The Seventh Southsea Folk And Roots Festival
South Parade Pier
August 24 - August 27 2007
2007 Festival Review
by John Roberts (the barking spider)
August Bank Holiday weekend 2007 saw The Southsea Folk & Roots Festival back for the seventh year, with, as usual, gigs from top artistes from the world of folk, blues and roots music,anmd the very best of our local acts.
The opening concert at the Festival was on Friday evening at South Parade Pier and featured the brilliant singer/songwriter Jackie Leven, who performed a devastating set -with, as usual, no encores. But what a set! Dan Ogus had the unenviable task of opening for Jackie, a daunting task, but his quirky delivery of songs and a fine guitar style set the evening of on a fine footing. A great start to the Festival.
Saturday afternoon saw the first of the free afternoon concerts at the Pier. Great acts, and all for free! Highlights included a great set from Jinder, recently signed by Sony (Bob Dylan?s label no less!) and a real coup, the fast rising Americana star Devon Sproule, a wonderful singer from the U.S.A. Watch this girl, she?s going to be a huge star one day - soon!
The ever popular folk rockers Colvin Quarmby headlined Saturday night, with singer Gerry Colvin soon having the audience eating out of the palm of his hand with his manic sense of humour and quirky lyrics, mixed with tunes with a hook to die for.
On Sunday afternoon we were treated to another fine afternoon of great performers, including top singer songwriter Michael Weston King and Pompey superstar Shep Woolley, which paved the way for the evening concert, when rock legend Steve Gibbons appeared with two other core members of The Dylan Project, multi instrumentalists P.J. Wright and Phil Bond. An excellent set, drawing from every one in the band?s the years of experience. The highlight for me was the superb rendition of Bob Dylan?s secret masterpiece, ?Dark Eyes?, with a vocal duet from Steve & P.J that had brought tears to my eyes with its pure beauty.
Bank Holiday Monday was, as usual, blues day, and during the day the dafternoon acts were keeping up the very high standard. Special mention must go to the top class singer/guitarist Jon Amor, and a rare reunion of three members of Portsmouth?s best loved blues band, Reet Petite and Gone. Only Stewart Carr was missing, but Nick Evans, Dennis Reeve-Baker and ?Dr Dave? Allen were in great form. I was pleased to be called up to play spoons on a couple of songs, the first time I?d played with Dave since we accompanied Country Joe McDonald at The Isle Of Wight Festival in June, supporting The Rolling Stones (sorry, but I had to mention it!!!)
On Monday night larger than life Memo Gonzales from Texas appeared with his Bluescasters to close the Festival, delivering some superb good rockin? blues. This colossus of a man has one of the most energetic bands in the business, and Kai Strauss is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen.
There were fringe gigs at the official Festival pub, The Florence Arms, and afternoon and evening events at the participating music pubs in Eastney, The Cellars, The R.M.A. Tavern and The Alma Arms. The secret of successful fringe gigs is to vary the genres - for instance, on Friday night blues fans had a chance to attend or join in at a jam sesion with Portsmouths?s king of the blues Andy Broad at The Florence Arms whilst Jackie Leven performed at The Pier.
Jackie Leven ran a song writing workshop on Saturday afternoon, Mal Simms of Legacy hosted a bodhran workshops on Sunday, and Nick Evans, of Reet Petite and Gone hosted a guitar skills workshop on Monday. I was surprised to find that these workshops weren?t as well attended as I had hoped, but it became evident when chatting to the audience that the calibre of the artistes on the free afternoons had kept them at the gig rather than at the workshops!
There was so much else happening at the Seventh Southsea Folk & Roots Festival, but space prevents me from mentioning everyone, although everyone - artistes and Festival staff and Spidercrew - deserves a mention and heartfelt thanks for a job well done .
Maybe the last words should go to some of the audience and in one case a performer - this is a selection of e -mails I received after the Festival?.
Thank you so much for lifting my spirit today, for I played on Sunday and my dreams came true. I live a relatively mundane life, like probably most of us. What you, and your crew have done, once a year, is good for that bloody old soul of ours. I know I am an 'artist' and probably up my own a*rs* dabbling in a world that I am not so sure , but what I see at your festivals is true, passionate musicians, in control. Once a year I come alive, and if ever you think of giving it all up please think of all those whose spirit, in whatever way, you have touched by the Southsea Folk and Blues Festival and every other venture you are involved.
Thanks for another great Southsea Folk and Roots Festival. Looking forward to next year.
On Friday evening Jockstock went to the seaside to visit the 'Da Barking
Spider' in his parlour as he'd invited that nice Jackie Leven, from just up
the road in Botley to come down have a snifter and sing a few songs.
Da Barking Spider does a grand job, shame that more folks don't leave their
T.V.'s and come out to support the live music, but hey, it's the same the
country over and we won't miss it until it's gone. Interesting that the Spider staff recruiting system seem to involve being a double' of a old rock star, an Alice Cooper clone was taking the tickets, a Roy Wood lookalike was doing the sound, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull was doing the barking/M.C.ing .
Thanks for a great weekend! Keep on keepin? on!
Chris Copeland (Boogaloo)