Bev­er­ley Folk Fes­ti­val

As the Bev­er­ley Folk Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates its 30th an­niver­sary this week­end, Chris Bond speaks to its artis­tic di­rec­tor Chris Wade. FOLK FES­TI­VAL HIGH­LIGHTS

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MU -

WHEN Chris Wade and a group of friends at the White Horse Folk Club set up the orig­i­nal Bev­er­ley Folk Fes­ti­val back in 1983, they thought it would prob­a­bly just be a one-off.

Many a mu­sic fes­ti­val has come and gone in the in­ter­ven­ing years but Bev­er­ley’s three-day cel­e­bra­tion of mu­sic, com­edy, po­etry and story-telling has not only sur­vived but flour­ished, es­tab­lish­ing it­self as one of the most pop­u­lar dates on the Bri­tish folk cal­en­dar.

The an­nual event, which gets un­der­way to­day, is cel­e­brat­ing its 30th an­niver­sary and this year prom­ises to be the big­gest yet with up to 6,000 peo­ple ex­pected to at­tend more than 90 gigs and events over the week­end.

In pre­vi­ous years the town’s leisure cen­tre has been the fes­ti­val’s heart but this time they’ve moved to Bev­er­ley Race­course. “It’s grown steadily over the years,” says Wade, the fes­ti­val’s artis­tic di­rec­tor, “but al­though we’ve moved to the race­course we still have some of the smaller venues be­cause we want to re­tain the in­ti­mate at­mos­phere that makes the fes­ti­val so spe­cial.”

Wade says the fes­ti­val started out with a hand­ful of events in lo­cal pubs. “We wanted to try and bring some big­ger names artists to Bev­er­ley, but we had no idea it would carry on for as long as it has, we thought it would just be a one off.”

Since then the likes of Billy Bragg, Clare Teal, Paul

The Pro­claimers – Broth­ers Char­lie and Craig Reid are masters of the rous­ing pop an­them whose songs have been belted out on disco dance­floors for the past 25 years.

Gretchen Peters – folk and coun­try singer-song­writer from Nashville who has writ­ten hits for the likes of Etta James, Patty Love­less and Neil Di­a­mond.

Henry Pri­est­man – York­shire-born song­writer and mu­si­cian who made his name with The Chris­tians dur­ing the 1980s and 90s.

Pa­trick Mon­a­han – The Mid­dles­brough stand-up of Ira­nian and Ir­ish de­scent widely tipped as a com­edy star in the mak­ing. Car­rack and Steel­eye Span have per­formed at the fes­ti­val, and this year’s line-up is no less im­pres­sive, with The Pro­claimers, Oys­ter­band and ac­claimed crime fic­tion writer Ian Rankin among the big names tak­ing part.

In its early days the fo­cus was very much on folk mu­sic, but the fes­ti­val – which boasts Mike Hard­ing and John God­ber as pa­trons – has since evolved to at­tract a broader au­di­ence. “Each year we like to have at least one big head­line act who ap­peals to both a folk and a non-folk au­di­ence and this year we’ve got The Pro­claimers.

“But we’ve also got com­edy with John Shut­tle­worth and Pa­trick Mon­a­han, we’ve got the crime fic­tion writer Ian Rankin and we’ve got po­etry and sto­ry­telling and the fes­ti­val film club.”

They’re also stag­ing John God­ber’s play, Bounc­ers. “It’s the first time we’ve done theatre and as John is one of our pa­trons we thought it was fit­ting to do one of his plays.”

Com­edy has be­come an in­te­gral part of the fes­ti­val over the years and Teesider Pa­trick Mon­a­han, win­ner of the ITV 1 se­ries Show Me the Funny, will kick off pro­ceed­ings tonight, be­fore John Shut­tle­worth brings his won­der­fully wacky style of com­edy to the stage to­mor­row night.

On Sun­day, Ian Rankin, in­ter­na­tional best sell­ing author of the John Re­bus nov­els, makes a wel­come re­turn to the fes­ti­val when he will be talk­ing about his lat­est

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