REVIEW OF THE 5th WIRRAL FOLK ON THE COAST MUSIC FESTIVAL
This event, ‘the biggest little festival of its kind in the North West’ took place over the 4th to the 7th June and once again it proved to be a massive success.
Held at its home for the last three years – The OC Club, Bridle Road, Bromborough, this ‘all-on-one (nine acre) site’ festival of music, song and dance proved to be a great attraction with many punters travelling to Wirral from all over Britain, Europe and even Australia. Despite poor weather on the Saturday and Sunday, folk music enthusiasts and the general public turned out in great numbers to support the festival, now in its fifth year.
The festival opened with an Open Mic evening in the luxurious Knockaloe Suite Restaurant followed on Friday with a sell out concert in the Knockaloe concert hall where the main attraction was the iconic duo Show of Hands accompanied by double bassist Miranda Sykes. Phil Beer and Steve Knightley have filled the Royal Albert Hall in the past so it was no surprise that the ‘sold out’ signs were in place well before the festival. The concert was absolutely fantastic and concluded with almost the whole audience on their feet in a standing ovation.
Four other concerts of the highest calibre featured 17 acts that included guitarist Gordon Giltrap who is a regular at the Wirral Guitar Festival, finger-picking champion Chris Moreton from the bluegrass scene, singer/songwriters Mike Silver, Anthony John Clarke and Joe Topping and a young band from Derby – Kerfuffle. Comedy was provided by Les Barker and Stanley Accrington with local talent displayed by the Wirral based Elbow Jane, Fiddlestone and Frank Welcomme, John Finnan and Andy Chrimes. The final act at the Sunday evening concert was the celtic dance band The Bogtrotters who had them ‘bopping in the aisles’ bringing the festival to a rousing conclusion.
Whilst this was all going on, in the grounds of the venue and in the anti-rooms of the main building a large set of free fringe activity was provided for those who did not fancy sitting in concert auditorium mode. The fringe consisted of a variety of workshops including, fiddle, guitar, guitar making with Ken Powell, clog dancing, and belly dancing. ‘Chance to Meet’ sessions with Les Barker and Elbow Jane gave folk enthusiasts a chance to get closer to the performers and find out more about them and their skills.
All workshops were very well attended. Informal impromptu music sessions broke out in various parts of the site together with local Folk Clubs taking it in turn to host sections of a Rolling Folk Club programme.
With Punch and Judy shows, a myriad of dance displays and a craft fair the event amounted to a wonderful weekend of family and folk entertainment.
The festival director John Owen and his wife Angie were understandably over the moon with the way things went and were delighted with the public’s response. John said, “On behalf of the festival committee and ourselves I would like to extend our very great thanks to everyone who attended the festival whether they be a performer or a punter, with special thanks to the management of the OC Club, the local free press and BBC Radio Merseyside and our dedicated team of stewards and other helpers who were instrumental in making it all happen so successfully. Indeed without small grants from the Wirral Borough Council Supported Events Fund and the Big Lottery Arts Council the event would not have been able to go ahead and we are most appreciative of that. We are obviously hopeful that we will continue to have such support in future years”.
The festival is all part of the council’s objective to entice more and more tourists to visit Wirral – “The Leisure Peninsular”. It certainly did that. Feedback received since the event shows that many new admirers of the festival will return.
Next year’s festival is scheduled to take place over the weekend of the 3rd to 6th June 2010. Acts booked so far are Vin Garbutt, the New Rope String Band and Celtish.
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