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Southsea Folk Festival 2009
A Review Of The Festival 2001
A Review Of The Festival 2002
A Review Of The Festival 2003
A Review Of The Festival 2004
A Review Of The Festival 2005
A Review Of The Festival 2006
A Review Of The Festival 2007
A Review Of The Festival 2008
A Review Of The Festival 2009

The Fifth Southsea Folk And Roots Festival
South Parade Pier
August 26 - August 30 2005

This year we have to "reviews" a report from the J.R. as promoter and a review from the punters perspective by "The Spaniel"

First the Spaniel's:

Southsea Folk & Roots Festival 2005

(A brief synopsis)
  • Thursday evening;

    The 5th SF&R Festival kicked off with a set from Portsmouth's resident bluesman Andy Broad's Burnt Ice band who ran thru a set of old blues standards and a few less well known numbers. As usual a good start to the festival.

    I had never seen Lightning Willie before so was therefore unable to recognise most of their set, however the partisan blues crowd who turned up would probably not only be able to tell me the titles but also reprimand me for my laxity in not having checked out this excellent band before this evening.

  • Friday evening;

    Julie Felix has been a household name on the folk scene since the sixties and the years of experience this has brought shone thru in a set that encompassed songs by Bob Dylan as well as her own material including protest songs from the 60's right up to modern day numbers ( I particularly enjoyed the Bush/Blair anti-war backlash).Another favourite was the song sung entirely in Spanish.

    Starting off the evening was a set from Josie Watts who again I knew virtually nothing about,but who has a wonderful voice & if this was anything to go by will soon be making a much bigger name for herself.

  • Saturday daytime(Free);

    As I arrived at the pier I was amazed to see The Widders morris side already performing (the amazement being because they had arrived the previous evening during Julie Felix's set & retired to the other bar in the Gaiety & proceeded to get pleasantly hammered,& that was just the women).The Widders are a very colourful bunch who get painted up with black faces and are covered in spiders.They later danced at the Dockyard & Southsea Castle.

    George Wilson started the free day off with a short set which included a couple of Richard Thompson numbers along side his usual acerbic wit & storytelling.I have known George since the early 80's and am always impressed with his commitment to his music & his bad jokes.

    Colvin Quarmby are one of my favourite bands on the folk/rock circuit.If you haven't seen them yet make a point of checking them out soon.Jerry Colvin is a superb lyricist & completely manic whilst onstage doing songs like "Bone in a dinosaur",The girl who liked penguins" and the hauntingly beautiful "Watching feathers fall".Wonderful,best band of the day aside from Otway.

    Murray Torkildsen played a slightly punky set which didn't sit right with me after CQ but many people seemed to enjoy.He also started off the evening concert followed by more from the brilliant Colvin Quarmby.

    Rory Ellis is loud,raucous,belligerent & therefore a joy to watch on stage.Combining stories in between songs he had most of the crowd cheering & laughing from the off.I saw this man perform with Atilla the Stockbroker in London 3 weeks previously and was blown away by them.

    Bex Marshall finished off the free session with some fine acoustic guitar driven songs before rushing off to play at the Borderline in London later that evening.Bex has a fine strong voice & is also an excellent guitarist.A good first free day.

  • Saturday evening;

    Following on from MT & CQ,John "2 hits" Otway hit the stage in every sense of the word. The clown prince of rock never fails to entertain,whether he's telling tales of lost love,ripping open his shirt or throwing himself across the stage or just performing his impressive catalogue of songs. Backed by his full band we were treated to BOTH hits & their b-sides along with "2 little boys", "Crazy Horses","Rumplestiltskin" and a fantastic version of "Headbutts" during which the poor microphone comes in for some serious abuse.One day this could result in serious brain damage, come to think of it.....

  • Sunday daytime(Free);

    George Wilson once again kicked off proceedings before introducing a group of youngsters by the name of Persistent Young Offenders managed by Rhona Lucas (wife of festival organiser John Roberts).A bit raw in places (I believe it was their 1st gig)they managed to blow a few of the previous night cobwebs away with a gutsy set which included an excellent version of a Guns n Roses number.

    Amalthea consists of Deborah Peake(ex Blue Horses)and Helen Andrews on fiddle/vocals and guitar/vocals respectively.Playing songs from their mini cd "Dancing a different dream" I particularly enjoyed the instrumental "Senoras" as well as "Lover of mine" & "Thursday Morning".

    Crane River Cajuns are an offshoot band of East of Ealing playing in a bluegrass/cajun style led by the flambuoyant Stephanie Graffitti.By the fourth number steward Pete Dreads was dancing like a loon along with half the audience.

    Deb Sandland & her brother Ralph performed a wonderful set of folk songs as you would expect from one of the featured vocalists in the Phil Beer band.Songs like the wonderful "Semer Water" "Get thee to the drowning"& a superb version of "Still crazy after all these years" had the large audience spellbound & for the first time near enough silent.You could have heard a pin drop.

    Festival favourite Mickey Kemp rounded off the free session with a fine set of country-rock tunes including Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" which had most of the crowd bawling out the lyrics with a gusto only an afternoon of beer & good music could have achieved.Mickey as usual got the crowd involved by walking among them with a microphone & urging them to sing with him.

    Another fine session which also featured John Roberts on spoons & Lord Gnome doing a jews harp solo,not something you see every day.

  • Sunday evening;

    Dave Newey & Lucy Rutherford of Arlen played a mixture of traditional English folk songs about murder & dressing up as soldiers(aren't they nearly all) interspersed with some of their own material. Lucy possesses a unique voice which perfectly suits Dave's fine acoustic guitarwork,proving that they were worthy entrants in Radio 2s young folk musicians of the year awards.

    After supporting the inferior Ezio the previous year Amy Wadge, the pint-sized Welsh poppet came back as headliner to much acclaim.She writes ridiculously catchy songs that you feel you know even when you haven't heard them before.Songs like "Valley boy", "Breathe" & "Open" wash over you like old friends.Little wonder that she has toured recently with the likes of Eric Bibb & the awesome Jeff Beck.

  • Monday daytime(Free):

    Unfortunately due to other commitments I missed most of opener Perry Foster's set along with parts of the Jelly Rollers.However I still managed to get photos of Lord Gnome again.The Jelly Rollers play a kind of 30s swing blues which went down well with the audience. (webmaster note: You can tell he missed it, as Perry Foster didn't in fact play the festival and the opening set was performed by Andy Broad :-))

    I loved Ruckus Blues but can't for the life of me remember any of the titles they did.In my defence again this was a first for me,but I will put this right first chance I get.

    Robin Bibi wears a hat,played some excellent guitar & finished with Fleetwood Mac's "Oh well".

    White Knuckles played a high energy set similar to the one I saw at Blues at the Fort,no messin in yer face blues that had everybody jumping around by the end.A great way to finish off the free Blues session.

  • Monday evening;

    The Hamsters have built up an enormous following over the past 20 or so years & this was evident in the turnout for the last night of the festival.The pier was rammed although matters weren't helped by certain people moving the seats to suit themselves then complaining when they couldn't get out to get a drink because they were blocked in by the stage.Also it was so hot all the doors were left open in a vain attempt at getting some air into the venue.None of this seemed to phase the rockin' rodents who pulled out all the stops with some stunning rock-blues which included tracks from their Hendrix/ZZ Top sets.To their credit with only a short break in the middle for much needed liquid refreshment they were still going strong 2 1/2 hours later,urged on by the capacity crowd.

And that was it,all over til next year,hope to see you in 2006

A now for J.R.'s

2005 Festival Review

As usual, the Festival kicked off with the Bullfrog Blues Club presenting a top night of blues - and what a night it was! Andy Broad fronted Burnt Ice in a very tasty set (as ever) before Lightnin' Willie & The Poorboys hit the stage. A showman in every sense of the word from the top of his ten gallon hat to the silver tips of his cowboy boots, Willie just kept the pressure on all night, and with numbers like the catchy 'Eyes In The Back Of My Head' the crowd lapped it up. No 'cut your wrists' stuff here, just pure classy rockin' blues. Hell, this man IS the blues!

It was all change on Friday night when we welcomed Julie Felix back. A folk icon incarnate, with her powerful and evocative voice and effective guitar playing it was hard to believe that this spell binding performer is in her fifth decade of performing! Highlights included fine versions of some of Bob Dylan's great songs, including a slightly rewritten and up to date 'Blowin' In The Wind” to encompass her thoughts on George Bush's dubious dealings in world affairs. Right on, sister! Julie was ably supported by local singer songwriter Josie Watts, who performed an excellent set - as proved by the number of CD's she sold to new fans.

Saturday morning on the promenade outside the Pier, as they used to say in Monty Python's Flying Circus - and now for something completely different.. And how! Well, we've had Morris sides before, but I can honestly say we've never had anything quite like The Widders, a biker Morris side from Chepstow, who dance in a loose approximation of the Border Morris style. At 11.30 in the morning, they were there in blackface wearing top hats, tatters and carry clutching cans of Strongbow, the official Festival drink. After striking fear and sensory overload into both God fearing people of Southsea and confused holiday makers, they left for Portsmouth Dockyard, to dance again and advertise the Festival at the same time. Three of them piled onto Festival organiser J.R’S. famous chopper trike, 'Flogging Molly', blasting off down the seafront like extras from Mad Max.

The first of the free afternoon sessions was compered by the phatt b'stard himself, Mr George Wilson, who introduced Deb Sandland , of the Phil Beer Band, now an established figure in her own right. Deb performed some great songs from her recent album 'Semer Water' as well as some older material.. The imposing figure of Aussie singer/songwriter Rory Ellis as came on like a one man Crash Test Dummies, performing some very strong original songs in his wonderful deep voice - an antipodean John Martyn/Tom Waits if ever there was one. Murray Torkildsen and Colvin Quarmby performed both the afternoon and evening gigs. In the evening Murray was part of the John Otway Big Band, and his solo set saw some well crafted songs from this immensely likeable performer.

None of Saturday evening'artistes were strangers to the Pier, or indeed the Festival. Colvin Quarmby performed a brilliant energetic set to complement yet another brilliant energetic set played in the afternoon session! I'm convinced that one day Gerry Colvin will explode on stage, there's so much energy coming out of the man! The energy levels kept going when The John Otway Band hit the stage. And hit the stage is exactly what Otway does. Forward rolls, jumping off stepladders, head butting microphones. Is this any way for a man well into his fifties to carry on? A resounding 'Yes!' in Otway's case! The band were excellent, Murray Torkildsen, Adam Battersbee and of course the long suffering guitar hero Richard Holgarth all performed wonderfully. Indeed, Murray even performed a short set prior to Colvin Quarmby's set, thus becoming the hands down winner of the 'Hardest Working Artiste At The Festival' award for 2005.

Halfway through the day the Pier ran out of the Official Festival Drink, but quick thinking Pier staff made a successful sortie to a friendly off licence and replenished supplies of Strongbow. (I blame The Widders, who has appeared back at the Pier to see Otway, after causing a near riot at Portsmouth Dockyard with their infamous and un-choreographed Chepstow Cider Dance)

Amazingly, The Widders were able to perform again on Sunday morning outside the Pier, but were too tired and emotional to get as far as Portsmouth Dockyard that day. The first act during thr afternoon session introduced by George Wilson couldn't be described as folk roots by any stretch of the imagination. Here Comes Everything were a group of young people from Portsmouth's Preventing Youth Offending Team. who had only been playing their instruments a few months. Coached by youth workers Dave Green and Rick Anderton , two fine local musicians themselves, the band turned out a short but assured set of songs including 'Eye Of The Tiger' and Guns & Roses' 'Sweet Child Of Mine'. O.K, so it ain’t folk roots, but what the hell, this is a community festival after all. Bex Marshall always gives value for money - and this was a free concert! This young women numbers amongst her fans Roger Daltrey from The Who, and her acoustic version of their 'Pinball Wizard' was yet another highlight of the festival. Ex-Blue Horses fiddle player Debs Peake and vocalist/guitarist Helen Andrews are known collectively as Amalthea, and their well crafted set made it easy to see why none other than Irish superstar Frances Black rates them so highly. The Crane River Cajuns do just what is says on the box- they' re a cajun band! But any cajun band that features Stephanie Graffitti from East Of Ealing on fiddle has to be a be a little bit special - and they were, getting the audience on their feet - which is where they stayed when The Micky Kemp Band finished the daytime proceedings. Micky has recently been touring as part of the Springsteen tribute band Glory Days, with Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen's Bill Kirchen and also Bap Kennedy, so his credentials speak for themselves. Micky's songwriting skills are excellent, as could be witnessed by the beautiful 'Who Will Sing The Blues For Peter Green'.

Sunday evening brought us the wonderful Amy Wadge and her band supported the duo Arlen Acoustic - Dave Newey and Lucy Rutherford just get better and better, and are evolving into a superb unit independent of the full band. Headliner Amy Wadge's vocals are astounding, and her guitar and keyboard techniques are excellent too! Last time Amy was at the Festival it was as support for Ezio, and she richly deserved her headline status this year. I can't imagine Amy ever being a support act here again.

The Widders appeared to have succeeded in drowning themselves internally, so Monday's entertainment started at 12 30 pm. with the start of our well established full day of the blues. Portsmouth's own "King of The Blues" Andy Broad opened proceedings with his usual panache, with a powerful and well constructed set. Mo Thomas was next up, showing just why he’s one of the most respected bluesmen in the Southampton area, bringing many fans he’d made from his appearance at “Blues At The Abbey”. Good time blues was now on the agenda from The Jellyrollers, formerly Apicella. A guest spot from indefatigable elder statesman Lenny Betts was great entertainment. This man is either an national institution or has escaped from one. As ever, the audience loved him. Harmonica player extraordinaire Dave Raphael fronted Ruckus Blues who turned out a great set, with plenty of energy. Robin Bibi doesn't often perform solo, but when he does - whew! What a performer! The day was brought to a close by one of Portsmouth’s best loved blues bands, White Knuckle Blues Band, with Steve Roux and the guys making it look oh so easy.

In the evening The Hamsters headlined, with a great opening set from Jon Amor. Now a solo act, after the demise of his band Amor, and of course his time in The Hoax, Jon can still rock your socks off, and his new self penned material is as strong as it ever was. The Hamsters must be one of the hardest working bands on the circuit, and performed a brilliant but short set. The truncated set length was through no fault of their own - a member of the Pier’s staff gave out erroneous information a few minutes into the Hamsters second set that there was a curfew as it was a bank holiday. A note breaking the news was passed to an incredulous Slim, who had to pretty much revamp the second set on the spot by cutting a great deal of it out. (I’m glad to report that the member of staff has now left…).

Despite, the disappointment of a shorter than usual set to close the festival as a whole the festival was another great success- as was witnessed by a lot of happy festival goers saying “See you next year!” as they left. And yes, they will!


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