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Folkfest art work by Cathy Simpson

Folkfest art work by Cathy Simpson

Hastings Folk Festival

Put off those end of Jack in the Green blues! Following on from the May Day festivities, from 6 to 10 May, venues across Hastings Old Town will be participating in Folkfest, hosting four nights of Folk music performances. Grace Vogiatzis reports.

Since 1987 Hastings has been sadly bereft of a folk music festival. Fortunately a group of local music supporters have made a bid to remedy this situation, bringing us Folkfest. Over Four nights, venues around Hastings Old Town will be hosting Folk music acts, with Barbra Dickson bringing proceedings to a close at St Mary in the Castle on the Saturday.

Mirroring all that folk is, the varied line up that covers a breadth of styles, from more traditional folk acts such as Blakely and son, to the Balkan influenced Moors, American Bluegrass and an improbably named ‘Folk Funk DJ session’ (I’m intrigued).

“We essentially wanted to put on a no-fuss folk festival”, one of the organisers (and, incidentally, drummer for Barbara Dickinson) Russell Field tells me. Following the template of the raucous Fat Tuesday festival, the event has been led by its venues booking in their own acts, leading to a diverse show – “some have really gone for it. The F.I.L.O. is having acts on nearly every night. Then there’s, say, Whistle Traggo that’s focusing on new artists.” This relaxed structure looks set to let the festival grow year on year, leaving room for more venues to book themselves in and bringing their own definitions of folk to the event.

The festival aims at “making people realize what folk is all about.” Lost amidst the heady mix of brit pop and synth that was the 90’s and 00’s, the rise of new artists and bands such as Tallest Man on Earth and Mumford and Sons has definitely rehabilitated the genre, brining it more widely back into the realm of cool. Around and about there’s a strong folk music presence, with venues such as The Stag hosting year round folk music nights. As well we know “Hastings has a great music scene full stop. But within that is a wealth of folk musicians too”, something the festival looks to highlight.

So what can we expect from Barabra’s concert? “A mixed bag,” says Russell “harking back to her folk roots, and playing some hits as well as featuring songs from the late Gerry Rafferty, who was a good friend.”

With the organising team already thinking of headline acts for next year, Folkfest looks set to become a very welcome mainstay of Hastings music calendar.

More information on performers, venues and dates can be found on the Folkfest website, or Facebook page.

Posted 14:28 Friday, Apr 25, 2014 In: Performance