I wouldn’t classify myself as an avid folk fan, the genre conjures up images of wooden clad town halls filled with fifty-something-year-old bearded men drinking ale and listening to furious fiddle playing.
This totally ungrounded image was splintered into smithereens when I ventured along to the Big Session festival at De Montfort Hall (DMH) this weekend.
The folk and roots festival, now in its second year, was founded by electric folk rock five piece, the Oysterband. The idea behind the festival is to capture the spontaneity and intimacy of a session and bring it to the big stage.
That festival feeling
Walking out into the DMH gardens immediately brought back memories of Glastonbury’s Green fields- stalls and shops selling food, clothes, crafts, jewellery, instruments and many other a trinkets you wouldn't expect to find.
These were only the distractions. It was time to investigate the festival stages and checkout the line-ups. There were three stages, one indoors- the DMH main stage- and two outdoors- the marquee stage and the orange tree stage.
The orange tree stage always seemed popular even when no-one was playing. Perhaps this was something to do with the fact that this area was also home to the real ale bar. I had never seen so many barrels or heard of so many different ales.
As I was sitting on the grass with my glass of perry the first local act took to the stage. Steve E Jones played guitar, sang and attracted a good crowd to the orange tree stage. Now comfortable I stayed where I was to listen to more local talent. Evi Vine were a good listen.
There was only one artist I had marked in the programme as a must-see, this was Martha Tilston. Not a singer I had heard previously but one that came highly recommended.
Her songs, about the everyday mundane, heartache and politics, were strangely uplifting. Her voice takes you away to a place were no-one else is and trickles down the spine like an unexpected raindrop.
I downloaded her album as soon as I got home.
Now feeling a little hungry I liked the look of Leon’s vegetarian cuisine stall and his description of the 'home-grown wild' ingredients had my mouth watering, one hand reaching for the coins and the other holding a plate, full of organic veggie delights.
Laid back lounging
Although the festival was a sell-out it was pleasantly un-crowded- plenty of room to lay down your rug and head for a little nap in the sunshine. It was a scorcher and when in need of some shade you need look no further than the giant witch's hat awning.
This is a great festival, laid back, top acts, local talent, plenty of choice for food and drink with absolutely loads of activities for the kids. It has changed my idea of folk music and like other festivals is a great place to go to discover those artists you've been missing.