The stage is made, the tent is up, the chairs are in place, the wind blows and its raining!! Thanks to all 8 who turned up to help and to Phil for organising us all. We're all set for brilliant weekend of music and craic. See you tomorrow night.
Rick Jones opened our festival and delivered a great performance across many musical genres. He had the crowd singing along and getting into the festival mood. Well done Rick.
Merry Hell delivered a brilliant, dynamic and exhilarating set with old favourites interspersed by tracks from their new album. Jon Brindley joined them for a few songs and added to their sound with his brilliant fiddle playing. We are so proud they made it to the Alison. They were in top form. The pub and tent were packed and the atmosphere was wonderful. The after concert session was also fun and went on late into the night.
Ken Scalley delivered an excellent set of Lancashire and Irish songs. As usual he got the crowd going and we knew we were in for a great day of music.
The Wigan Ukelele Band entertained us for an hour with a mixture of songs and tunes from their extensive repertoire. We have never had 15 people with their Ukeleles on stage before, fronted by Kim who used all of her percussion instruments and danced most energetically to the music. It was a musical treat.
Saturday night kicked off with the dynamic Jan Hough whose powerful and moving performances would have been worthy of a Wembley Stage. What a powerful and authorative performance!
She was followed by Anthony John Clarke and friends (Elizabeth on keyboards and Steve on the bodhran). AJ immediately engaged the audience with his witty dialogue and reflective songs. The audience were instructed to sing choruses louder and louder and responded every time!! We even had to dance during one song!! He had us folkies under his charming spell. AJ always delivers but this one was very special. He and Jan even hung around for an informal session late into the night. In fact there were 2 late night sessions going on simultaneously. Although the wind blew hard and the tents swayed up and down to the music, this was another night to remember with affection. Isn't live music great?
Sunday started off with the popular Open Mic Session. There was a wealth of talent - all equally good. We had over 3 hours of contributions - an excellent concert in itself. Bridie playing her bodhran was the highlight for me. Up Northern Ireland!
Phil started the final concert with a few thought provoking songs which were well received.
Then Peter Southworth and his Strawdogs (Barry and Ken and later Chris), blew us away with a lively, confident and very enjoyable set.
The headline act - Steve Tilston, was class. His guitar playing is brilliant. He made playing a guitar look so easy with his finger picking styles, rifs and multiple chord changes up and down the frets. His guitar sound was like listening to a 3 piece band, and there was just him! Coupled with that were the melodic and thought provoking lyrics of his own songs delivered to perfection. Yes Steve you are one of the best singer/songwriter/ guitarists around. Tony Gibbons (another ace guitarist) joined Steve in his final song "Slip Jigs and Reels" (which is one of my favourites). This finale was a fitting end to our 5 successful concerts .
We had a great session in the bar afterwards, sharing music with our friends from Wales, Fleetwood and Chester. There was a lovely atmosphere and a sense of enjoyment, achievement and friendship, and relief that the festival was such a success and that the tent did not blow down, (even though the wind tried very hard during AJ's concert on Saturday night).
Thanks to Bill and Leslie who worked so hard to produce that excellent sound that enabled all the artists to sound their best. Thanks to Mavis and Ron and Dave, who worked even harder ALL weekend to well after 3 am, to provide us with the pub venue and refreshments. Thanks to Phil and the crew for organising it all to happen. Lastly thanks to you the audience who supported us and made the Festival possibly the best ever.
The big tent has now been taken down, the happy campers have all left, and it's definitely all over. Thanks to Mavis, Ron, Neil, Kevin, King Ken and Phil for helping me to clear up today!! The weather stayed fine and like all weekend it was a slick operation. We now can look forward to the NEXT FESTIVAL. See you all there.