Issue 5 7/98

FolkWorld Live Review

Gosport Easter Festival - one of the friendliest folk festivals around

Easter 1998

By Michael & Christian Moll

Easter is a great time to start the summer folk festival season – but where to go? Well-known in the folk scene is the Edinburgh Folk Festival at Easter; but there is also a great not that known alternative to go to: The Gosport Easter Festival.

Swap; photo by The MollisGosport is set on the South coast of England, just across the bay from Portsmouth; with views from the beach to the Isle of Wight. The Gosport Easter Festival is without doubt one of the friendliest festivals around; the organisers make their guests feel welcome, and you get to know lots of nice people from all over England. At the same time the quality of the line-up is impressive, making this festival an ideal place to have a happy Easter. To avoid any problems with cold or wet weather, the festival is in indoor venues; but it's all in one community centre so that the festival atmosphere can easily develop. There is a late night club at a hotel (unfortunately two miles away from the main venue), with concerts, sessions and craic – if you want to, the whole night through.

This year's festival started on Thursday with a concert of Mundy Turner from Australia, then Calluna, one of the most beautiful bands around – beautiful music on harp, flute and fiddle (unfortunately, piper Anna Murray was not with them at the festival), and beautiful women as well; and finally the amazing flute band Flook, with Michael McGoldrick, Sarah Allan and Brian Finnegan on flutes.

Deaf Shepherd; photo by The Mollis Good Friday was good indeed: After a brillant afternoon with among others Calluna and Deaf Shepherd, the evening was for me a Scottish dream team – simply the best of Scottish music around. Starting off with singer/songwriter Jim Malcolm (featured in this issue), it featured also the Scottish duo Tabache (featured in last FolkWorld's issue) with Deaf Shepherd's string instrumentalist Malcolm Stitt. Then Deaf Shepherd played – the Deafies are maybe the best Scottish traditional band at the moment; their live performance gets more and more professional, their music is as fresh as it is lively. With big and small Scottish pipes (Rory Campbell), two pretty female fiddlers in the middle (Claire McLaughlin and Marianne Curran), a bouzouki (Malcolm Stitt), a bodhran (Mark McGuire) and finally a guitarist and superb singer singing in Scots (John Morran), they make sure that everyone in the audience gets taken away by the strength, power and beauty of the music. As finale, the Deafies invited Jim and Tabache back on stage to have a superb end session together; with the audience jumping off their seats to celebrate the best crop of Scottish music around.

Chris and Denny, photo by the Mollis Saturday had more great stuff to offer: In the afternoon concerts of Alistair Russell (his first solo gig since his departure of the Battlefield Band last autumn), Drop the Box and the funniest and craziest duo on the English scene, Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley, supported by Chris's always-smiling bodhran-playing sister Jane (featured in this issue). In the evening I enjoyed especially the concert of Swåp, the Anglo-Swedish band of Karen Tweed, Ian Carr, Carina Normansson and Ola Backström; they are a great live act with some superb music, showing how two music cultures meet, develop, take its own moment and create beautiful and unusual music (although the English audience seemed to have problems to enjoy the music).
Some tasty music Easter eggs were available on Sunday – Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, the wonder Irish American duo, impressed with their music in concerts in the afternoon and in the evening, the Mick West Band and the Bumblebees played, Les Barker joked – again great fun.
Easter Monday – the final day. Officially, there was just an afternoon concert with Cherish the Ladies plus a few support acts. But still, there was a lovely session in the evening, with Chris Sherburn, Denny Bartley and quite a few session musicians from Cambridge.

It was a brillant Easter in Gosport; and Gosport is that kind of festival where you have felt that much at home that you definitely plan to come back next year. Who knows?

There is also Interview with festival director Peter Chegwyn in this issue!

Infos for future festivals available from Peter Chegwyn; 51 Russell Street, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 3JD; Great Britain. Tel. GB-(0)1705-528017

Photo Credit: All Photos from Gosport Easter Festival '98 by The Mollis; from top to bottom:

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