Folk On The Water (there is actually a lake)
If you listen carefully you can hear the sighs of every shopkeeper in the B13 area with a copy of The Guardian to sell, because Moseley Folk is now over for another year. It is true to say that I wasn’t enormously enamoured in advance with the line-ups of either of the Moseley Park festivals this year (obviously there were things I was really looking forward to – Efterklang! An approximation of The Dubliners! – but as a whole the bills didn’t seem as appealing to me as they often have in the past), but of course they were both still really good.
So: On Friday I was accompanied by the loveliest of people, Moseley Park is gorgeous as we know and have said a million times, I really liked the bubbles being blown out from the speaker stacks, the queues at the bar on Friday were just stupid, I thought the pot-plant arrangements at the front of the stages were nice but I dunno if the photographers did, and Janice Long was as useless as she is every year (“Efterlang”, this time). All that said, here are useless thoughts on the bands I liked more than “they were quite good”:
~ Blue Rose Code – Celtic spaceyness, quite Van Morrison-esque. He declared that he was “Scotts-ing it up” for this gig, but I could still understand what he was saying so I’d say that was a failure. The music was a win, though.
~ Abie’s Miracle Tonic – Skiffly swingy bluegrassy jazzy jingles! And I do mean actual jingles. A very fun band. Plus some genuinely touching songs about elderly relatives.
~ The Travelling Band – I liked these a lot more than the last time I saw them. Fun and jaunty pop-rock with a hint of the ol’ Americana.
~ Goodnight Lenin – One of the lesser times I’ve seen them, I think, but obviously still brilliant. They did seem a touch subdued though. It was also a bit of a shame that I’ve been telling my bredrin about how funny their between-song blather usually is, and they chose this gig to not really bother with any of that. “Old Cold Hands” sounded BIG.
~ Cannon Street – Pretty folksy harmonies from two exceptionally bubbly teenage sisters. Maybe their age is influencing my perceptions, but there was a lovely wide-eyed optimism about their songs.
~ The Staves – I wasn’t really taken with them last time they played here, but this time I loved them. Gorgeous, gorgeous harmonies. The fact that I fell asleep during their set should be taken as a demonstration of my faults and not theirs. I was clearly lulled into a completely comfortable and relaxed state by their velvety melodies.
~ Efterklang – Perhaps it’s unsurprising (given that they were already my favourite of all the bands playing beforehand) that I’d call Efterklang’s set the best of the whole festival, but yeah. They were definitely the most ambitious band playing all weekend (not that ambition is everything, even in music). Casper is such a sweetie, and apparently still rocking the lounge lizard suits after the Piramida tour. They evidently appreciated the near-arboreal (that may be overstating it, but you know what I mean) setting, giving a new twist to sounds that normally suggest the crisp snow of the icy North (and other such clichés). Sublimely melodic, and while I most like their mid period between when they were difficult and when they were easy (basically, I mean “Parades”), the more song-based stuff that they do nowadays is beautiful too. They seem to now have a lovely spot where presents donated by the crowd at the last gig are distributed amongst the crowd here, and then a bag is passed around for folks to donate pressies for the next one. Aaaaaawww.
~ Mellow Peaches – I popped up to the bar to see some laid back fruit, and I ain’t talkin’ cider. Excellent bluegrass duo with a sense of humour, and the longest kazoo note you ever did hear.
(As an aside, I’ve been to at least one day of this thing calling itself a folk festival for all of the eight years in which it has happened, and Mellow Peaches’ set this time was the first time I’ve ever seen someone listening whilst holding a finger in one ear. Folk legitimacy at last!)
~ British Sea Power – I missed half of their set because I was having so much fun with Mellow Peaches, and came back down to the field to witness some hilarious carnage. Tree branches (and lots of ‘em) had been distributed for people in the crowd to wave and there were folks dressed in bear suits dancing around the place. I approve of this. Musically speaking they’re quite Neu!-ish, aren’t they? Like a guitarier, vocalier, poppier Neu!. I hadn’t expected any of these things. Massive amounts of fun.
~ Wolf People – The award for the most rocking band of the festival definitely goes here. Late sixties-ish heavy psych rock – like Cream but sassy. I need more.
~ The Cadbury Sisters – Take out the bit about not having liked them last time round (because I’ve never seen The Cadbury Sisters before) and what I said about The Staves could be repeated here. Yes, I fell asleep again, but again this is only a sign of how chocolaty-sweet (didyouseewhatIdidthere) their harmonies were. The fact that their great-grandfather used to own the park was a good bit of trivia, too.
~ David Campbell – Folk done properly, you might say. The whole festival was dedicated to his late father (whose own father knew the man etc etc), and incidentally I did like that mural of Ian Campbell a lot. Traditions were here carried along happily. I still call into question the historical veracity of “The D-day Dodgers” (come on now), but it’s a great song. He even did a nice version of Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing”, although…
~ Katherine Priddy – …I do still think that Katherine Priddy’s version of “Beeswing” is the definitive reading. She didn’t play it here, though – I’ve no idea if she hadn’t intended to in the first place or if she didn’t due to having been gazumped. We did get an absolutely gorgeous version of “She Walked Through The Fayre”, though, and the set as a whole was as beautiful and angelic as Katherine’s always are.
~ Dan Whitehouse – Songs that are loveable in spite of being so appallingly earnest, it’s strange really. Excellent hair.
~ Kate Rusby – Come for the music but stay for the waffling on between songs: Kate comes across as daffy and entirely loveable. “We like a song with a horse in”, she said, and I’d have to concur with that. I also thoroughly condone doing a medley of jigs & reels but putting in bits of themes from the A-Team and The Muppet Show and… there was another one (aaarg can’t remember).
~ Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys – An enormous amount of fun. Energetic western swing and up-tempo bluegrass with loads of showmanship, including Gordie himself clog dancing and climbing up on top of the double bass to play his fiddle. (Incidentally, they were on much later than they were initially supposed to be. The programme timetable for the Lunar Stage was all kinds of confused on the Sunday).
~ Lucy Rose – Apparently she is famous but I dunno. Slightly folksy alternative pop-rock, and you were unlucky if that didn’t complete your idiom-bingo. “Shimmering” was the adjective that came to mind, although that might have been because she had a song called “Shiver” and I am sometimes more easily phonetically led than I should be.
~ The Dublin Legends – Now I was looking forward to this. Some songs sounded a bit unusual without the familiar voices singing them but then again mortality will ultimately get the better of us all, and it’s pointless to cavil about a fifty year old band not doing specific songs you wanted to hear. As such, I can see no objection whatsoever to most whole-heartedly singing Her eyes they shone like diamonds, Ah yer drunk yer drunk yer silly auld fool, Dreamed a dream by the old canal, We had five million hogs and six million dogs, whack fol de daddio, No nay never, Alive Alive-oh… and all of ’em. Fantastic stuff. Rare auld stuff, if you will.
And that was that. See you again next time round.