Down art’ Barge; Honey Folk Fest June Bank Hols

As if a summery visit to The Barge on Honey Street isn’t like a little festival in itself, two bank holidays next year at our favourite crop-circley-campsite come wharf-pub have been earmarked for festivals. The annual Honey-Fest on August bank holiday, 25th to 29th we knew about and eagerly await details, but the first was surprisingly sprung on me yesterday by event coordinator Skylar. It seems The Barge also have a folk festival on the 2nd to the 6th June bank holiday.…..

Being this is the Barge, think outside the box of archetypal folk festivals, of which it has to be said, can often be disparagingly perceived as a tad frumpy. Personally, my head was first turned from this common misperception surrounding the terminology of folk decades ago when a radical article in a local zine ingeniously titled “make some folkin’ noise,” predetermined the trend of rave, at the time, was nothing more than a folk epoch. It gave justified argument which made me question my narrow-minded definition of folk, and precisely what we were doing standing in a muddy field gyrating like broken robots all night.

I believe the variety of acts booked at the Barge’s, while not definable as “rave,” obviously, illustrate perfectly the diversity of the blanket-term “folk.” For example, our bonkers buddies The Boot Hill All Stars, no strangers to pulling off a blinder at the Barge, are appearing on the Saturday, with their scrumpy & western fashioned fusion of folk-punk and upbeat ska, for that, here’s a folk festival with wider appeal than your average folk festival-goer, if you catch my crusty drift. So, without further-a-do, let’s have little looky at who else will be there, shall we?

Fusion, now there’s an appropriate term for it, as Thursday sees Scottish roots singer-songwriter and guitarist, Adam Beattie, who has a lifelong interest in old time jazz and blues, whereas The Odd Beats define their style as “hip shimmying gypsy folk and psychedelia from far-away lands.”

3 daft Monkeys, all 4 of ’em!

And if longboat-dwelling Fly Yeti Fly seem to be cropping everywhere on the local circuit these-days with their unique flavour of delicate-but-distinctive folk, Lenny No Strings is billed as a local legend I’ve not come across before. They both appear on the Friday, with the fiery helter-skelter blend of 3 Daft Monkeys, and Baraka, a unique combination of musicians from Ghana, Senegal, Trinidad, Dominica and Ireland, who each contribute individual styles from reggae and calypso to township jive and harmonica blues. Their unique take on global beats sounds irresistible, and coupled with the fast and furious Balkan of Troyka, this do is taking more “mini-Womad,” vibes than your typical folk fest.

Baraka

Onto Saturday, where wood and strings, finger-style acoustic guitar are capably weaved by Alex Roberts, and our friends Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective blend their Irish and Celtic pub favourites. There’s DIY dubplate folk with Whistling Treason, and RSVP who spearhead a renaissance of live Bhangra in the UK, with aforementioned Boot Hill All Stars polishing off the evening with corsets, banjo and geetar mayhem.

Boot Hill All Stars

Sunday sees banjo, guitar and ukulele combo with Luna Barge, Bristol’s festival folk Nasty Fish Monger, and Dorset-Somerset fiddle and guitar duo FiddleBack, finished off with character comedy country music from The Devil’s Prefects, who claim they “do for country music what Scooby Doo did for paranormal investigation.”

If we’re citing Hanna Barbera TV cartoons for comparisons, please allow me to throw in a Yogi Bear when I say this all seems smarter than the average folk festival. Tickets weigh in at a ton, a pony for children, but it sure is the finest ensemble of diversity I’ve seen in a loosely-defined folk festival, and camping for four nights is inclusive.

Celtic Roots Collective, Image: Nick Padmore

With glamping, ample caravan and camper parking, showers, kid’s activities, the pub and restaurant, the Barge on Honey Street is one consistent running mini-festival over the summer months, and a unique experience rather than simple music venue, ergo anytime is a good time to pay it a visit. Live music comes out to play Friday and Saturday nights with tickets priced around a fiver. 12th March sees the eccentric Mobius Loop, aforementioned Celtic Roots Collective are aptly there for St Patrick’s Day on 19th, Unsupervised on All Fools Day, and the Blunder the following weekend, 9th April.

Mobius Loop

The website offers details, the Facebook group Camping at the Barge is a more regularly updated encyclopaedia of all the great things happening in this hipster haven and little pocket of resistance against commercialism, in the Pewsey Vale!


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