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Memories of 2011...

So here we are, mere months away from this year’s Spirit of Folk and while we’ve been busy making sure that the festival this year is bigger and better than the last, we’ve maybe been a little lazy regarding the Blog... But No More! Over the coming weeks, we’ve got some wonderful things in store for those of you paying attention.

Starting this week with a little nostalgia trip to last year...

See this time last year, I was but a simple attendee to the Spirit of Folk... I knew a few of the people organising the event but for whatever reasons, my cynicism toward the word “Folk”, made me step back a little. It had conjured up images of cheesy renaissance fairs and old men playing fiddles and pipes. I was looking forward to the event of it all but kept my expectations grounded, thinking the chosen genre of music and some of the more holistic activities would make me feel a little out of place. 

...I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed was a bizarre sense of community that started to build up almost straight away. Setting up the tent was like moving into a friendly suburb but not in that overbearing/nosey neighbour sort of way, just people having a chat and offering to help where needed. While helping a fellow camper set up tent, he told me how he wasn’t sure what to expect from the festival, that he was mainly here due to his interest in the Autumn Equinox Celebrations. Now personally I’ve never really had an interest in such things and to be honest I felt like this was going to be the beginning of my feeling out of place... but that never happened. The tribal drumming and group meditation activities were certainly there for those who wished to take part in them... but no one ever made those without interest feel left out.
In fact it all just added to the atmosphere of inclusion and community.

Musically, the weekend taught me the lesson that “Folk” was not the ominous word I had previously imagined. Maybe it was the pre existing vibe of the weekend as a whole, but watching Lynched play an acoustic set to a small audience of maybe about 40 people, while sitting around a well in the middle of the woods, was pretty amazing. I suppose my first mistake was to assume that "Folk" meant purely traditional Irish music but listening to Lisa O’Neill on the main stage, reminded me more of the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Trying to pick a personal highlight of the weekend is next to impossible... it could have been sitting in the Cairn listening to old Irish folk tales, maybe it’d be sitting in the woods drinking mead with some of the Vikings from the living history display, it might even be hanging out, playing games, in the Hall of Heroes!

Ultimately though as the weekend came to an end, on an unfortunately grey and rainy Sunday... I genuinely felt that I had experienced something a little different. 
A festival that was about more than than just the Music, more than just the organised activities. They handed out schedules at the box office, but this wasn't a festival about rushing to a certain thing at a certain time. No matter where you were at any point during the day, there was always something to do or someone to talk to. It was about people gathering together to have a genuinely good time in each others company.

...and I know as I type this Blog update sitting in the Spirit of Folk offices, it’s hardly likely I’d be saying particularly negative things about last year’s festival. To be honest though, had I not had the awesome weekend at last year’s festival that I did, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here at all.

So here’s to the Spirit of Folk 2012 being for you even a fraction of what last years was for me!