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Friendly festival in a stunning location

Funke and the Two Tone Baby
Funke and the Two Tone Baby

Broadstairs Folk Week (Saturday, August 10)


Launched back in 1965, the Broadstairs Folk Week is one of Kent's oldest music events - and every year it keeps getting bigger and better.

Although in previous years I had just been a day visitor, this time I decided to enjoy the proper festival experience, and headed along on Saturday morning to pitch my tent at the campsite at Charles Dickens School.

There was ample room, no problems with finding a space, and the friendly staff were very calm and organised, creating a stress-free experience.

There were two fields available, and we camped in field A, which had great facilities as it was next to the school buildings where the catering, toilets, showers are located. Families with children were also able to enjoy the onsite Panic Circus, offering entertainment during the week.

Funke and the Two Tone Baby
Funke and the Two Tone Baby

After getting settled in, we headed down to the town centre, a downhill 10-15 minute walk from the school, and our first stop was Harpers Bar for a performance by Medway's own Funke and the Two Tone Baby.

The one man alt-blues band - aka Dan Turnbull - describes himself as a 'one-man festival' and he more than lived up to that claim, using only his voice, guitar and harmonica - along with some clever technology - to create an amazingly full sound.

The sweat poured from underneath his signature black hat as he threw himself into the virtuoso performance - a feat of musicality but also co-ordination, as he wrangled several loop pedals, a stomp box and other devices while singing his own compositions and also interesting covers of songs like Fat Boy Slim's Praise You and Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love.

He really is a performer who has to be seen, not just listened to.

The pub remained packed with people throughout his set, and he received huge cheers and demands for an encore at the end of the gig.

One of the great things about Broadstairs Folk Week is that everything is within walking distance in the town centre, and in addition to the music taking place in pubs and other venues around the town, there are lots of other things to see and do.

We wandered up to Victoria Gardens where there was a craft fair, before heading down to the pier to browse some record stalls and enjoy some refreshments in the seafront cafe.

Then it was back to the music, watching Kent folk rock band Green Diesel at the Albion Gardens.

Green Diesel
Green Diesel

The sextet - most of whom grew up in Faversham - again attracted a capacity crowd for their gig, with people packing the area outside the Albion pub, and even standing outside the gardens to watch.

Green Diesel draw on a wide range of influences for their compositions, from funk and rock to Morris tunes and ancient murder ballads, combining traditional folk instruments with virtuoso electric guitar to create a unique sound.

The band's high energy and exuberant performance, and catchy, toe-tapping songs, got every member of the audience clapping and dancing along, and again there were demands for an encore at the end of the set.

We finished our evening with a visit to Urban Folk Theory's late-night Ceilidh at the Pavilion.

Caller Cate Banister impressively created order from chaos, as dozens of people of all ages flocked to the floor, eager to take part in the organised dances.

Anyone could take part, whether alone or with a group, and there was a real sense of community as strangers paired up and worked together to master the steps. The evening was friendly and fun, and brought a diverse range of people together - exactly how I would summarise Broadstairs Folk Week.

Make sure you get along and sample some of the great music and events on offer before it finishes at the end of the week.

  • Broadstairs Folk Week runs until Friday, August 16. A full festival programme is available from various outlets around the town, priced £5.50, or call 01843 604080 orclick herefor information.
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