On a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon last weekend, I headed east for my second Leigh-on-Sea Folk Festival – and had another fantastic time.
Established in 1992, the Leigh Folk Festival takes place annually at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, and lays claim to be the “largest free folk festival in the county.”
Taking place over four days, the event puts on hundreds of performers across multiple venues in Leigh Old Town, watched by thousands of spectators.
The festival is run with a brilliant spirit, as exemplified by their website statement:
Rather than drifting towards becoming another commercially driven, ticketed event, the team of volunteer organisers has doggedly held fast to the original grass roots, access-for-all ethos, and so the festival has retained its unique, eclectic and idiosyncratic atmosphere.
Music has the power to make us all feel part of something bigger than ourselves, while nurturing a true sense of community and local pride.
The pastoral, village fete atmosphere of the Library Gardens and the bustling, waterfront location of Old Leigh are both fundamental to the spirit of the weekend, and offer a natural, unpretentious welcome to visitors in their thousands.
A century ago, Essex proved fertile ground for the first wave of folk song collectors like Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and perhaps some of this legacy persists in our local traditional music scene.
While Southend and the ‘Thames Delta’ are probably best known for the blues and pub-rock bands of the 60s and 70s, as well as today’s local heroes, it has always supported a flourishing folk and acoustic music scene and has in recent years seen poetry and storytelling take to the stages, along with traditional dance sides and a truly special procession.
The Leigh Folk Festival is fantastic, it’s free and it’s all our own. And what’s more we have more mud than Glastonbury… but only when the tide is out!
After much train frustration, I got there just in time to catch most of the Bridport Dagger’s set.
I was invited to play along to the last song – here’s the view before I jumped on stage. Thanks again guys!
Perambulating, drinking singers.
The tide was a very, very long way out. Compare the view with last year’s festival.
Some hardy swimmers take on the mud.
On the beach.
Glastonbury levels of mud.
The riot grrrl, punky, gender-mashing exuberance of T Bitch was brilliant. I also loved the way they politely apologised every time they swore.
Knickers were thrown from the stage and soon found a home on bloke’s heads.
The crowd loved them.
On the truck stage.
It was very busy.
Cutting a dash.
Plump and juicy. Ooooh-er.
England has beaten Panama 6-1 earlier in the day so there were a few drunk/happy, drunk and happy fans about.
Looking out to sea.
View from the railway bridge.
Sad to see that the Ship pub on New Road was still boarded up after unexpectedly shutting its doors in March 2017.