of the magpieall of which will perform under the Concert Marquee in the Festival Arena, next to the city’s train station.
There are a number of relatively new bands coming to the lineup, including Tarrena new English folk project featuring Bristol artists Sid Goldsmith, Alex Garden and Danny Pedler. Jon Doran and the Northern Assembly Featuring Jon alongside Heather Ferrier (Balter) and Jordan Aikin (Pons Aelius), the trio promises dynamic songs that combine uplifting contemporary arrangements with their lead man’s much-loved traditional performance.
Then there is Mishra with Kate Griffina clawhammer banjo player, described by Dan Walsh as “one of the finest players in the country” and Ford Necklace, half of the Drystones. In his review of their latest album To recover, Johnny Whalley declared to have taken the breath away, thanks to the freshness and the lightness of the group. Their first album of 2019, Loft bands (reviewed here), was just as energizing. In Johnny’s words, “Mishra’s music is captivating and, like all adventure music, able to transport your mind to new and exciting places.”
Luke Daniels will be joined by The Cobhers, featuring Charlie Stewart (violin), Scott Turnbull (guitar) and Michael Biggins (piano). I saw them play a folk version of the Bee Gees ‘Stayin’ Alive’ recently, so I’m sure it’s going to be a fun set.
If you like audience participation, be sure to catch Kakatsitsia group of traditional drummers, dancers and singers from the Ga tribe of southern Ghana.
Another new project that came out of lockdown was the duo Christina Alden and Alex Patterson, two-thirds of the trio Alden Patterson and Dashwood. They released their nature-inspired debut album, Hunter, in 2021, described on these pages as a beautifully crafted collection of songs and melodies.
Broadstairs also tells us that after a dance drought in 2021, there will be a full program of dances and ceilidhs at the new dedicated venue of the town’s popular Sarah Thorne Theatre, with dance workshops in English folk dance, clogging Appalachians, Cajun dancing, and midday and evening ceilidhs for the whole family.
There are around 400 events crammed into a week – including workshops for all levels in music, singing – African dance, drumming and guitar, flamenco guitar, violin, melodeon, spoons and ukulele for the whole family are just a few. some of the topics offered. Young people can participate in the Band in a Weekend project – bring an instrument or just your voice and create a band.
There are songs, poetry sharing and sea shanties on the pier. Morris sides dance around the town and on the high street in the annual festival parade, which did not take place in 2021. The ever-popular official free pub gig program takes place in pubs around the town. At the bandstand, the free Hobby Horse Club attracts hundreds of families who play games, sing and dance with Clarence the Dragon and the festival mascots, the Hooden Horses.
The festival campsite is within walking distance of town and venues, although there is also a free minibus service into town. It’s a great way to have a beach vacation with all the entertainment to boot!
New for 2022 is an adult ticket for Folk Week Lite, which includes all events except evening concerts in the Festival Arena. The week-long festival ticket, which includes all events, has an Early Bird offer that ends on the 31stst March. General booking is open now.
Broadstairs Folk Weel extends from August 5 – 12, 2022. There are more details and online booking on the website at www.broadstairsfolkweek.org.uk.