REVIEW: Fun in the sun and showers at Ireby Festival

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TICKETS were sold out months ago so the 15th Ireby Festival already looked set fair for success, and when the Bank Holiday Friday sun shone brightly on the well-named Skiddaw View festival site there was a palpable feel-good factor for festival-goers and happy campers.

The opening acts in Ireby village’s Globe Hall always provide an eclectic mix of styles and this year was no exception, with young duos Ninebarrow and Foreign Affairs and Canadian singer Mo Kenney, plus festival regulars Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, entertaining a packed hall.

Over in St James Church there was bluegrass, folk and more from The Carrivick Sisters, Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewery and Harp and Monkey.

But it was on the main stage, with Sue Allan as host, that things really took off with a cracking set from singer-songwriter Jess Morgan, amazing innovative arrangements of traditional folk songs by Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party, Fay’s superb voice soaring over the guitar, fiddle, concertina, bass and drum accompaniment.


                    Martyn Joseph

Martyn Joseph

Fay’s husband, award-winning folk performer Jon Boden, was headline act of the evening, and got the audience up and dancing with his ‘New York Girls’ encore.

But the night was still young, and festival goers then headed back to the hall to boogie until the early hours to the barnstorming, beefed up bluegrass of Gentlemen of Few - another of those oh-so-young but hugely talented bands.

Saturday morning dawned fair but although thunder showers came on later, they did nothing to dampen where Becky Langan was performing. Meanwhile in the atmospheric setting of St James Church, festival favourite Elaine Davidson showcased some haunting new songs and at the other end of the village Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra brought good-time swing music to a packed Globe Hall.

The afternoon main stage acts included blues man Martin Harley six-piece band Phantom Voices from Blackpool while the evening, hosted by Maddy Prior, brought a high-energy set from virtuoso harmonica player Will Pound, alongside accordionist Eddy Jay, followed by "the Welsh Springsteen" Martyn Joseph, whose powerful voice mesmerised for over an hour, before headline act Admiral Fallow, from Glasgow, brought the night to a close with a varied set of real musicianship – and even some dancing for those still with energy to spare.

Organiser Charles Devlin and his committee of stalwart local volunteers once more brought a fabulous a weekend of music to the fells in a real feel-good festival which celebrates not only brilliant music but also the great community that is Ireby.

Review by SUE ALLAN

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