The ethos of The Spirit of Folk festival which took place last weekend on the grounds of Dunderry Park near Navan was about Folk in all it's spiritual formats. It was billed as a festival which would bring together folk music with folklore, storytelling with archaeology and arts with spirituality. The Spirit of Folk festival brought all these aspects of Folk to life and enabled the igniting of a wonderful rustic community not normally found at festivals.
For this review I can only write about the bands I seen. I wasn't able to attend on the Friday and missed many of the headliners on Saturday. However most of this review is about more than the music!
When the young folk band Traz kicked off proceedings on the Saturday afternoon the Sun was alive and the band provided a nice soundtrack while leisurely relaxing on the main field. Their original songs were very pleasant and they made the cover tracks including Villagers 'Meaning of the Ritual' their own!
Weather Change by TrazMusic
Traz were followed by the winner of the 'What The Folk' band competition 'David Hope'. While his music is always entertaining the between song banter was met with approval and laughter from the sizable crowd sunning themselves on the field outside the music tent. I was delighted he played 'Daybreak Somewhere' as it's one of the best Irish songs ever written!
Daybreak Someplace by David Hope
Peter Delaney followed David Hope with his Ukulele in hand! While I still find the Ukulele a limited pleasure; Peter's fine lyrics and vocals held my attention throughout his set.
O, Great Father Ocean by Peter Delaney
Peter was followed by Lisa McLaughlin who was joined by a lead guitarist for the first time. Lisa's songs were engrossing and her vocals are amazing. The added layer of the lead guitars gave a nice lift to the songs.
At this stage I took a break from the music to explore all the other amazing attractions the festival had to offer. My kids were treated with an amazing talk about the Vikings Medieval Ireland in the 'living village' area. They also took part in Clown school in the Kids Area, a Conker Competition in the Games Tent as well as attending the Storytelling in the Cairn. The highlights for them and me were the 30 minute Battle Re-enactment which was a spectacular exhibition and the amazing array of 'Birds of Prey' on display. That Saturday afternoon was an enriching experience for me and my three children.
On Saturday evening St. John the Gambler brought life back into the music stage with a savage set which had adults and kids up dancing.
Why Do You Do What You Do? by saintjohnthegambler
The final act for us to see on the Saturday evening was The Young Folk. Their amazing set proves to me that they are one of Ireland's most accomplished and talented bands with a set-list of great tunes. I loved their live version of 'Sad Day'.
Arthur Furey & The Young Folk - Sad Day by DamnPIK
Rain swept Sunday arrives and The Spirit of Folk community is holding strong with most activities going as planned. I missed 'Arrow in the Sky' but we made it in time to see Mayo man Seamus Fogarty. I was engrossed by the performance because the music made by Seamus along with his vocal style is quite unique. There were some excellent songs performed while some went off on long tangents!
By the Waterside by seamus fogarty
Donegal's Kloe Humm was up next and her performance was excellent. The bluesy folk style isn't something that would appeal greatly to me but some of the tracks were really good including this one 'Stone Cold Sober':
Stone cold sober by Kloe Humm feat Gerry Kelly by Kloe Humm
Dublin's six piece 'Prairie Dawgs' brought their bluegrass sounds to the stage with a set of new songs off their soon to be released second album. A highlight for me was a Johnny Cash/June Carter inspired new song which showcase the band's quality vocals.
I caught the last few songs of Mossy Nolan and wow. It was the performance of the weekend. Mossy's vocals were spectacular and his style reminds me of Andy Irvine and his Planxty days.
The last band for me at the festival were Galways amazing world folk band 'Fling'. I love when they get into the traditional jigs and then they follow it up with a Dylanesque folk balled!
Ballyshannon Bends by Fling
Bands info & links here: http://spiritoffolk.com/festival-music-programme
The Spirit of Folk was a wonderful festival. I feel that the community ignited at the festival will continue to be strong for next year and the festival has the potential to be bigger and expand if they see fit. I'd love for it to be scheduled a little earlier in the year. In fact I'd love it if it was scheduled on the same weekend as one of the bigger commercial festivals to give people a nice alternative anti-commercial choice.
For a great insight into the festival check out the Myles O'Reilly directed video below featuring Traz performing Bon Ivor's 'For Emma'.