Folk and Cider Festival 2014 - Day 1
This year marks the 6th year running of the Cleethorpes Folk and Cider Festival and it's opened just as it should: loudly! With over 80 ciders going and a day's worth of musicians taking to the stage it's safe to say that everyone is already fairly well oiled... And there's two more days to go yet!
On arrival to the festival site, the charming station of Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, the place already had a buzz thanks to the bustling, jingling crowds of the Morris Men who were dressed up in all sorts of fantastic costumes. This was 11:00am, well before anything was due to start and the station was practically full! I took this as a good sign. And as it turns out, I was right in doing so.
To start the day off at about half past one was Grimsby's finest folk singer Roger Beard who sang a few tunes in place of The Good O'l Boys who unfortunately couldn't make it to the festival due to the sad passing of one of their members. But his life was celebrated with a very apt song as the whole crowd joined in to sing "here's to you my rambling boy, may all your ramblings bring you joy." A few tears were shed but Roger left the crowds in high spirits, ready for the day ahead.
The twin duo The Coggle Sisters got the audience going with the traditional sets of tunes from around the world and later entranced them with their a cappella harmonies. We all had goosebumps during that performance.
Throughout their performance the audience began to grow and I was quite surprised to turn around from my table and see so many people around.
The act consisted of violin and cello, which was later swapped for voices, swapped again for bodran, and swapped back again to the original two instruments. I thought it a shame they didn't have a permanent percussionist to keep the crowd tapping along as the place began to fill and the chatter began to grow. It turned out though, that my worries weren't of issue, and the whole performance was a success with crowds cheering all round as they played their final song.
The next act on was the crazily talented Elliot Morris who's guitar playing was something certainly not seen in every young musician.
His percussive style surprised the audience and they became quiet as they watched him tap, bang and strum his guitar, tuning and detuning mid song, playing the wrong side of the capo, experimenting with as many sounds as possible. It was on par with current chart topping artist Newton Faulkner.
Unfortunately though, once they'd seen a couple of songs, the audience began to turn back to their own celebrations as their were a few birthdays around and the cider had been flowing nicely. It's a shame that they couldn't sit back and appreciate the talent before them, but the next act was successful in grabbing their attention.
Steel Threads were incredibly loud, incredibly cheesy, and very very good.
Their original songs were lively and well suited to the festival atmosphere and their covers ranged from Bon Jovi's Livin on a Prayer to The Ace of Spades and more. Like I say, cheesy. But it was just what the crowd needed and everyone was singing at the top of their voices. Some were screaming they were that excited. A few even had a dance, which was great so early on in the day.
The next band filled the folk and cider tradition rhythm and blues slot. The covers band The House Shakers followed on from Steel Threads and kept the audience in the palm of their hand playing all the classics.
Following their performance was a two hour break where I nipped home, got some tea (curry) and came back to the festival site as quick as possible ready for the night time entertainment.
The Day's Line-up
The Coggle Sisters
The House Shakers
The Gerry McNeice Band
Back for the second half of the first day, I arrived to the sound check of The Gerry McNeice band.
Now I'll have to admit that by this point I was being bought drinks, and was busy catching up with old friends but from what I did hear of the band, their upbeat folky tunes and their bad jokes between songs that were actually really quite funny, made their whole performance a blast. Even if I wasn't properly watching the whole time, the vibes still rubbed off on me as I'm sure they did the rest of the crowd, which by this time was growing even larger, spilling out to the sides of the station.
Shiznitz, the penultimate band of the first night, had nothing but smiles and happy vibes to give! Front man and fiddler Carona Smith had a constant, brightening smile the entire set and the whole band just seemed so happy and grateful to be there. Oh... And their music mirrored that too, it was fantastic!
The band constisted of a number of traditional folk instruments including the strange and wonderful hammer dulcimer, which I'd certainly never come across before.
Their catchy, folky, dancy performance was the perfect build up to a very lively finish with the final band of the night: Merlin's Keep
Merlin's Keep. They manage to combine folk with party and create such lively atmosphere. AND they get away with the whole audience participation thing, we as an audience were practically begging for more involvement, that never happens!
Their combination of traditional Irish jigs and original tunes full of story and excitement created a well rounded performance to suit everyone. And when I say everyone, even the station cat seemed to be enjoying himself. But, in fairness, the cider was in full flow.
So with everyone stomping, clapping, jumping and singing at the top of their voices, the night was ended (after three whole encores) on an incredibly high note, and the people went back to their tents and homes to recharge for the next morning of more relaxed folk music... To cure those hangovers...