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.