Happiness … a folk festival set in a patchwork bowl beside the sea.
Early August means FolkWeek when Sidmouth, in Devon, ties bells below her knees, plumps her seafront with craft stalls, and flies a few tunes up her hillsides.
This year there was sunshine and rain, and plenty to celebrate for Sidmouth FolkWeek, started in 1955, has just been awarded a BBC Music Day blue plaque by the British Plaque Trust in recognition of the festival’s contribution to music.
A little damp was not going to get in the way of anything.
It didn’t stop the buskers …
… nor the craft stalls …
… nor those waiting to dance …
… and the sea life went on as usual.
For this is Sidmouth, and although she might get a little frisky in FolkWeek she’s only ever a pint or two away from her sensible, seaside self.
This year, sadly, we had just two days at the festival (the wet ones), so no time for the workshops but we did manage an afternoon in the Ham Marquee.
First up were Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter with their skilled, lilting blend of vocals, guitar and mandolin – gently brilliant.
Then came the all male Yves Lambert Trio from Quebec.
Yves Lambert, champion of Quebecois folk music and a member of La Bottine Souriante, came to Sidmouth this year with the Yves Lambert Trio – a group that’s been together for 15 years.
Yves Lambert did vocals, accordion, harmonica, jaw harp, percussion … and a strange kind of whistle/flute.
Tommy Gauthier, beside him on stage, played violin, mandolin, and guitar, and used his voice and feet.
Olivier Rondeau, the third in the trio, also did vocals, and played guitar and the banjo.
Together they made quite an orchestra, and they were not short of pace. Loved the ‘Rasta’ beat in the Yves Lambert Trio piece, introduced with thoughts of Usain Bolt and the colours of the Jamaican flag.
It was an afternoon of entertaining, inventive, excellent music.
Afterwards we stepped back into evening sunshine. Sidmouth was as she should be … calm …
… minding her own problems …
… but still not quite ready to settle down.
And, judging by the crowds the next morning, neither were any of her visitors.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2017