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Great British Folk Festival

GUEST,Raggytash 20 Nov 13 - 12:30 PM
GUEST 20 Nov 13 - 01:31 PM
Les in Chorlton 20 Nov 13 - 01:37 PM
GUEST 20 Nov 13 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Joe G 20 Nov 13 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,Silas 20 Nov 13 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,dicky boy 20 Nov 13 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 21 Nov 13 - 12:09 AM
GUEST 21 Nov 13 - 02:43 AM
Ian Hendrie 21 Nov 13 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Joe G 21 Nov 13 - 01:51 PM
GUEST,Guest 24 Nov 13 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,Guest 25 Nov 13 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,Joe G 25 Nov 13 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,M and C 25 Nov 13 - 10:11 PM
Leadfingers 26 Nov 13 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 26 Nov 13 - 06:00 AM
Ian Hendrie 26 Nov 13 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,dicky boy 26 Nov 13 - 04:20 PM
Tattie Bogle 26 Nov 13 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 26 Nov 13 - 07:16 PM
selby 01 Dec 13 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Joe G 01 Dec 13 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Guest - Betsy 01 Dec 13 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Jim Moray 02 Dec 13 - 06:27 AM
Ian Hendrie 02 Dec 13 - 10:32 AM
selby 02 Dec 13 - 11:16 AM
Ian Hendrie 02 Dec 13 - 11:36 AM
selby 02 Dec 13 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,AWR Leicester 02 Dec 13 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Chris Murray 03 Dec 13 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,Chris Murray 03 Dec 13 - 04:16 AM
GUEST 03 Dec 13 - 07:41 AM
C Stuart Cook 03 Dec 13 - 12:15 PM
Ian Hendrie 03 Dec 13 - 01:05 PM
Raggytash 03 Dec 13 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Silas 03 Dec 13 - 02:00 PM
Ian Hendrie 03 Dec 13 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Guest 03 Dec 13 - 09:00 PM
C Stuart Cook 04 Dec 13 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Anthony John Clarke 04 Dec 13 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 04 Dec 13 - 01:38 PM
Ian Hendrie 04 Dec 13 - 02:45 PM
C Stuart Cook 04 Dec 13 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Silas 05 Dec 13 - 06:58 AM
Ian Hendrie 05 Dec 13 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,John D 05 Dec 13 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 05 Dec 13 - 05:47 PM
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Subject: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 12:30 PM

Anyone going to the GCFF. The line up somewhat good to say the least.
Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Richard Digance, St Agnes Fountain, Edward II, Cara Dillon I could go on ..........


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 01:31 PM

Cara may object though. Be sure to ask first.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 01:37 PM

Isn't that Shrewsbury?


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 01:43 PM

http://www.bigweekends.com/your-break/94452


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 03:30 PM

We went a couple of years ago - incredible value, variable sound quality, long queues next to slot machines (arrggh), two main venues, real ale :-)

I'd go again if the line up was unmissable but it hasn't been yet - a bit too much reliance on the old stagers rather than young blood

Though there is Cara......


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 03:46 PM

Yep - we are going for the first time.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,dicky boy
Date: 20 Nov 13 - 05:21 PM

Where going thats the kelk brigade, not missed one yet good value and good fun see you there nick.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 21 Nov 13 - 12:09 AM

If Cara were playing there it would only make a good line up better. We likes Cara we do !


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 13 - 02:43 AM

Joe I thought you said she was? She was there the time we went and was the highlight


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 21 Nov 13 - 01:34 PM

Cara Dillon IS in the line-up :

http://www.bigweekends.com/your-break/94452

Looking forward to it.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 21 Nov 13 - 01:51 PM

Be good to have a report back - I'd particularly be interested to hear if the sound is more consistent now


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 05:58 AM

Does anyone know where to find out what time it kicks off each day? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 04:52 AM

Just checked this out.

Not a lot of Folk music on offer.

The bands are harmless enough and not lacking in musicianship although no doubt they will be very loud. (Hides a lot does noise)

Average age I would guess at 60+ - probably the same as the audience.

£150 + for room only as a single aint cheap. Does that include the concerts?

Food & drink will no doubt be very average and expensive.

Don't think I'll bother thank you.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 08:20 AM

The cost does include the concerts - the food was pricey and dull when we went but I don't think the drink was too excessive compared to what you pay elsewhere at some other festivals

I don't recall excessive volume being a problem just inconsistent quality which may have been resolved by now


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,M and C
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 10:11 PM

I'm going too... seems like a good deal... £232 for 3 nights accommodation with breakfast and dinner all the concerts and swimming pool...and that's for two people...


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 04:43 AM

If you are ONLY a Listening Oik , its probably O , but there is NO mention of Sessions or Singarounds so I wont bother !


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 06:00 AM

Terry, there are some sing-a-rounds and an open mic session (all plugged in etc) But the main thrust of the festival is concerts and with the line-up advertised tremendous value. Wombat and I went last year for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

There are bars were people could prolong the sing-a-rounds if they wished but with so many great artists and bands there it seems daft not to go to see them.

Horses for courses, me old love.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 04:12 PM

As, predominantly, a listening oik I'm still looking forward to it.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,dicky boy
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 04:20 PM

This year it has cost us 230pound for 2 of us lovely warm room ,premium dining, line up not to bad, use of splash world, and not to far from where we live. decent sing-a-round last year with the Newark gang.and no chance of getting stuck in some wet muddy folk festival camp site.Maybe this is not everybodys cup of tea but we enjoy it...regards Dicky boy...


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 06:48 PM

Should it not be GBFF rather than GCFF? - never assume that people know what acronyms or initials mean, please!


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 07:16 PM

Ooops, well spotted Tattie Bogle, my mistake, Mea culpa


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: selby
Date: 01 Dec 13 - 04:08 PM

Returned from the GBFF enjoyed the artists and weekend immensely unfortunately as predicted the sound was not what you would call 100% professional. Strange that a sound crew can arrive in a marquee and produce brilliant sound and band changes quickly. Yet a leading national holiday companies permanent sound system fails miserably I talked to a Butlin's manager to a find out why and he said it was the bands bringing equipment that was not compatible with their system. They wanted the bands to use Butlins equipment, but the festival organiser said that the bands could bring what they wanted. He suggested it would be different next year as they had to do some serious talking with the organiser. So that means in corporate speak, watch this space.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 01 Dec 13 - 05:48 PM

That's a shame - was hoping they would have sorted it out by now. It will be interesting to see what the proposed solution is!


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Guest - Betsy
Date: 01 Dec 13 - 07:58 PM

Why is Richard Digance even considered being associated with British folk music ?


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Jim Moray
Date: 02 Dec 13 - 06:27 AM

"I talked to a Butlin's manager to a find out why and he said it was the bands bringing equipment that was not compatible with their system. They wanted the bands to use Butlins equipment, but the festival organiser said that the bands could bring what they wanted. He suggested it would be different next year as they had to do some serious talking with the organiser. "

That's hilarious. I didn't see any bands who had brought in their own sound desk or anything like that (which is common with bigger, more complicated bands), only their own instruments - Butlins had a drum kit and guitar amps but very few people used them. I wonder if thats what he means.

The problem was really that the (very nice, and hard-working) sound crew just weren't geared up to doing quick changeovers. I get the impression that the way Butlins usually works is to set up the Redcoat band, then save the settings and not change them for a season. Therefore the crew are not used to setting up new things quickly, or finding other ways to do something on the spot. They just needed to be faster and more flexible.

I'd also suggest they needed to hire a specialist front of house engineer to mix the bands. We used Tom Wright who was there with EII, and loads of people commented that it was the best sound up to that point. He tells me that all he did differently was to turn off all the reverb. Draw your own conclusions…

I enjoyed it though, and I think it could be a very good festival. It was a very different audience to those at summer festivals I usually play at so it definitely fills a niche in the market. And the site and accommodation could make it really good if they sort the stage management out. All it would take is to hire someone with experience to stage manage, and someone with experience of folk and folk-rock festivals to be the in-house engineer. I hope they keep it going.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 02 Dec 13 - 10:32 AM

Just returned from the festival and thoroughly enjoyed it. Warm accommodation, good food and drink and some excellent music. The two negatives were the queuing for a decent seat (in the cold) AND THE SOUND!

Clearly there was something seriously wrong with the set-up in both venues and the amount of time it took to change over between acts was ridiculous. This resulted in slow hand-claps and booing in the Friday night which, one might have thought, would have had some effect but if it did it was marginal.

Fairport were one of the few acts to actually get their sound sorted and were able to start on time and were magnificent, as was Cara Dillon and her band.

On the other hand in one venue two solo performers were, separately, far too loud and their lyrics therefore incomprehensible. For the sake of my ear-drums and sanity I left.

The statement above from the Butlins' manager was clearly bunkum.

Despite the negatives, and without even knowing the line-up, I've booked for next year. I hope they address the sound problems in the interim.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: selby
Date: 02 Dec 13 - 11:16 AM

Ian
The statement above from the Butlins' manager was clearly bunkum.
I totally agree I explained about green field festivals and bands changing within 15 mins and the sound being perfect, in my opening to him. The reply was IMHO Butlins publicity dept,s answer. Lots of people moaned and I took time out to find someone, it was no use falling out with guy just registering concerns, if they do not know from enough people they will not do anything about it. Also as seems from's Jim's post, artists are putting pressure on the management, who is the management at fault, the festival organiser or Butlins I would suggest the festival organiser.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 02 Dec 13 - 11:36 AM

Hi Keith,

Thanks for taking time out to register your concerns (which were clearly shared by many) with the 'management'. Are you suggesting that dissatisfied attendees should contact Butlins individually to express our concerns?
Also, a question, who was the organiser? I just presumed it was someone within the Butlins organisation.

Ian


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: selby
Date: 02 Dec 13 - 12:13 PM

From the guy I talked to apparently not, I asked him if there was a feedback for to fill in for Butlins Folk Festival was told no, but did I wish to give him any feedback, I suspect he had sussed where I was coming from. He also told me that people had complained that the cinema was shut, with some good films advertised, he told me the organisers of the folk festival had told them that they did not want the cinema open. Not sure what the arrangement is, but certainly got the feeling the folk festival was nothing to do with Butlins, they let out the facility to whomever. As for contacting Butlins thats up to yourself, but if you do not give feedback people think everyone is happy.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,AWR Leicester
Date: 02 Dec 13 - 04:15 PM

A strange but enjoyable week end. The accommodation , food and especially the staff were very good , a very professional set up. Yes the sound was atrocious at times but the find of the week end for me was Take 3 with Jaqui McShee , beautiful songs and superb guitar and arrangements . Both the Morris sides were excellent and danced to a big audience at least on the Saturday. I even managed to get a few tunes in at the session in the pub, a surprising number of us oiks had brought instruments with us . My personal niggle was the high level of background noise especially in the main hub. Up to three different music sources at the same time plus any number of games machines screeching and wailing (no children allowed !) and just do not mention that Bob Dylon again....
    All in all well worth considering if you like the look of the guest list , just bring plenty of warm kit for the queuing.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Chris Murray
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 04:13 AM

We went to the first one to see Donovan and enjoyed it very much, despite freezing, snowy weather. I do like the idea of everything being on site and the accommodation is excellent. However it seems that many of the 'teething problems' that we encountered still haven't been sorted out which, I suppose, is why we haven't been again.

Butlins do a lot of these weekends, presumably to rake in some money when the holiday camp is shut. I don't think they have many complaints from other users but I suppose the sound system matters more to folk acts.

When we went the cinema was open. We saw "Made in Dagenham" and it was one of the highlights of our festival!


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Chris Murray
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 04:16 AM

There was a lot of stropping the first year because there is a "no kids" policy. That seems to have died down.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 07:41 AM

Dylan's getting a proper pasting in France at the moment, anyway.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 12:15 PM

This is my take on it.
For three nights accommodation in rooms as good as most Spanish hotels and better than some, food that I could find no fault with terms of dining area, selection and standard for three nights, and superb staff it was unbeatable value.

I now know that the music and festival organisation is done by others and that is where the problems as such arise.

The guest list can't be beaten in terms of breadth and quality. Some of the lesser acts were of questionable value. The big question mark comes when we touch sound and organisation.

From the top this was my weekend.
Female MC - would have suited a R1 roadshow. Folk?? Too many yees and how's.
Jim Moray - unenviable task of opening the whole affair. Did well considering but no one listening in my area, all too excited meeting & greeting plus filling up with beer.
Barbara Dickson - fantastic. Sound was good but trouble with her guitar line presaged later problems. They positioned a vocal Mike but didn't turn it on.
Arab - I can only relate what I was told but it was a disaster with the sound crew unable to master the basics.
Bailey Tzuke - excellent musicians from her mothers band. Nice singer but not folk and little stagecraft.
Judie Tzuke - very good, crowd really took to her. Despite the next act not coming on for an hour and no activity on stage for over 20 minutes they refused her an encore.
Karak - who the hell booked them. The open Mike had better music

It was now apparent there were no sound checks as such, just line checks.

Annie Winter - headline act in an essentialy acoustic venue. Problems setting up sound. 30 minutes late start. Strangulated phony American accent. Awful.
Bruce & Jamie Watson (big Country). Mmmm.....
Take 3 - absolutely fantastic. What a guitarist. Gerry Conway has trained a woodpecker to tap in time to the music. Sound OK.
Allan Yn Y Fan - only caught a few, brilliant. Crowd vocal but no encore.
Cara Dillon - brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Sound sometimes iffy.
Springfields - forgotten words, missed harmonies. Total disaster and shouldn't have been there.

Gary Fletcher & Tom Leary - brilliant. No encore. An hour before Faiport. Sound OK but a couple of mega clicks.
Fairport - I now know they weren't happy at being refused a full sound check in the morning. Just the line checks. I also now know that there own sound man had taken over. Sound spot on. Fairport superb. Chris Leslie on Cell Song produced the stand out song of the weekend for me. Two spots but missed the second to watch Steeleye. Told they were even better in the second half.
Steeleye - I've seen every. Lineup of Steeleye since they were formed. Bear in mind this is their 6th decade. The sound was so bad in the Dark Mummer, bass and drums that it made my wife feel ill. Maddy's voice was more of a squawk. I've listened to the CD since, no comparison. Shamed to say it but I left early. Sound man should gave been executed.
Common Tongues - not my stuff but they were very good. The crowd loved them. I presume there were some sound problems as they did there last number in front of the mikes. Brave in a 4000 seat vast room. No encore.
Reg Meuross - absolutely fantastic. I can't fully describe his mastery of the audience, his song quality and delivery. THE act of the weekend for me. Not seen him live before. Sound good, but too much reverb. I now realise and know that this was a common fault throughout the weekend.
Richard Digance - for at least an hour the funniest folksinger in England. I didn't realise how good a guitarist he was. His songs were brilliant. As for the Animal Song! If you weren't there hard luck, you'll never know what you missed. Someone queried his credentials for being at a folk festival? Poor fool.
St Agnes Fountain - good but sound verged on the painful. So much so that we regretfully baled out.
I also understand that a large number of the PA speakers in both venues are shot. OK for disco but not for folk.

Hopefully if this filters through to the artists they'll all arrive next with a harder face and line on sound checks. A bunch of competent sound men would help.

Did I have a good time - already booked for next year. Can't be beat.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 01:05 PM

I think I can guess the difference between a line check and a proper sound check. I imagine that with only a line check, starting your first number must be like driving into dark tunnel not knowing if your headlamps are working. I was amazed that some of the acts sounded as good as they did considering.

Clapped out speakers, a setup usually used for rock bands or disco, lack of proper sound checks and non-folky sound engineers sound like [sic] major reasons for the audience's disquiet.

I have just completed an on-line Butlins feed-back form but it was rather rigid. I was forced to express my opinion on Splashworld when I didn't go anywhere near the place.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Raggytash
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 01:07 PM

Just as a balance to defend the soundmen at the Steeleye concert. The sound up in the gods, where they are located, was fine. The difficulty lies in creating that same sound throughout a long and fairly narrow concert hall, which may have been the cause of the problem you encountered.

As an aside someone I know was right at the front almost on the stage and they did not report any problems.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 02:00 PM

I was behind the sound booth for the Steeleye concert and it was the only act I saw who had the sound right. The rest were either shite or just passable.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 03:01 PM

I generally had a seat more or less in front of the stage for all the acts I saw and the sound ranged from fair to quite good; not really bad nor really good either. Fairport sounded best to me though that may be down to their own sound man.

The rooms were equipped with physically large speakers which may have been old, I don't know. On a much smaller scale it is clear that artists and bands with systems such as the Bose L1 generally have an impressive sound. Could the problems of 'good sound' throughout a large room be addressed by a scaled up version of this system using lots of small speakers rather than a few large ones?


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 09:00 PM

I find it very strange that people interested in a genre such as folk song and music which is based mostly on listening to and not hopping about should continue to put up with "shite" sound.

Complaining on Mudcat will make not the slightest bit of difference, only a large volume of negative feed back or, better still, media involvement might work.

Try writing a letter to the local newspaper - it's local jobs that are on the line if things don't work.

Personally it's not my bag but I know from experience that bad publicity is not always better than no publicity at all.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 06:36 AM

Disagree, I think that what goes on at the music weekend operates in a bubble from Skegness. As we found out it's not really anything to do with Butlins , other than the use of their original system. The Festival organisers engineer the sound and they are rather faceless. By highlighting the problems here we inform others for next year and more importantly the artists network that uses the forum just as much as we punters
Next years artists and their agents will be forewarned well in advance. The message will have got out there already. The anger felt by two of the principal artists I talked to left me in no doubt about where their comments will lead.

it is true though that we, the paying punter, have always had to put up with atrocious treatment in terms of sound at events. "Borrowed" PA's guaranteeing disasters. As Pa's have got more sophisticated it doesn't rally seem to have helped. The competency of sound engineers is the biggest factor. I could go on endlessly but will resist.

I do think that what has been said here is ultimately for the good of the organisers, the artist and the punters and will achieve something.

I would restate that it was a great weekend. If only for Fairport's 'Cell Song" and Reg Meuross.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Anthony John Clarke
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 09:40 AM

I thought Facebook had become a courtroom but then..

. As for artists "room for everyone"..... as for sound we all struggled .

The Italian was good !   AJ x I missed the redcoats


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 01:38 PM

Anthony John, Enjoyed your set on Sunday, we didn't get the chance to have a natter, each time we saw you, you were engaged in conversation.

However the performance, as always, came across really well.

I don't understand how anyone can have any gripes about the weekend overall.

Cheers

Nick & Christine

PS If anyone doesn't have a weekend overall I sure we can start a website to provide them !!!


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 02:45 PM

"I don't understand how anyone can have any gripes about the weekend overall."

Agreed! We have already booked for next year without knowing the guest list. The poor sound (at times) was the only real negative.

Heard some excellent acts which we might not have seen otherwise; we met some really nice people in the queues and had really long conversations with them - this took our minds off the chronometer and the thermometer.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 03:17 PM

Reading back through the comments I don't think anyone does have any gripes overall. Mine are very specific. Whilst I myself have aired specific criticisms I still say it was a good do, but as a paying punter I feel I don't overstep the mark by airing them.

It was billed as the Great British FF. I'm taking that the "Great" was supposed to imply some sort of level. In my paying punters opinion I felt that some of the booked acts were there on false premise. Maybe their agents had done a good job, maybe the organisers are not that savvy on what they should be booking or even too adventurous.

I didn't say before but possibly Scotland was a bit under represented. That may be distance and availability.

I missed any singaround sessions in the bar unfortunately. I didn't know about them.

My single biggest disappointment is not realising there was steamed sponge puddings and custard at the end of the food bar until Sunday night. I'll know next year.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 06:58 AM

Well, I think I can do no more than relate our own experience and follow it with a few conclusions and recommendations.
I went to Butlin's a couple of times as a kid. It was, in the sixties certainly, a cheapish readymade holiday for working class families with not a lot of what we now call disposable income, and, in truth, it does not really seem to have changed much since then.
Skegness is a pig of a place to get to and, when you eventually do get there, your first impression will be 'why have you bothered?' Whoever thought of making Skegness a holiday destination must have had one hell of an imagination or sense of humour or they were certifiably insane.
Driving through the town we came to the entrance to the site. I have to say that the organisation was pretty slick, considering the numbers of people that were there, we were checked in within minutes and give a very good site map and keys to our apartment. We arrived a little early and had to wait till four o clock before we could enter our flat, but there were coffee bars, restaurants and a very decent pub for us to wait in, naturally we chose the latter, and, do you know, it was alright! Good real ales and excellent coffee, we took the opportunity to browse the breakfast menu whilst we were there and it did look pretty good.
Four O'clock came at last and we made our way to our home for the weekend. We had elected to go for the 'Standard' accommodation rather than the 'Silver 'or 'Gold' standard. It strikes me that if the other accommodation status were named after precious metals; ours would have been better called 'Pig Iron'. First impressions were not good. On opening the door it appeared that someone at some time had tried to break in and a very hasty repair had been made (on reflection, they may have been trying to break out), the fitted carpet that had been thoughtfully provided looked like it had been reclaimed from a restaurant after the Bullingdon club had an evening out there. I wouldn't say exactly that one's feet stuck to it as it was walked upon, but I kept my shoelaces done up tight just in case. A couple of cupboard doors were falling off and a drawer front was hanging on by a thread, but apart from that and the hair in the shower plughole, it was OK, after all, it was only for a couple of nights. To be fair though, our friends had booked both a 'Silver' room and a 'Gold' apartment and these were both excellent – so I suppose you get what you pay for.
As far as entertainment goes the line-up was, to say the least, impressive. Steeleye, Fairport, St Agnes Fountain, Jim Moray, The Strawbs, Barbera Dixon, Bob Fox and Billy Mitchell and loads of others. One of the main problems was that there were effectively only two proper concert venues, both very good in their own way, but with a line up like this, you are bound to miss some of the acts that you want to see, but that is the way of all festivals, and, big as the venues were, they weren't big enough! The first night was a disaster, We particularly wanted to see Jim Moray and made our way to the venue to find it absolutely crammed full, people were standing six deep wherever they could and I think with it being the first night, a lot of folks met up for the first time for the weekend and were talking quite a lot and poor old Jim had to cope with this and with a totally inadequate sound system – the lad did well, but after an hour of standing and trying to listen, we called it a day and went back to our bolt hole. We were a bit knackered anyway after our journey so we hit the sack and looked forward to what the morrow would bring.
After a leisurely lie in and a cup of tea made with diluted Dettol (what is it with the water in the fens? It always seems to be over chlorinated) we made our way to the 'Sun and Moon' the pub for breakfast. Brilliant breakfast – truly excellent – could not fault it – bacon, sausages (real ones), eggs, hash browns, tomatoes, mushrooms (real ones), fried bread and beans and all very well cooked and all for about seven quid. Set us up for the day! However, it does show the slight naivety of the organisers that for the entire weekend of the 'Great BRITISH Folk Festival' the pub was blasting out Bob Dylan inside and out. – It was bad enough for us punters, but it must have been hell for the poor bloody staff.
Time was pressing on and we decided to stroll down to the main complex to watch a bit of Morris Dancing. The dancing was pretty good, but the organisers again thought it a good idea to have background wallpaper music on constantly and this was competing with the Morris tunes. Ah well – back to the pub for the sing around.
The sing around was good, very good in fact as good as any at any festival I have been to and was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
Throughout the weekend we managed to see some very good performances, but they were very badly let down by the sound system and the 'in house' sound engineers. It took ages, over an hour in one case, to set up between acts and when they eventually did the sound was very poor. In fact, the only time I found the sound to be any good at all was when Steeleye played – I reckon they must have brought their own sound people.
I can't comment on the quality of the many restaurants on offer as our very good friends who were staying in the much envied 'Gold' apartment very kindly fed and watered us every evening which was incredibly kind of them.
So, to conclude; this could be something special. It desperately needs a professional Folk Festival Organiser to run it; it needs to be more careful of its guest selection and clashes of similar artists, it needs a complete overhaul of the sound systems, this is vital. It needs to make proper use of the main event area there was a great looking stage there and a dance floor that was only used for the Morris yet there was no Ceilidh – I have never been to a folk festival without a ceilidh and this area was crying out for one.
I think we were just a tad unlucky with the state of out apartment (at least I hope we were) everyone else I spoke to seemed to find it OK.
So, would we go again? Dunno – the jury is still out. It was cheap enough and at a good time of year but for me, the sound is very important, that is what I go for really. I also like to be able to actually sit down at a concert!
Cheers


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 08:14 AM

Very fair review, Silas. I'm hoping that they do something about the sound but I suspect they won't.

To get good seats we had to queue outside for at least an hour each time; so will be investing in some arctic clothing for next year. The 'saving' of spaces in queues for friends who turned up at the last minute was 'not British' IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,John D
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 04:51 PM

Our thoughts on the weekend are very similar to those already stated, our standard room was basic but ok, the Butlins staff friendly and efficient and The Deck premier dining very good.

The real problems were the hour delays between artists which were then often added by another 30 minutes for technical reasons for artists such as Jim Moray (who was superb)

To have the two headline acts, Steeleye and Fairport opposite each other in the two main venues was crazy, I hear that they closed the doors for Steeleye Span as the numbers were getting dangerous.

It was like ITV and BBC fighting for the same audience - why not put them on different days or one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

Fairport was obviously not booked elsewhere as Dave Pegg and Chris Leslie were performing on different sets.

To have the walkways blocked, seated spectators surrounded with no immediate walkway to aisles made me nervous in case of fire and had me checking where the nearest fire exits were. I saw very few staff who were not working on the bars or on the sound systems.

Would I go again - not sure - it could be great but left us feeling
frustrated also with sore bums from sitting on a hard floor for two hours for Steeleye Span, a great set but sound quality poor.


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Subject: RE: Great British Folk Festival
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 05:47 PM

I too puzzled for a while about the timing of Fairport & Steeleye gigs. Why have them at overlapping times?

But giving it a bit of thought I realised why it was done like that.

If either band had performed independently neither of the venues would have held all the people who wanted to see them.

Thus by having both bands working at the same time it allowed people a choice of which band to watch .........and limited the number of people disappointed at not getting into a particular venue ..........(which I know happened at the Steeleye gig)

Not an ideal situation I accept, but I can see the logic.


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