Folk By The Oak 2015 – Event Review

Date: 19 July 2015

Location: Hatfield House Grounds, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK

Costs: Varied

Performers: Main stage – (in order of appearance) Moore Moss Rutter, Lady Maisery, Keston Cobblers Club, Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor band, The Unthanks, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Bellowhead. Acorn Stage – London Youth Folk Ensemble, Gnoss, Jess Morgan Trio, Blair Dunlop, The Young’uns, Moulettes,

Description: Folk By The Oak was a festival where folk acts of all different ages and from all over the place came and performed at Hatfield House Grounds. It was a fantastic day and evening with some amazing acts, loads of food, vintage and folk stands, raffle prizes run by the Willow Foundation (a charity to give young people with terminal cancer the opportunity to have one last perfect day, for more information click the link:  and a beautiful firework display along with the headliners – Bellowhead – at the end of the festival.

A Note: I have lots of photos that I still need to sort through and edit, but I will edit them into the blog as soon as I can and also put them in the gallery. I have already posted some and they can be seen over at my twitter account:

My Thoughts: I went to Folk By The Oak but I’m not much of a folk fan myself (and don’t start thinking I’m going to say I left as a folk fan!) but I was pleasantly surprised because although I’m not a folk fan I can enjoy basically all music and I enjoyed the day, the weather was lovely and the music was good and  there were good and unique things about everyone that I saw, although unfortunately due to having to look after my stuff I couldn’t see everyone that appeared on the Acorn Stage. Firstly I’m going to review everyone individually and then summarise my entire Folk By The Oak experience.

Moore Moss Rutter: These were the first people I saw at Folk By The Oak and they started the festival off beautifully with a great collection of energetic and sad songs spaced out very well in their set. It was also very refreshing to see a group of young men passionate about not so common music – they weren’t interested in being in a boyband and playing the music that would make them most successful and get girls attention – they were interested in playing the music they were passionate about and it was really clear that it was what they were passionate about. They were really enjoying themselves – or they seemed to be – and their enjoyment was infectious and by seeing them have a good time you had a good time.

Lady Maisery: They sang a very impressive song that involved lots of ‘diddles’ I think and it seemed like a really hard song to do but they did it so well and were completely in unison and it must have taken hours of rehearsing and they’re synchronisation and the way they moved on stage together was really good, they looked like true professionals. They always looked like they were having a good time and they were always smiling. They did an acapella song (no instruments) and it was really beautiful and it was only close to the end that I released that it was completely acapella and the reason I hadn’t already noticed was because it was so nice I kind of lost myself in it a bit and it was so good you didn’t even need the instruments. It was mesmerising.

Keston Cobblers Club: A group of young energetic artists who played a range of instruments very well. They all seemed like good friends and got on, on stage – although who knows what happens off stage – but it was really refreshing to see them, I feel like Folk By The Oak did an absolutely great job at spacing all the artists out and I never would have guessed that there were so many young people who played folk music. The audience seemed to enjoy their performance as they had quite a crowd at the standing area and they all enjoyed themselves. They’re music was very well rehearsed and I found them very enjoyable to watch, they were very good at using the space of the stage. They reminded me a bit of Mumford And Sons but in a good way and they were actual folk.

Jess Morgan Trio: This was the first and only act I had the privilege of seeing on the Acorn Stage and I’m glad I did because these were artists that you didn’t want to miss. I found myself liking their music, it wasn’t the same as lots of the other music that I’d seen so far that morning, it was more emotional and although they were on the Acorn Stage and therefore had a smaller audience they certainly put on a show, they acted as if they were performing to a stadium not like 100 or so people. They knew how to draw in the audience and they talked between songs and it was nice, I felt like I could connect with them in a way that maybe I didn’t connect with some of the other acts I’d seen. I felt like I could get an idea on their personalities. Jess sang one of her own songs and I thought that was really nice because usually folk music is like traditional and it’s just another cover of a songs that’s been done loads of times and I thought it was really nice that she did one of her own and it was actually one of the better songs that I heard them do. Jess had an absolutely beautiful and soft voice, and I’m glad she’s using it. She definitely has talent.

Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor band: They were definitely the most folkie act I had seen in the day so far. There was a wide variety of different instruments and tunes and Nancy had a nice voice to listen to, and their harmonies were really nice. There was a song that Nancy did called “gingerbread” that was one of her songs and it was about summertime and love and not having much but making do with what you did have and it was really nice and had really beautiful lyrics and you really did feel like it was summer time (partly because it was). I thought Nancy was very political and had lots of good opinions and she talked about issues and the problems in the world both in her songs and in between them and it was inspirational. Nancy sang a song from her Elizabethan Time Session and it was the best song I’d heard so far, it had folkie vocals and lyrics but the instrumental bits were much more rocky and fun.

The Unthanks: They have some lovely vocals and Lizzy Jones was great on the trumpet and the piano playing was good too! Some of the songs they did just made you want to dance and they were quite rocky and then other songs were more haunting and folkie. Their last song was amazing, they ended their set magnificently! It was a really haunting and sad song and it brought complete silence over the entire audience, it was phenomenal I hadn’t seen anything like it so far that day and I never saw anything like it again. They set a peace through the entire site, you could have heard a pin drop and it was in a field! Everything was in complete silence (or that’s how it felt!) and it felt like we were all united as one, and the world felt completely peaceful, it was such a great atmosphere! Then for their encore song they sang a song which I think they sang at the start to kick their set off and it was very good and they did a bit of tap/clog dancing and it was really nice.

Mary Chipin Carpenter: I didn’t like Mary as much as I had liked other acts throughout the day, although I do think she was very energetic and friendly and pleased to be there and she’d travelled a long way to perform at Folk By The Oak and she had a massive audience, loads of people were standing at the front of the stage and I think she was good, but I didn’t like her as much as I had liked some of the other people. But she enjoyed herself and other people enjoyed her set so that’s all that matters really, you can’t please everyone.

Bellowhead: These were the headliners and I think Folk By The Oak made a very good decision to make them the headliners. I had already heard some of their music in advance and I thought it was alright but I wasn’t a fan as such. But that was before I knew how brilliant they were on stage I was mesmerised by them, they all performed so well, they’re like born performers, I’ve only ever seen that much energy on stage and that’s when I’ve seen boybands and Bellowhead are definitely not a boyband. They were just the most fantastic people to finish off the festival, it was such a great ending and I have to give huge praise to whoever did the fireworks at the end of their set, it was so good, completely in time with the music. Just amazing! It was a great night and everyone enjoyed themselves and once Bellowhead came on I felt like it had started to get the true gig atmosphere, and I was lucky enough to be stood by the front. And Jon Boden’s pink jacket was really nice!

The Gig Itself: I had never been to a music festival before, the only gigs I’ve ever been to have been in huge stadiums or at least indoor venues and I wasn’t sure what to expect atmosphere wise. I think it was really well organised and the stages were a nice size and the location was quite good, it was away from roads so you couldn’t hear the traffic. The day was fantastic and sunny, and it was just nice to be out enjoying the music. I would definitely go again, it was really good. If you like folk music or just music in general and have the money I think it’s worth going along.


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