The inaugural Folkeast had to come out throwing punches, being held on the same weekend as Towersey & Shrewsbury folk festivals as well as the Reading and Leeds festivals, and held its own. Room thirteen were proudly the only press outlet to be camped out for the entire weekend, and we now take you there in part one of our comprehensive, 3-part review.

The festival started with a soft opening on the Thursday afternoon with no official entertainment, but the festival organisers provided an entertainment tent for the public to make use of in the camping area, a little after two hours in an interesting group called the Golden Star Morris dancers had set up shop with a plethora of musicians and hosted an impromptu folk jam session along with singing, dancing and needless to say, heavy drinking. This carried on long into the night.

Friday morning started off quietly with an entirely underwhelming opening act called The Trembling Wheelbarrows, an aging and tired semi-traditional folk act. The next act on the second (Kayam) stage, was Hannah Scott who was a finalist of a MOJO (next big thing) competition with her lovely track Skimming Stones. Influenced by American artists such as John Maher, Counting Crows, Matchbox 20 & Ryan Adams, her short, captivating set received a small but warm reaction from the crowd.

Elsewhere at the festival was the smallest (but far from the least interesting) stage, entitled the Get On The Soapbox stage. Hosting a large variety and quantity of local acts over the weekend, the Soapbox stage provided much and almost constant entertainment over the course of the festival, due to the mostly unplugged nature of the music, allowing for very quick changeovers. Run by the inimitable Amy Wragg, Get On The Soapbox is based primarily in the east of England organising and promoting gigs for local musical talent, and is a brilliant little organisation. Check them out at their website here.
The first act we caught on the Soapbox stage was the wonderful King Laconic. Based in Norwich, he recently supported Duke Special at his gig at The Open. During the friday afternoon, his brand of sparse, intricate guitar work coupled with fantastic, haunting tenor quickly gathered a crowd at Folkeast. The only shame was that for a short while he was drowned out from the noise of the main stage, which was a problem for a lot of the acts over the weekend. Thankfully, the timing worked well for the most part, and the Soapbox acts got a lot of their time during the longer changeovers for the main stage. Overall, he played a great set, ending with a staggering cover of a Joanna Newsom track. King Laconic's Bandcamp.

The next band on the main stage were the Monster Ceilidh Band, they started off with fast paced, enjoyable, dancing inducing classic Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee) songs, they gathered what we could call the first large crowd of the festival, around three songs in, something beautifully surreal happened, something practically unique in this music scene the Monster Ceilidh Band, dropped the bass. An innovative and surprisingly effective blend of genres created a genuinely unique experience, if we could say anything about this band it would be: any chance you get, go and see them!

After wandering around for a bit, getting a drink from the 100 foot long real ale bar and something to eat, we settled down to the delightful sound emanating from the main stage where The Shee were on. Not originally intending to see them, we were pleasantly surprised by just how talented and entertaining they were throughout, and the crowd gathered definitely agreed.
Later on it came time for the headliners and the main support. Prior to Seth Lakeman on the main stage, Folkeast was graced by the amazing talent of the Eliza Carthy band. From the second she starts playing, her immense talent both as an instrumentalist and a singer is obvious, and she owns that stage. Her set is packed with energy as she dances, throws her fiddle around and belts out the tunes with her powerful voice. There's something quite intense about watching Eliza Carthy as a performer, she goes from being all smiles and just having a great amount of fun with it, to a quite serious expression as she lends emotion to the songs. A dynamic performer, and she looks to be enjoying every minute of it, and this definitely has its effect on the crowd. Chants for more continued after she left the stage, and weekend ticket holders got their chance to see her again as she played to close the festival with The Imagined Village(but more on that in our third part).

For the headline act, we turn our attention away from the main stage to the second (Kayam) stage, where the inimitable Peatbog Faeries are set to perform. They're not due on stage for another twenty minutes, but a dedicated crowd that fills the deceptively large tent has already formed. From snippets of conversations that we'd heard or that we'd had since getting there the day before, these guys were apparently the ones to watch. Within thirty seconds of them taking to the stage you could see why. Not only were they all incredibly talented players in their own right, their music combined elements of dance/trance/club sort of music along with folk to create a unique mix, as much Chemical Brothers at times as folk. Accompanied by the atmospheric light show, they simply rocked from start to finish, truly a sight to behold. Unfortunately the sound system cut out for about twenty minutes (the crowd did not move a muscle until they were back on stage), rendering them to a shorter set than everyone would have liked, but every minute they were on stage was worth watching. If you ever get the chance, go and see them.