So now you know what the Festival is all about, I am sure you are wondering WHO was playing this year???
Oh man, it was a good year! From the first night to the last, I was in musical heaven. Not only are there great gigs but the pubs are packed from noon to midnight with musicians from everywhere having a session, playing together for enjoyment, telling a yarn and generally making merry between pints. I was honoured to witness my friend Kat sing a folk song she had written herself, her first song, in public, ever…so proud.
I got to have a first myself, and had my first ever bodhran lesson with Anne Sands. Enjoyed myself so much even when I’d lose the rhythm. I have it on good authority that I’m just not loose enough. Note to self – loosen up! :)
Amazing bands I saw this year include…
Venue i …Belfast-based Irish trad. band that just blew my socks off! I had heard of them one way or another, heard they were excellent, but after seeing them live I was in shock. Talk about energy, you can practically feel the force of their playing pinning you to your seat! Definitely check out their myspace page for upcoming shows and make a point of seeing them. Nothing like young people taking their cultural roots by the scruff of the neck and then shaking vigorously!
I was so proud later in the week to find I would be sharing billing with them at the Friday night ‘Melting Pot’ gig. To a packed out Glenside pub, they played even harder and all I can remember after my performance, was bouncing up and down to the beat of their music. It was a brilliant night!
Every year I look forward to my friend and fellow singer-songwriter Nathan Ball and his beautiful cellist Adrianne Wininsky landing up into town. They’ve become a bit of an institution now with me and my friends, always looking forward to their outdoor gigs in the Square, as well as the chance to hear them more intimately down the pub or by a campfire at dawn. Nathan’s lyrics are heartfelt and thought provoking, about love and living and being conscious in all we do. Yup, you need to hear him. Click right here for his lovely website and see the other festivals he’s playing at this summer. And the best part of them coming this year?! Adrianne’s newly arrived son, Henry, who we’ve made an honourary Rostrevor-ian (Rostrevor-ite? Rostrevor-ish?!)
Lastly the big musical revelation to me this Festival arrived on the Monday evening, right at the start of the festival, and pretty much set the energy level for the rest of the week. L’Angelus are a Cajun Fiddle Swing band from Louisiana, made of brothers and sisters and generally creating good mood wherever they go. I swear that I am not exaggerating when I say they literally dance and jig through their entire set, instruments in hand, feet never stopping! I’ve swiped a video from their facebook page for you to see what I mean…
I’m so happy to now be able to call these amazing musicians friends. We had a great evening together sharing brownies, singing and chatting round the fire at the beach party. Oh and people are still breaking out into renditions of one of their most catchy tunes ‘Rice and Gravy’…worth a little search on YouTube!
To get a sense of all the different sounds and styles in this years Festival, head over to the BBC Ulster website and listen to Colum Sands’ ‘Folk Club’. Every year he records one show LIVE at the Festival, inviting as many performers as possible to come, have a wee chat and play to tune to a live audience. His Fiddler’s Green episode is currently playing on the iPlayer, just click this sentence to hear the GOODNESS! Included in it are Venue i, L’Angelus, Tom Paxton, Archie Fisher, David Muldrew, Ben Sands and Brendan Monaghan to name a few. There’s only TWO days left to hear it on the iPlayer so get listening now!