Sidmouth Folk Festival: Tuesday


What I did on the fifth day of my summer holiday.


Got up.


Walked into town.


Had sourdough bacon sandwich and flat white in Rincon coffee shop on High Street. I had reached conclusion that there is no nice coffee or wi-fi coverage in Devon, but this shop bucks both trends. I definitely didn’t stay for another coffee and a bun.


Walked along esplanade to look for buskers. Came across The Last Inklings, who are far, far too good to be busking. 


Went to Blackmore Gardens. Listened to two ladies (Alice Jones, again, and Byrony Griffith) singing Yorkshire songs. Enjoyed My Son Edward, a take on My Son David (“what that blood on thy shirt sleeve”.) No faffing around with horses and greyhounds: he comed right out and admits he killed his brother. 


Listened to young man (Jack Rutter, again again) singing mostly Yorkshire folk songs. The best thing about folk is the poetry and the lyrics. Alice and Byrony said “criss cross me daddy, au do a daddy, all take her an onion”, Jack offered “too la laddy, whack for daddy, too la loo la ray.” He made everyone join in with From Hull and Hell And Halifax. I love what he does with this song, which is called a litany but could easily turn into a dirge. He speeds up the pace around verse three and keeps the whole thing energised. He also did his take on Nic Jones take on the Hump Backed Whale, which may be the best song there is in the whole world.


Then I listened to five people (Next Slide Please) playing Irish Tunes. A slide is a kind lf Irish dance. 

Then I had a salt caremel ice cream.


Then I listened to man from Devon (Jim Causley, again, again, again) singing songs about Devon. Angel Hill is probably the best thing off his Charles Causley (relation) album, but I like best the way he dusts off unpromising music-hall type material. Glorious Devon is adjacent to heaven, the best county in seven, and for England’s lumpy bread provides the leaven, apparently. 


Then I had a cup of coffee and some polenta lemon cake.

Then I listened to a young lady (Katy Rose Bennet) singing folk inspired songs she had written and reworked herself, including a touching post lockdown anthem 


I really need to see you

sing my songs aloud

i really need to hear you

and play to a real live crowd. 


Then I listened to a young man (George Sansonne) singing unreconstructed trad. Exactly  my kind of thing and what I come to folk festivals for. As a result I didn’t make a note of the titles of any of his songs.


Then I had a saffron chicken wrap from the world food kiosk on the sea front. I am deeply offended that when I said “chicken in a wrap” no one replied “on a monday morning oh what a terrible sight to see”.


Then I went back to the gardens, and played at queuing, and shuffled my chair forward twice.  


The  I listened to Granny’s Attic (Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, George Sansome, again, and Lewis Wood) singing loud, bouncy, robust, songs in deep harmonizing folkie voices. There was one about a highwayman, and one about the crew of a ship in distress  which has to cast lot to see who gets eaten first. (Why are highwaymen always so proud that they never rob poor people? I would have though it made spund business sense.) They sung an old spinners song in which Napoleon and Nelson are appropriated as part of the spinning trade and a protest song about poverty and injustice with an anti-Farage verse added in. They were, in short, Exactly My Kind of Thing. Two years ago they were playing when the marquee had to be evacuated due to health and safety. Jokes about “bringing the house down” have already been made. 


Then I listened to Jackie Oates and John Spiers singing a frankly specialised set, majoring on playground rhymes (here we go round and round and round) and lace-makers  work songs (or “tells”). Rather a lot of these seem go be about Death. A version of Death and the Lady. Shakespeare’s “come away death” which he specifically connects with lace making, and a really charming one about a lady who sees a worm eating a corpses eye in the graveyard and ask “will I look so when I am dead”. Yes, you will, says the sexton. 


I went off for a post show beer with joy in my heart and a spring in my step.



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