The British do spend a lot of time talking about the weather, so it will come as no surprise that folk festival-goers are as likely to speak of the mud, rain and those dreaded portaloos as they are about the bands they saw.
There is one festival that has managed to overcome the limitations of the British weather by taking an English Folk Festival to sunnier climes. This was how Costa Del Folk was born back in 2014 when they ran their very first festival in southern Spain. It was something of an unknown as no one else had done it before. As principal compere, Mike Harding, explains: “none of us had a clue whether running an English Folk Festival in southern Spain would work.”
It did work. Very well indeed. Veteran folk stalwart, Harding – host of BBC Folk for close to 20 years – is still Costa del Folk’s compere. The event continues to go from strength to strength.
Festival fever is thriving in the UK. There’s no doubting the UK festival-goers’ appetite for festivals. But are festivals becoming two a penny? Doing something a little bit different and standing out from the crowd is certainly hard to do.
This is where Costa del Folk comes into its own. Enjoy Travel’s Angela Schofield describes it as a “unique blend of festival and holiday atmosphere all rolled into one.”
With Costa del Folk you can give your experience of festivals a reboot. Hurl those Hunter wellies into the fire, banish the brolly and erase those painful Portaloo memories forever.
This year’s Costa Del Folk takes place in Portugal from 9-15 October and the line-up is looking great. Below, are a few of the artists we’ve featured in the past that are sure to put a tick in the box for reasons to head abroad for your folk festival this year.
Costa Del Folk Portugal 2017 Line-up
SHOW OF HANDS WITH MIRANDA SYKES
Earlier this year Show of Hands, joined by special guests, celebrated their 25th Anniversary in front of a 5000-strong audience at the Royal Albert Hall. Peter Shaw, one of the FRUK review team, was there. His words “But despite the talented ensemble they had assembled for their big night out, many of the most heart-stopping moments came from the core trio: Steve’s touching performance of The Dive, and Phil singing another Knightly original, Exile (the song Beer says convinced him to pair up and form Show of Hands in the first place), and Miranda’s vocals on the traditional Blue Cockade” (Read the full review here). You just know they won’t disappoint, and what better way to enjoy them than in Portugal on holiday!
The fact that Seth Lakeman is to tour as special guest of Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters in November is surely a sign of the upward trajectory he’s currently on. He is also to re-release his Top 20 album ‘Ballads of the Broken Few’, with five bonus tracks on September 15 via Cooking Vinyl.
Edward II are your ideal festival band and what an ideal setting to see them. Last year they released Manchester’s Improving Daily – an ambitious project which presents new settings for a series of tunes written in the northern city during the Industrial Revolution. Get your dancing shoes on.
SAM KELLY AND THE LOST BOYS
Forget the ‘difficult second album’, Sam Kelly and his band’s new album Pretty Peggy (out on October 6th) looks set to be their best yet. He is joined in the seven-strong line-up by his regular touring and festival band – banjo genius Jamie Francis, Ciaran Algar on fiddle/tenor guitar, Evan Carson on percussion, Graham Coe (cello), Toby Shaer (woodwind) and Archie Churchill-Moss on melodeon.
In his review of his latest album ‘How Do You Know?‘, Johnny reflected on Tim’s phenomenal success over the last few years, becoming a sought-after guest on worldwide tours with artists of the stature of The Chieftains and Natalie McMaster, interspersed with solo tours and numerous festival appearances. His humour and energy never fail.
Brendan is well known for his partnership with Tim Edey, so I’d expect them to be joining forces at some point during this festival (as I’m sure will some others). A New Zealander who has been heavily influenced by Irish music, Brendan met Tim while in their teens but have forged a strong partnership since their first album released in 2002.
Wizz Jones was a key mover of the 50’s Folk Scene and hasn’t lost his magic after all these years, he is also one for great banter and has plenty of tales to share. It will be magic.
Catapulted onto the frontline of the folk genre in April 2017 when he won a remarkable two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at a televised ceremony at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Dublin’s Daoiri (pronounced ‘Derry’) Farrell first attracted media attention outside of Ireland in early 2016, with a strong endorsement from Ireland’s folk music titan Donal Lunny (Planxty, Usher’s Ireland, Bothy Band) who described Daoiri as one of the most important Irish folk singers to emerge in the last decade.
Steve Tilston is regarded by many as one of the English folk scene’s best songwriters, as well as a seriously talented guitarist. In our review of his 2015 solo album Happenstance, Simon concluded “He lands his blows, however, with the gifts of glorious melody and a prodigious guitar technique that is easily the equal of anyone playing today, not to mention the illustrious peers who he followed into the Soho all-nighters some 45 years or so ago. He may once have played for pennies, but he’s also certainly paid his dues, and no one can now deny Steve Tilston the right to dine at English folk music’s top table.”
KATHRYN ROBERTS AND SEAN LAKEMAN
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman are of the best-known duos on the English folk scene. They have an established musical history and were both of that famous English folk supergroup Equation way back in 1994 which brought them together with the other Lakeman brothers, Sam and Seth and also Kate Rusby. Their last album, Tomorrow will Follow Today showcased their strength as a duo with Folk Radio UK declaring it their best yet – “Everything about the album oozes quality and Kathryn’s voice, although perhaps over the years more rarely heard than her Equation contemporaries, is every bit their equal. She is one of the best singers around, period. Her piano and flute play their part as instrumentation is also superb, with Sean’s guitar, sounding so economical and effortless as it weaves it’s ever more complex rhythmic and melodic course through a great set of songs, filled with vim, vigour, wit and wisdom, with a soupçon of such sweet sorrow, but above all love.”
We’ve just reviewed Reg’s latest album Faraway People, an album that confronts the darkness and looks to shine a light. Yes, there’s anger and indignation, but, all too rare in a protest album, there’s also a deep well of compassion and insight into the human heart and spirit.
This year saw the release of Solomon, the fifth album from Welsh group Calan. In his review of the album, Neil declared it as a wonderful, fresh and exciting sound, from the very first listen and continues to enthral on every subsequent visit.
In his review of The Jaywalkers 2015 album Weave, a Folk Radio UK Featured Album of the Month, Simon spoke highly of their blend of astonishing instrumental skills, three-part harmony and an impressive slap bass giving a strong rhythmic pulse – a winning combination, setting the live circuit ablaze. Their unique sound, based on collective and individual musical backgrounds, mixes their love for progressive American bluegrass forms with a Lancashire hotpot of working life and social injustice putting them in a field of their own.
FLATS & SHARPS
Their 2016 debut album, King of Mind, was another Folk Radio UK Featured Album of the Month on which the Cornish band married several roots genres – a Saturday night record, a going out, indulgent, an unrestrained binge of an album that frequently delights.
This year saw the release of Geoff’s After All These Years – it was the 69-year-old’s first solo album, well… ever. A glorious listen!
Also performing at Costa Del Folk are (click on those linked for featured articles on Folk Radio UK)
Below is a video filmed at Costa Del Folk in Ibiza earlier this year.
Live Music, Folk Club, Sessions and More
This year’s Costa Del Folk takes place in Portugal at the stunning Hotel Grande Real Santa Eulalia 5* Resort And Spa in Albufeira.
There will be music, singing, dancing and laughter aplenty from morning until the wee small hours at venues situated throughout the complex. What makes this the ultimate feel-good festival is that it literally has everything you’d want from a traditional folk festival but without any of the drawbacks!
There’s an outdoor stage for afternoon concerts AND an indoor venue for evening concerts, a comfortable Hotel bar and breakout rooms for tutorials/sing-arounds, late night folk club, plenty space for impromptu sessions as well as ceilidhs every day you really don’t want to miss out on Costa del Folk PORTUGAL!!
Find out more here: http://www.costadelfolk.co.uk