“What a triumph and wonder of a day!” tweeted the author Robert Macfarlane, summing up the feelings of the many who joined in the Folk on Foot Front Room Festival from their own homes around the UK and the world on Easter Bank Holiday Monday.
A starry array of British folk artists performed 30 minute sets in their front rooms, generating an outpouring of love from viewers, meaning the Festival was trending on Twitter for a time. There were 41,000 views on YouTube and thousands more on Facebook.
The festival’s crowdfunding appeal for musicians experiencing financial hardship during the lockdown had, only 10 days or so ago what seems now like a modest ambition of raising £5000 – but has swiftly risen to an amazing £89,000, with donations still coming in!
The seven and a half hour show is still available on YouTube (search Front Room Festival) and there is a two hour podcast of highlights posted by organisers Folk on Foot (search your podcast app for Folk on Foot, or go to folkonfoot.com to listen). It features Bella Hardy, Beth Porter and the Bookshop Band, Jon Boden, Julie Fowlis and Éamon Doorley, Karine Polwart, Kerry Andrew, Kris Drever, Lisa Knapp and Gerry Diver, Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Peggy Seeger, Rachel Newton, Sam Lee, Seth Lakeman and Steve Knightley.
Though most reported feeling uplifted and connected by watching the festival, some viewers admitted to being reduced to tears by poignant moments, including Steve Knightley’s tribute to essential workers and his closing song “You’ll Get By”. Folk on Foot host Matthew Bannister – who linked the festival from his front room in West Sussex – said: “I have been completely overwhelmed by the reaction to this Festival. It shows the power of music in bringing people together and lift their spirits even when they are isolated at home. The generosity of the donations has taken my breath away.”
This money will make a real difference, supporting artists who participated in the festival – but also, those who now depend on the Help Musicians UK Charity. Thanks to everyone who has supported the project !
Listen to Matthew Bannister’s walking, talking, singing podcast Folk on Foot at folkonfoot.com or via your podcast app.