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features /  music feature
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green man festival sessions
green man festival sessions 05
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If you go down to the woods today.

The witching hour, and, as The Incredible String Band close their main-stage set, in the car park a skiffle band strikes up a rousing version of I Will Survive, watched by a stilt-walking panto dame. Welcome to the Green Man festival - three days of folk, facial hair and attendant strangeness in the bucolic surrounds of Hay-on-Wye, nestled snugly on the Welsh borders.

Now in its third year, the festival is the lovechild of Jo Bartlett and Danny Hagan, aka It’s Jo And Danny. Having decamped from London, they’ve grown it organically into a quality offering, as Danny attests. “One of the nicest comments is when people say, ‘I hadn’t heard of any of the bands, but because they’re playing here, we knew they’d be good.’” Taking the F-word as a starting point, acts range from traditional players like Wiz Jones and Josephine Foster, to wilder incarnations like Half Cousin’s berserk funk or the mob-handed psychedelia of The Earlies.

Highlights? Tunng, Absentee and James Yorkston performing acoustic sets in front of our VW camper; Joanna Newsom unveiling new material during a spellbinding performance; or fellow headliners Matt Sweeney & Bonnie Prince Billy’s darkly emotional set. During I See A Darkness, someone fires a distress flare into the sky, bathing the field of upturned faces in red light and all is good with the world. But don’t take our word for it, watch the sessions and make up your own mind.

James Cowdery 24 August 05
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