Grab your clogs and grab you hat...

John Rowlands

A centuries old tradition 

By John Rowlands

Morris dancing at the Boot Pub on the afternoon of the festival is a great chance to see and hear a living tradition that dates back through the centuries. The two Morris ‘sides’ or ’teams’  (as they are known in the trade) at the Boot are two energetic and highly entertaining dancing troupes with their mass bands of melodeons, accordions, guitars, drums and the like.

Ramrugge Clog Morris perform dances from the Northwest tradition, whilst New Moon Morris focus on the Welsh Border style.

 The Northwest style is very military and structured, whilst the Border style is more freestyle and ‘wild’. You’ll spot the difference immediately in both the dancing style and the costumes and be an instant connoisseur and commentator.

A short bit of history about "The Morris”.

Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers.

The earliest known and surviving English written mention of Morris dance is dated to 1448, and records the payment of seven shillings to Morris dancers by the Goldsmiths’ Company in London. Further mentions of Morris dancing occur in the late 15th century, and there are also early records such as visiting bishops “Visitation Articles” mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities, as well as mumming plays.

While the earliest (15th-century) references place the Morris dance in a courtly setting, it appears that the dance became part of performances for the lower classes by the later 16th century; in 1600, the Shakespearean actor William Kempe, Morris danced from London to Norwich, an event chronicled in his Nine Daies Wonder (1600).

There are various regional variations of morris dances including the most popular Border Morris from the welsh borders, Cotswold Morris from the cotswolds and Northwest morris from the northwest of England. Each having its own distinctive style of music, costume and dancing.

The Cotswold and Northwest Morris dancing styles underwent a huge resurgence in the folk revival years of the1960’s and 70’s followed by some years of decline in the 1990’s. The revival of the  Border Morris style in the 1990’s resulted in a new resurgence of all forms of Morris dancing with many younger people being actively involved.

John Rowlands, Kimpton Folk Festival Trustee & Committee

Ewan McLennan

Richard Stewart, Kimpton Folk Festival Trustee, looks forward to seeing Ewan McLennan...

I first saw and heard Ewan McLennan at Watford Folk Club in 2015. Steve and I had just turned up at Watford on that Friday night, not being sure who was performing – and we were taken aback by Ewan’s skill as a guitarist and singer, and the unique (somewhat spell-binding) atmosphere he created through his songs. His distinctive freestyle guitar wove around his thoughtful lyrics and we were a bit captivated.

Ewan has written outstanding songs (my strong favourite is ‘Out on the Banks’ – a story about ‘growing up in Edinburgh’ remembered) and performs refreshingly imaginative versions of old Scottish and other songs. He’s won the prestigious Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards, two Spiral Earth awards, the Alistair Hulett Memorial Prize for Political Songwriting and has taken part in the acclaimed Transatlantic Sessions. Ewan’s songs are rooted in the tradition of folk music as social commentary.

Ewan’s most recent project, entitled Breaking the Spell of Loneliness, is a collaborative tour and album with renowned author and journalist George Monbiot, seeking to use music and word to open up the issue of loneliness and community.

We are very fortunate to have booked Ewan for the 2017 Kimpton Folk Festival – so don’t miss him! Ewan is headlining the final Concert in the Church (4.30-7.00pm).

Richard Stewart

Find out more about Ewan on his artist page

The Kimpton backstory

in the beginning...

How we started Kimpton Folk Festival - by Annie New

Kimpton is a very special village.   It’s extraordinary just how much talent there is, whether it’s gardening, water colour...or music!  The regular folk sessions at local pubs, particularly The Boot, attract folkies from across the county but the core group are all Kimptonites (or those whom we have adopted like June, John and Richard).

I am not a musician at all, but have faithfully supported, foot stamped and thoroughly enjoyed the music in Kimpton for years.  Every session has a different feel, and each offers something special and surprising.  After a particularly fabulous evening the words ‘why don’t we have our own folk festival’ slipped off the lips so easily. Crikey, who knew what would be the result?

Anyone who attended our inaugural festival in 2016 found out!  

With heroic dedication and commitment a team of enthusiasts for this first festival stepped up and met on an almost weekly basis for the next 12 months.  What started out as an idea based on a gazebo, hog roast and a few local artists leapt to a vision of a 4 stage Glastonbury-like extravaganza and then in reality was a quite spectacular village-based festival in 2016.  Only if you have organised an event like this from scratch can you truly appreciate what an enormous learning curve we all tumbled along.  Oh, we were so naive in those early days.  

Realising the dream seemed, on first appearance, to be a hop skip and a jump away. The reality was naturally very different with a plethora of policies and procedures to write and adopt, permissions and support to seek.  Each committee member undertook a specific role and slowly we began to sow the seeds, nurture the dream and finally came to realise that we could actually pull it all off.  

A festival isn’t a concert, so there are a myriad other things to consider from parking to food to adding the ‘loveliness’ to make our festival unique to our village.  For me, it was all about letting the wider world know just what a bloomin’ fantastic genre folk is and the fact that it’s not all bearded men in sandals.  Well, there are quite a few of them, but that’s not all; folk embraces young and old, tall and short, beards and bald!  A key thing was to celebrate our local talent and also introduce new acts too.  

The amazing performances by young folk musicians last year was simply wonderful and absolutely demonstrated that folk music has a huge amount of talent to grow the folk scene for years to come.

Realising the dream has been about great tenacity, great team work, great patience and persistence and above all about the awesome music that we want to share. It is testament to our first success that we are now quickly approaching our second on July 1st with the most fantastic line up and festival on offer.

Annie

 

Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection

The Godfather of Grunge Folk returns...

The Godfather of Grunge Folk returns...

One of the easiest decisions we made while planning this year’s Kimpton Folk Festival was to re-book the wonderful Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection, a huge hit at last year’s event. This band, if you don’t already know them, are so versatile, they are virtually a music festival on their own.

Led by the “godfather of grunge folk,” Wild Willy Barrett, they effortlessly and often hilariously straddle a huge range of musical styles - taking you from a Paris nightclub, to a backroom hoolie in Dublin to a raucous night out in New Orleans…and back again.

Best known for his outlandish and chart-topping partnership with John Otway, Willy describes himself as "an experimental multi-instrumentalist."   He’s joined by charismatic French singer Aurora Colson, cellist and keyboard player Mary Holland (aka Mrs Wild Willy) and Irish pipes, whistle player and percussionist John Devine.

We’re all very much hoping that this year Willy will treat us to a demonstration of “egg-necking”. I don’t want to give too much away, but it involves a guitar, a volunteer from the audience and a raw egg. It’s hilarious.

When Willy Barrett first brought his wonderful French Connection band to Kimpton Folk Festival, he was just wild….now he’s furious. So the audience at the afternoon concert in Kimpton’s Memorial Hall had better fasten their safety belts.

 

Brian King

Planning the second Kimpton Folk Festival.

"The festival equivalent of a gourmet picnic" [Nancy Kerr and James Fagan]

"The festival equivalent of a gourmet picnic" [Nancy Kerr and James Fagan]

Like the difficult second album or novel, planning the second Kimpton Folk Festival after the huge success of our inaugural event last year, was always going to be a challenge. Should we stick to a winning formula or try something difficult? Should we grow the event or keep it small but perfectly proportioned? In the event we’ve decided not to mess with a winning formula. The second festival, on Saturday July 1st this year, will be just like the first - only better.

So not exactly the same as last year obviously. It’s being organised by pretty much the same bunch of enthusiastic local folk fans as last year, but we’ve learned a few lessons. The first lesson is not to underestimate the drinking capacity of North Hertfordshire people. There will be inexhaustible supplies of local real ale this year. The second lesson is that lots of folk festival-goers have children, so there will be even entertainment for folk of all ages, spreading story-tellers, face painters and other attractions into even more corners of the village to meet the demand.

And of course we have the most fantastic line-up of singers and musicians. In the Memorial Hall, the top headline act will be Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys who are rapidly taking the folk world by storm. Among other star attractions are County Durham singer-songwriter Jez Lowe and his Bad Pennies and making a welcome return, Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection. They performed last year without St Albans piper John Devine, so it will be great to have them at full strength.

Also performing at the Memorial Hall will be the Carrivick Sisters, top Birmingham septet The Fair Rain, Vicky Swan and Jonny Dyer and also returning by popular request Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer.

Norwich trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood will be part of a stunning line-up of guests in our beautiful village church, along with Liz Simcock, Ewan McLennan, Emily Slade, the Jacquelyn Hynes Trio and a special tribute to Australian bush poet Henry Lawson, put together by Kimpton Folk Festival chairman Doug Jenner and starring Martyn Wyndham-Read.

As last year, many of the acts will be performing extra sets on the village green as part of a full afternoon of free music and dance, culminating in a mass ceilidh. This is where we hope to introduce a new generation of fans to the folk scene.

On top of all this there will be all day sessions in The Boot public house, musician workshops in the Dacre Rooms and food, drink and craft stalls galore.

Our festival headliners from last year, the wonderful Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, described us as “the festival equivalent of a gourmet picnic.” I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds good.

 

Brian King

Why folk is a young person's genre

Young folk-inspired  performers at this year's May festival.

By June Rowlands

It starts in the cradle

Connecting to Folk Music and Dance in any culture, starts with the ‘babe in arms’!  From soothing ballads sung as lullabies to marching rhythmically and clapping hands to traditional nursery rhymes, tradition is nurtured.

Watch the body language of a toddler when strong rhythmic music is played and indulge yourself in their smiles as they are absorbed and transfixed watching musicians sing or play.

The sensory attraction is inbuilt and its crucial to us as parents, guardians and educators in the community to build upon this.

Sowing a love of the music

In the Pre-school and nursery, we ought to provide simple percussion to accompany tunes and melodies, encourage marching, skipping and dancing both freeform in expression and formal patterns in simple country dances e.g. The Grand Old Duke of York and the introduce children to the maypole. Integrating these into Early Years Education will lay the foundation for the children’s exposure to other Folk Music and Dance traditions, so as the Festival season ‘kicks off’, our opportunity arises to share some heritage and tradition.

Finding your own style

When the seeds are sown and the teen years approach, there might just be a connection for young people to experiment with their voices, dance moves or musical instruments and instead of traditional lessons and classes in mastering these, the young people realise the social benefits of coming together in Folk Music and Dance classes, sessions and lessons.

Taking this onward and upward are many examples of young folk musicians who took their childhood legacy and made it their own. Eliza Carthy in her internet bio “ began from an early age to develop her own, unique approach to traditional music. This was at least partly because of her own vastly eclectic tastes: she is knowledgeable about and interested in musical traditions from all over the world, which continue to fuel her creativity to this day. She has moved through English folk music like a force of nature, both stirring it up and putting it back on the map through television, radio and live performance.”

Blending the new with the old to keep traditions relevant

Young and energetic Morris dancers are taking Traditional Ritual dances and making it their own with interpretations of music and dance, variations in ‘kit’ or costume and creating bands of unusual musical instruments and musicians, creating ‘fusion’ and evolving the movement to embrace current times.  Bringing the dance and music alive and relevant to today’s culture is their unique contribution to the ongoing revival. 

Be part of the next generation of Folk Culture and bring your little ones to The Green on July 1st to share the music and dance and energise the traditions with their input whilst putting a smile on all our faces.

June 

[Photo above of Clary, Florrie and Grace, who have all been inspired by the Folky goings-on in Kimpton] 

 

An incredible night of fun and frolics: yes, it's Kimpton Barn Dance 2017!

We're all set for a fabulous 'knees up' on Saturday night - the annual Kimpton Barn Dance, which is a fundraiser for Kimpton Folk Festival. 

Last year's event was absolutely brilliant and all went home exhausted and exhilarated from an unforgettable night out. This year's event will be more of the same, except that we have our own polished local barn dance band Boot Camp and an absolute monster of a raffle that you won't believe. All sorts of goodies, including a case of wine. (Yes, we did say a case).

You'll be taught all the dances by resident expert Mr Simon Reynolds, much known and admired around Hertfordshire and environs for his mastery of all kinds of dance. Strip the Willow, Cumberland Square Eights, The Circassian Circle and lots more!

 

 

Barn Dance

Yes, it's almost that time of year again. Well, actually, it is that time of year. Time for a dance. Time to come on down to Kimpton Village Memorial Hall, have a beer, have a dance and help us raise money for this year's festival.

It's great fun. 

It's on Saturday May 20th 2017. 

So, put that in your diary now. Tickets on sale at Kimpton Village Stores

Looking Forward to July 1, 2017

The organisers of the Kimpton Folk Festival faced the daunting task of trying to build on the enormous success of last year’s inaugural event. It was suggested that everything could be moved onto recreation ground or other big open space “like other folk festivals”. But part of what made the Kimpton event special was that it wasn’t like every other festival. Laying on music and dance in the Memorial Hall, the Dacre Rooms, the church, the green and all around the village generated a sense that Kimpton was alive with music.

So the unanimous decision is that for this year’s festival, on Saturday, July 1, we’ll do everything exactly the same as last year…only better. In particular we’ve doubled our efforts to provide entertainment for all ages, spreading story-tellers, face painters and other family attractions into even more corners of the village.

And of course we have the most fantastic line-up of singers and musicians.

In the Memorial Hall, the top headline act will be Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys who are rapidly taking the folk world by storm. Among other star attractions are County Durham singer-songwriter Jez Lowe and his Bad Pennies and making a welcome return, Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection.

Norwich trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood will be part of a stunning line-up of guests in the church, along with a special tribute to Australian bush poet Henry Lawson, put together by our festival chairman Doug Jenner.

As last year, many of the acts will be performing extra sets on the village green as part of a full afternoon of free music and dance, culminating in a mass ceilidh. There will be all day music sessions in The Boot public house, musician workshops in the Dacre Rooms and food, drink and craft stalls galore.

 

Brian King, Festival Trustee.