there's a wealth of homegrown and international talent on offer at Sark Folk Festival

Sark Folk Festival 2015 review

By Kim Gordon | Published: Tue 21st Jul 2015

Sark Folk Festival 2015 - around the festival site & Sark
Photo credit: Tim Gale

Sark Folk Festival 2015

Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th July 2015
various venues, Channel Islands, Sark, GY9 0SD, Sark MAP
£67 for the weekend - sold out
Daily capacity: 1,200

Saturday morning and we're half way through our festival adventure, and after a bit of bartering with the French lady working the summer season at Clos de Val Creux we secure the full English with all locally produced ingredients for £8 and very nice it was too.

A steady saunter along the Avenue and we come across a band of beggars calling themselves The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers playing outside an empty shop inviting donations for cider with an open guitar case, after a couple of numbers we move on.

We are greeted at the site with the sound of Jenkins Ear a traditional 5 piece sea shanty style outfit and every one of them looks the part with grey beards and weathered looks along with story and joke telling between tracks, a great sound sometimes without instruments at all. GU10 follow, I thought they were named after a lamp fitting but after talking to band members it’s actually a Guernsey boat registration. They're a large band that today had 13 on stage but more normally perform with 6-8 they make a lot of noise despatching traditional type shantys in their own style with great vocal content. Thirsty by now after all that singing, time for a Bec du Nez.

Crowman and the Fiddling Pixie follow with their dingdigadigadiga dingdigadigadiga style folk even using a fuzz box for one track!

The Barley Dogs: Sark Folk Festival 2015

Ukuladeez, smaller in numbers but so much better looking than the Ukulele orchestra of Great Britain, no more to be said. The Barley Dogs (Guernsey) traditional foot stompers fronted by Mick LeHuray, yes he’s James’ (hardest working man at the fest) dad playing some great original material. The Recks, formed in Sark, truly locals? although none of them are born and bred, I like their odd sometimes two tone ish style, entertaining to watch but I can’t really pigeon hole them, have a listen yourself.

Niamh Ni Charra (visitors) are Irish traditional folk style and give us a real treat before The Chair fire out some big sound traditional Celtic folk which occasionally goes a little Arabic, if you know what I mean?

We are treated to a beautiful sunset over Guernsey tonight which promotes a flurry of picture taking in the bottom field and then it’s pitch dark on the worlds first designated dark island, so that means it’s dark and we have had our cider and fish and chips, a torch is definitely required for the windy pitch black walk back to Jo & Elliots with the sweet smell of honeysuckle in the air. You still need to be aware of people (some intoxicated) riding bicycles WITHOUT lights down gravel tracks, thankfully, of the few rules, one of them is no tractors allowed after 10pm….so that’s good!

To get the full exposure to the Sunday programme, quiet an early rise is required, the first set being billed as 10:30, so an early breakfast at AJ’s on the avenue for £6.50 including bread and butter and a mug of tea seams a good idea and hope it doesn’t fight back too much after yesterdays cider consumption.

Barrule, from one island to another this 3 piece are well placed for gathering Celtic material and inspiration which shows in their music and they sound bigger than they are somehow? Clameur de Haro, have an interesting name, The Clameur de Haro is the ancient Norman custom of crying for justice and the Channel Islands is the only place where it still survives. If an Islander feels their property is being physically threatened they may go along to the site with two witnesses, take off their hat, fall to their knees and cry to their Duke for justice. Once that has been done, and the court notified within 24 hours, their appeal has to be respected and the alleged trespass or tort must stop until the matter has been sorted out in court, told you it was a bit different here, well their blue grassy style goes down well.

Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin must be mentioned, brilliant musicians both; a wonderfully atmospheric set was well received by a small appreciative crowd.

The MC announces the sad news that the festival is over (worse still the bar is closed) and the crowd thins accordingly but if you follow your ears you may well find the hardcore wishing to extend the merry making in the bottom field; comprising of various band members jamming, children playing ukulele, a crazy French guy eating a bee and someone passing a bottle round, the sun still warming our cheeks……………

Much thanks to Della & Hughie our Guernsey hosts, Jo, Elliot, Zak and Evy May our Sark hosts, the 117 massive @ pomme de chien including 10 bugs (still looking for that video) and of course festival organisers Jess, Simon and the team.

review by: Kim Gordon

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