Sidmouth Folk Festival 2023


Sidmouth is particularly well endowed with shops that sell everything. In preparation for a week in a field, I nipped into the towel, mallet, toothbrush, umbrella and saucepan shop and bought all the things I had failed to pack. I noticed that it also sold camp chairs and indeed tents. I was relieved about the latter, as the Bulverton camping field is alarmingly windy, and during set up my tent did a pretty fair impersonation of a paraglider. I still recall the year when the entire tent disappeared on the final night, shortly after Granny’s Attic had blown away in a hurricane. (They have since been recovered, I believe Cohen is performing with Reg Meuross this week.) The tent survived the night perfectly well but now I have a hammer I have hammered in the tent pegs, whoah oh oh all over this land.

The man in the pastie shop asked what kind of pasty I wanted, and I replied “one exactly like my Aunty Molly used to make.” But there were only traditional ones left. The coffee was excellent.

Of course I don’t really say any of these witty things, but I totally think them, sometimes as little as five minutes afterwards.

I am not saying I dress distinctively but the people in the adjacent tent said “ah yes, you are that pirate” and the people in the very nice bakery I haven’t been in for a year said "welcome back" and asked if I wanted the usual.

I would not wish to give the impression that Sidmouth consists entirely of coffee, pasties, bacon sandwiches and almond croissants. Since arriving twenty hours ago I have also had some beer.

Fishermen’s Friends did the same thing they did last year, and I thought the same thing about it that I did last year. You can insert a quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance if you want to. (I have never seen the Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance.) The audience were utterly ecstatic.

A lady on the bus from Exeter had the loudest voice I have ever encountered. She once bumped into a man who turned out to be related to the janitor at her old boarding school what are the chances of that, but in her favour she sometimes buys pasties for the homeless man on the beach.


Midnight. Young people in the Town Square, setting up a karaoke machine and singing “Take Me Home Country Road To The Place I Belong”.

If you want to know why Sidmouth is the best festival in the world that's why. I don't know if the youths had anything to do with the festival. For all I know they may have impromptu alfresco karaoke every night or every weekend. It’s still what makes Sidmouth the best festival in the world. I forget which of the Communist literary critics who I was supposed to read at college talked about Carnival as a time when normal beliefs and systems are turned backwards, but quite clearly Sidmouth Folk Week should be called Sidmouth Folk Carnival.

I arrived in the Swan (a pub) after the evening gig and a complete stranger came up to me and congratulated me on my clothes. For the first 45 years of my life. I assumed that if anyone commented on my clothes they were taking the piss out of me. Because usually they were. But nowadays it’s seems they are mostly being kind. So we talked about folk music. I don’t specially like folk music he said, as a newbie what should I listen to? I said Jim Moray off the top of my head. He said he likef sea shanties. I said I liked sea shanties. He asked what my favourites sea shanty was and I butchered a verse of Barracks Privateers. Then the Morris dancers in the other bar statutes singing Ben Kenobi-nobi Too Ray Eh and I went and talked to them and we bonded over Les Barker. They hadn’t heard the last verse, so I shared it with them.

Who's not with us any more
Ben Kenobi-nob too-ri-ay
Cos he got killed in episode four
Ben Kenobi-nobi-too-ri-ay

Then I went to the Bulverton which is the all night marquee by the camp site. There were Morris dancers actually Morris dancing and some people doing a square dance, (pronounced 'ceilidh') and a campfire session with an actual campfire.

There is a local beer called Darkness which is a good name for a stout. I had already had two porters in the Swan so I just wanted a small one. I pointed out to the bar staff that "half of Darkness" is the novel by Joseph Conrad on which Apocalypse Now is based.

I have a horrible feeling I actually did.

There must have been some gigs as well? Does it date me terribly to say that hearing Barbara Dickson singing Another Suitcase In Another Hall makes me anticipate a sketch about a man who wants to buy four candles? She has an astonishing voice and an eclectic repertoire. She sang The Times They Are A Changing and a Christian Viking hymn (“hear me smith of the heavens”) and an out-there dark reworking of Young Willie Has Drowned In the Yarrow. Everyone went nuts for the one from Blood Brothers. I have never seen Blood Brothers but they have probably never seen the Two Ronnies.

In the evening I had an interesting chat with a nice Australian lady who does a community radio folk show and had really wanted to hear Kathryn Tickell, who was actually in the the other tent. (I recommended Luke Jackson and Gaz Brookfield and Chris Wood for her show.)

The first act in the tent we were were actually in was a young woman called Lizzie Hardingham who sang an unexpected Calyspo tinged Rolling Down to Old Maui. The second act were a band called Banter who did electric reverb twinkly takes on mostly classic folk songs. They did Some Time I Do Reap And Some Times I Do Sow with all the verses. They did quite a dark version of the Mermaid ("and we jolly sailor lads are climbing up aloft"), and a Golden Vanity in which the cabin boy turns round and sinks his own ship as well, which is something it has often occurred to me he ought to do. In the lowlands low, obviously. I kept thinking they sounded undefinably like Home Service, and then they mentioned that John Tams is one of their heroes.

Having had too much porter and stout it now occurs to me that there is talk about Cecil Sharp (the man with the house) that I really want to listen to at nine o clock tomorrow.


It was in another life time, one of toil and blood.


Talk about Cecil Sharp by man who is writing new biography. Astonishingly there has only ever been one other full biography. This man's book aimed to cover his whole life: he believed in “progressive” education and was a Fabian, which doesn’t fit in so well with the image of a dotty victorian in a hat. There was a slightly defensive tone to some of the talk. He couldn’t have been a misogynist because he worked with eminent women. I learned a lot. I will read the book.

When blackness was a virtue the world was full of mud.


Randomly go to Small Stage where the programme says there are two acts singing folk songs. Turned out to be a very good call.

Jennie Higgins does excellent takes on trad songs, emphasising ones where women have some agency. Ben and Dom are two guys who obviously like the Young Uns a great deal, doing close harmony mostly self written songs, on Subjects, like friendship and how it’s okay not to be okay. Consistently good and with a nice self effacing stage presence, especially when Dom or possibly Ben opened the act by saying how pleased he was to be in Cambridge.

I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form


We have moved on from the year when acts said it is wonderful to be performing in front of a live audience again, and are now into the era when During The Pandemic is a formative life event. Riley Bungus, the highlight of the week so far, plays old time claw hammer banjo and refers to covid as “the great unpleasantness” which he distinguishes from “the other great unpleasantness” who is standing for re-election in his home country. He plays a wonderfully raw American mountains church song, definitely the only hymn I have ever heard which specifically name checks Hezekiah, and then makes us sing Amazing Grace church style. I have got to Day Two without using the phrase “drips authenticity”.


Ballad session in Woodlands Hotel, during which a young man rapes his sister and sets off in a bottomless boat; another man shoots his true love in mistake for a swan; several youths are interrogated about blood on their shirtsleeves; and someone else gets entangled in a prickle holly bush. These sessions are kind of the best thing at the festival.


The Bulverton marquee is at the top of the hill. A fellow inmate of the Bristol Sea Shanty sessions recognises my hat, and we talk about folk for the evening. He joins in the kailley (pronounced "sellidar") with some enthusiasm but I decline. There are limits. Dances are now gender neutral and there was a guy dancing impressively in a wheelchair.

Good Habits do their dotty skilful funny up tempo klezmerish thing; they’ve made their encore audience participation, with one half us singing Those Were The Days and the other half singing I Will Survive.

Blackbeards Tea Party are loud. There is a man in the audience with a beard, sunglasses and a tricorn, exactly like the logo. Stuart makes the audience shout “festival” every time he says “folk” and also "Macintyre" when the Old Dun Cow burns down. The new band members fit right in, and if anything, the theatricality has been dialled up a notch. Their arrangement of Jim Jones, the first folk song I ever loved, finally seems to have clicked for me. The sound engineer means you can hear every word of Stuart's vocal. There are flowing bowls, chickens on rafts, rollicking randy dandies and pig tailed sailors hanging on behind us. I may have mentioned that they are loud. But it never stops being folk music. They are basically the best thing there is,

Antoni arrived in the middle of the night. A tree fell down blocking entrance to the Bulverton for cars. My tent went full Chumbawamba in the 20 mph gusts, and a forecast suggested it was going all the way up to 50. I decided the best advice was to dismantle it, since broken tent poles are not what we need on the second night. I did not plan to leave Blackbeard at midnight, having possibly encountered Darkness My Old Friend again and spend forty five minutes putting my tent back together but needs must when the devil etc etc.

Failed to take into account that removing tent pegs in the dark was easier than finding them again in the dark, but people in next tent have lent me some of theirs. Remind me to buy them some Fudge. Someone else had offered me a sofa in their Air BnB if it came to it.

Come in she said, I'll give you, shelter from the storm.

It really is a very friendly carnival


I had forgotten what the C stands for in YMCA, I suppose, and thought that the man who wanted to ask me some questions was trying to find out what my favourite Village People record was.

He actually wanted to give me his "testimony. I doubt that it was exactly like as if Jesus had been standing right next to him, but I shall not press the point.

I have since thought up several clever answers to his question. “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”

“How do you feel about your followers pretending they are doing questionnaires when they really want to give strangers their Testimony?” might be one possibility.

In fairness, it was Sunday.

There has already been a certain amount of hymn singing in the Ham in the form of a rather clever show about Ralph Vaughan Williams. A choir sang some of the folk songs which Vaughan Williams collected and an instrumental group did a kind of improvisation around them and then the audience were invited to sing the hymns which he appropriated the tunes for. “I heard the voice of Jesus say come unto me and rest” is based on a song called The Red Barn Murder, which has the same tune as Dives and Lazarus. (It came full circle when one of the hobo singers, maybe even Joe Hill, turned the hymn into I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop Say Come Unto Me An Eat.) I don't think I knew that “He who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster” is one of Williams’s. It is everyone’s favourite hymn at school, although I preferred the original version with hobgoblins and foul fiends. But I am damned if I can see how it is the same tune as Our Captain Calls All Hands. I can see that you sing the one to the tune of the other if you so desired. You don’t think Ralph was making up tunes and attributing them to Trad, do you?

Due to last night's incident with a tent, a storm and a lot of dark stouts, I may not have given the recital by a very eminent and excellent traditional Irish band, the Mcarthy Family the attention it undoubtedly deserved. What made this worse is that Sandra Kerr (!!!Madeleine the Rag Doll!!!) was sitting next to me. If she noticed me dropping off I would of course have to shoot myself.

And then it was time for Show of Hands. The queue stretched all round around the marquee back to where it started, but the steward pointed me to a single vacant seat for one person at the very front. I kicked over the person next to me’s drink, but they were very nice about it. (I bought them another one.)

Show of Hand did a pretty standard Show of Hands pretty much covering the greatest hits, which makes sense because they are going to stop touring for the foreseeable future. (I could not help noticing that Phil had to sit down to play his fiddle.) And they pretty much did them straight. Steve has been doing slightly experimental versions in his solo shows but there was none of that tonight, although the man with the beard and the hat from Track Dogs assisted on the Cajon. We all joined in with Country Life and Cousin Jack and Galway Farmer and ....everything else.

I bumped into Olivia from the Brizzle Shanty session in the Bedford Bar.

Steve Knightley is standing there, I said, but it would be too sad to go over and tell him how much his music means to me.

Of course you should, she said, he’s a performer and he will be pleased.

So I did.

I don’t want to come across as a drunk fan, I said, but your music is very special to me and it’s the main reason I got into folk music.

I told him the story of hearing Roots on Folkwaves on St George’s day and realising that folk music was where I wanted to be.

He was of course entirely charming. He said he remembered the episode and apologised for not playing Roots in the concert.

It occurs to me that I had effectively just given my Testimony.

What was it Bob said about it God and Woody Guthrie?



John Tams, that John Tams in the big tent. Yes, he did sing Over The Hills And Far Away. Yes, he did sing When We Go Rolling Home. Yes, we did all shout out Free Toast. Yes, your blogger did find that he had something in his eye, in a very gruff manly way. He was joined by the English Fiddle Ensemble, who are four English people who play fiddles, all together. One of their tunes went dum de da da, dum de da da, tra la la la la. Another one went tiddly tiddly tiddly, la la la, tiddly tiddly tom.


Harp and Monkey did a programme of songs themed around the Victorians. Some original and some original. I have heard the story of Bendigo the Boxer in another song, but never knew he became a methodist preacher. When he was heckled by a previous opponent he came down from the pulpit and punched them. I enjoyed the one about all the people who lived in a long terraced road in Manchester, which may have inspired a long running soap opera.

5 ish:

Standing room only for a talk on the history of Morris dancing. As you would expect. I now know a lot more than I did before. It is definitely not a pagan fertility rite and definitely not a war dance and blackface only came in a a result of American Minstrels. In the English Civil War it became a symbol of the royalists, so Cromwell suppressed it pretty throughly, and there was a big revival after the Restoration. The side Cecil Sharp saw had been founded by a revivalist only nine months earlier. My feet were sore by the end of the talk.


Last night I had my annual half a glass of cider to make sure I still don’t like it. In the same spirit I went to hear the Unthanks on the big stage. It’s an odd act: the sisters singing is understated, ethereal...I am definitely not going to use the word fey....but on occasions like this they have an eleven piece band behind them, with drums and brass and a grand piano airlifted in specially. Some of it works. The Copper family standard Thousand Or More / Sorrows Away mashed-up with a sea shanty, with endless repeats and audience participation is great. One For Sorrow, reworked so it is about crows, I believe for a TV show about a scarecrow, is excellent and atmospheric. But sometimes it doesn’t. I really don’t think that layered, produced, theatrical arrangement does King of Rome any favours. The overall sense is of a smoother, less raucous and less improvisational Bellowhead. I enjoyed the show but felt I was watching it at arms length.

I still don’t like cider.


Undoubtedly the entire highlight of the festival so far was a man in a yellow and red striped waistcoat and hat singing The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant slightly off key upstairs in the Anchor Bar.

There are rumours that he may bellow Tom Pearse’s Old Mare later in the week.

The Anchor Bar isn’t quite part of the festival, but a singing group does an open sing around most days. There is a genre of comedy song, possibly northern, possibly music hall inspired that only surface at these events. And also Streets of London.

Someone sang A Miners Life is Like a Sailor, and many clenched fists were raised. An old man sang a funny song about how They control they media and academia and how germ theory and global warming is possibly a scam and everyone is forced to think the same way. An old Quaker lady said a few words about war (she was against it) and read out a short poem by Kipling.

I don’t know what this said about the Left Wing or Right Wing qualities of folk music.

Having been excessively snarky about the YMCA man asking silly questions yesterday, I ought to mention that the group of church ladies singing Shine, Jesus Shine in the busking spot in town with actual tambourines were rather adorable. And the product of a sensible “how can we use folk week for outreach” meeting, I shouldn’t wonder.

Clearly it is better to be patronising than snarky.

Also went to a sing-around in one of the sea front hotels. It fell out as a day to go to the smaller events. Someone did a very good job with Stan Rogers White Squall. Someone else did the parody (I cannot remember if it is Kipper or Barker) in which the story of the Three Bears is set to the old Yorkshire tune about the lady with the impotent husband. The room was quite large and not everyone can hear the words, so charmingly, one half was singing “My husbands got no courage in him” and the other half were singing “My husbands got no porridge in him.”

George Samson (Granny’s Attic) and Matt Quinn (Dovetail Trio et al) are a post lockdown duo, and it is an inspired pairing. The most interesting thing happening in the world of Trad. I mean, it isn’t everyone who would name an album after a fairly obscure ballad called Sheffield Park. They did a chat with John Wilkes (old songs podcast) in the morning and opened for Eliza in the afternoon,

Eliza on absolute top form. (Her dad was two rows in front of me.). I don’t like every configuration she appears in, but this Trio is is on exactly the right side of the Folk/Not Folk line. Specially love Valiant Turpin. Highwaymen are basically land pirates after all.

Decided Salt-lines, while doubtless edifying, would have had Too Many Notes so went to the Traditional Night Out at the Arts Center, at which a number of trad adjacent performers take it in turns to do their thing. A round robin gig, some people call it. An Irish academic told a long story about a fairy horse. He thinks he has evidence that silent film star Mary Pickford was an Irish story teller and this was one of hers. Sandra Kerr did a charming lullaby she wrote for Nancy. The aforementioned George and Matt did one of those eight minute, hundred and twenty verse ballads. (It stared off like the one about the Knight who hath drowned seven fair ladies here, but then went off in its own direction.) Hardly anyone else could have carried it off.

Despite several valiant attempts the nice pirate (Jamie) I met at the Blackbeards Tea Party gig failed to get a chorus of The Rattling Bog The Bog Down In the Valley Oh going in the Bedford afterwards, but the session people were singing County Road, along with much diddling and some deeing.

My trademark Superman shoulder bag has disintegrated.

I am sitting on a bench by the sea front. A choir is singing Ghost Riders In the Sky. There are seagulls. The scene could hardly be more English.


The Bellowhead reunion literally no-one wanted. We are a little overwhelmed.

The day started with the aforementioned John Wilks doing an “in conversation” with the aforementioned Martin Carthy. John said it takes three times as long to walk through Sidmouth with Martin because people keep stopping him in the street to say how much they love his work. To which your blogger can only say “guilty”.Wilks is a stunningly good interviewer: he lets Martin chat around his huge range of stories, just occasionally jumping in and saying “What year would this have been?” or “Could I bring you back to Bob Dylan.”

Best moment: Martin Carthy remained, and remains, friends with Dylan. He would sometimes be invited to Bob’s hotel room during tours. So he met whichever celebrities Dylan was hanging out with.

“Can you think of any examples?”

“Well, John and Paul…”

He has forgiven Paul Simon (“the trudge through the grudge”) but now sings a different version of Scarborough Fair. Asked to comment on Eliza’s band, he whirls off on how much great folk there is in the world. He refers to a London group called Goblin Folk who no one has heard of as doing for English folk what Lankum did for Irish. And also mentions Granny’s Attic. Cohen Braithwait-Kilcoyne is in the audience.

Martin is in the audience for the extended tribute to Paul Sartin. The MC is story teller Matthew Crampton. He mentions that Paul had wanted to do a duo with the veteran so it could call it Sartin/Carthy. Carthy would have been up for it. It is one thing to go to a tribute for someone like Norma Watterson or Roy Bailey who have died at an an advanced age after illustrious career: but Paul died suddenly a few weeks after lasy year's festival, and this is very hard to treat as a celebration. Paul Hutchinson did a tune with Sam Sweeney. Matthew Crampton did a very creditable coverage of "My Cockadoodledoo" (it's a very fine cock, it's all I've got) which Paul often sang at Bellowhead after-show parties. Paul's sons, Joe and Will who are now a folk duo in their own right, did a set. And then Saul Rose and Benji Kirkpatrick (the two surviving members of Faustus) asked Joe back onto the stage to do his dad's part in I Am A Brisk Lad, and it completely broke me.

Joe came back onto the stage along with Benji, Paul, John Spires, Sam Sweeney, Pete Flood and other representatives of Bellowhead to sing London Town, which I think was a Paul Sartin arrangement. Such a funny, happy song. So many Bellowhead gigs. The audience dancing.

I am almost inclined to say that it was "too soon" to do this kind of tribute. For the finale they brought one of Paul's many folk choirs onto the stage, along with other members of his family and folkies who he'd work with (which is basically all of them) to do If I Were a Blackbird. It was clear that some of the performers weren't coping at all.

In the evening I head an Scottish folk punk band called Peat and Diesel. They did exactly what you would expect them to do.


It could be argued that I just listened to folk songs for thirteen hours without a break.

— Talk about Ozark ballads.

Ozark is a region in the USA, North Arkansas and South Missouri, possibly. Their ballads are wonderful rough mutations of the classic English and Scottish tradition. The Dowie Dens of Yarrow is now about seven cowboys who killed on the plains of Arrow. The Spanish Galilee in the lowlands low is now an English Robbery, and the crew try to bail it out with their hats. Lord Barnet kills his wife with a gun when he catches her with little Matty Groves. The little foot-page who betrays them is called Robert Ford. I find this stuff fascinating.

— Maddie Morris is literally the best thing there is. She has a perfect folkie voice and sings raw, honest songs about her own experience. The confessional/anthemic piece about the school teacher who called her an abomination is the best new song I heard all week. (“the girl with false eyelashes said he’s entitled to his opinion, you shouldn’t take offence.) She is paired with Frankie Archer, who reworks mostly traditional songs using a lot of electronic sampling and synth. Close the Coal House door is chilling and stark. Lucy Wan comes back and haunts her brother.

— More Maddie at the Woodlands hotel as part of Sandra Kerr’s “Tradition Reclaimed”, a (not at all in-yer-face) programme of women-in-folk-song. Everyone does the actions for Grace Darling, who rowed away on the rolling sea, over the ocean blue. (Help, help, she could hear the cries of the shipwrecked crew.) Sandra has decided “Grace had a woman’s heart” is nicer than “Grace had an English heart”

— Cohen Braithwait-Kilcoyne is the best thing in traditional music right now (not my words, Martin Carthy’s). He doesn’t only do his folkie stuff and his music hall stuff but has introduced several Caribbean tunes (he’s of mixed heritage) into the set. The Barbados version of “Keys of Canterbury” is completely joyous. The show is supposed to be an “hour in the company of” but we won’t let him leave the stage without an encore of “Rattling Old Grey Mayor.”

—…which means that the ballad session starts late, of course. It's still terrific.

-- And back to the Ham for the main headline concert, Cara Dillon singing Irish songs (and doing some rather good self-written poetry with musical accompaniment). He stories about her Very Irish Mother (Jesus Mary and Joseph what have I raised?) are glorious. Sam Lakeman is her partner and guitarist. Seth Lakeman is playing on the other stage, so they miss each other.

Drinks may then have been consumed in the Swan or the Bedford. It is hard to remembert.

Possibly this may amount to Overdoing It. I will be a little more chilled on the final day.


You kind of have to go with the flow. Let the festival develop its own narrative. Which isn’t always easy for those of us with chronic FOMO. If I go to the sing-around, I am not listening to the very famous person who's concert I have paid money for. If I go to the big gig I may miss out one of those moments when an old Irish lady sings a version of the Golden Vanity you have never heard before. It’s kind of like a series of coin flips. Heads, you find a session, make a new friend, hang out with an old one. Tails, you are in a pub where one man is going diddly dee on a fiddle and there’s no one you know.

This may also be true of life.

Flip: Relaxed coffee and bacon sarnie in the Rincon and catch up with today diary entries. (Decided I could probably survive without hearing a lecture on folk-collectors.)

Flip: To arts centre where the Sartin brothers, Joe and Will, are doing a duo gig. If I was in mood to appraise, I would say they are already a very good celidah type band, and Joe is a very decent singer of folk songs with bags of stage presence and personality. But that is not currently quite the point. Their younger brother [I think] Thomas (around ten) won a school singing prize for Sometime I Do Reap, and they invited him to join them for the first verse. Oh, man..,,

Flip: To Anchor where the informal singing group is still happening. They pass a twig round and when it comes to you you get to sing, if you want to. I had a go at The Great Big Ship (which, it will be recalled went down to the bottom of the sea) which didn’t quite work, but when it came round to me again I did a certain song about a certain grey mare, a certain fair, and a long list of travellers, which seemed to go down a storm. The elderly sailor-looking fellow with a white beard objected to my pronunciation of 'Arry 'Ill, and I did my “dad was Cornish, mum was a cockney” routine.

Flip: To Han for the Magpie Arc, which is Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Findlay Napier, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All. (Do you see what I did there?) Simpson always gives good value: fabulous guitarist, of course, he almost speak-sang the wonderful What You Do With What You’ve Got to the bands rocky arrangements. But I can’t quite see the point of Nancy Kerr introducing a long ballad if the drums and guitars are going to drown out the words,

Flip: Didn’t bother with the last ballad session. Had a last look round town and walked to the far end of the beach. Bumped into two people from the Anchor who asked if I would be singing with them this evening. Tempting....

Flip: Final big gig. The Young Uns have gone beyond being a very good close harmony trio and become a Phenomenon. They can go from jerking tears (sounds about suicide, Lokerbie and the Troubles) to vaudeville farce on the head of a pin. David Eagle, who's a stand up comic when he's not a folk singer, seems to be an intrinsically funny man. Told that the gig was sponsored by Exeter Brewery he improvised a song on the spot. (“I may not be a scientist, like Marie Currie…”)

Gig finishes at 10.

Do I...

a: go to Dukes where I believe a decent band possibly called the Dillymops are playing?

b: watch the parade and the fireworks?

c: head back for the last hour in the Anchor?


A lady is singing Stan Rogers Field Behind the Plough. I have it in my head to do By Jingo If We Do if I get the twig. It's funny and I can get away with funny. There was apparently time for three more songs, before the group leaders did their farewell numbers. They offered me the Twig because I hadn’t had a go yet, and on a whim I did a certain other Stan Rogers number about some unsuccessful Canadian pirates. God damn them all. Apparently I sang with “great feeling” and “obvious love for the song”. Which is main thing which matters. As opposed to tune, metre or key.


Do I

1: head back to campsite , or

2: See if there is life in the Bedford (another hotel.)

So. After a long chat with some Folkie Friends (one of whom is the nicest Oscar nominated animator in the folk world) I head to the bar for the second pint. The Session musicians have degenerated into Dirty Old Town and Leaving of Liverpool. The man with the banjo keeps getting up to leave and keeps being prevailed on for another song. There are several drunken nights, appropriately, and the folkiest man I have met all week does Fields of Athenray.

Jamie the Pirate finally manages to get the Rattling Bog, The Bog Down In the Valley, Ho going, although we get confused about what precisely is on what and in what order. The landlord calls time at midnight and politely wonders if we have homes to go to about an hour later.

Not every night at a festival is like this.

But some days you luck out.

I don’t think I missed anything by not seeing the fireworks.