In December 2016, I wrote my first review for folking.com, the Doghouse Roses album Lost Is Not Losing, an album I still play (thanks Editor). Over the past (nearly) seven years I’ve written a hundred and ninety-nine reviews, mostly albums, but several under the heading ‘Keeping It Live’ because it seems to me that live music is even more important than the recording of albums (splendid though they are) and that one of the things that the pandemic highlighted was how important it is to be playing and/or attending live music events. There’s not really a big difference between the 199th, the 200th or the 201st of anything but, it feels like it’s worth marking my 200th review (and if you’re reading this, the Folking Editor is indulging me).
So let’s go back to where it all started for me, the county of Lincolnshire in the East Midlands part of the UK, where I first discovered folk music because: a) I had elder siblings who played guitar, bought records etc b) I could get served alcohol under the age of 18 in the local folk club and c) I met a bunch of people I liked there. Forty-odd years on, I look back to see that: for a fair few of those years I had no involvement at all in music in any way (life happens); for a few more of those years I certainly wasn’t involved my home county.
One of the delights of being back locally is to be able to visit A Day of Lincolnshire Folk – a great day of keeping music live – and on August 6th 2023, I went to the thirteenth Day.
And what a splendid day it was.
And what a splendid concept it is.
Let’s start with the simple facts: the event has developed over the years, being based around the village of Leadenham, (population 369 in the recent census) and in 2023 the Day was held predominantly in Leadenham House with additional workshops at the Village Hall.
There were: 12 bands, 16 duos, 13 solo artistes, 1 x 13-piece team of Hand Bell Ringers. There were Circus skills and other entertainment for youngsters and Poets and Singaround sessions and the various Workshops in the Village Hall and Tune Sessions in a busy Artisan Market. There was generosity – setting up, taking down, performing. There was food and drink.
The event was free.
There was sunshine (OK, maybe the organisers couldn’t have quite arranged that, but given how bad the weather had been the previous days it rather felt they, errr, had God on their side).
As someone said to me as we all walked around bumping into friends – older, newer, and those made on the day, “You could spend the day here, not listen to music and still have a great day”.
True, very true as Lincolnshire is geographically a large county and it was a chance to catch up with a lot of folk, but at the heart of it all – and without which the event wouldn’t have happened – there was music: four stages, plus singarounds and workshops; forty-two artists.
Amongst the forty-two there were those who had played in national and international venues over the years and there were those who had mostly stayed in local pubs and clubs over the years; there were some who were strolling the grounds who had played in previous years but not this time; there were those, not all of them performers, who have kept Lincolnshire folk clubs and folk concerts running over the past decades. I’m not sure if there were teenagers playing, but there were certainly artists of all ages, from those in their twenties to those in at least their seventies (it would have been rude to ask at either end of that scale).
I’ve deliberately not named anyone – organiser or performer – because, even if I were to include only two names, I’d end up having to include some people and exclude most. You can click through to the Facebook page in the link at the bottom of this article and see for yourselves the various posts leading up to the day and the lists of those who were playing.
Many years ago, when I first went to that folk club in the back room of a pub/hotel in Gainsborough, there was an energetic ‘scene’ both of local musicians and regular touring guests; we would only hear the music if we went to hear it live or bought a vinyl album; the pub/hotel where it was held made money most nights that it was open – and going to that folk club opened a new world to my teenage self. From what people tell me, I doubt we yet have a resilient economic model for post-pandemic folk/blues/americana/roots music – but that only makes an event like A Day of Lincolnshire Folk, with time, creativity, resources and enthusiasm freely given, even more important.
Seven days on, as I write this, it’s too early yet for any video creation from 2023, so I’ve linked below to the Day of Lincolnshire Folk in 2021, the first large-ish music event for 18 months that many went to (because of the prior Covid regulations).
To sum up, my thanks to all involved in this year’s A Day of Lincolnshire Folk: creating the event, playing at it, making it work on the day, hauling it down afterwards – or all of these.
It really was a splendid day of Lincolnshire folks getting together and creating.
There are already loose plans for next year. In my head, I’m booked in to offer to help – whatever that means in reality. Apart from being a cracking event with a variety of classy musicians and a great feel, I also like the style of the post, from a day or so beforehand, which said, “Right, as it won’t rain today, I’m off to the House where more signage and a Marquee need erecting, flags and bunting need to be hung and some horse poo needs shovelling”.
If you’re not already doing something similar in your area, it’s worth mulling over.
Event website: https://www.facebook.com/DayofLincolnshireFolk/