Castle Carrock village hosted the 9th Music on the Marr festival this weekend, an incredible weekend of music set in a beautiful, welcoming Cumbrian village. Richard Johnstone and his team arranged an amazing line up of talented musicians from all over the world and closer to home for us to enjoy. Music on the Marr merits its’ title as Cumbria’s Finest Small Music Festival and the organisation, quality of the musicians and small army of friendly volunteers puts some much bigger festivals to shame.
The Festival kicked off on Thursday night with a warm up evening starting with Tenmour, a folk fusion band, followed by 2 bands from the North East, the Bottle Bank Band and Dansi, who started the dancing for the weekend. The hog roast on the Marr was the official start to the festival on Friday before a trio of acts entertained festival goers in the Marquee. Kimber’s Men started off the evening with their harmonies and sea shanties, followed by Irish artist Daori Farrell who sang traditional Irish songs accompanied by the bouzouki and old-fashioned Irish craic. Headline act Trail West from the Hebrides had the crowd dancing into the night with their versions of traditional Scottish music.
Saturday started with the famous Round the Reservoir race, which saw a record number of participants (92 in total) ranging from tiny tots to seasoned veterans and who all managed to complete the race. Festival goers were spoilt for choice with the full schedule of events at all 3 venues on Saturday. Some highlights during the day were the extremely talented Estonian/Flemish band Estbel whose traditional Estonian music and original songs were truly mesmerising. The young musicians of Castle Carrock followed Estbel and I have no doubt that we will be hearing more from them in the future. The school also had a full schedule with Steve Ridley and Lou Tipper, the Quiet Loner who sang and told the story of the Battle for the Ballot and one of my festival favourites the Yves Lambert Trio from Quebec, led by the extremely charismatic Yves Lambert who brought to life traditional Quebecois folk music. The main Marquee stage also had a full line up with the Andy May Trio, a talented trio from Newcastle followed by a performance by festival patron Roy Bailey accompanied by Marc Block, a highlight of every Music on the Marr. Early on the Saturday evening 2 of the Flemish Brothers from Estbel were joined by yet another brother to form the extremely talented Trio Dhoore who mixed traditional Flemish tunes with their own material. In a complete change of tone, they were followed by Stick in the Wheel, an East London five-piece who have reworked traditional folk songs from a modern, working class perspective. Saturday night was wrapped up by English roots band Edward II who combined Caribbean rhythms with traditional British songs and got the crowd dancing into the night.
Sunday also had too many amazing acts to sample. Louise Jordan who performed First World War Women Through Song was a popular choice in St Peter’s Church, she was followed by local teacher and talented musician Ben Draper and in the School John and Caroline Bushby, Ian K Brown and Opera-lele a unique crossover act combining opera musicals with the ukulele, a really unique but inspiring combination. Local band, the Agenda, previous performers in the Young Musicians Showcase last year started proceedings in the afternoon on the Marquee Stage and were followed by popular, local band, Hadrian’s Union who performed a very entertaining and moving set. They were followed by Grace Petrie a passionate and proud leftie singing her own personal songs about life, love and politics. Arcadian band, Vishten followed who combined folk with modern elements. Sunday night headliners Habadekuk from Denmark, an 8-piece with a full brass section, performed Danish traditional songs and got the audience dancing again for the last time of this festival. They were a great act to finish a brilliant festival.
Music on the Marr also provided festival goers who wanted to take a break from the music with a variety of other options including learning to play the ukulele, whistle or Morris dance and even wind down with a yoga session. Magicians, local musicians and Morris dancers entertained the crowds on the Marr while they enjoyed refreshments amply provided by the Duke of Cumberland pub and MOMs Kitchen, Magnificent Tea Emporium and Casbah Coffee. There was entertainment for the family provided by Astral Circus, a fire show, and sound sculptures and beautiful hand-crafted items for sale in the Artisans Market to appeal to art lovers.
Music on the Marr can quite easily be described as the best small festival not just in Cumbria but in the UK. It’s a fun packed weekend where you can make new friends, and more importantly listen and dance to some of the best folk music available. The date for next year is already in my diary. Why not put the date in your diary too?
- Frances Warburton