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)
Mike’s back on the road again in November for a short tour to mark the publication of his autobiography, The Adventures of the Crumpsall Kid.
Although busy with his internet radio show and another Costa del Folk in October, he’s visiting a dozen theatres to reveal all about growing up in Crumpsall in the 1950’s and relate some of the often hilarious tales from his first day at school to passing his 11+ “by mistake”.
He also tells how his career in entertainment began in the early 60’s playing in skiffle groups and rock ‘n’ roll bands in the Working Men’s Clubs of Manchester and South Lancashire before he discovered folk music and went on to become one of the nation’s favourite funny men.
This is life in the raw as seen through the eyes of the folk singer and songwriter, poet and playwright, comedian and broadcaster, fell-walker and fly-fisherman, described by Billy Connolly as the “funniest man in England”. Don’t miss it.
See Live Shows section for dates
Mike is back on the road for a short theatre tour to mark the publication of his autobiography:
Spend an evening in the company of the multi-talented Mike as he talks about growing up in Crumpsall in the 1950s and tells a shedload of hilarious tales from his early life.
See Live Shows section for dates
If you’ve just missed Mike hosting the Costa del Folk festival in sunny (well sometimes) Spain, worry not. These events are a bit like buses in that if you miss one there’ll be a couple more coming along shortly.
The next Costa del Folk takes place from October 3 – 7, 2015, in the Portuguese Algarve with a superb line-up that includes Show of Hands, Seth Lakeman, Barbara Dickson, Mighty Doonans, Demon Barbers XL, Young’uns, Lady Maisery and many more of the top UK acts.
And Mike will be back in his resident role as principal compere and principal banjo player in the late night sessions in the bar.
For more details and to book your place at what’s being described as one of the best of the UK folk festival – despite the Mediterranean coast location – go to www.costadelfolk.co.uk
Then next Spring there’s another Costa del Folk in another new location. From April 23 to 27, 2016, we’ll be in Majorca for five days of the very best in folk and roots music. Watch this space for further details.
You’ve probably been wondering what Mike’s up to these days. Well the more eagle-eyed among you may well have spotted his name cropping up at the odd arts festival.
Last year saw the publication of his latest book of poems, Connemara Cantos, prompting visits to literary and poetry festivals ranging from Stratford to the Shetlands.
Well he’ll be off on tour again soon; this time with An Evening of Poetry in arts centres and little theatres across the North.
The tour starts on May 1st at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick and the bad news is that this one’s already sold out.
There’s still time to book for the rest of the May dates, however, which include Salford, St Helens, Darwen and Chorley on the Lancashire leg, Huddersfield, Halifax, Barnsley and Bradford in the West Riding, Selby and Helmsley in North Yorkshire, Beverley, Pocklington and Goole in the East Riding, and a trip across the river to Barton-on-Humber. Mike’s also heading North to Alnwick and South to another arts festival in Leek. (see accompanying chart)
These are some of the comments on last year’s trip to poetry and arts festival last year:
“Mike’s poetry is profound and sometimes quirky, but never trite. He reads with sincerity and a deep-seated musicality, and every now and then he just can’t help being side-splittingly funny!”
Malcolm Creese, Artistic Director, Swaledale Festival.
“Humour and nostalgia gave us an insight in to this totally professional, talented and charming man. He will always be welcome back.”
Maggie Doyle, Creative Director, Worcestershire Literary Festival.
“He was everything we wanted in our penultimate event – clearly deeply talented and such a nice man.”
Jonathan Davidson, Guest Programmer – Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival 2014
Sunglasses and shorts at the ready, Mike’s off to sunny Spain again shortly as principal compere for the second Costa del Folk Festival.
And there’s another incredible line-up of acts joining him for the five-day event, including:
Says Mike: “This time last year none of us had a clue whether running an English folk festival in Southern Spain would work.”
“But the verdict from hundreds of happy holidaymakers and over twenty great folk acts was that it was fantastic. The sun shone, the music was stunning, and at the end of each day everyone had a comfy bed to sleep in.”
“Now we’re going to do it all over again and the indications are that it’s going to be any better this year”
The festival runs from Saturday March 14 to Wednesday Match 18 and at the time of writing was virtually sold out. If you want to try for the few remaining tickets ring 01254 504970 or log onto www.costadelfolk.co.uk
There’s another Costa del Folk planned for October, 2015, however. This time on the Portuguese Algarve with a line-up that includes Show of Hands, Seth Lakeman and Barbara Dickson. And the latest news is that Costa del Folk is already planning another festival in Majorca in April 2016.
The good news is that there’ll be another Costa del Folk next year. In fact there’ll be TWO! We’re back in Spain from March 14 to 19, 2015, with headliners Steeleye Span, and we’re launching a new Costa del Folk in Portugal in the Autumn. This one will be based at the Tivoli Hotel, Carvoeira from October 3 to 8, 2015.
Watch this space for details of two more astounding line-ups and check out how to book on:
COSTA DEL FOLK ….. a message from Mike
Now I’ve got my breath back, and in case you hadn’t heard, I thought I should tell you that the Costa del Folk was a triumph. None of us had a clue whether running an English folk festival in Southern Spain would work. But the verdict from hundreds of happy holidaymakers and over twenty great folk acts was that it was great. The sun shone, the music was stunning, and at the end of each day everyone had a comfy bed to sleep in.
But don’t just listen to me. This is what some of the acts thought:
COSTA DEL FOLK FESTIVAL
How would you fancy a folk festival with great acts, guaranteed sunshine, (well virtually) and a comfy bed to sleep in?
Well that’s what attracted me to the Costa del Sol Folk Festival in sunny Spain from March 14 to 19, 2014. And that’s why I’m looking forward to compering the five day event.
I’m also looking forwards to seeing loads of today’s top folk acts, including Show of Hands, Demon Barbers, Mighty Doonans, Steamchicken and Blackbeard’s Tea Party.
The festival will be held in and around the 4* Hotel Alay in Benalmadena on the Costa Del Sol and latest additions to the bill include the Tom McConville Band, Sean Taylor, Niamh Parsons and Graham Dunne, Fake Thackray, Flossie Malavialle, Hut People, Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston, Dave Burland and Rory Motion.
For further information click onto www.costadelfolk.com and don’t forget your maracas.