February Folk Day
Saturday 28th February 2009

Review by Didge Lewis and Pictures by Liz Thompson Photography
(check her website for more pictures and how to buy copies)

It's been a harder winter than we've been used to for a few years but spring is coming. I know this is true as there are green shoots in our garden and the 2009 February Folk Day has been gone and again I survived it.

The day has more or less three distinct parts - an afternoon concert, an evening Ceilidh and a non-stop session.

John Finnan

Actually, there's a lot more than this - folk clubs, singarounds, a crèche and a bar for instance. In the bar you could find the stall of Steve and Sandra Green with all those guitar bits and bobs you can never find when you need to buy them.

John Finnan ably compered the afternoon concert which was opened by Mal Waite who performed so well, a great mix of traditional and contemporary songs.

Mal Waite


She was followed by Deportees (less one member) who changed the mood with their unique Americana mix, encoring with a song that struck a chord (ouch!) with those guitar aficionados who know their Gibson SJ200 from other lesser guitars. Sadly I have to admit that I do.
They were followed by Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham who had the audience spell bound with their collection of traditional music, stories and humour.

Keith & Sylvia

Robin Laing

In the run up to Folk Day the act that most people seemed to be looking forward to was Robin Lang. His performance of Scottish songs both modern and old really delighted the audience.

Later in the day, Robin's journey through the world of Scotch whisky "The Angels' Share" went down even better than the concert if that is possible. I'm sure it was nothing to do the tasting samples of the precious stuff he passed around.

Back to the concert - topping the bill were 422. Since winning the BBC Young Folk Award in 1999 they've become a band to be reckoned with. They provided a energetic driving performance of traditional tunes from many parts of the world.

As if to prove that there is no limit to their talents, they were also the band for the evening Ceilidh, providing their own caller - Joey Oliver.


Joey put aside his whistles to direct a crowded and always lively dance floor. It could tire you out just watching them. My job in the evening was to man the door for the Ceilidh. I can confirm that it really was a Full House with absolutely every ticket sold and those who arrived too late begging to be let in.
During the day, each time I looked in the session room, it was full with not an empty seat in sight. I feel some sort of record must have been set, as it must have gone on for at least twelve-hours. Unfortunately I suffer from an inability to be in two places at once but the sounds coming from the singarounds, and the evening Folk Club, made me think I missed a lot.
Finally, before I wind up I should mention Wendy and Sarah who organised the crèche, possessing a set of skills I can never aspire to, as well as the sterling work of the volunteers who ran the kitchen providing good food cheaply, and then we must not forget those who cheerfully served behind the bar.
I look forward to next year but that's a long way off, and first there is the Chester Folk Festival over the late Spring Bank Holiday weekend, which promises even more fun lasting for days.