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Becky and John Marshall-Potter, founders of FolkEast and the Blaxhall Sessions

Tradfolk at FolkEast – a live blog

Keeping you up-to-date with Suffolk's finest folk festival. Check back for videos from around the site, including performances of trad songs by some of our fave trad artists.

August 22nd, 11am

What a fantastic festival this has been. Is there any other folk festival quite like it? So laid back, so well-programmed – so amenable to things popping up, taking place, and possibly being incorporated into future events. FolkEast sparks its very own traditions. The range and variety of things to see and do here is quite astounding. Roll on next year, we say, and a huge thank you to Becky and John for making it happen. We can’t recommend it highly enough.

We’ve still got several more FolkEast X Tradfolk Sessions videos to share with you. We’ll publish them all in their own article later in the week. In the meantime, here are a couple of videos of Leveret and Talisk wowing the FolkEast audiences in their own special ways.

August 21st, 6:20pm

If you were blown away by Knight & Spiers on the Sunset Stage this afternoon, prepare to be blown a little further. Here’s a video of the pair in session shortly before they took the stage. They’re playing an improvised version of ‘Scarborough Fair’ [Roud 12], and it is simply exquisite.

August 21st, 5:50pm

We’ve just returned from an afternoon of dwile flonking and filming a handful of gorgeous videos. Look out for our exclusive Knight & Spiers, Leveret and Tamsin Elliott videos, coming soon. In the meantime, here’s a beautiful thing we filmed by the Norfolk Broads yesterday, singing ‘Banks of the Bann’ [Roud 889].

August 21st, 12:30pm

One of the highlights of last night was a hastily-assembled tradfolk singaround, organised by Jimmy Aldrige, Sid Goldsmith and Jon Wilks. Here’s a clip of Humphrey Lloyd singing ‘Rolling Down to Old Maui’ [Roud 2005]. The Norfolk Broads dropped in, as did Paul Sartin. At one point, the session had around 80 people singing along, full-voiced. It was very heaven.

August 21st, 9am

Good morning all, and welcome to the final day of our live blog from FolkEast.

There’s so much going on here – so many folk events packed into three-and-a-bit days – it’s really hard to know what to see and where to be seen.

Last night, we hit Moot Hall for a gorgeous set by Solana – the first proper party of Saturday night. We arrived to find that half the seating had been shifted into the eaves of the vast tent, leaving a huge empty space at the front of the stage. Something was afoot. The band took the stage to a 3/4-full room, and quickly filled it to bursting as their Mediterranean-Arabic concoction floated across the site. After a blisteringly hot day it was a real balm, and within minutes there was a definite sense of having been transported towards North African shores.

We stepped out for 20 minutes to attend to something else, but by the time we returned, with half-an-hour left of the set, the space in front of the stage had been transformed into a mini mosh pit. It’s not often you see full-on pogo-ing at a folk festival, but Solana brought enough energy for everyone. Catch several members of the band performing Tamsin Elliott’s FREY today at 7pm on the Stage on the Far Side of the Woods.

August 20th, 7pm

We found Tradfolk’s good friends, Jimmy & Sid, wandering around the FolkEast site, so we dragged them into our squash court “studio” and put them to good use. Here they are doing ‘Shallow Brown’ [Roud 2621]. Our cameraman, Jon Nice, kept this beautifully intense performance of Jimmy & Sid to a single shot so as not to distract you from what the duo are doing.

August 20th, 6pm

Fresh from discussing ‘Sweet Lemany’ [Roud 193] on the Old Songs Podcast last week, Hannah Martin (Edgelarks, Gigspanner, Saltlines, SkykesMartin) joined us in this beautiful dilapidated, 19th-century squash court at Glemham Hall to sing the song for our cameras.

August 20th, 5:30pm

One of the weekend’s highlight’s so far came at The Young’uns Podcast event in Moot Hall earlier this afternoon. With Paul Sartin and Matthew Crampton looking on, David Eagle explained that he’d booked Spiers & Boden to be the other two guests, but Jon Boden had forgotten and driven back to Sheffield the previous night. Inviting John Spiers onto the stage, Eagle proceeded to perform a remarkable impersonation of the Bellowhead frontman, complete with a fiddle (tuned, according to Sartin, to “one of Jon Boden’s exotic tunings) that he’d had no training on. We missed the first 30 seconds, but here’s most of it.

August 20th, 2:30pm

This is the last tune from the Blaxhall Ship sessions that we filmed yesterday morning, but we’ve got a nice interview with Jim Moray about the history of the Ship that we’ll publish at some point over the next few days. (There are plenty more videos from elsewhere coming up soon!)

In the meantime, here’s Nick Cooke and Jim playing an early-morning rendition of ‘Brighton Camp’, sometimes known as ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’.

August 20th, 2pm

Let’s have a little social media round-up, shall we? See what you’ve all been up to.

Kate Waterfield recommends a night in the woods…

Suffolk Recycling are doing a grand job of keeping FolkEast as green as possible.

David Eagle comes face to face with the FolkEast lazer cow…

Introducing the Jackalope…

August 20th, 12:30pm

Another video from our FolkEast X Tradfolk sessions. This is Jim Moray and Sam Carter singing ‘The Nutting Girl’ [Roud 509] – an anthem at the Blaxhall Ship pub – in exactly the same room that Peter Kennedy filmed Cyril Poaching in back in 1955.

August 20th, 9am

Let’s talk about last night, shall we? If you thought Katherine Priddy proved that Moot Hall may need expanding, then The Young’uns underlined that. Not only was it standing room only, but there was also a queue outside for the standing room. We arrived a tad too late and could see nothing, but heard and felt those powerful harmonies through the throngs of people in front of us, along with the huge amounts of love that the trio invite. As seasoned Young’uns audiences will know, much of that affection stems from the comedy. If you want more of that today, there are chances to see them at Moot Hall doing their podcast (3:30pm) and then on The Stage on the Far Side of the Woods (8pm) when David Eagle will do an hour of standup. You’ll want to get to both of those with time to spare.

Elsewhere, Spiers and Boden showed us exactly why they were missed for so long, and why the Sunset Stage is named that way. Of all the earworms we heard yesterday, ‘Bold Sir Rylas’ [Roud 29] may have been the most infectious, and we reckon the army of deck-chaired fans may have been infected, too (if you’ll pardon the increasingly distressing choice of words). We heard a whole bunch of them singing it into the night as the Imagined Village’s crew arrived to begin setting up the stage. “Now you have killed my spotted pig!” Folk festivals, eh?

Those that arrived to see the Imagined Village early enough were treated to a pre-gig line rehearsal, as the band ran through several numbers – Eliza Carthy already bouncing around as though she’d been caged for hours and was in danger of exploding (a 9-hour drive from Yorkshire will do that to a person). And sure enough, as they returned to the stage in full regalia shortly after 9:30pm, their performance was incendiary. Jackie Oates opened the show with a mesmerising unaccompanied version of ‘The Captain’s Apprentice’ [Roud 835] that acted as the calm before the storm. Hers is an ethereal voice that floated into the night like a spell song – a truly hypnotic moment – and her presence the yin to Eliza’s yang. It was Carthy the Younger who owned the stage from that point onwards, however, delightfully full-voiced after a recent illness and driving the band forward with a sense of high drama that holds your attention all night long.

She could be incredibly tender, too. Halfway through her father’s performance of ‘My Son John’ [Roud 678], Carthy the Elder – a dignified, totemic figure who stood centre-stage, mizzen-like, throughout the concert – lost his place in the lyrics (“I had lyrics to spare”, he joked after the concert, “there were too many anyway”). His daughter stepped across to the central mic and gently yelled the next line into his ear (yes, yelled; whispering over the might of the Imagined Village would be a fool’s errand), guiding him back on track as a controlled mayhem erupted around him. That mayhem frequently came courtesy of Johnny Kalsi, the living dhol. Whenever he stepped forward, the crowd (and Eliza) exploded into a head-bobbing frenzy. It’s quite possible that his firecracker rhythms were heard back in Ipswich.

Jackie Oates, Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy of the Imagined Village at FolkEast, 2022

Into all this, Billy Bragg occasionally stepped, more impish than you might imagine him to be – hopping around the stage and throwing his own lyrics into the traditional mix as he always has done. Never one to stand still, he has updated them, too – lines about Boris and Brexit were always going to land well with this crowd. ‘Hard Times of Old England’ [Roud 1206] is an emotional high point – a crowd-wide singalong – and the meeting of Bragg’s ‘England Half English’ and ‘John Barleycorn’ [Roud 2141] is a folkie marriage made in heaven.

Any disappointment over the lack of encore was quickly tidied away with an impromptu singalong of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ as Bragg and Martin Carthy reappeared briefly at the crowd’s insistence, joined at a separate mic by Jackie Oates and Eliza. “Now, there’s yer folk music”, Bragg chided as he left the stage, a beaming Martin, triumphant, behind him.

As most of the campers drifted off to their tents, a party began at the dance tent, presided over by Anna Cornish (The Norfolk Broads; on the Sunset Stage today at 2:30pm) and the banjo-and-snare-driven sounds of Fitty Gomash, a raucous locomotive rattling off into the night.

August 19th, 5:50pm

Ever heard of Katherine Priddy? Just kidding. Of course you have. Well, she’s just started on the Moot Stage, and the audience is spilling out of the back and the sides of the tent. She’s quite the folk star of the moment, isn’t she?

Well, quite wonderfully, we managed to catch her earlier with the esteemed Sam Kelly, tempt her into a disused 19th-century squash court in a nearby mansion (as you do), and get her to sing a song for our cameras. Here she is singing ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’ [Roud 32872], a traditional Irish song that she has recently added to her set.

August 19th, 2:25pm

As part of the FolkEast x Tradfolk collaboration, here’s Sam Carter playing the traditional song, ‘Jack Hall’ [Roud 369] at the legendary Blaxhall Ship in Suffolk. The pub, which was the site of Alan Lomax’s song collecting in the 1950s and a wonderful film of traditional singers and dancers made by Peter Kennedy, is a stone’s throw from FolkEast at Glemham Hall. Check back soon for other videos we shot in the same place.

August 19th, 1:30pm

If only we could all find books big enough to provide some shade.

August 19th, 1pm

What are you looking forward to today?

Our cards are marked for:

  • Katherine Priddy (Moot Hall), 5:40pm
  • Spiers & Boden (Sunset Stage), 6:50pm
  • The Norfolk Broads (The Stage on the Far Side of the Woods), 7pm (might have to alternate between this performance and Spiers & Boden… well, at least you’ll stay fit)
  • The Young’uns (Moot Hall), 8:15pm
  • The Imagined Village (Sunset Stage), 9:30pm
  • Late Night Ceilidh with Fitty Gomash (Dance Tent), 12:30am

August 19th, 1pm

Things are well and truly up and running here at FolkEast. As we write, the mighty Stumpy Oak are pounding out a thumping beat from the Sunset Stage, and Bright Phoebus is beating down (don’t forget your sun cream).

Meanwhile, we’ve been down to the Blaxhall Ship, a pub only a mile or two off-site that has a fantastic history of traditional singing, and was the location of Alan Lomax’s song-collecting activities in 1953, and the legendary Peter Kennedy film made in 1955 (Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow). We’ve filmed an interview with Jim Moray, as well as a song, and some performances from Nick Cooke and Sam Carter. Check back soon.

August 19th, 9am

We’re all about last night’s sunset porn this morning. You can see why they named it the Sunset Stage…

August 18th, 10:21pm

False Lights have just played a storming set on the Moot Stage. For a band that don’t get to play together all that often, they don’t half pack a concise sound. We’ll have their version of ‘Henry Martin’ [Roud 104] swimming around in our heads for the rest of the evening. We managed to get a nice video of ‘Polly on the Shore’ [Roud 811], too – check back over the next few days and we’ll see if we can pull it together for you.

Thursday evening was expected to be a quiet one, but this feels like a festival already shifting up the gears. We’ll be back tomorrow with some exclusive videos. In the meantime, here’s a mystical FolkEast cow in the woods…

August 18th, 6:32pm

Kicking off the festival this evening are False Lights, the brainchild of Jim Moray and Sam Carter. We can hear them in the background, sound-checking their hearts out. Sounding boss! Anyone camping here tonight is in for a rollicking treat.

August 18th, 5:43pm

Afternoon all, and welcome to our FolkEast live blog. We’ll be dipping in and out of this until Sunday evening, and we encourage you to bookmark the page and then do the same.

Why does a folk festival need a live blog, you might ask. It’s not exactly Glastonbury, is it? Well, we’re keen to try something new and see what we can offer our readers, whether you’re here at the festival or at home on your couch.

We’ll be posting videos from the festival, including some of our favourite folk musicians performing some of our favourite traditional songs.

The festival kicks off this evening (you can find the full programme by clicking here), but things will be busier tomorrow. As we said above, check back from time to time and see what we’ve discovered.

For now, here’s a little video on our all-new Youtube site. Head over there and click subscribe. Many thanks.