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Live music returns as FolkEast goes digital this summer

PUBLISHED: 11:28 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:07 12 August 2020

Suffolk duo Honey & The Bear will be performing live at Virtual FolkEast this year  Photo FolkEast

Suffolk duo Honey & The Bear will be performing live at Virtual FolkEast this year Photo FolkEast

Nick Ilott Photography

Although, FolkEast is officially cancelled this year, organisers have found a way to keep live music in Suffolk. We take a look at a new Virtual FolkEast happening later this month

The FolkEast festival, goes online this year but the music will be live in front of a small, socially distanced audience . Picture: GREGG BROWNThe FolkEast festival, goes online this year but the music will be live in front of a small, socially distanced audience . Picture: GREGG BROWN

Despite restrictions on live performances, FolkEast, the UK’s most easterly folk festival, is ready to welcome audiences to Suffolk for a live event this month even though the roots music event has been officially postponed until next year.

In April, in common with most other 2020 folk festivals, husband and wife directors John and Becky Marshall-Potter reluctantly decided to postpone their hugely popular event until August 20-22, 2021, following the COVID -19 outbreak. However, not to be defeated, they were determined to organise something that would bring the flavour of FolkEast to the county on the planned weekend of this year’s festival.

Buoyed by over 300 supporters donating nearly £33,000 to a crowdfund to ensure the future of the festival, Becky said: “Over the months of lockdown, inspirational virtual events have brought people together online and although looking at a screen can never be the same as physically going to a venue or sitting in a field with other festivalgoers, they have proved really popular.

“People have been stuck behind closed doors for so long and musicians unable to play for months. We wanted to bring artists and audience back together and give everyone a boost – a festival fix.”

The Young 'Uns will be performing live at Virtual FolkEast on August 22 Photo:FolkEastThe Young 'Uns will be performing live at Virtual FolkEast on August 22 Photo:FolkEast

To that end, organisers are announcing Virtually FolkEast – a live streamed event – available through FolkEast’s website and Facebook site on Saturday, August 22, running from 3pm-9pm. This will be a four-hour ‘real time’ mini festival in front of a live audience of up to 200 people transmitted from a meadow close to the Glemham Hall festival site.

FolkEast has been granted a licence to go ahead with the concert which will give people a chance to buy a socially distanced picnic pitch to accommodate up to six people and see a great line-up of artists.

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Topped by the inimitable, multi-award winning FolkEast patrons The Young ’uns, the bill will also include performances by festival favourite Sam Kelly (together with Evan Carson and Toby Shaer from his Lost Boys band), the brilliant John Spiers (Bellowhead, Knight and Spiers, Gigspanner Big Band); instrumental duo The Hut People (Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond), new folk singer-songwriter Katherine Priddy and local Suffolk duo Honey & The Bear (Jon & Lucy Hart).

John and Becky Marshall-Potter have managed to keep music live at the Virtual FolkEast festival this year. Photo: Lucy TaylorJohn and Becky Marshall-Potter have managed to keep music live at the Virtual FolkEast festival this year. Photo: Lucy Taylor

Among those contributing a song to the day from afar will be the legendary Peter Knight (from his home in France), Mary-Anne Kennedy from Scotland and Daoiri Farrell from Ireland. John Spiers will also be hosting ‘Gardeners’ Cornered’ – FolkEast’s answer to Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’- answering postbag horticultural queries.

The same live line-up will also be performing next day at a ‘Sunday Picnic’ event at the same location– this won’t be streamed but will enable even more families and friends to get their festival fix.

In just seven years FolkEast, an independent, family-run event held in the grounds of Glemham Hall, near Saxmundham, has built a distinct character and become one of the best-loved festivals on the UK circuit.

Becky said: “We are grateful to East Suffolk Council for granting us a licence to stage these two live concerts and looking forward to it hugely. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists and crew who have agreed to take part. This is new territory for everyone but we will ensure all correct measures will be taken to make the event COVID secure.”

Sam Kelly will be playing with some his Lost Boys at Virtual FolkEast,this year. Photo: Redwood PhotographySam Kelly will be playing with some his Lost Boys at Virtual FolkEast,this year. Photo: Redwood Photography

Tickets to be part of the socially distanced audience are now sold out. Online viewers over the weekend will be able to donate to the “Secure FolkEast in 2021 and beyond” campaign.

BBC Radio Suffolk will also be supporting the event with a three-hour FolkEast special on the evening of Friday, August 22, presented by Jon Wright – a bundle of favourite tracks, interviews and highlights from past FolkEast festivals.

The festival has confirmed that the majority of this year’s exceptional scheduled line-up will be on board in 2021 including The Young’uns, Afro Celt Sound System, Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, the trio Drever, McCusker, Woomble, Gigspanner Big Band, The Shee, The Trails of Cato and Elephant Sessions.

You can access the live stream on the FolkEast website (http://folkeast.co.uk/)


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