The annual BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards are the Oscars of folk music, so it is testament to the extraordinary nature of the Priddy Folk Festival, now in its 23rd year, that the 2014 festival is going to feature not one but three of this year’s prestigious winners – Bella Hardy, winner of best singer, Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, winner of best duo, and Aidan O’Rourke, winner of best musician, who will be playing in the band Kan.
And while a silent disco might be de rigeur at a festival these days, Priddy will also be hosting Will Lang’s Silent ceilidh with Phil Bassindale in the village hall. The whole community will be getting involved, with the village church taking part with a special Sunday service featuring hymns played by the Old Somerset Russets band, and workshops and concerts throughout the weekend.
Other headline acts include Flook, Bella Hardy, The New Rope String Band, Baraka, Ushti Baba, and The Young ‘Uns. Special concerts include Yvette Staelens, who tells the story of Cecil Sharp’s folksong collecting adventures through songs, family stories, and amazing historical photographs; and a church concert with Three Cane Whale.
Rachael Clarke, Manager of the Festival Programming team, said:
“We’d like to congratulate all the winners and nominees at this year’s Folk Awards – we’re very proud that we’re going to be hosting so many of them here. Our programme ranges from the thoughtful, wonderful music of Three Cane Whale to the high energy music of Baraka & Ushti Baba. We’re delighted to have such internationally acclaimed acts as Flook & Kan at our festival too. One thing they all have in common is technical and artistic brilliance.”
Priddy is a family event, which began life as a humble PTA fundraiser, and which despite its size and standing in the UK Folk Festival calendar is still run by volunteers. The festival makes donations to local community organisations and projects, including providing musical education at local schools. In addition to the ticketed venues of the main programme there are many free events , including a club tent that hosts local artists and open-mic sessions, a dance festival and children’s festival within the festival site, and a market place full of great crafts, traders and food.
Rachel Clarke continued:
“One of the best things about Priddy Folk Festival is the blurring of the line between the audience and the performers. People pitch up all over the village – in the pubs, on the green, and in the camping fields – with impromptu performances. People can join a ceilidh at the dance festival, or come and sing with an amazing trio like The Young ‘Uns at a workshop, or learn to play an instrument like the bodrhan or ukulele with skilled teachers.”
The festival kicks off on Friday 11th July, and runs through until 5 o’clock on Sunday 13th July. Tickets for the festival usually sell out, but there is still time to pick up early bird discount tickets, with or without camping, until the end of April, at www.priddyfolk.org. Children under 11 go free.