Of course there were other things going on in the main arena. Twenty one real ales and twelve ciders to chose from in the beer tent. Deb grabbed a seat and I went in for some ale. I settled on a pint of marked man, its what I'd be if I got Debs cider choice wrong. There were none of her usual favorites that I recognised. I asked the slightly confused by it all bar maid for something not too strong (it was just after five o'clock) and mediumish. She started by offering me a sample of the closest barrel to her, by half way through the second row of barrels I'd forgotten all about the first row, was no longer dying of thirst and had a craving for chips and curry sauce.
|More beer vicar?|
"Its been a weird f***ing week" was Ade Edmonson opening line before introducing his band the Bad Shepherds. Loosing his old friend of close on forty years, Rik Mayall, must have weighed heavily on his mind as well as how to approach headlining the main stage of the Middlewich 'Folk and Boat' festival.
The mood could have gone either way really, but we were all just happy Ade had not cancelled the gig. Would it be a morose, sad set or would we all be asked to stand for a minutes silence? We really shouldn't have worried. Toasting Rik with a bottle of red wine Ade interspersed excellent music with witty stories and utter side splitting piss taking. Everything from the night Vivian of the young ones was invented; to the pub with the pogoing proff with a pocket full of pens (he was the only one on the dance floor and as soon as the song was over he picked up all the pens that had leapt out of his tweed jacket pocket and said to the punk band, 'very good, well done'); to everyone laughing at one of Riks last photos of him taking his wife's fluffy white dog out for a walk. What a great evening.
The support acts were great too, a girl with a pleasant enough voice but a destroyed respiratory system due to a prolonged attack of hay fever was followed by the excellent Hat Fitz and Cara. Cara on drums and vocals belting out songs inspired from growing up alongside gypsies in north east Ireland with great slide guitar and powerful gravely singing from Hat Fitz; he's a kinda Oz version of Sea Sick Steve who sounds like he gargles every morning with whiskey and hob nails plucked out of the soles of dead men's boots - I'd gladly pay to see them again.
Apart from a couple of radio 2 hosted gigs/meetings, all other entertainment for the three day festival was free. Saturday night was another great night for the main stage and the 'Men They Couldn't Hang' brought cheers from the crowds who stamped spilt beer into the turf with songs of protest against wars and governments and the council who had told them to be silent by 11.00. It was a stark contrast to earlier that day with the morris dancers and nearly too many queens, princesses and attendants of the rose being crowned.
Of course this is the Folk and Boat festival and as well as a few display boats including rebuilt butty Saturn and the oldest wooden narrowboat (1850ish) Maria there were also quite a few traders taking part in the floating market both Saturday and Sunday. Jed was fast running out of his excellent chainsaw carved sculptures, and it was great to finally meet up with Barry and Sandra from the homebrew boat AreandAre (link)
|Sandra from AreandAre - waiting for all the kids to arrive on Saturday morning. Meanwhile Barry educates the masses into the finer points of brewing|
|Jed's magic mushrooms|
|Yup that's definitely a sunk boat|
|A long day for the recovery crew and the boats waiting to lock down into the festival|