A Review of Festival 2016

Copyright © Patrick Costello

“A slice of something extremely rare” and “What an absolutely fabulous weekend” were just two of the many complimentary comments already received via Facebook and email during the few hours after Bromsgrove Folk Festival. My particular favourite, however, came on Friday morning. Following a Thursday night pub session and an open mic (without mic!) in our MiniMarquee.....and with three days still to go!.....a newbie to Bromsgrove....I nearly referred to her as a Bromsgrove virgin!..... came up and congratulated me with “Brilliant, just the right size....and what a tremendous atmosphere”! She was, if anything, more complimentary three fun packed days later when she sought me out to ask when tickets go on sale for 2017!

Somebody once said to me that if we knew what made Bromsgrove so special, even after 25 years, we should bottle it and we would make a fortune. It has been likened by artists and festival-goers alike to a large family gathering, a aanual re-union of like minded souls......and it is all of those things.....but putting one's finger on why is difficult....and totally unnecessary. Just do it...and do it again...and make it better every year, don't make it bigger....make sure everybody knows everybody else over the weekend and ensure most of them are on first name terms by the time they leave.

Having fostered that feeling amongst regulars and newcomers alike, whoever is performing, we then put performers into the mix and try to book artists who we feel will not only suit the atmosphere, but also compliment and become part of it......and it would appear that we managed that again for 2016. This was evidenced by the number of artists who stayed behind for after concert sessions in the pub and by the number who stayed to contribute a couple of songs to the Fairfield and Friends Festival Finale on Sunday afternoon.....Anthony John Clarke, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, BarlowCree, Kristina Olsen, Steve Tilston, Alice Dillon....a local name to look out for....and of course Fairfield, Bromsgrove band in residence.

We always book artists who not only provide great music but who we know will fit in with the Bromsgrove atmosphere and, as well as the above mentioned, Steve Turner, Rory McLeod, Steve Cartwright, Leon Gormley, Tosh Ewins, Stitherum, Step on Board Appalachian dancers, Steamchicken, Mad Jocks and Englishmen and Jez Lowe all fitted that profile.....every one of them complimented the others' performances.

2016, Bromsgrove's 25th year, was also a nostalgic and emotional affair as we remembered the man who started it all off back in 1992, the late Ralph Barton. Ralph's widow, Yvonne, still working hard with our committee, opened the proceedings on Friday night with an emotional preface and closed them again on Sunday afternoon, singing alongside their son Lee Barton, who had flown in from New Zealand just to be part of the celebration, and many of the former members of the Fairfield line-up....John Connor, Mac Rawlins, Pete O'Connor and myself.

Another great year in the annals of Bromsgrove Folk Festival and 2017 is already in the advanced planning stage.

Put 13th to 16th July 2017 in your diary, visit www.bromsgrovefolkclub.co.uk and become an email subscriber and join the Bromsgrove Folk Club and Festival Facebook page to be first in line for tickets.