INTERVIEW: Saltburn Folk Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: George Sansome and Sophie Ward

The bucolic coastal town of Saltburn is once again the backdrop for an annual tradition that continues to grow and blossom with new sounds, ideas and energies, as Saltburn Folk Festival returns from Friday 11thSunday 13th August.

Elinor Creaby-Attwood, the artistic director of the festival, is as passionate about folk music as she is about bringing this genre to her community. “Who can’t love folk music?” She muses. “I know it may get stuck with a reputation for being old or arcane but that simply isn’t true! It’s such a diverse genre, I’ve never met a person who didn’t find some strand of folk music that was for them!”

Saltburn Folk Festival is a beautiful celebration of the genre, showcasing the vast array of different stylistic approaches.“If music can be broken down into three separate categories, the need for music has always been either to dance, to tell a story or as efficient workers songs, rallying a team during hard labour. Folk music embodies all of that! From singer-songwriters telling their stories to Morris dancers getting you up on the dance floor, these different approaches have so much life and personality to them, it’s impossible not to love.”

the humanity that comes out of folk music, the imperfections and the real people telling real stories – that’s really special

The passion that is poured into the festival is palpable, as Elinor giddily reveals the line-up, spread across the bars and beaches of Saltburn. Performances will come from local luminaries and newcomers alike, including revered songwriter Kathryn Williams; alt. cellist and vocalist Ceitidh Mac; award-winning and dynamic songwriter Katie Doherty & The Navigators; Teesside’s a capella folk band The Wilson Family; the narrative-driven film noir songwriting of Amelia Coburn; delicate sounds courtesy of Catch The Sparrow; Jon Doran & The Northern Assembly’s energetic narratives; the captivating Lady Maisery; Anna Hughes & Jessie Howard present their lofty melodies and gorgeous soundscapes, and that’s just for starters, with many more artists performing across a multitude of stages.

As the festival has grown, its role in the community has grown too, with more and more venues taking part in the summertime celebration. There’s a litany of workshops and activities that encourage all ages to come together, from sign writing, local crafts and ceilidh tutorials, there’s so much to take from Saltburn Folk Festival beside the talent onstage. Inclusivity is a real focus this year too, with a series of special Queer Folk Showcase gigs featuring artists like Malin Makes Music, Amy Thatcher, George Sansome and Sophie Ward and Alex Etchart being particular highlights.

I think what I love about folk music, is that it really is music for everyone.” Elinor enthuses. “As the years go by, the pop scene becomes more and more clean-cut and chiselled, which is amazing and there is a place for it, but the humanity that comes out of folk music, the imperfections and the real people telling real stories – that’s really special.”

Whether it’s people joining together to forget their troubles, or someone picking up an instrument and sharing something honest, personal and raw, the heart of folk music has always been about seeing the humanity of life. Saltburn Folk Festival is an opportunity to do just that; join a community of passionate people and unwind, connect and enjoy.

Saltburn Folk Festival takes place at various venues in Saltburn from Friday 11thSunday 13th August.

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