This annual, family-run celebration of contemporary folk and roots music is slowly building support. And regularly features local artists in collaboration with the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM), alongside nationally renowned acts.
Firmly located in the buckle of the commuter-belt town of Guildford, the main event takes place just off the town’s cobbled High Street at St Mary’s Church ─ the oldest building in Guildford with its Saxon tower─ and features two stages: one situated inside the church and the other outside in the churchyard with free access to the public, and conveniently close to the beer outlet and catering marquee. Satellite gigs also take place at local hostelries The Keep and The Star Inn.
Appealing to folk fans across a broad spectrum, this is not strictly a Celtic festival, yet many notable Celtic acts have appeared in previous years: Talisk’s Mohsen Amini, O’Hooley & Tidow, Sam Kelly, UFQ (featuring Dan Walsh), and Long Lankin to name just a few. This year’s line-up included demon banjo ace Dan Walsh and his Trio, Ranagri – who released The Great Irish Songbook in 2015 with singer Tony Christie, the Russell-Algar Band (featuring Ciaran Algar – fiddle player with the Dan Walsh Trio), and Orkney’s Merlyn Driver, a Celtic singer-songwriter with a passion for the traditional Norwegian vocal art form of joik, amongst many others.
The intimate yet imposing surroundings of the church interior lent great acoustics to a stage overlooked by a monumental stained glass window and framed by pillars headed with stone bosses. Meanwhile, the odd Costa Del Folk Ibiza T-shirt could be seen amongst the crowds – where Trinity’s Saturday evening headliners, the Russell-Algar Band, will be appearing this year.
Whether inside amongst the cool, calm of the church, or outside under the scorching sun, both stages were set for a fine day’s entertainment and no-one amongst the gently swelling crowds as the day progressed went home unsatisfied.
Keep this one on your radar for 2019: www.trinityfolkfestival.co.uk
Review: The Dan Walsh Trio
St Mary’s Church, Guildford, May 19, 2018
Considering the Devil has all the best tunes, you may be wondering if demon clawhammer banjo ace Dan Walsh and his band should be playing a church stage at all. But have no fears, it quickly became obvious that they were right at home at what Dan himself explained is a gig he looks forward to year-on-year.
En route to an evening performance as part of a wider 19-date British tour, The Dan Walsh Trio – comprising of: Dan Walsh on banjo/vocals/guitar, Ciaran Algar on fiddle, and Nick Zuppardi on mandolin – opened the afternoon’s proceedings at Trinity Folk Festival in typically energetic style
The infectious bluegrass crowd pleaser Late Night Drive brought a fizz of hillbilly hoedown to an eager audience, whilst the introduction of a stomp box helped drive the insistent rhythm across several numbers. But in a seemingly incongruous change of mood, Dan jokily suggested he writes ‘miserable material’ (although there was little evidence of that on show), leaving the way clear for Life On The Ground: a plaintive number concerning the plight of a homeless Vancouver woman that struck a reflective note, making way for the glorious raga-inspired Sunrise Jig / Scaling The Fort – a triumph of Celtic / world music crossover highlighting Dan Walsh’s extraordinary ability to make his banjo sound eerily like a sitar, before segueing seamlessly into traditional Celtic territory.
A slow waltz entitled Snow In March from the album The Same But Different followed with its subtle flavour of the Fureys’ When You Were Sweet Sixteen – delicate and evocative in equal measure – before a thoroughly enjoyable gig ended in raised tempo by way of a selection of reels in furious finger-picking fashion. And it was then I decided that Dan Walsh and his band are most definitely on the side of the angels.
Dan’s fourth solo album Verging on the Perpendicular is out now. See www.danwalshbanjo.co.uk for further details and any remaining tour dates.