FolkWorld Live Review 8/2004 by Walkin' T:-)M:
They call the people of Eindhoven De Pinnemakers, the bolt makers. The story goes that once upon a time the enemy stood in front of the town walls and the inhabitants barred the gates with a turnip. However, the voracious geese came and ate it up and the enemy eventually moved into Eindhoven. - What does that mean? No idea, but too great a story to leave it out. - Out in the woods just beyond the walls and gates of Eindhoven there is the Folkwoods festival to find. Last year it was a dust-bowl; this time the area turned into a swamp (quite fittingly for the cajun band on Sunday, I only missed the alligators). The torrents on Friday night easily led into fun activities such as traditional Dutch mud-sliding. Wellingtons recommended.
Admission prices have nearly doubled since last year's Folkwoods festival, but plenty of folkies showed up, primarily from the Netherlands and Belgium and a few Germans here and there. Though it led to some discussion and even one spontaneous retreat from the gate.
The beginning is rather quiet. Kelpie (-> FW#24) is the great crossover from traditional Scandinavian to Celtic music by German Kerstin Blodig (guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán -> FW#21) and Scotsman Ian Melrose (guitar, low whistle -> FW#5, FW#22). The mythological creature that bears the band's name is listening all the while from the giant puddle outside. Of course, they play Ian Anderson's "Kelpie", and this is more folksy than Moya Brennan (-> FW#20, FW#27) and her backing band, part of Galldubh (-> FW#27). Though the former singer and harpist of the legendary Clannad (-> FW#6) is highlighting the Celtic harp, the ethereal sounds and the touch of mist and mystery prevail. As an alternative there's Mike West (5-string-banjo, guitar) and his partner (bucket bass) from New Orleans who play American anarchist bluegrass. Soon after the electric current fails. However, acoustic musicians cannot be stopped by such means.
In the morning somebody pulled a key right across our car scratching the paint and thus spoiled the altogether friendly atmosphere of the Folkwoods festival. The good thing is it's sunny from now on. Embrun is the first treat on Saturday afternoon. The five Belgians with mediterranean temper are one of the most promising young Flemish dance bands. The bal groups are the stars of the festival, though don't expect it being too traditional. Fellow Belgians Follia! are adding electric guitars and all; a band which unites a bunch of folk and jazz musicians. However, the spice is clearly rock music rather than jazz.
Back to the roots. Eoin Duignan (-> FW#12) from the Dingle Peninsula in western Ireland presents a lively set on low whistle and uilleann pipes, leaving us in wonder why he's not better known yet. Tony Byrne proves to be a smart accompanist (-> FW#24) and he has developed a quite unique guitar style of his own. Then there's the folk concert par excellence: Eliza Carthy (-> FW#1, FW#4, FW#26). The daughter of Martin Carthy (-> FW#18) and Norma Waterson (-> FW#10, FW#17) has already been hailed as the empress of English traditional music. Eliza starts a-cappella and then launches into a mixed bag of songs and tunes from traditional roots and her own making, playing both fiddle and her pocket-sized guitar. Her partners-in-crime are John Spiers (accordion -> FW#21), Ben Ivitsky (fiddle, guitar) and Heather MacLeod (additional vocals and tie washboard).
Sunday kicks off with a bal folk, strangely enough in the dining tent. Today the dancing is more in an acoustic setting. The up-and-coming Dutch folkband We-nun Henk (-> FW#25) plays music from the borders of Flanders (Belgium) and Brabant (Netherlands) to reunite musically what had been politically divided. The German An Erminig (-> FW#18) continue with their Breton line and round dances afterwards.
There has to be some low, sure, though not necessarily that dreadful: The "Band without Banana" is real shite, seemingly the boys jumped on stage after one hour music lesson, and unfortunatly there is almost no refuge to find in the entire area. I recall the announcement, while other folk festivals tend to dilute, by presenting a wider program with a lot of pop acts and world music, Folkwoods mostly aims at European traditional music. Mostly. It's fine anyway for you can have a break and watch real traditional musicians gearing up. In this case the trio formed by Gerry Murray (accordeon player of Shantalla -> FW#8, FW#10, FW#21), Gilles Rullmann (fiddle) and Philip Masure (guitar -> FW#15) (insted of the announced Tim Edey).
Better forget anything you've heard about Ambrozijn before (-> FW#7, FW#8, FW#15, FW#26). Since the departure of singer Ludo van Deau the remaining three traded their Flemish repertoire for singing in English (and occasionally French). It isn't that bad, though it comes as a shock for some people, but it's different and you have to get used to it. While being probably no step forward, here's three exceptional musicians anyway and the set is more lively than ever. I only can't get used to the odd drum machine.
At last it starts raining again. But the Warsaw Village Band (-> FW#15, FW#17, FW#21, FW#26) blows everything away with its hardcore folk. Three young ladies playing fiddle, cello and hammered dulcimer, and hollering like Polish shepherds once used to do; at the back the male section which is two percussionists and another fiddler. The rhythms are traditional Polish, so are the employed playing techniques. But the six-pack from Warsaw is not shy to flirt with contemporary elements that create a musical tapestry never heard from any Polish band before.
And that is what Folkwoods is all about.
Folkwoods Homepage: www.folkwoods.nl
Folkwoods 2003, 2002,
Photo Credit: Photos of Folkwoods 2004 by Walkin' T:-)m and The Mollis.
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