Wickham Festival is a decade and a half old, so you get the sense it ought to be better known. At the same time, you kinda hope it stays as intimate as currently is. Set on the southwesterly tip of the South Downs, it’s a real gem of a festival – a gorgeous location, an easy size to get around, a not-too-big-but-definitely-not-small audience, three well-sized stages… and performers that make you wonder just how the organisers can afford it all. Ours not to reason why, though. Ours but to get stuck in.
The Grizzly Folk’s presence at Wickham Festival was officially in an interviewing capacity. We’ll be publishing the chat we had with Ross Couper and Tom Oakes next week, but in the meantime, have a browse through some of the pics we snapped on the final day. We got ourselves into the photographers’ pit for five key acts – Ross & Tom, Imar, Tankus the Henge, Lau and Eliza Carthy & the Wayward Band – and rolled off about 500 snaps (which we’ve whittled down to around 35 – if you’re one of the artists and you’d like more, drop us a line via Jon’s Facebook or Twitter pages). So, once again, strap on your eye-goggles – you’re in for a lengthy stay…
Oh, and while you’re listening, here’s a little Spotify playlist featuring the artists you’ll be looking at on this page.
Ross Couper & Tom Oakes
Quite how either Ross or Tom can play at the speed they do is beyond us, but they make claims that at least one of them can go faster (!) An amazing set that showed their very fine album, Fiddle & Guitar, is absolutely no fluke. Look out for our interview with them next week.
One of those bands that reminds you why you shouldn’t necessarily judge a festival by its headline artists – a huge part of the fun is discovering something new and utterly enchanting. Ímar are a bunch of chaps from the UK and Ireland, and their music largely reflects their Celtic roots. There’s an album out on Amazon – grab it here.
Tankus the Henge
While not strictly folk music, judging by the flutterings from the crowd in the aftermath, Tankus the Henge all but stole the show. One part music hall act, one part sleazy New Orleans blues, another part West End stage show, all topped off with frontmanship worthy of (and clearly inspired by) Freddie Mercury, Tankus are one of those bands that make you wonder why you’re seeing them mid-afternoon at boutique (though lovely) festival, rather than somewhere considerably more corporate. We fully expect to be hearing more about these fellows soon.
As the festival’s Twitter channel pointed out, it would be pretty hard to follow Tankus the Henge… unless, of course, you’re Lau. Credit where credit’s due – the sequencing of the lineup was really well paced, so Lau’s loop-based mind interlude provided welcome respite between the previous craziness and the coming thunder. Only the untimely power-outage knocked the dreamscape out of whack, but what do you expect if one of the band members is playing some kind of modern art sailing project fitted with onboard synth? (Two questions: what is that instrument, and does Thom Yorke know you’ve taken it?)
Eliza Carthy & the Wayward Band
Leading the musical life of Eliza Carthy right now must feel fairly schizophrenic. One minute you’re part of a duo, playing an acoustic set of traditional music with your venerable father, and the next you’re fronting one of the largest and most ferocious bands on the circuit. The only sign of madness, however, is (hopefully) just for show. The plastic cataracts eye is disconcerting at first glance, but the crowd know the good nature hidden beneath and – as always – Eliza and the Waywards end up pitching themselves somewhere between mass entertainment and a bunch of mates having it large in your living room.
Quite how so many people playing at once can sound so tight is testament to the musicianship on stage, and there are moments – ‘Good Morning, Mr Walker’ and ‘Gallant Hussar’ in particular – where they transcend simple entertainment and reach a level of pure joy. What must be particularly pleasing to them is how familiar the audience is with the Big Machine album – unreleased during last winter’s tour, but now a firm set of singalong favourites. See them whenever and wherever you can (and help us ponder whether Saul Rose was, in a previous life, a pirate or a Les Miserables cast member).
And last but not least… the crowd
Where would any event be without these good people, each of them – us included – looking forward to Wickham Festival, 2018 (earlybird tickets are already on sale). Hope to see you there!