LIVE REVIEW: Todmorden Folk Festival, 28th/30th April 2017

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These are just some of the events at this year’s Folk Festival. Get ready for next year! (4 – 6 May 2018).

Robyn and Georgia (Kava Cafe, 5 pm Friday)

Robyn and Georgia opened the festival in style. These young performers sing, clog dance, and play accordion, guitar and tin whistle, all with joyous verve. The set included “Who will be the lady” and “Will ye go, lassie, go”. They also opened the evening concert.

Evening Concert (Masonic Hall, 7.30 pm Friday)

After Robyn and Georgia came john McGelligot (Gilly). His set included a ghost story song “Raglan Road” and the well known “King of the Road”. There was also a passionate rendering of “Carrickfergus”, bringing out the sadness of this song of alcoholism and exile. Mike Wilson and Damien Barber continued with a variety of instruments and songs old and new, which included “On board a 98”, about a press ganged sailor, “Down where the drunkards roll”, and “The first time ever I saw your face”. They ended with “The joy of living”, but the audience responded to their beautiful singing and energy with a demand for an encore, which was a cowboy song, “Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail”.

Stand To! (Masonic Hall, 12.30 pm Saturday)

This was a solo show by Richard Parkes on World War I. There was mention of conscientious objectors but this was more a demonstration of how the war was experienced at the time than a denunciation with the benefit of hindsight. There was Kipling as well as Owen. A powerful show, whose overall impression was of sadness.

Evening Concert (Unitarian Church, 7.30 pm Saturday)

Singer-songwriter Magdalen Bath opened with catchy tunes and thoughtful lyrics.

Next, Chris Hall and his band brought welcome Louisiana sunshine into the bonechilling cold of the Unitarian Church with their lively Zydeco set.

A great entrance by Lady Maisery as angels on stilts was followed by a long wait for them to show again. A versatile set with several instruments featured Sydney Carter’s grim “Crow on the Cradle”, and the rousing “Diggers’ Song”. They got a standing ovation and performed “Land on the Shore” as an encore.

Director’s Brunch (Golden Lion, 12.00 pm Sunday)

A relaxed singing session which also included turns from Gaorsach Rapper, with an amazingly acrobatic dance, Sailah, singing of the sinister Outlandish Knight, and an instrumental group from Oakenhoof.

Afternoon Concert (St Mary’s Church, 2.30 pm Sunday)

Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne had a good strong ballad voice, as well as playing accordion and concertina. A popular set included the dramatic “The Golden Vanity”.

The Furrow Collective had beautiful solo voices which also blended effectively. Their set featured “Barbara Allen” and “Polly Vaughan”, and, as encore, “Oh, to be in my bed and happy”.