It doesn’t seem two minutes since the first Costa del Folk in sunny Spain in 2014 but in fact it’s well over two years. And in a few weeks we’re off to Portugal for the 5th festival of what’s turned out to be the best ideas in folk music since the return of real ale.
It all began when Gerry Flynn, MD of the holiday firm, Enjoy Travel, tuned in to my show on Radio 2. He enjoyed the music but related it to wet weekends camping in muddy fields, over-priced food and drink and toilet facilities we won’t go into. (Unless we have to, that is.)
How about a folk festival on the Mediterranean coast? he though, with guaranteed sunshine, a comfy bed to sleep in and first class food and drink at moderate prices – to say nothing of loads of the best singers and musicians in the business.
So what did he do? Well he rang me up for advice. And the outcome was the first Costa del Folk with yours truly as resident compere and my tour manager, Geoff Sargieson, as Programme Director. And soon we’re off to the Tivoli-Carvoeiro Hotel in the Portuguese Algarve at the beginning of October for the latest festival.
We’ve heard some great music at every festival but I have to admit Portugal from October 2-7 has certainly put the icing on the cake. It’s my favourite venue so far and the line-up is fantastic. To an initial list headed by Show of Hands, the Young’uns, Tim Edey and Heidi Talbot, we’ve added Fisherman’s Friends, Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party and McGoldrick McCusker and Doyle.
And if it’s bands you want to see, how about this: Skerryvore, Changing Room, Merry Hell, Churchfitters, Mawkin, Holy Moly and the Crackers and Portugal’s top folk band Sieva.
Or smaller groups like the Sam Kelly Trio, Broom Bezzums, Harpeth Rising, and duos Phillip Henry and Hanna Martin, Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston, and Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou.
Plus solo performers Jackie Oates, Colum Sands, Lisbee Stainton and Daoira Farrell. To say nothing of the William Small Small Conservatoire Ceilidh Band, about which modesty precludes me commenting.
The trouble is the festival is on the brink of selling out – so either get in quick or make an early booking soon for next spring when we’re off to Ibiza.(April 26 – May 1)