Sidmouth Folk Week 2010: letter in
Sidmouth Herald 13 August 2010 - also in Midweek Herald (free newspaper) 18 August 2010.
The writer of this letter has a point in
that so many of the Ham concert artists are 'big names' - but arguably that is required to
draw in the crowds.
A parallel point could be made in respect
of the bands used for social dances and workshops, and would have more validity, since for
concerts it is surely the headline acts that matter. For social dance, it is the
size of the venue and the identity of the caller that may be primary considerations. The
band can be of secondary importance - but many are an attraction in their own right.
However, if people would indeed pay the
same ticket prices for 'lesser known' but nevertheless outstanding acts at major concerts
in the Ham then the writer has a good point - FolkWeek would be able to divert money to
improving some of the other venues as well as helping to promote a few rising stars.
Folk week too 'predictable'
AS another Sidmouth Folk Week slips over the horizon, it is time that people spoke out
about the lack of vision and imagination that nowadays characterises the festival and its
This year's programme was simply dull and predictable and largely featured artists who had
regularly appeared at Sidmouth over the past few years and who can be seen each week at
many other festivals and venues throughout the country.
Asking people to pay between £17 and £19 to watch these acts was doubly insulting.
There was a time when Sidmouth was a vibrant festival, hosting top performers from a
variety of folk cultures, when it believed in providing a platform for young and emerging
musicians with exceptional talent and it fought hard to secure individual performances
from inspirational artists.
Sadly, this has all gone and we are left with routine, even lazy, programming that
reflects just a small fragment of what most of us consider 'folk' music.
In short, it has become old, tired and hopelessly narrow-minded.
Of course, there was great music to be heard in Sidmouth. In the bars, on the street and,
in particular, at the Fringe Festival at Thorn Park, where I saw some exceptional
performances from Newton Faulkner, Rita Hosking and The Carrivick Sisters.
The Carrivick Sisters, especially, were in sparkling form and, in case it had slipped the
'Official' festival organisers' notice, actually come from Devon!
Why, oh why, can't FolkWeek find a place for artists of this calibre in their main
We can only hope for a more enlightened approach next year.
PETER RANDALL The Parade Seaton .
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