Away with the (Folk) Faeries: Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2014

Shrewsbury Folk Festival is one of my favourite festivals on the UK folk circuit as it is consistently excellent. It is one of the most well-organised events I have came across in the past couple of years and this does not only apply to the music and sound quality, but also to how it is run. The volunteer stewards take pride in doing a great job and tend to return year after year. The festival veterans pass on their knowledge to new volunteers who are welcomed and seamlessly integrated. The minute I walked through the gates on Thursday afternoon I saw a few friendly faces who I had also seen the year before and the year before that. Another bonus is its location walking distance to the town of Shrewsbury, which is well worth exploring and has plenty of history, architecture, charity shops and pubs to keep you busy for an afternoon or two.

Festival Faeries
Music-wise there was a Canadian theme to the overseas acts this year, which was more than fine by me. I managed to catch Cara Luft and JD Edwards, JP Hoe, Madison Violet, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings and Matt Gordon & Lenny Podolak, who were all brilliant and are well worth checking out when they are touring over here. Apart from the usual stellar British Isles folk line-up, some acts I particularly enjoyed this year were Philip Henry and Hannah Martin, Sunjay Brayne and Bella Hardy. I was stewarding with the artist reception team again and, like last year, had a really good time. After sometimes long hours of travel, the artists could relax and chill in our cosy catering tent before or after their sets and we made sure they had everything they needed. After a long day of stewarding, hanging out with old and new friends and listening to fabulous live music it was off to the on-site bar every night, the main hub for music workshops during the day and lively singalong sessions into the early hours.
Village Stage 2
If you are planning on attending Shrewsbury Folk Festival next year, make sure you get your hands on tickets quite soon as it sold out pretty early this year. Arriving by public transport is not a problem as the festival site is only a 10-15 minute walk or a short taxi ride from the train station. If you have caught the folk fest bug and fancy volunteering, sign up as early as possible (beginning of each year) as there is usually – and understandably – quite a waiting list. Oh and if there is just one song you might want to learn the lyrics of for next year, make it Cousin Jack, which never fails to be performed by Steve Knightley, this year with a surprise appearance by Show of Hands colleague Phil Beer and other special guests, epic set!
You can watch some videos of this year’s festival on the lifeisafestival youtube channel, enjoy 🙂
Steve Knightley Wake the Union

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