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Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Various Artists: The Wheaton Aston Festival
Bryn Phillips 14-16 March 2004

Festival Office
This festival just seems to get better each year - for a village festival the quality and of music is truly remarkable. As well as the music this festival has a well stocked craft field, an arts trial, lots of workshops (including Arabian dancing), Morris Dancing,  a folk club and to top it all a special charity gig in the church.

The festival runs over three days, but unfortunately as I was only there for the Saturday and Sunday I missed one of the headliners, Bill Caddick, who only appeared on the Friday.
As the acts were performing both in the Coach and Horses and the Village Hall, it was necessary to spend some time working through the programme to find out how to see most of them.

I started off on Saturday by seeing Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer a very talented duo playing traditional tunes with Jonny on guitar and Vicki on flute and Scottish Smallpipes. Then on to Maurice Dickson, who appeared last year, This time he was joined by fiddle player Al Cooper. What a performance! From heavy R&B to a beautifully crafted version of Raglan Road with a bit of friendly banter in between - I'd vote for a third appearance next year! Then there were 3 Daft Monkeys. Nothing daft about them at all - a great act, with lots of influences coming through - there was some celtic, a bit of Reggae, but most of all a bit of Punk - not the Suzie and the Microbes Variety, but reminiscent of the more sanitised band "Madness". The main thing about them and many of the acts at the festival was that they were obviously enjoying it. Towards the end of their session, a group of ladies, christened by Kristina Olsen as the "Groovy Dancers", treated us to a variety of dance styles......

Oh Yes, Kristina Olsen and Peter Grayling (just in from Oz) were brilliant. She puts so much feeling into her songs and the depth of feeling is somehow echoed by Peter's cello. They are an act not to be missed. She started off with Brownsville Blues, but then did mainly her own material, including the classic "Yellow Piper" and then finished up with the Big O.

After the "Gap" (why have a gap in the afternoon?)  and a session at the folk club I went to see George Papavgeris. I'd heard a couple of his songs before, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional experience of his stage performance. His presence was compelling. All of his songs were skilfully crafted and performed but the ones that really got to me were "Empty Handed" and "Walking With The Fishes" a song about the Greek and Spanish divers who were badly injured or mutilated by the bends. He manages to get across an amazing empathy with the subjects of the songs. I saw him again on Sunday and was not disappointed with another tremendous selection of songs. He is a performer not to be missed.

Another act not to be missed is Cloudstreet, who perform a variety of mainly traditional songs, with some excellent harmonies. I first heard them about a year ago and it was their second performance at Wheaton Aston. This time they played with Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer. I wasn't sure how well it would work, but it did. It worked brilliantly. Even my all time favourite, "King Willy" was enhanced by the instrumental backing.

More good acts on Sunday. There was "The Machine Breakers", a three piece band fronted by a very talented singer songwriter, Julian Pollard, closely followed by 
"Left Hand Drive", another three piece band again fronted by another talented singer songwriter, Chris Carr. This band also have the good fortune to have a brilliant harmonica player, Jim Gilmour, in it's number - just a shame they don't do some heavy rockin' blues - but I suppose they get close ....

 Finally the concert at the Coach and Horses finished with the acclaimed and accomplished singer songwriter John Richards and his new "The John Richards Band". I was expecting a lot from them and I wasn't disappointed. A great act to finish what turned out to be a great festival.

I've only reviewed about half of the acts which were on. The complete list (hopefully) is as follows

Emma & The Professor, Marsden., Blant & Squire, Cloudstreet, The Mighty Rooster, The Machine Breakers, Toreth, 3 Daft Monkeys, Bill Caddick, Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyrer, Maurice Dickson & Al Cooper, Kristina Olsen & Peter Grayling, Rundogrun, Emma & The Professor, John Spiers & Jon Boden, The Demon Barbers, Dave Taylor, George Papavgeris, Left Hand Drive, The John Richards Band, Fidaddle, No Strings Puppet Theatre, Antonio Federico, Soname, Passion Dance


Maurice Dickson &
Al Cooper

What's On

Jonny Dyer &
Vicki Swan

Craft Fair

James Davey

No Strings Puppet Theatre

3 Daft Monkeys

The Machine Breakers

Kristina Olsen & Peter Grayling

Left Hand Drive

George Papavgeris

John Richards Band

Groovy Dancers

Attentive Dog