Last weekend saw Castle Carrock’s small but perfectly formed folk and roots music festival return to the village for its fifth outing. From an ad hoc one day beginning the event now covers four evenings and two whole days. No longer confined to the one large marquee, performances and workshops also take place in the school hall and parish church while buskers roam the Marr (village green) and enthusiasts gather in the Duke of Cumberland pub for informal jam sessions. The result is a musical embarrassment of riches, offering a stage not just to such renowned veterans as Roy Bailey, John Kirkpatrick and the hilarious Vin Garbutt but also to young local performers looking to shine.
The “pay-what-you-can” first evening warmed up the festival perfectly, culminating in a madcap performance from The Hot Seats from Virginia whose brand of old time country folk set the tent alight. Friday’s headliners, Skerryvore from the Isle of Tiree, had a similar effect and kept up the festival’s lengthening tradition of bringing blazing Celtic rock to Cumbria. Long may that continue.
Saturday’s roster was full and varied. The highlights for me were the performance of Kent’s Chris Wood, one of England’s finest songwriters, and the driving, precise chamber folk of Spiro. Throughout the day, dancing and leaping in various locations, could be found the wonderful Zulu Tradition from South Africa charming everyone.
Sunday’s music was even more satisfying. Despite the idiosyncratic “Hobopop” of Kirsty McGee and the gorgeous singing of Flossie Malavialle, the standout performance had to be that of Canadian closing act Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythym Boys who brought the house down. If you’ve never seen a dancing fiddler solo whilst climbing a double bass, where have you been? Not at Music on the Marr 2014, clearly!
- Gary Weston