Sunday 21 June 2015

Middlewich reflections

Apart from Lindisfarne, the two musical highlights of the Middlewich Festival, for me, came yesterday. First was folk trio "Molly on the Run" from Scania, which may or may not be a part of Sweden – nobody seemed to know. Don't ask me where their name comes from, either.

An excellent mix of Celtic, Apallachian and Nordic tunes, with some songs in Swedish which (probably just as well) we didn't understand.

The headline act on the main stage in the evening was "Ward Thomas", twin sisters from Hampshire who sing country – they're just back from some production sessions in Nashville.

They were sensational. But almost more enjoyable (again, for me) than the girls themselves was their backing trio, and especially the guitarist and the bass player.

They were not sensational, because they're not paid to be – that's the girls' job. But their professional and musical excellence set up the whole thing. The way they interacted was great for a musician to watch. Especially intriguing was the way the bass player's stance, mannerisms, technique and general look reminded me of our own son NÂș 3, who is himself a professional bass player. It was uncanny – at times I thought he would come over afterwards and say "Hello, Dad".

This morning we joined in the Christian celebration on the festival site, as did a local choir to lead the singing, many local school children who'd been rehearsing a worship song with British Sign Language,

and the Middlewich mayor, who read a passage from the Bible.

Afterwards we popped into the parish church which had been transformed, as it was two years ago, into a labyrinth presenting episodes from the Bible's story. Each section had been developed with the help of children from local primary schools – an immense amount of work and a lot of creativity had gone into it all.

The Sunday afternoon concert on the main stage was very popular, though it did not have much that would obviously fit the "Folk" tag. One of the stars was Thom Kirkpatrick, a local lad (well, Northwich).

He does a one-man band thing, with a loop machine which enables him to sing or play something and then have it repeated ad lib while he plays or sings something over the top, building up layer upon layer. Technically it was great fun and required a huge amount of concentration to create, stop or re-start the loops, which Thom passed off lightly. But, as it happens, he also has a great voice, so the whole thing was much more than a techno-fest – it was actually very rewarding musically. Just the sort of thing to appreciate in small amounts, since each song inevitably follows a similar sort of pattern.

So we've come away feeling that we've had a great deal of live music, though not a lot of the more traditional genres. Most of it has been hugely enjoyable, and rapport between the artists and the all-generation audiences has generally been excellent. Thumbs up to Middlewich.


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