Friday night saw the gathering of the folk clan despite the lashing rain and cold. It was so good to see the tent full with many regular attendees and many new faces. At 8pm the Gestures burst into song and we were uplifted and elated, clapped along and sang along and forgot about the appalling weather outside. These four young entertainers with their lively delivery, good harmonies and great instrumentality were fun and just enjoyed themselves. They sang many well known singalongs like ‘Mary Lou and American Pie’ in between their versions of current popular songs. The audience immediately warmed to them and joined in with clapping g and singing, as their vitality was infectious! The combination of washboard, bass and acoustic guitars and ukulele worked. This young skiffle band were amazing and set the scene for what has been a wonderful weekend.
Bandersnatch had a hard act to follow but these four quality musicians delivered a completely contrasting set of upbeat music with numerous flashes of instrumental brilliance. The strong vocals from Ian and Ed, close harmonies, and a good choice of material gave us a varied set ranging from folk rock and blues to gentle ballads. Ed’s delivery of ‘the Broken Years’ was very moving. Ian’s guitar playing and singing was outstanding and used to great effect. Norman’s bass and Dave’s banjo playing and close harmonies, gave the lift to make the music just roll along seamlessly. Their music creativity keeps getting better and we were totally absorbed by their set. They were a class act.
Bill and Leslie did an excellent job on sound. Thank you to them and to the Gestures and Bandersnatch for a wonderful night’s entertainment.
Bad Grandad opened the Saturday afternoon concert with his excellent guitar playing and singing. Copper faced Jack entertained us with their amazing self penned topical songs which ranged from global warming to war and life. ‘Beyond the Seas’ penned by Lawrence Hoy was a lovely mixture of theatre and music performed by 6 well known artists in their own right - Bernard Cromerty, Bram Taylor, Tinker Dave Howard, Pauline Blackburn, Steve Higgins, Ken Scalley and Lawrence Hoy.
Cobalt Tales opened the Saturday night concert with a lively set of self penned well delivered songs which the audience loved. Nidd are a young trio that gave us musicianship at its best playing traditional music from Ireland, Canada and England interspersed with the odd song. Their warm delivery and musical excellent deserved the double encore. Thanks to Bill for proving the excellent sound and to all the artists who made Saturday such a great day. And, it’s now stopped raining!!
The Open Mic Session delivered some fantastic talent to a packed tent in the afternoon.
Pauline Blackburn treated us to a set of mostly her own work and a few songs her mother Joan (RIP) wrote. She gave a confident and competent performance with her magnificent voice and strong guitar work. Her songs were varied and reflected her caring pleasant personality, from the horrors of war, to love, to being carefree and close to nature. She finished the set with two of her mother’s favourites and delivered ‘Old Cobbled Road’ with poignancy – many of us were in tears. She captivated the audience from start to finish with her warmth and sheer powerful delivery.
John Brindley lined the stage with a fiddle, piano, piano accordian and guitar and played all instruments with virtuosity throughout his set. He took us on a journey of mainly self penned songs about his life and the love of his life – Mary. These songs were sung from the heart and were so engaging. He had all of us on board with his unique voice, clear diction, versatility, musicality and delivery. John also sang requests such as the Galway Girl (accordian) Vincent (piano) and the Deportees (guitar) and at one stage played 8 Irish reels without stopping on his fiddle. There were the usual off the cuff clever and funny asides. The final song was Vera Lynns ‘Till we meet again’. So apt and so well delivered by a completely unique and accomplished performer.
Ken Scally said that his set was worthy of the highest stage in the land. Susie Bird’s comment was ‘They were channelling a higher state’. I think our audience would fully agree. Thank you to Pauline and John for a fitting end to our festival 2019.
Thank you to Bill and Leslie Sproson for providing the excellent sound and the lovely fairy lights. All artists commended them for it. Thank you to Ken Scally who MC’d all weekend and who managed to get such a wonderful varied line up. He has done a sterling job. Thank you to the Coppull Team and helpers who worked so hard all year to raise funds to pay the artists, and who helped to set up the tent and take it down again. Thank you to Mavis and Ron and their team who provided the venue, the second tent and stage, and worked so hard to give us refreshments and food all day and night. Thank you to all the people who supported our fund-raising concerts and raffles and donated raffle prizes. Without you, this weekend could not happen. Lastly thanks to all the lovely people who came to the Alison and provided the camaraderie and friendship that make this wee festival unique. I think we can all say that FESTIVAL 2019 was a big success.