Reviews & Photographs


From 'Folk Orbit' - a monthly newsletter produced and distributed in the Chester area

It never ceases to amaze me how warm and friendly the Chester Folk Festival is, it's like coming home! The sun was the spotlight for the Spring Bank Holiday weekend festival, held in the picturesque village of Kelsall. Wherever I went there was music inside and outside the pubs, Camping sites, Social Club, Community Hall, Marquee and village church.

What an excellent line up! The Doonan Family Band, Tanglefoot (Canada), Strawhead, Cock & Bull Band, Sid Kipper, Pete Coe, Cyril Tawney, The Rocky Mountain Ploughboys, Napper, Le Faux & Boyle, Bill Caddick, Marie Little, Mundy-Turner, Solan, Quartz, Jake Walton & Billy Surgeoner, Jon Brindley. Plus our own local folk champions, Full House, The Waite Collective, Roy Clinging, The Prospect, Graham Bellinger & Steve Goodchild, Trefor & Vicki Williams, Taggart & Wright and of course the Chester City Morris Men.

The festival was without question a large helping of qualitative and quantitative performance. The Doonan Family Band charmed their audience with their Irish music and dancing performed by three generations of the family. Tanglefoot stormed the marquee with their Canadian sense of humour and artistry. Sid Kipper kept a smile on everybody's face. The ever popular Marie Little has lost none of her sparkle and never fails to bring a smile or a tear to the eyes. The inspirational Pete Coe multi instrumentalist and singer yet again pulled in the crowds to wonder at his mastery of performance.

Although a newcomer to the festival, Jon Brindley was the name on everyone's lips, his sheer stage presence and dynamism held audiences spellbound, his name is sure to spread rapidly across the folk world.

Taggart and Wright also made their debut at the Chester Festival to delight the audience with their harmonies. They met for the first time, a couple of years ago, at the Tuesday's Ship Victory Jam nights in Chester and immediately struck up a partnership. I still think they ought to be called 'Ann 'n' Angie'. Thanks, you two, I really enjoyed your set.

Two more good friends of mine whom I could not leave out are, Trefor and Vicki Williams, from North Wales, who are even now as I write, preparing the Rhuddlan Folk Day on Saturday, 4th August. It was also their first time to grace the entertainment list for the Chester Folk Festival. As you might guess they didn't let the Welsh side down. They both have fine voices and are accomplished musicians. The audience warmed to their soft singing harmonies with guitars and fiddle accompaniment.

As always, the children were well catered for with various circus workshops, family ceilidhs, Punch and Judy, making things for the children's folk procession, tall tales, how to make a flute and music workshops for beginners. It was an excellent weekend occasion for families and individuals alike.

Of course the fact that camping is all included in the weekend ticket made a great difference to me. It meant that I could forget about the car or getting home and just relax with a drink and enjoy. I can't wait until the next Chester Folk Festival but I suppose I'm going to have to. On behalf of all the festival goers I would like to say a great big thank you to the organisers for yet another wonderful festival.

By Colin Matthews

Some comments from our Feedback Forms:

" Had a great time - very friendly festival. Hope we make it again"

"1st folk festival I've been to. Very well organised"

"This is our 5th year of coming here & it's still great fun. Thank you"

"Ist visit - thoroughly enjoyed festival. Many thanks to all those who were good enough to put in such effort to make it a success. Hope to be back next year."

"Great festival. Well done!"