What's on at this week's folk festivals

What's on at this week's folk festivals

SUNDAY, August 24 sees the launch of the long-overdue inaugural one-day Luton Fleadh Fiesta at Lewsey Park with an eclectic and imaginative line-up that should generate a great atmosphere.

Opening at 11.30am with music from 2pm-10pm, organiser Olympian Productions, sponsors Luton Airport and The Luton Irish Forum and charity partner Keech Hospice Care are all hoping to make this a real family occasion.

Headliners Los Pacaminos and Sharon Shannon with Alan Connor will certainly have the crowds dancing. The great infectious Tex-Mex sound of Los Pacaminos, fronted by Paul Young, is a bit of a coup (but maybe not that much of a surprise since the singer was born in Luton).

Formed in 1992 by Young, Drew Barfield and a bunch of world-class musicians as a bit of fun, Los Pacaminos found themselves in demand and have been going ever since, when commitments allow.

The brilliant Sharon Shannon needs no introduction and I wonder if there is a chance for her to jam with Los Pacaminos — that would be worth the ticket price alone.

The accordion sound is an important part of Tex-Mex music and there is a great chance here to mix Sharon’s famous Celtic button accordion sound with the Tex-Mex piano accordion of Matt Irving.

Master of ceremonies for the day will be popular Diverse FM presenter Jim Carway who will no doubt keep things moving along nicely. Fingers crossed for good weather and great support to ensure it continues next year.

Details and tickets are available at lutonculture.com or 01582 878100.

Shrewsbury Folk Festival is already sold out, which shows that a well-run festival can succeed year after year, but if you happen to be heading for Cornwall instead of Luton on the bank holiday weekend then you could catch the Cornwall Festival at Wadebridge which has a massive line-up.

Running for 42 years as a “community funded” event by volunteers (with financial support from Hobgoblin Music for the last eight years) it attracts musicians and fans from all over the world.

Among the list of artists appearing will be super blues legend Wizz Jones, who last year was made an Honorary Patron of the Festival, brilliant singer/songwriter Jez Lowe whose songs have been covered by artists including The Dubliners, Best Duo winners at the 2014 BBC Two Folk Awards Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin and Kildare singer/songwriter Paul O’Neill’s award-winning folk-fusion outfit The Roving Crows.

For full details, check out www.cornwallfolkfestival.com

Powells Farm at Romsey in Hampshire is the location for the New Forest Folk Festival from August 28-31.

This festival has a very strong bill with folk-rockers Steeleye Span with Maddy Prior (formed in 1969) topping a multi-talented line-up.

Feast of Fiddles are an interesting ensemble that have carved out a niche over the past twenty years.

Add in artists such as Richard Digance (BAFTA mominated performer and British Academy of Composers and Songwriters gold award winner), Jez Lowe, Kathryn Roberts & Seth Lakeman, Zulu Tradition from South Africa, Vin Garbutt (twice nominated in the best live performer category at the BBC Folk Awards) and super-talented songwriter Reg Meuross among others and you have a great festival.

For more information, visit newforestfolkfestival.co.uk

Given that there are a huge number of these festivals taking place every year I wonder why is it folk music, which can be an umbrella covering everything from traditional music to contemporary singer/songwriters and all points in between, is still regarded as minority genre by the mainstream media?

It’s about time it got a fair crack of the whip.