You have to admit that, when you take the money into account, Butlins’ 2011 Great British Folk Festival was good value. We enjoyed Bob Fox, Steve Tilston, P. J. Wright, Dave Pegg, Anthony John Clarke, Chumbawamba, Jane Taylor, Seth Lakeman & Richard Digance particularly, and probably Ralph McTell had we not been elsewhere. You can’t see everything, and switching venues may mean no seat at the 2nd one, big though the venues were. We thought that Matthews Southern Comfort, with his constant harping on about his hit in 1970 (we’d never heard of him) was a pain and that Steve Gibbons (apparently drunk or stoned, forgetting words) was a disgrace. Several rock bands bands had no apparent connection to folk (one had a bloke play a mandolin on one number – does that count?).
Queueing outside in the cold for 40 mins once to get a seat wasn’t fun. The choice of one ceilidh at least (there was an unused ballroom) would have been nice. You would have plenty to gripe about if you had been expecting a “conventional” folk festival, as there were no sessions, workshops, dancing of any kind or ‘meet the band’ events.
However, the four of us had a Gold 3 bedroomed apartment for 3 nights and nowt to pay to get in to all the concerts for a total, incl, insurancewe didn’t need, of £59 a head – a couple of nights in a Premier Inn without any concerts! We expected the beer & food to be pricey but were pleasantly surprised – and there was real ale and other non-musical attractions if ya liked.
The sound crews got booed twice that I heard – delays of 35/45 minutes between acts and artistes still gesticulating about their sound half way through the sets is amateur. Digance gave them some stick in an amusing way.
Pete Shaw – Peterborough & South Lincs Folk Diary www.peterboroughfolkdiary.org.uk