Folking looks forward to the New Forest Folk Festival

New Forest Folk Festival 2018
Coco & The Butterfields get the audience on their feet at New Forest Folk Festival 2018

The New Forest Folk Festival (taking place 3rd to 7th July), now in it’s eighth year, has been growing at a steady pace and is often referred to as “the small and friendly folk festival with the big line-up”. This year is no exception with artists including The Oysterband, Ralph McTell, Ashley Hutchings Morris On Band, Gigspanner Big Band, 3 Daft Monkeys, Richard Digance, The Sandy Denny Project, Reg Meuross and Merry Hell to name but a few.

You should be hearing Paul Johnson’s festival introduction (if not click play below).

New Forest Folk Festival 2018
Crowd shot form New Forest Folk Festival 2018

NFFF is situated in an idyllic farm location on the edge the New Forest. For many guests with tents and campers it is a holiday break with music rather than purely a music festival.  It is a time to catch up with friends over a pint of real ale or a glass of Somerset cider along with delicious homemade food. Many of the artists now stay over for a few days to chat and network with their musician mates in a relaxed atmosphere. It has become a genuine gathering of the UK folk clan!

Chris Leslie NFFF18
Chris Leslie with a magnificent solo set in 2018

With the single stage at the bottom of a gentle slope where the public can get up close and enjoy a dance when motivated, The New Forest Folk Festival is often likened to Cropredy but on a smaller scale –  indeed various members of Fairport Convention have performed on occasions both solo and with other groups. There is a wonderful cross-over where artists can be playing solo or with one band and then join another as a guest later on. These fantastic impromptu moments are loved by audience and artists alike.

Ken Nicol, Paul Burgess and Rick Kemp at New Forest Folk Festival 2018
Ken Nicol, Paul Burgess and Rick Kemp at New Forest Folk Festival 2018

Last year, 10cc’s drummer Paul Burgess played on the Friday in a trio then on Saturday when he came back to pick up his drum kit he found himself back on the stage as a guest with Hunter Muskett. Fiddle virtuoso Tom Leary has been known to appear many times over a weekend and has been a great friend of the festival since the beginning. In the Autumn he will be touring America with Joe Brown.

TRADDarrr at New Forest Folk Festival 2018
TRADDarrr at New Forest Folk Festival 2018 with some of the Sandy Denny Project.

For lovers of Sandy Denny’s music, The Sandy Denny Project will be very special. It started when BBC Radio Northampton, as part of National Music Day 2017, chose ex-Fotheringay MkII members Sally Barker (The Poozies, BBCTV’s “The Voice”) and guitarist PJ Wright (Little Johnny England, TradArrr, The Dylan Project) to celebrate the award of Sandy Denny’s Blue Plaque at Byfield Village Hall, the scene of her last-ever gig in 1978. The following year Sally and PJ constructed a dream folk-rock band to commemorate the passing of Sandy, 40 years before, for a sell-out concert at Byfield – “Sandyfest.”

This year the band, perform again at Byfield and also at two of English folk-rock’s best loved festivals – Cromer’s  Folk on the Pier and the New Forest Folk Festival. With the line-up of Sally, PJ, frequent Fairport guest Anna Ryder, fast rising star Marion Fleetwood (voice, fiddle, guitars) and the rhythm section of bassist Mat Davies and drummer Mark Stevens from Little Johnny England, the material is approached not as a tribute band, slavishly copying the records, but as a tribute in its best sense – an interpretation of Sandy’s wonderful body of work.

PJ Wright at NFFF18
PJ Wright conducting a slide workshop at The Fringe last year.

Something else that is very popular are the free workshops and singaround’s at the woodland fringe where people have enjoyed a mixture of subjects such as slide guitar with PJ Wright, fiddle playing with Tom Leary, song writing with Reg Meuross, ukulele for beginners, poetry, morris dancing and lots more.

To check out the full artist line-up and bios plus info on everything that is going on visit the website which is www.newforestfolkfestival.co.uk You will also find lots of photos and information.

Southampton Ukulele Jam NFFF18
Southampton Ukulele Jam do a workshop at the woodland fringe last year before transferring to the main stage for a fun session.

Tickets are £95 for the whole five days and day tickets £35. Children are roughly half price and under 5 yrs free. Prices rise to £105 & £40 at the beginning of June. They can be ordered online and you receive them by email.