Fringe Club

As a child of rural Somerset, I am no stranger to folk music. My teenage years were spent swigging cider and singing around campfires and I was raised on a rich, if not quite balanced, diet of Bob Dylan, Lau and Eliza Carthy. So it was with a spring in my step and hope in my heart that I ventured to Fringe Club’s Folk by Candlelight. ‘Please,’ thought I, ‘let this not be terrible.’

A harp, two guitars and three total strangers is an impossible task for any jam but, Great Folk, they certainly gave it their all.

My Fringe companion and I took our seats in the Main Stage, which sweltered with the heat of candles, stage lights and Brighton’s great unwashed. But as the spotlights came up it was clear that something peculiar was going on.

Here were three accomplished musicians, clearly uncomfortable, plonked onstage in an atmosphere of forced camaraderie. A sort of impromptu jam with a set list, one by one the musicians performed their own songs while the others provided tentative accompaniment.

Brighton-based Ellie Ford was the least assured, but most promising, of those sharing the limelight. ‘Low’ is a haunting harp track with all the rich melancholy of Joanna Newsom, though less of her playfulness. Ford’s sweet, soaring voice has real emotion and fans of Laura Marling et al should pay close attention to her quietly poetic lyrics.

Jack Harris does not quite deliver upon the flyer’s outrageous claim of ‘elegantly crafted songs reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’, but then, who possibly could? A confident and accomplished guitarist, Harris has a great voice and delivers a mean anecdote. ‘Potato Flower’ is a delightful ballad which shows off his rich, smooth voice with all the proper smokiness.

A mysterious Scot replaced ‘Small Town Jones’, who was waylaid by car trouble and forced to cancel. His mature songwriting, delicate guitar and husky voice were a welcome addition to the troupe’s talents, but all in all the varied artists never quite managed to find their groove. Distracted by bewildering lighting and blasted with sound issues, the audience was polite but restless and the soporific heat soon had us nodding off. A harp, two guitars and three total strangers is an impossible task for any jam but, Great Folk, they certainly gave it their all.

Reviews by Rowan Dent

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The Blurb

The Fringe's number one late-night shindig returns for another year. Jive, bop, mosh or just tap your toes to some of the most thrilling live bands around, from the roots-tinged Mountain Firework Company to the down-and-dirty ska of Meow Meows. And when you need to cool off, step outside into our magical, fairy-lit garden bar, complete with seating, heating and a pub in a yurt. Friday 2 May - 11pm Iron Boot Scrapers + The New York Dollies Saturday 3 May - 11pm Town of Cats Sunday 4 May – 11pm Meow Meows + The Beautiful Word Thursday 15 May – 10pm Peter Bruntnell + Society Friday 16 May - 11pm Mynie Moe + support Saturday 17 May - 11pm The Impellers Sunday 18 May - 9.30pm Folk By Candlelight Thursday 22 May - 11pm Mikelangelo Friday 23 May - 11pm Flash Bang Band + The Clowns Saturday 24 May - 11pm Carnival Collective Sunday 25 May – 11pm TBC Thursday 29 May -11pm TBC Friday May 30 - 11pm Oscillator Saturday May 31 - 11pm Mountain Firework Company