The Third Southsea Folk And Roots Festival
South Parade Pier
August 24 - August 31 2003
Here is the Barking Spider's anual summary of the Festival
SOUTHSEA FOLK & ROOTS FESTIVAL 2003 REVIEW
A Four Day Festival ....
For some unknown reason (probably a brainstorm) what I'd intended to be a four day festival somehow stretched into eight days.... but what a great eight days!
I'd ended up in hospital (later diagnosed as stress related) during the week running up to the event, but managed to discharge myself on the first day of the Festival in time to get to South Parade Pier to see Pompey's very own local hero
performed a great set with his band - Shep knows my weakness for Bob Dylan and I was rewarded by a great version of "License To Kill", worthy of the man himself. I then pottered down to "The Florence Arms" - the
festival's official pub - to catch King Rollo, one of the finest and warmest solo blues performers I've ever seen. I only managed half of Rollo's set before realising that my discharge had been a little premature
(story of my life!) and I ended up back in hospital again that night. That'll teach me...
So I missed the whole of the traditional Bank Holiday blues day (with Burnt Ice The Pete Harris Band,
Mo Thomas, The Mustangs
and King Rollo),Karnataka with K.T.B. on Monday evening, and Julie Felix with Pete Quin on Tuesday. I heard that I'd missed two superb days entertainment.
However, I was delighted to receive a "Get Well" card signed by everyone, including Julie Felix, and all was not lost as later I was invited as Julie's special guest to see her concert in Ventnor later that year.
A very kind gesture and an excellent performance. (you can see Julie Felix at Tichfield's "Folk At The Abbey" in July 2004).
On Wednesday I again discharged myself from hospital, and very gingerly made my way to The Pier as I was absolutely determined not to miss Oysterband and Ron Trueman Border. "RTB" goes from strength to strength, his songwriting
g ability evolves by the day, and his delivery is breathtaking. I can't wait to see his new band, Perfect Strangers. Headliners Oysterband were their usually devastating selves, and we were treated to an incredibly powerful set, culminatin
in my personal favourite "Blood Wedding", which in a moment of madness I'd sung at my own wedding! (I think I've been forgiven now). The band were off to Tonder in Norway the following day, so we were very fortunate that they'd agreed to
erform for us.
The Bullfrog Blues Club traditionally hosts an evening at The Southsea Folk & Roots Festival, and an evening with The Gwyn Ashton Band was on offer. However, circumstances beyond Gwyn's control - his bass
layer had quit without notice - meant that Gwyn would be performing a solo set. But what a set! This man is a consummate performer, with the ghost of Rory Gallagher always sat on his shoulder. His devastating runs on his National steel
guitar were a joy to behold, and there was no-one in the room that even noticed the band weren't present by the end of the evening! Andy Broad performed an excellent set before Gwyn took to the stage, as befits the man who
(apart from Pompey Football Club!)
epitomises meaning of "The Blues" in this neck o' the woods.
After seeing The Phil Beer Band at The Isle Of Wight Festival in 2002, we'd decided to book them to headline Friday night at Southsea in 2003, as we'd had Show of Hands at The Festival last year. This was Lord Gnome's Festival
treat, and we made sure that the best seats in the house were for Lord and Lady Gnome, and for once during the Festival he relaxed - with the help of a few brandies and some of the best music you could wish to hear. Two of the
busiest performers of the festival were in the Phil Beer Band - Nick Quarmby, who also performed a brilliant opening set that evening with the superb Colvin Quarmby, and Gareth Turner, who was also
with Little Johnny England the next evening!
The Saturday daytime concerts was free entry , but that didn't detract from the talent on hand - on Saturday we were treated to Rob Johnston, Gardener, Mary Jane, and another brilliant set from Colvin Quarmby
(it's that Nick Quarmby again!) Unfortunately Deb Sandland, who had performed with the Phil Beer Band on Friday, was also due to appear in a solo capacity, but a crisis at home meant that she couldn't be with us. Poor
Mary Jane suffered a crisis too, when one of the P.A. speakers broke down losing all the high frequencies, but like the true professionals they are overcame the problem magnificently by relying on their backline.
Also on Saturday the Portsmouth Association of Traditional Dance Teams organised a "Day Of Dance" all along the sea front, which certainly raised the visibility of the festival to those who didn't know what was going on at
the end of the Pier!
On Saturday evening Arlen performed a great opening set before headliners Little Johnny England appeared. Like many others, P.J.Wright of Little Johnny England was effusive in his appreciation of this young folk rock band
Dave Newe and Lucy Rutherford of Arlen have since gone on to reach the B.B.C. Young Traditional Musician of the Year finals. Little Johnny England brought Saturday to a close, with an excellent set, showing
why they're one of the most popular bands on the folk roots circuit today. (you can see them at Tichfield's "Folk At The Abbey" in July 2004)
The free daytime concert on Sunday was started by a wonderfully mellow set from Kangaroo (half) Moon, who, as their name suggests, are half of Kangaroo Moon! Mark Robson is an exceptional musician, and his didgeridoo and keyboard
playing was accompanied by expertly played percussion and fiddle. The Dan Ogus Quartet (both of them!) and Father Jack ensured that at least two more of the commitee (me and Dan - Andy Broad had a
ready played!) got to play at the festival, and Hard Times String Band performed a fine set of old timey music before The Fold got everyone on their feet with a high energy set of celtic folk rock. A great way to round off the afternoon.
Legacy and Strawbs Acoustic closed the festival in fine style. Legacy just get better and better, and have transcended the pub circuilt now, and tend to concentrate on festivals and tours - they've just returned from
a successful tour of Holland. Strawbs Acoustic - (Dave Lambert, Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby) peformed a set of old an new songs, with their anthemic "Lay Down" being the highlight for me. They were a superb, and a wonderful
ending to a wonderful eight days.
At he beginnig of the festival week we had two afternoons of circus skills for children from Colin The Clown and two afternoons with The Monster Massive, which included "The Kid's Ceilidh" and instrument making. Judging by
the noise, everyone attending had a great time!
So... another year over - and time to start organising Southsea Folk And Roots Festival 2004. As the late great Frank Zappa once noted - "The torture never stops"....
Anyone who doesn't think running a festival is stressful hasn't got any idea of how much work there is to be done! With this in mind, a very special thank you to Lord & Lady Gnome,
Andy Broad & Jayne, Spunky The Spaniel, Danny Ogus
Claire, Mrs Mantis, and all our other helpers for keeping it all ticking over so well.