nORTH DORSET FOLK FESTIVAL
Written By Pete Robson.
Festivals seem like nothing more than a distant memory when the Autumn blows in. October’s chill means it's time to move indoors if you want to hear live music, putting paid to music festivals for another year, or so you would think. But the North Dorset Folk festival is a full day of music taking shelter from the elements in Marnhull's Village Hall. Like most village halls the capacity is modest, which makes the welcome all the warmer, plus there’s plenty of home cooked food on offer. But it's not just the limited spaces that ensure this festival sells out year after year, it's the high quality of artists who come to perform.
The North Dorset Folk Festival had seven acts performing throughout the day. It would be safe to say that the word ‘Folk’ had been used loosely. Yes there were some traditional acts like ‘Aimée’ and previously featured artist ‘Kadia’, a contemporary spin came from Gilmore and Roberts, there was blues from ‘Pete Robson’ and American roots from ‘Hatful of Rain’. One consistency between all acts, they all performed acoustically.
With only a couple of exceptions I had not heard of the acts who were playing, it was a day to discover something new. Solo artist 'Pip Mountjoy' was my personal highlight. Onstage she had a beaming smile and playful character, which made her repertoire of sad songs totally unexpected. Pip's masterpiece was a song titled 'Riverbed', this song is about drowning oneself (I told you her songs were sad). The combination of delicate delivery and poetic lyrics captivated everyone in the room.
Another notable performance came from vintage steeped four piece band ‘Hatful of Rain’. Their musicianship was excellent, their performance entertaining, but they insist on using a vintage single microphone between the whole band. It looked fantastic, but it sounded awful. Historically this would have been the only option for a band, the natural volume of an instrument would dictate the distance that instrument would be positioned away from the microphone. Unfortunately ‘Hatful of Rain’ didn't adopt this technique, the loud thunderous double bass was just as close to the microphone as the smaller quieter mandolin. Unfortunately ‘Hatful of Rain’ had sacrificed good sound in favour of style.
The lineup had been amazing all day. Festival organiser Ian Lyster surpassed himself, booking 'Nizlopi' as the headline act. 'Nizlopi' fully embraced the intimacy of this festival, they came down into the audience to perform their opening song 'Freedom' completely unplugged. Afterwards Luke hopped up on to the stage, while John a little slower carrying his double bass cautiously climbed on stage. Now under the stage lights and amplified the party started. The audience who had been polite and attentive for most of the day, were now dancing in the aisles. 'Nizlopi' ended the festival by returning to perform unplugged amongst the audience for their encore. This was an enchanting end to a charming festival.
A big thank you to Jo Elkington who kindly allowed us to use her excellent photo's of Nizlopi. Please visit her Facebook page