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Review: Oxford Folk Weekend

This year’s Oxford Folk Weekend provided a weekend of merriment, dancing, drinking, singing, and a slap-up meal of folk musical delights.

Most of the main performances took place at the Old Fire Station while further concerts were performed at the Wesley Memorial Church, the Ashmolean Museum and the Westgate central library. Oxford Castle gardens also boasted a craft fair and Morris displays for families to enjoy.

Compared to the biggies such as Glastonbury, Virgin festival, the folk weekend presented a tiny, intimate and highly relaxed setting; a festival where we would literally be bumping into the artists off stage. Aint nothing pretentious about these folkies …  

On Saturday, Benji Kirkpatrick, a member of Bellowhead took to the stage and treated the audience to an energetic performance which involved switching between a myriad of instruments including banjo, mandolin, guitar and bouzouki. He humorously informed us that apparently the artists were having a competition to see who would take the longest in tuning their instruments that weekend.

Saturday afternoon was dominated by the cheeky boys from Telling the Bees, while Mawkin wowed the crowd on Sunday afternoon with their stunning, edgy performance that hosted wild melodies and knowing smirks from the band members. They delivered with much gusto and oozed charm and they knew it.

As expected, the Oxford Folk Weekend was attended by all ages, but, let’s be fair, more old than the young. Nevertheless, Jack and the Arrows, comprising Oxford University students performed a set involving sweet melodies, smooth vocals, heart-felt lyrics topped with simple but effective instrumentation in the form of guitars, bass and the cajon. In contrast, Emily Spiers (an Oxford University German tutor no less) and The Tunesmiths delivered traditional Irish folk songs complemented by a harmonious concoction of the harp, flutes and the uillean pipes. Obscure folk instruments were clearly the order of the day.

Truthfully, the Oxford Folk Weekend this year surprised with the sheer breadth and the joys of folk music. Who said folk was forgotten? 

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