I suppose it seems a little weird reviewing a festival that you are a participant as a performer. Still, why not? Firstly let’s set the record straight. I’ve always enjoyed the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival because it is so audience and performer friendly. Our host is the ever affable Peter Chegwyn who, like myself has impeccable taste when it comes to selecting which artists to utilise…only joking. Along with his own dynamic duo Keith and Jayne Humpleby, the festival has established itself as one that most performers would give their right arms to get on the bill such has its reputation for hospitality and respect for the artists gone before it. Unfortunately I was only able to judge the festival this time round on the merits of a full evening and one afternoon concert but to be honest having chatted to a fair few of the audience and traders we were all in agreement that this was yet another successful year. Now, for those who have wondered what it’s like in the ‘Green Room’ (yes, this festival has a genuine one!) let me tell you that the conversations are sprinkled with outlandish tales with each artist trying to outdo each other and that you’d better watch out if you sing “The Wild Rover”. Still, if you can’t roll with the punches…don’t get in the ring. You have been warned. Onto the evening performance and Saturday night’s packed auditorium. Garry and I haven’t performed as Band Of Two at the festival for a good five or six years but the reception we received was like a real home-coming. More than likely because we didn’t play “The Wild Rover!” Unfortunately due to me having to chill out in the Green Room I missed Kathryn and her band’s first set of the weekend but, via the sound from speakers in the room she was extremely well received. Having recouped my energy I managed to catch the Feast Of Fiddles (of which Garry is also a member) opening with the first track from their new album “The Magnificent Several” and was particularly impressed by Peter Knight’s “Sharpe Goes Walkabout” and Chris Leslie’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac”. From the audience point of view it was the set of tunes including Dave Roberts’ French Waltz that had many octogenarians swaying in time to the Parisienne style melodies accompanied by evocative guitar chords and sleazy (in the nicest possible way) melodeon from Hugh Crabtree that proved the highlight of the gig. After a good night’s sleep back at the hotel (well, it would have been if it hadn’t been for some serious folk ‘buffs’ tripping upstairs at four in the morning) we woke up to a hearty breakfast joined by Ron Kavana and Ms Tickell (boy, can this lad name-drop). So, onto my final concert of the weekend and what a cracker it turned out to be with an outrageous set performed by Kathryn and her band of happy chappies. Peter Tickell whipped up the audience with dervish digits flailing on his fiddle accompanied by Julian Sutton’s pumping melodeon and Joss Clapp’s truly ‘funky’ rhythm guitar chops. Like me, the rest of the audience were inspired by new heights of professionalism and pleasantly exhausted by the end of the set. So a fine finishing finale (at least for me) and many thanks to Peter Chegwyn and his team for providing possibly the best ‘folk’ festival in the UK…here’s to plenty more. ps/ Many thanks to the Gosport sound and lighting crew and Feast Of Fiddles soundman Paul Smith for turning a good sound into a great one…nice one.