Ely Folk Festival

28th Ely Folk Festival

Venue: Downham
Town: Ely
Date: 12-14th July
Website: http://www.elyfolkfestival.co.ukAs Adrian Nation, singer-songwriter from Essex put it – the best thing about Ely Folk Festival is that there are no hierarchies. „There is no them and us, it doesn’t make a difference whether you are an artist or a guest or a member of staff, everybody treats everybody in the same respectful way.“ Adrian Nation has been one of the many artists that stayed longer than just for his own two gigs. He enjoyed being part of the whole thing, meeting people that had listened to him and meeting artists backstage that he had been listening to. Because Ely Folk Festival is a rather small festival (1500 sold tickets), there is an intimacy, a feeling of closeness to each other that has been remarkable indeed. Everyone literally talked to everyone.

It was a family friendly festival with good access for people in wheelchairs, kids were very welcome and had lovely playing facilities and well behaved dogs were also allowed. There were tents with very good food, a beer tent with very good beer, there was plenty of water for little money and an excellent and well frequented coffee to go shop. And there was the most wonderful weather, the only thing that Terry Walden, as one of 5 directors, couldn’t take care of during the months of preparation from October 2012. When asked what kept him going in difficult times during the many years of his entirely voluntary work he didn’t have to think about the answer: „The love for the music“. When dancing backstage during Ely’s own Boo Hewerdine’s and Brooks Williams‘ brilliant performance you could see this love, this passion for the music. You could also see relief and and pure joy about a festival that has been going so fantastically well.

It’s impossible to give an overview of what happened in three marquees (and a beer tent). So let me just mention a few as representatives for the amazing quality and musicianship that Ely had to offer. The headliner Seth Lakeman was but impressive. He was in charge of the audience. He made them dance and kept them going, he radiated and transferred pure enthusiasm to his listeners. His violin playing when playing without his excellent band was especially fascinating. Just one man and a violin – in complete control of over 700 people!

Elbow Jane and Other Roads were convincing because of their stage appearance, their harmonies and their engaging songs. Their songs are about emotions and experiences that everybody can relate to. This applies to most of this weekend’s music and might be one of the charms of music on the whole: Listeners recognize and rediscover what they have felt themselves and connect to it. It definitely also applied to the songs of two outstanding songwriters: Dave Gerard and Ezio Lunedei. Dave Gerard performed as singer and drummer in his band Gerard and the Watchmen. Sue Marchant (BBC) who was comparing announced him as one of the upcoming folk artists that will be big in the UK – and overseas, too, one would like to add. He played songs from the EP „Climb the tree“ and we can really look forward to the debut album coming out on Oct 13th. In two fantastic sets Ezio amazed their audience with playing lots of new, unreleased songs that went down extremely well and for the first time long-time listeners didn’t keep asking for well-known songs from years ago but were keen on listening to all the new stuff.

Talking to Ezio Lunedei about their new material he said: „The new songs are about things that are in my mind now, according to my age, my situation in life. It’s probably the same things that have been on my father’s mind when he was my age and it will probably be the same things that will be on my son’s mind when he is my age.“ Describing over all feelings that have been felt for generations might be what music and especially folk music is all about and it’s what Ely has been about: We are touched and captivated by songs that tell us our own stories or the stories of our fathers. And we enjoy these songs as a crowd rather than on our own and together with the people that perform them for us. It’s been magic. Thank you, Ely.

Dagmar Brudnitzki
Pictures: David Streatfield.

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