Despite The Weather Ely Folk Festival Set For Another Sell-Out

With only a handful of Sunday tickets now available, the committee and volunteer stewards are beavering away on the festival site getting everything ready for the festival opening tomorrow. Rain, rain and more rain has not dampened the enthusiasm of all involved in the festival to ensure another great Ely folk festival experience.

Given the extent of rain that has fallen in this last week, and with more due to come, the festival committee is putting measures in place to manage the situation appropriately and to try and keep things as smoooth as possible for those arriving with tents and caravans tomorrow afternoon, and minimise damage to the surface of the various sports pitches we use during the festival. Stewards will be briefed this evening so that they’re prepared to give best guidance and assistance to festival-goers tomorrow.

Advice on getting to the festival

If coming by car, the festival site will not open until 13.00. Please don’t arrive early as you will likely be turned away while site preparations are completed.

If arriving by train, the festival shuttle bus will be doing a loop between the festival site, Market Street in Ely, and Ely rail station every 15-20 minutes from 14.00 to 00.30.

The festival shuttle bus will run approx every 15 minutes between the festival site and Market Street in Ely as follows over the weekend:
Friday : 14.00 – 00.30
Saturday : 09.30 – 00.30
Sunday : 10.00 – 23.00 (will drop off at station on request)

Festival concerts, workshops & ceilidhs

All marquees are now erected on the site, and are waterproof! As some of the marquees are larger this year, there should be plenty of space to shelter from the weather and take in some great music. In particular, marquee 3 is much larger and is located next to the beer tent – a configuration which seems to work well and will has us put on more workshops, mini-concerts and late night sessions.

The festival programme which wil be on sale on site sets out all the timings of the various concets, ceilidhs and workshops. Details of concert start and finish times are now available on the website. Details of workshops, meets and sessions are below.

Meet Steamchicken – 19.30-20.20
Singaround with Mary and Anahata – 20.30-22.30

Tai Chi – 09.30-10.30
Singing workshop with Lady Maisery – 11.30–12.20
Meet The Willows – 12.30-13.20
Guitar workshop with Ewan McLenan – 13.30-14.20
Singaround with Andy Wall – 14.30-15.50
Meet Nancy Kerr and James Fagan – 19.15-19.50
Shanty session with Sound Tradition – 20.00-21.00
Saturday Night Blowout Session with Pete Cunningham – 21.00-23.30

Tai Chi – 09.30-10.30
Harmony workshop with the Woodberrys – 12.00-12.50
Meet Mrs Ackroyd Band – 13.00-13.50
Jews Harp workshop with Pilgrim’s Way – 14.00-14.50
Rhythm workshop with TwoManTing – 15.00-15.50
Songwriting workshop with Anthony John Clarke – 16.00-16.50

Dance like a Witchman?

The now traditional morris dancing procession through Ely will start off from the cathedral area at 11.00 on Saturday morning. Morris teams will perform at various spots in the city centre, Jubilee Park & on the festival site on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (weather permtting). The sides will be collecting contributions for the Ely Aquarius Gateway Club who the festival is supporting this year – this is a local charity that works with adults with learning difficulties.

A molly dancing workshop with Pig Dyke will take place at 10.30 on Sunday morning, and a border morris workshop with Witchmen at 13.00 on Sunday afternoon – both in marquee 2.

And finally…

This is the last newsletter before the 2012 festival. We’re keen to get feedback from festival-goers on what has worked well and what hasn’t worked so well at this year’s festival, and suggestions on how we could improve the visitor experience. You can provide feedback via the feedback forms available on the festival site or by emailing us at We’d love to hear from you.

If you’re coming to Ely Folk Festival 2012, have a great time, may the sun shine on you at least some of the weekend, and don’t forget to pack your wellies!

Winners of Ely Folk Festival 2012 Band Competition

Against strong competition from 14 other entries, bluegrass band The Woodberrys are worthy winners of this year’s Band Competition. Formed in 2011, The Woodberrys perform gorgeous three- and four-part harmonies singing mostly bluegrass and original material. They will open the 2012 festival by performing in the main festival marquee on Friday 13th July.

Fancy catching some of the other music acts who will be appearing at this year’s Ely Folk Festival? Get along to Jubilee Park in Ely for the Eel Day celebrations on Saturday 5th May. The festival is sponsoring lively local band Pagan Molly, acapella group Sound Tradition and acoustic folk band Two Coats Colder to perform during the afternoon. The festival is proud to support up-and-coming East Anglian folk acts and events like this provide a great showcase for local talent. Entry to the Eel Day event is free.

Festival ticket sales have been strong since the box office opened in February, so check out the website if you want to book a ticket. Remember that the early bird period for reduced price tickets finishes at the end of May.

More information about the festival and the acts appearing can be found at

Ely Folk Festival 2012 – Free Festival Ticket In Return For Working As A Steward

The line-up for Ely Folk Festival 2012 has been annouced and my goodness what a line-up it is! Featuring some of the biggest names on the British folk and roots circuit and with keenly priced tickets and a family-friendly vibe, it’s no wonder festival tickets are selling out fast. Headline acts include fabulous roots duo Show of Hands, The Blues Band, Jez Lowe, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Scottish band Breabach and cajun band Elvis Fontenot and the Sugar Bees.

Ely Folk Festival will take place 13 – 15 July at the Outdoor Centre on Downham Road. It has been one of the very few folk festivals to make it onto the Sunday Times list of Top 100 Festivals in the last three years. Fantastic music, ceilidhs, opportunities to take part in music and dance workshops, kids entertainment, a real ale bar and a laid-back atmosphere are the ingredients that make for a great day or weekend out at the festival for all the family.

Weekend, day and evening tickets are now available for sale. You can buy a ticket on-line via the website or call the Box Office on 01353 669985. The festival has sold out in advance for the last four years, so get your tickets early.

Alternatively, if you would like a free festival ticket in return for working as a steward on the festival site for 10 hours over the festival, check out the website for details on how to apply.

To keep up with festival information, check out the website or follow it on facebook or twitter @ElyFolk.

Crossland To Reform For Charity Festival

One of Ely’s most popular bands of the late 80s and early 90s, Crossland, are to perform a one-off reunion set at the Maltings on 29 October 2011. Crossland along with reunions by Nutmeg and The Traceys (Donald Elseys Big Decision) make for a mouthwatering line-up for MickFest – A celebration of the life of Mick Gillett who recently passed away.

Crossland at 1990 Cambridge Rock Contest

Of Crossland, Lead singer Chris Williams said: ‘It’s been 19 years since we all last played together and you could say that a lot of water’s passed under the bridge. We’ve all been in and out of different bands over that time: Beach Blanket Bingo, Starlings, Rigby, The Traceys, Duvet, etc as well as starting families, having kids and seeing them grow up. Things were very different for us all in 1991!’

‘There were a number of factors that led us to get together but the real catalyst was when Lee Gillett contacted us about ‘Mickfest’. It seemed to make sense to do it now: in memory of Mick, it’s a worthwhile cause to raise money for and, hopefully, because it will be a great event with all the other bands involved. All the right reasons basically.’

‘Another reason is that, having tried out some of the songs, we think they sound as fresh and as vital as they ever did – and we’re looking forward to playing them again. They deserve to be heard!’

As with most band splits it wasn’t a particularly happy end to Crossland. ‘Mickfest’ will be a happier experience for us as well as serving as a massive thank you to all the Crossland fans from 20 years ago who haven’t forgotten us!

To coincide with their performance Crossland are to finally release the album ‘Rinky Dink’ after 19 years. Originally due out in 1992 but with the band splitting that year it never got a release. ‘Rinky Dink’ is a fantastic album and clearly showed the band were moving in a new direction from their previous album ‘Really Big Nothing’ (which will also be available on the night). All profits from the CD sales will go toward the festivals chosen charity.

Tickets are still available for £7.00 at MickFest.

Ely Folk Festival 2011 Review

Ely Folk Festival may be somewhat small and overlooked in comparison with the more mainstream Cambridge Folk Festival, but it has a warmth and charm and is undeniably flawlessly executed. Run by a dedicated group of volunteers, the organising committee has a nonprofit ethos that had proved a formula for success, as for the third year running the festival has sold out well in advance of the weekend.

And to the festival…

Friday July 8, 2011
There’s always something a bit special about heading towards Ely Folk Festival on a Friday evening: meeting with friends, the excitement and anticipation of the wonderfully diverse line-up, and the general fun-loving atmosphere of what is intrinsically a family festival. The big question on everyone’s lips this year – will it rain? Well, not yet, but it was clear that Mother Nature had yet to decide the weather for the weekend. Nimbostratus clouds were hovering and didn’t seem to be moving anywhere fast.

There were positives to the threat of rain. A queue immediately formed for the main stage marquee, unheard of on a Friday night. Unfortunately, whoever was first in line had queued at the wrong entrance, which resulted in an undignified scramble to the correct one.

With the marquee packed to capacity it was time for the evening’s first performance, the festival’s band competition winner Jess Morgan, a singer-songwriter from Norwich. Quite rightly described as ‘Norfolk Americana’, her brand of alt-country was well received, although a slightly nervous Jess had earlier Tweeted: “Armour plated and ready for Ely Folk Festival tonight!!”

Marquee 2 was devoted to an evening of up-and-coming bands. The gentle charm of The Willows kicked things off, followed by multi instrumentalists Crown Street, who have an ethereal quality to their English folk music that was innocent and beautiful. Also on the bill were Ben Sayer, Pagan Molly and Cly Sparken.

As the evening drew on, the eclectic bill in Marquee 1 ranged from those of a more intimate persuasion (Hickman & Quinn and Brooks Williams Band) to the danceable (3 Daft Monkeys and headliner’s The Men They Couldn’t Hang).

Impossible to typecast, 3 Daft Monkeys’ stunning blend of upbeat, danceable music got the first people on their feet and dancing at the front of the stage. 3 Daft Monkeys were a popular choice and received ecstatic applause and an encore. The same cannot be said for the punk folk of The Men They Couldn’t Hang (TMTCH), with Stefan Cush’s opening salvo of expletives about Rupert Murdoch (‘…and he shifted all his f***ing poisonous dog-sh*t powers to Wapping…’) causing many to gasp before spitting out the political song ‘The Ghosts of Cable Street’, followed by ‘Wishing Well’. The applause was muted initially but as the set went on there was greater appreciation, even if Cush did push the boundaries of acceptability more than once.

Ghosts of Cable Street / Wishing Well by TMTCH

Of TMTCH, the following morning one Facebook user wrote: “Having great time, music good up till last band last night! Didn’t come to listen to foul language (there were kids present) and political rants! Glad they are not playing again.” TMTCH was a brave choice for the festival and were the highlight of the evening, although it may have been a wise choice to have 3 Daft Monkeys as headliners.

With the emphasis firmly on having fun and being sociable the ceilidh rounded the evening off. The key ingredients of a good ceilidh being enthusiasm, a good band, and usually – but not essentially – drink. This ceilidh had all.

Saturday July 9, 2011
Saturday morning kicked off with the festival parade through Ely city centre. Led by the colourful Knockhundred Shuttles and followed by Morris sides Witchmen, Ely and Littleport Riot, Tanglefoot Appalachian, Rockinghan Rapper, Bakanalia, Gog Magog, Young Miscellany, Manor Mill Clog, Devil’s Dyke, Coton, The King’s Morris, Green Dragon, Little Egypt, Bury Fair and Wype Doles, the procession drew equal amounts bewilderment and pleasure from the unsuspecting shoppers on the High Street.

When the parade finished around midday, it was back to the festival. With Saturday being the busiest of the three days and Mother Nature finally turning on the sunshine, avid festival-goers opened their fold-out chairs and positioned themselves around the front of Marquee 1 to take in a fantastic day’s music, while making the most of the continued good weather – although the individual with the tent probably took things too far!

The Ely Online Team

The on-site facilities were plentiful (food, beer and the usual array of niche stalls). The beer tent had a fantastic selection of ales and ciders with medieval sounding names. As the weekend drew on many barrels ran dry with ‘Dragon Slayer’ being one of the first casualties. The spontaneous folk sessions within the beer tent seemed to suffer this year. The musicians struggled to be heard over the louder than usual main stage performances, which was a shame really because these sessions are loved by many.

3 Daft Monkeys Perform Saturday Afternoon

Saturday night’s headline acts began with the charming Dervish, a traditional Irish band whose performance proved to be an intensely exciting series of jigs, reels and songs. Their singer Cathy Jordan captivated the audience with her lengthy song introductions and lush vocals over a rhythmic backing of bouzouki, mandolin and bodhran. The festival loved Dervish, by far the best set of the weekend.

An interesting fact you may not know, in 2007, Dervish were chosen as the group to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest Final that year in Helsinki with ‘They Can’t Stop The Spring.’ They finished last receiving only five points – all from Albania.

The evening finished with Acid Croft pioneers Shooglenifty, who once described their music as ‘hypno-folkadelic ambient trad’. In layman’s terms Shooglenifty push ‘traditional’ to its limits with their genre-defying blend of roots music and dance vibes. They have a huge following, which was clearly evident by the sizeable crowd that crammed up towards the front of the stage to dance.

Although infectious, Shooglenifty were not to everyone’s taste. With no anecdotes between jigs and reels, the performance continued like a seamless DJ mix-tape, which was probably too much for the seasoned folk-lover and it was noticeable that the seated area of the marquee wasn’t quite as full as when Dervish performed. But those who stayed (and there were many) fervently danced and thoroughly enjoyed the groundbreaking Scottish mavericks.

Shooglenifty (no audio)

While it was the headline acts (Dervish and Shooglenifty) who had the crowd on their feet, honourable mentions for Saturday must also go to Malingerers, Little Johnny England, Johnny Dickinson and The QP, who entertained and informed with their incisive take on the folk scene.

Saturday night’s festivities wound up around midnight but the party continued into the early hours of Sunday morning in the campsite grounds. The Shooglenifty brethren played impromptu sessions in the beer tent before being moved on and playing wherever they could.

Sunday July 10, 2011
Sunday dawned while sunshine once again blessed the festival ground. Sundays are always a much more relaxing and carefree affair. The valiant early morning festivalgoer can treat their body to a gentle and relaxing Tai Chi workout but most just settle back and take in the surroundings, have breakfast, maybe participate in a workshop and have a beer.

For the children, Jan Edgecombe’s famous blackboard van and activities are always a popular destination. As was the guy making GIANT soap bubbles (a lot of grown-ups liked this too). Elsewhere, Morris Dance displays entertained, the highlights being Rockingham Rapper’s intricate sword dances and the cadaverous Witchmen.

Not sure what happened with Marquee 3 this year, it still had great workshops but there was promise of more by Festival sponsors, Spiral Earth. On their website they wrote that the marquee was to be renamed the Spiral Earth Tent with talk of great workshops and club nights plus surprise guests, acoustic performances and interviews with the artists. It would have been a nice addition between the busier marquees but it just didn’t happen. Why?

Sunday afternoon in Marquee 1 gave many people the chance to see some of the weekend’s highlights (headline acts aside) and some praiseworthy one-off performances. Tom McConville’s peers say he is the top fiddle player in the country and it’s easy to see why. With his band he gave a virtuoso performance that was technically brilliant, entertaining and had the audience laughing out loud with his narrative.

Seize The Day Perform Sunday Afternoon

With protest band Seize the Day, every song sends a message. “You’re just as likely to meet us at your nearest frontline protest, whether it’s against GM crops, or war, or fossil fuels” states their website. Their songs included ‘I’m Only Doing My job’, written about the death of Jill Phipps, an animal rights protester who was crushed to death by a lorry transporting live veal calves, but presented from the lorry driver’s perspective. Also making a powerful statement to the afternoon audience was ‘Bigger, Brighter, Better, Bullshit’, about corporate greed.

Careful planning is required if you want to see the best of what marquees 1 & 2 have to offer as performance timings of both marquees inevitably overlap. This was the case mid-afternoon with Bounty Hounds and Heidi, John and Boo.

Bounty Hounds Perform Sunday Afternoon

Bounty Hounds unique brand of folk rock opened the proceedings in marquee 2 with a superlative set. While over in marquee 1, Heidi Talbert, John McCusker & Boo Hewerdine’s astonishingly beautiful music delicately captivated with a mix of each artist’s songs and minimal instrumentation (guitar, ukulele and fiddle). Perfect.

As the afternoon turned to evening the club tent’s best acts got the chance to perform on the main stage followed by the entertaining jongleur, Rory McLeod.

The fantastic Ahab had tweeted earlier a photograph with the caption ‘Sold out: Flyers on seats, sweaty tent… Let’s get the chairs kicked away’. Well, the chairs remained in place but the audience loved the harmonies of their folk flavoured UK brand of Americana.

The evening ended with Ely Folk Festival favourite, Martin Simpson, described as ‘the finest acoustic guitarist on the planet’. His American blues and English folk music went down well and was the perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Once again a big thank to the committee and all the volunteer stewards who made this weekend very special.

Some Audio From The Festival

Some iPhone audio from the festival.

2011 Ely Folk Festival Sells Out

For the third year running, Ely Folk Festival has sold out in advance of the festival weekend. A great line-up of acts plus the festival’s reputation for fantastic entertainment at good value has ensured demand for festival tickets. Andy Wall, chairman of the festival’s organising committee said “It’s great news that the festival has sold out again this year. It reflects the hard work the committee has put into selecting great performers and putting together a varied programme of activities to ensure that there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the festival.”

If you haven’t secured a ticket for the festival, you can still catch a taste of it with the annual morris dancing procession through Ely City Centre on the Saturday morning of the festival weekend (9th July). This year 16 morris dance sides from all over the UK will take part. The morris sides will dance in various spots around Ely city centre during the afternoon.

Please note that NO tickets will be available for sale at the Box Office on the festival site over the weekend.

2011 Ely Folk Festival Band Competition Winner

The winner of the 2011 Ely Folk Festival Band Competition is singer-songwriter Jess Morgan from Norwich. Jess’s songs celebrate the countryside and coastline of East Anglia as well as personal experiences. Her poetic lyrics and melodic voice create a vibrant and original sound that is both memorable and refreshing and has been described as ‘Norfolk Americana’. Her first full length album ‘All Swell’ is bound to go far and Jess Morgan is a name to watch. As winner of the competition, Jess will open the folk festival on Friday 8th July with a performance on the main marquee stage. There was a strong field of competition entries to select from this year highlighting the great local musical talent around.

Ely Folk Festival Review 2010

Image: John Glover

Friday, July 9: From humble beginnings in 1985 when Ely first hosted its ‘Folk Day’ (ticket price £4.50), through years of the ‘Folk Weekend’ which was held in various venues throughout the City, to the Pocket Park Years the festival always retained a unique essence. The move to the Outdoor Centre in 2000 and the inclusion of more concerts, dances and workshops has not diminished that certain something that Ely has. As my Uncle Google says, ‘Licentia Puteus Unus’*

And so, to 2010, the Silver Anniversary of the Festival. With my Sun Dance instructions safely tucked away, the temperature at 35 degrees on the car gauge and 42 under my armpits, I set off for the festival.

Image: Ely Online Team

Ely Online assembled at the site for our traditional Friday evening photo with the Ship of the Fens as a backdrop and the remit to capture that special quality that keeps regulars coming back year after year.

Image: The Floozies

The Floozies were the first act I caught on the main stage and are so damn cool that they are like aural fans, their jazzy folk riffs bringing the temperature down with each blast from Paula Welham’s sax. Their gusts of harmony and virtuoso musicianship were a fine way to start the weekend.

Image: Harvey Andrews

Harvey Andrews was up next and the 67 year old singer song-writer enchanted the audience with his songs. With 43 years of his professional career chalked up he was proud to declare that he’s 2 years younger than Sir Cliff Richard but 2 years older that Keith Richards. The veteran was around the site on Saturday as well and he looked very chuffed after turning up for a sound-check and being sent away by the sound man as it was ‘just the same as Friday’. Very handy just being one man, a guitar and a head full of songs.

I’ve seen Colvin Quarmy 2 or 3 times before but they still have the ability to surprise. The captivating ‘Broken Man’ with its five part harmony is a tribute to NHS drugs that work and Gerry Colvin’s lyrics are a joy to listen to in these days when song writers seem scared to say what they mean.

The beer tent was doing brisk business and when the Dragon Slayer ran out my distraught daughter had to accept an alternative, Eelcatcher, which brought a grimace to her face. Luckily, there were many more barrels to hand and we enjoyed at various times; Reel Ale, Anniversary Ale, Dragonslayer and Shefford Bitter. Many thanks must go to the overworked volunteers who battled away all weekend to keep the beers cool and the customers satisfied.

Image: The Demon Barber Roadshow

The opening nights headliners ‘The Demon Barber Roadshow’ were, as the youth say, Awesome. Mixing traditional folk tunes and using clog-dancers and a beat-boxer (I think they’re called) as well as molly dancing themselves they earned a standing ovation.

At one point they were doing Pete Townsend style leg splits which I’ve never seen a Morris Man perform. It was like The Who doing Riverdance. No wonder they won the Best Live Act Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last year. I don’t know what any of the songs were called apart from the rebel yelling ‘Captain Ward’ but they were excellent and went down a storm.

Saturday: Saturday began, as per recent tradition, with a ginormous cooked breakfast at Ely’s premier Fryuperie ‘Street Cafe’, before getting into position to watch the Morris dance procession.

Is it all bells and whistles? Nah – we were treated to a banging, shouting and whooping parade of a smorgasbord of English dance sides including long sword, Cotswold, north- west clog and Suffolk flip-flop. That slapping sound is rather irritating. I hope they won’t be asked back.

Image: The Rumworth Morris

Back on the site later, my own thoughts were echoed when I heard a camper sigh, incline his head towards an armpit and mutter, ‘Hmm…time for some deodorant’. It was about 32 degrees at this point.

To my shame I’d missed Les Barker on his previous visits to Ely so I was determined to catch his set and I’m glad I did. Although obviously old favourites with the packed marquee (cos they chanted most of the tag lines) I sat and giggled my way through ‘Occasional Table’, ‘Deja Vu’, ‘Mange Tout’ and the rest of Les’s gloriously surreal poems.

Next up, Lau, the band I had looked forward to with the most anticipation. I had ‘discovered’ the band by a tortuous route about 3 years ago in a way most music lovers will recognise. Whilst flicking through the folk cds in Ely Library I picked up Kris Drevers ‘Blackwater’ and noticed that he’d covered ‘Harvest Gypsies’, written by our very own Boo Hewerdine. I took it out, loved it and googled Kris to find Lau. That led me to their website and I clicked on the audio link for the frenetic ‘Hinba’. Result? Me continuously playing the song in the office for the next 4 days. I got some strange looks from colleagues, I can tell you, sitting there with my headphones on playing air accordion.

Lau didn’t let me down. Corking renditions of ‘Winter Moon’, ‘The Burran’ et al met with raucous applause from a packed Marquee. I was slightly disappointed that by the end of the set they hadn’t played my favourite tune. So, when they took a breather before starting the encore I was nonplussed when they announced they were going to treat us to a song called ‘Hitler’. Hitler! Who the hell would write a folk song about Hitler? I misheard – yep, it was Hinba, in all its manic glory. As the young people say, LOL and LMAO.

Image: Bof!

Whilst I was working up a sweat just watching Martin Green manhandle his accordion, Ely On Line’s chief lensman, Karl, was at the French dance workshop given by Bof! I had planned to join him but unfortunately I’d left my dancing trousers at home.

I’m writing this on a normal Sunday morning, sitting in my boxers, mug of tea to hand and typing the words, ‘death’, ‘cake’ and ‘burial’ into Google. I’m doing some research into a tragic story I read about years ago and I’m trying to find the details. I did write it all down in a diary but it’s faster to use the interweb than sit and read through 25 years of WH Smith diaries to find a paragraph of writing. And, I found this little nugget of information – Until 1823 suicides were buried under the public highway, usually at a crossroads, with a stake driven through the heart. Hmm – I feel a song coming on.

Image: New Essex Bluegrass band

Why do I relate this gloomy tale? Because it’s only at a folk (and probably Goth) festival that you’ll happily stand there as the band say, ‘Here’s another song about death’. Yup, The New Essex Bluegrass Band played a fantastic set of snappy tales of murder and mayhem from the Deep South. With an ‘Elvis’ style microphone to the fore they took turns to step up for their solos and received an ovation from an enthusiastic Marquee 2 . Brilliant.


As the refreshing evening breeze finally began to cool down the site the Ely online team promenaded between marquees 1 and 2 via the beer tent, taking in snippets of Chris & Kelli While, Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley and the fantastic Wizz Jones. At 71, Wizz can still make his guitar weep and he almost had me blubbing with ‘Burma Star’, a song about his dad coming home from the war.

The evening was rounded off by the evergreen Oysterband. They pounded their way through an energetic set of crowd pleasers defying their 30 years experience and with the sides of the marquee down and people spread almost half way across the site to listen, it was an apt way to conclude the Saturday night of the 25th Ely Festival.

Sunday: Sunday began with Dogan Mehmet and some exquisite fiddle playing and the percussionist apparently playing bongos on an upturned electric flower-pot. They created an alluring anglo-turkish vibe and I particularly enjoyed the sing along ‘Dillirga’ with more ‘La La’s’ in the chorus than an Andy Williams song.

Image: Dogan Mehmet

Tyde were up next and I can see why they were finalists in the Radio 2 Young Folk Awards last year. Their set was awash with hooky melodies and I’m looking forward to catching them again on the Thursday evening of the Cambridge Folk Festival.

As the sun continued to shine, the New Essex Bluegrass band were back, this time on the main stage and they played a completely different set including the tear-stained declaration of everlasting love, ‘All I Ever Loved Was You’. So – probably another song about death.

We decided to make a detour to a ‘meet me’ with Wizz Jones and he proceeded to give a fascinating insight into how he developed his style over the years, learning (and cribbing) from the best – mainly Big Bill Broonzy. Wizz has a witty self-deprecating sense of humour and managed to teach some old dogs some new tricks at the same time.

Now – a dilemma. The Sunday of the festival coincided with the World Cup Final. My wallchart was up to date and I’d enjoyed a month of the greatest game on earth (apart from Kerplunk) and I really did want to watch it. C’mon – Holland v Spain. What have I done before? In 1986 I passed over the opportunity to watch Madness on the Main Stage at Glastonbury in favour of watching England play Argentina in the Quarter Final. The ‘Hand of God’ was watched on a 2” portable tv with 6 lads crammed into a 2 man tent. In 2006 I missed I missed Zidane’s chest butt whilst enjoying Zambula at Ely. So – what to do?

Football won.

I’d already decided that this would be my last review of the EFF (my 10th) so I’ll be hanging up my stubby pencil and Oxfam diary and enjoying the festival in future as a lover of folk. No more jokes about beards and spangly waistcoats from me.

A Footnote:

During the weekend I was able to catch up with Kim Mahler Garton, the Tai Chi instructor. I asked her if she’d be able to teach me how to do the splits. ‘Well…’, she replied hesitantly, ‘…it isn’t really part of my routine but I might. How flexible are you?’ she asked. I thought about it and replied, ‘I can’t do Tuesdays’.

Top Ten Songs – In No Particular Order

  1. Floozies – Coolest Girl in School
  2. ColvinQuarmby – Broken Man
  3. Demon Barber Roadshow – The Fantastic Clogs and beatbox song.
  4. Doghan Mehmet -Dillirga
  5. Les Barker – Occasional Table
  6. Lau – The Burrian
  7. NEBB – Cold Wind
  8. Oysterband – Oxford Girl
  9. Wizz Jones – Burma Star
  10. NEBB – All I Ever Loved was You

See You Next Year! – 8th, 9th, 10th July 2011

*Leave Well Alone

Ely Folk Festival Sells Out

For the second year running, Ely Folk Festival has sold out in advance of the festival weekend. A strong line-up and great reputation for good music have ensured strong ticket sales this year. Andy Wall, chairman of the festival’s organising committee said “It’s great news that the festival has sold out again this year. It reflects the hard work the committee has put into selecting great performers and putting together a varied programme of activities to ensure that there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the festival.”

The Mayor of Ely, Councillor Brian Ashton will visit the festival site on Friday evening to have a look at the activities taking place and to meet some of the hard-working volunteers who are responsible for making the festival happen.

The annual morris dancing procession will kick off at 11am on Saturday morning, proceeding along the High Street, Ely to the market square. This year 14 morris dance sides will take part. The morris sides will dance in various spots around Ely city centre during the afternoon.

Please note that NO tickets will be available for sale at the Box Office on the festival site over the weekend.

Record Ticket Sales For 2010 Ely Folk Festival

In the first week following opening of its box office, Ely Folk Festival has experienced record ticket sales far outstripping sales in a similar period previous years. Its reputation as one of the top folk music events in the country combined with a strong performer line-up for the 2010 festival has guaranteed huge interest and lots of festival-goers are ensuring they buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Andy Wall, Chairman of the Festival Committee said “We are thrilled to have sold over £20,000 worth of tickets in our first week. We are confident that the 2010 festival is going to be the best yet and a great event to celebrate the festival’s 25th anniversary.”

This year’s festival line-up includes Oysterband, The Demon Barber Roadshow, Faustus, New Essex Bluegrass Band, Vin Garbutt and Lau – winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2010.

Festival tickets can be purchased from the Box Office by phoning 01353 669985 or emailing, alternatively book on-line at Early bird tickets are available at a reduced rate before 1st June.

Ely Folk Festival Review 2009

Image: John Glover

The Ely Online team ventured once again to The Ely Folk Festival to, hopefully, capture the spirit of the event. With myself (John Glover – pictured right) on pencil and paper and Karl Bedingfield (the camera) we hope to give you a slice of the festival from a non-folkie perspective. Holly and Mike were our ears and eyes on site and completed the Ely Online team. This, the 24th Festival, had a great line-up and the prospect of some decent weather. For my take of the Festival, read on:

The Week Before

As per, my Folk Festival week began on the Monday with a diligent trawl through the Artist list and some googling. Ely Online once more were given the opportunity to see the festival from a non-folkie perspective. Luckily for the uninformed (me), Myspace is information HQ for most bands and some of their best choons. With headphones clamped on and downloading like a dervish I delved into this years selection.

Image: Sold Out!

Shortly, without moving an inch I was enjoying The Dog Roses (winners of the Band competition and first act on Friday), While & Matthews, Hot Lips and Chilli Fingers and, as they say, many many more. Yup, as usual the Ely Folk Festival was shaping up to be the varied line up of traditional and contemporary that we have come to expect. The Folk World must agree because this year the whole weekend was sold out before a note was played.

One of the nice things about the Ely Folk Festival is that you see a lot of the same faces every year and a thought occurred to me when I was travelling home on the train after work. A few Folkies with rucksacks were running down the platform to get their connection and I wondered if they knew what to expect if it was their first visit. Ely must be one of the prettiest places to arrive at on a train from either direction.

Friday Evening

Image: The Dog Roses

The music I was researching? This week’s earworm was ‘A Little Bit More Blue’ by The Dog Roses, one of the most over the top, singable and downright uplifting songs I’ve ever heard. I eagerly awaited the live rendition when they opened the festival. As Band Competition winners they only had twenty minutes in which to showcase their talents and after introducing a song with the line, ‘Here’s a song about suicide’ I knew I’d like them. I patiently waited for the big finish which would undoubtedly be my favouritist new song. Guess what? They didn’t play the bugger! When I spoke to them later in the beer tent they didn’t even recognise the song I was slurring about. I had to sing the chorus to remind them. The Ely Online team all agreed that The Dogs (as we now call them) should be given a slot in next year’s festival.

Image: Strangefolk

Strangefolk sounded suspiciously like Jefferson Airplane and even did a cover of ‘Somebody to Love’. The band has been around since 2002 and I have to agree with the programme blurb, that they played with total commitment.

Next up, after some Whitby Cod and Chips, was Something Nasty In the Woodshed. My scribbled notes said ‘Bagpipes with heavy metal guitar’. Not too far wrong as it turned out but there was much more to them. I loved their Shoogleniftyish grooves and reggae tinged instrumentals. They went down a treat.

Image: Something Nasty In the Woodshed

I found a quiet seat at the back for Allan Taylor. Living in the States for years has influenced his troubadour tales which he’s gathered over the years from talking to strangers in bars which he says has cost him a lot of money. ‘The Veteran’ was a particularly hairy tale of an encounter with a gun-toting Vietnam Vet. ‘Leaving at Dawn’ is Allan’s reflection on the travails of earning your living as a musician. Other stand-out songs, ‘New York in the Seventies’ and ‘Frenchtown’ were expertly performed in his distinctive mellow tones.

Image: Baka Beyond

It was during Allan Taylor’s set that I realised Ely On Line’s self-confessed Geek, Karl, was meddling about with his new phone. Little did I know that he was ‘Tweeting’ from the festival. For those who’ve never heard of Twitter – don’t bother, it’s rubbish. I’m sticking to my Oxfam diary and scribbling notes.

Baka Beyond were the Friday headliners and are no strangers to Ely. They got the crowd dancing at the front and gave everyone a chance to throw some shapes as a warm up before the Ceilidh.

Image: Baka Beyond

Then I wobbled home on my bike.

Saturday Afternoon

Image: Ely Folk

After a breakfast of parasetemol and a fry-up for brunch I made my way back down to the festival site in time to catch the excellent ‘The QP’. With new bassist Tim playing his first gig you might have expected a few wobbles here and there but they’d obviously blooded him well and a tight set of tunes and songs delighted the (for a Saturday afternoon) fullish marquee. This was a band that had more wind-power than me after a curry, at the top of a hill, on a windy day. At one point during the fabulous ‘Mexican Catharsis Set’ they had a four-man front line of harmonica, flute, soprano saxophone and whistle blowing away at full throttle. Hexham Farmer featured the muscular harp playing of Will Pound and I’d have to say that The QP were my ‘Eureka Moment’ of this years Festival. I always drone on about being a non-folkie but there is usually an act every year that really crowbars open my eyes to the thrill of Folk music. I suspect I’m not the only one who will name The QP as their favourite act from this years list.

Image: Ely Folk

Next up were Toy Hearts, a 5 piece Bluegrass band from Birmingham. They were the real deal and I wasn’t surprised to hear that they are off on a 5-week tour of the States quite soon. They played a captivating set full of blues, Western swing, bluegrass and some Sun-era Elvis Presley. I liked them – I liked them a lot. ‘The Captain’ and ‘Stronger’ were my faves.

A duo new to me was next on stage – While & Matthews. They said they were last at Ely when they could smell the sewerage plant. Hmm…that’d be the Pocket Park then! Chris quipped that they were covered in mosquito bites for days after playing on the old site. I can confirm that the Pocket Park still has a goodly population of mozzies just waiting to prey on bare flesh after the wife and I went down that way for a stroll on a warm evening recently. No problems with that kind of thing at the Footy Club.

Several times nominated for various Radio 2 Folk Awards, they have won the best duo at the 2009 folk awards – and I can see why. ‘Single Act of Kindness’ and the incredibly sad ‘Comfort Women’ were the stand out songs and they received an enormous cheer at the end of their set.

Saturday Evening

Image: Flossie Malavialle

With a large black cloud hovering with malice aforethought above the Isle of Ely, festivalgoers headed for canvas. As Ely On Line traversed the site clutching pints of Dragon Slayer the ‘Sell Out’ signs on the gate definitely spoke the truth.

Image: Flossie Malavialle

My ‘You Tube’ search for Flossie Malavialle had produced a few results and to be honest I had considered giving her a miss and going to watch Strange Folk for a second time. I’m glad I didn’t though because she was excellent. Despite having only lived in the UK for seven years she’s developed a rich Geordie accent which has produced a glorious Anglo-French brogue. She sang beautifully; ‘La Vie En Rose’, ‘The Road’s My Middle Name’ and generally charmed the socks off the audience. And if that made you smile it means you were there.

Image: Edward II

Following Flossie was Edward II. Again, my Googling had led me to make notes such as ‘Folk/UB40’, which proved to be reasonably accurate with one huge difference – I’ve always been put off by Ali Campbell’s cod-Jamaican singing voice. Without an annoying vocal to put me off I was free to enjoy Edward II’s ‘dance tunes of old England, sunny sexy grooves of reggae and lover’s rock’. They certainly are a ‘crossover’ act and they had Marquee 1 rocking.

Image: The Peatbog Faeries

And then – the rain began to fall. The Peatbog Faeries came on and it’s fair to say the audience were divided. I suspect that after all the dancing during Edward II’s set that it was like being asked if you want another slice of chocolate cake – more Folk than you can eat. Anyway, as The Faeries ripped up a storm to match the one outside, a large crowd formed at the front to bop the evening away while a portion of the more Traditional folkers slid away to the more gentle homes of the Beer Tent session or While & Matthews in Marquee 2. Personally I love the The Boggers after buying ‘Faeries Stories’ but I can see why they split the crowd. I would imagine at a less ‘intimate’ festival they would have had the Tent bursting at the seams. In fact they would have gone down well at Dance Island that was held last week just up the road.


Image: Mike & Holly

The clouds parted and the sun shone. Sunday is traditionally chillin’ out day – take the sides off the marquees and sit outside.

Got down to the site for the tail end of Strangeworld’s set. Plenty of people had decided to keep out of the sun and they got a good reception. Next up was Adrian Nation. I remembered him from a couple of years ago and he did ‘Where the Lions Are’, ‘Brightest Star’ and a song that, apparently, gets sung at his lad’s school called, ‘Set the Course’. In my review of Adrian’s last visit to EFF I mentioned he does a good line in Van Morrison sounding songs and I’ll stick by that.

Adam Brown and Alan MacLeod filled Marquee 2 and I was pleased that my on-going folk education led me to think, ‘Hmm..that one sounds like a song off Lau’s first album’ as they squeezed and strummed their way through another funky folk tune. Yep – I’m into this folk stuff enough to recognise influences now. When Adam (3 time bodhran champ) started his finger-snapping solo, musos began to walk speedily from all directions of the site to the marquee to watch. Perfect entertainment for a sunny Sunday methinks.

Image: The QP
Image: Eric Bogle

More beer was taken on board while listening to The QP’s set in Marquee 2 but then I had to go to the Main Tent for Eric Bogle and John Munro. A couple of years ago I wrote how he won me over and in this, his last UK tour, he did it again. His between song anecdotes about leaving Scotland for Australia when he was 19 had the audience enthralled and his rendition of ‘And the band played Waltzing Matilda’ was particularly poignant this week in view the events in Afghanistan. He received a standing ovation and the crowd demanded an encore. My backstage informant reports that Eric was reluctant to go back on stage but he did. I must confess, I’ve never been a big fan of encores – shows are paced to fit a mood, whether celebratory or dramatic. I always think it’s a bit anti-climatic to do another song after a tearjerker like ‘And the band…’. However, the public are always right and Eric came back for well deserved thunderous applause.

Image: Hot Lips and Chilli Fingers

Hot Lips and Chilli Fingers are usually a duo of Steve Lockwood and Chris Newman but they were augmented by Mark Russell from the Ceilidh Allstars on Bodhran and a bass player for this gig. Steve Lockwood is a true star and kept his powder dry for the first few songs by sitting down. After 15 minutes he was up dancing, running around the Marquee and whipping up a storm with his Harmonica. He changed the mood for a moving version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, which was fantastic. My version of the song, ‘While My Catarrh Gently Seeps’ will soon be available on a Sinus Aid compilation CD.

Another band playing for the final time in the UK were Tanglefoot. They were introduced as old friends of the Ely Festival and Al Parrish was even wearing a spectacular green shirt apparently made by Ruth Bramley – is that true? The band energetically romped and stomped out favourites such as ‘Seven a side’ and ‘Vimy’ and Terry Young gave an impassioned speech on the dangers of Global Warming which turned out to be a sneaky attempt to sell some CD’s. Excellent stuff – and I have to admit that I loved them by the end of the set whereas when they came on stage I thought they were a ‘Spinal Tap’ folk band – those curly perms must still be popular in Canada.

Image: EFF Dog of The Year 2009 – Dog 20!

And Finally…along with increased signage at this year’s festival all the dogs had individual tags to identify them and over the 3 days I was enchanted by a little dog that was fussed over by its owners and anyone that saw her. I never discovered the mutts name but anyway, stand up (on yer hind legs) and take a bow (wow) – EFF Dog of The Year 2009 – Dog 20!

Ely Folk Festival Audio


Ely Folk Festival Video

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The Dog Roses (Friday)

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Baka Beyond (Friday)

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Something Nasty In The Woodshed (Friday)

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The Peatbog Faeries (Saturday)

Ely Folk Festival Slideshow

Image: Holly

Click Image above for our photo slideshow!

Top 10 Songs From the Weekend (in no particular order)

  1. A Little Bit More Blue – The Dog Roses
  2. The Captain – Toy Hearts
  3. Mexican Catharsis Set – The QP
  4. Leaving Nancy – Eric Bogle and John Munro
  5. Comfort Women – While and Matthews
  6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Hot Lips and Chilli Fingers
  7. Vimy – Tanglefoot
  8. Where The Lions Are – Adrian Nation
  9. Seven a Side – Tanglefoot
  10. Stronger – Toy Hearts

The 25th Ely Folk Festival will take place on 9th to 11th July 2010 – see you there!

Ely Folk Festival 2009 The Best Yet!

Feedback from festival goers is that Ely Folk Festival 2009 was the best yet!

With all festival tickets sold out a week in advance, the sun shone all weekend on 1500 happy festival goers. A strong line-up, great music and a friendly atmosphere all combined to make the festival one to remember. Top bands Edward II and Baka Beyond had the main marquee on its feet dancing on Friday and Saturday nights, while singing legend Eric Bogle sang his best known song ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ to a hushed audience on Sunday evening. Up-and-coming bands Something Nasty in the Woodshed and Dog Roses added verve and attitude to an impressive musician line-up.

Complimenting the concerts, a programme of workshops, informal artists ‘unplugged’ sessions, dance displays, ceilidhs and children’s entertainment over the weekend was enjoyed by festival goers. The Saturday morning dance procession was watched by crowds of local people and visitors as fifteen morris teams brought colour, music and spectacle to the streets of Ely.

Chair of the festival committee, Trish Reed, said “Ely 2009 was a fantastic event and we’ve had lots of positive feedback from festival goers. It was hard work but we’re so pleased that everyone had a great time and we’re really grateful for the help we received from our volunteer stewards over the weekend. We’re already planning Ely Folk Festival 2010”.

Ely Folk Festival 2010 will be the 25th festival and will take place 9-11 July 2010.

Be sure to read Ely Online’s full review here.

Dance Island 2009 In Hot Demand

Organisers are urging punters to buy their tickets soon so as not to miss out on East Anglia’s biggest
dance music experience of the year, Dance Island 2009, due to take place 4 July near Ely,

Standard and VIP tickets have been selling fast in the run up to the event and are still available online
and at selected HMV stores around the region.

The organisers have revealed that there will be tickets available on the day on a ‘first come first served’
basis at the festival but to avoid disappointment and save some money book tickets prior to the event.
Dance Island 2009 features four huge arenas, an outdoor stage, two arenas dedicated to local and new
and upcoming talent, a chill-out area, a VIP area, a fun fair, a food village, a range of trade stalls and
over 60 of the world’s best live dance acts and DJs.

Chicane (Live), Pendulum (DJ set and MC Jakes), Utah Saints, The Shapeshifters, Plump DJs, Altern8,
Danny Rampling, Dave Pearce, Public Domain, Lab4 and K90 are just some of the artists set to

Tickets are available through the Dance Island website – and selected HMV
stores throughout East Anglia. At £42.50 for standard tickets and £67.50 for VIP, the event is billed as
one of the best value for money festivals in the UK and will be celebrating 20 years of dance music
since the ‘Second Summer of Love’.

For full event details, ticket sales and the full line-up, visit

2009 Ely Folk Festival – What A Line Up

Ely Online is sproud to be a sponsor of this year’s Ely Folk Festival!

Kicking off on the evening of Friday 10 July through until Sunday 12 July, the festival will host top notch bands, a lively mix of concerts and ceilidhs, children’s entertainment, a real ale bar & morris dancing.

With top bands such as the Peatbog Faeries, Tanglefoot, Baka Beyond & Edward II along with a host of the best of British folk music acts including Eric Bogle and While & Matthews, the festival promises to be the best one yet.

The by now traditional morris dancing procession through Ely will take place on the morning of Saturday 11 July. Starting from Palace Green at 11.00am, 16 morris teams will process along the High Street & round the market before performing at various spots around the city centre.

Full details can be found at

Ely Folk Festival Makes The Sunday Times Top 100 Festivals List

The Sunday Times has listed Ely Folk Festival among it’s 100 top music festivals.
The preview includes events ‘from big beasts to boutique, family-friendly to hedonists-only, in-town to back-of-beyond and even overseas’. The festival is one of only five folk music festivals that have made it into the top 100.

It is just not the Sunday Times that has recognised that the festival is one of the best around – canny punters have been snapping up tickets for this year’s festival with sales so far outstripping previous years.

With a bill that includes Peatbog Faeries, Edward II, Baka Beyond, Eric Bogle and John Munro, and Tanglefoot, Ely Folk Festival 2009 is set to be a highlight of the festival circuit this year.

Information on the festival and details on how to purchase tickets can be found on the festival website:

Ely Folk Festival 2009 – Box Office Now Open

The Box Office for Ely Folk Festival is now OPEN and given the quality of this year’s line-up and the festival’s reputation for seeing great live acts in an intimate and family friendly environment, tickets are sure to go quickly.

Festival headliners include the Peatbog Faeries, Eric Bogle & John Munroe, Tanglefoot, While & Matthews, Baka Beyond and Edward II. Other fantastic acts include Allan Taylor, Adrian Nation and Flossie Malavialle. With a real ale bar, morris dancing, ceilidhs, sessions, music and dance workshops, and children’s entertainment, there will be something for everyone at this year’s festival.

Early bird tickets are available at a reduced rate before 1st June, so check out our new look web site for more details about purchasing tickets.

Ely Folk Festival 2009 Lineup Announced

Another great line-up featuring the best in British and international folk music is on the cards for the 2009 Ely Folk Festival (10 – 12 July, Ely Outdoor Centre).

Acts confirmed to date include the Peatbog Faeries who were voted ‘Live Band of the Year 2008’ at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards, the legendary Eric Bogle and John Munroe, Canadian band Tanglefoot, the original African Celtic cross-over band Baka Beyond and Chris While and Julie Matthews. Other fantastic acts include Allan Taylor, Adrian Nation and Flossie Malavialle.

The festival’s tradition of showcasing young artistic talent continues with acts such as Anna Sinfield, Toy Hearts and Hot Lips & Chilli Fingers. More information on the 2009 festival is available on

The Festival Box Office will open in February 2009. The festival’s reputation for seeing great live acts in an intimate and family friendly setting means tickets will go quickly once the box office opens.

Ely Folk Festival Review 2008

Image: The Gang

Armed with stubby pencils, scraps of paper and a camera Ely Online once again ventured down to The Ely Folk Festival to capture the spirit of the event. With me (John Glover) on words and Karl Bedingfield (on the piccies) we hope to give you a slice of the weekend from a non-folkie angle. Holly and Mike were camping and completed the Ely Online team.The forecast was dodgy but the list of bands was great. For my diary of the weekend, read on:
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2008 Ely Folk Festival On Course To Sell Out

Ely Folk Festival is on course to sell out before the festival weekend for the first time in its 23 year history. Happening from 11th – 13th July at Ely Outdoor Centre the festival boasts a superb line up including Show of Hands, Martin Simpson, Spiers & Bowden and Boo Hewerdine, promising the best festival yet. Festival organiser Trish Reed said ‘Anyone hoping to come along is encouraged to book now to avoid disappointment in the event that the festival sells out’

If you can’t get to the festival itself, don’t miss the procession in Ely town centre from 11am on Saturday an amazing sight with a colourful array of Morris sides, headed by Saor Patrol with drums and pipes.

Tickets are on sale on line at or by calling 01353 669985.

Image: Saor-Patrol

Ely Online will also release it’s annual podcast – Folkin’ Hell, It’s Festival Time v3.0 next weekend. Stay tuned. In the meantime here is our first volume from 2006. Enjoy.



  1. Intro by Carol Batton
  2. Young Hearts Run Free – Nancy Wallace
  3. My Aunt Edna – Bonnie Koloc
  4. Bones For Doctor Swah – Wooden Wand
  5. Don’t Be Upset – Jeffrey & Jack Lewis
  6. Help Me Find Myself – Tudor Lodge
  7. Graveyard – Forrest
  8. Diamond Day – Vashti Bunyan

You can listen to the mix streamed online by pressing the play button below, broadband is your friend for this. If you don’t see the player below then you don’t have the Flash Player installed, that can be remedied by going here.

Ely Folk Festival 2008 A’ Comin’

The 23rd Ely Folk Festival takes place over the weekend of Friday 11th July – Sunday 13th July.

This will be my 8th visit to the Festival and, I’m ashamed to say, it should be my 23rd. It wasn’t until I was invited along to pen some words (from a non-folkie viewpoint) by Ely Online that I took off the blinkers and saw beyond the stereotype of beards, rainbow-coloured waistcoats and men waving hankies around. Of course, all that is on offer at the festival but there’s also a lot, lot more. The Ely festival features a wide variety of styles, all which fit into the broad church of folk.

This year’s line up is no exception with an impressive guest list and programme of workshops, concerts, displays, ceilidhs and children’s entertainment. I’m looking forward to watching guitar maestro Gareth Pearson (a big hit at last years festival), The Mighty ‘Show of Hands’, local bands Lightening Jack and the Wide Glide Band, Last Night’s Fun, Boo Hewerdine, Spiers and Boden and the extremely noisy percussion band Saor Patrol.

The amply stocked beer-tent and food stalls will keep me fuelled for the weekend and Jan’s Blackboard Van will keep me occupied if I fancy drawing a picture on the side of a lorry. Music, beer, food and men waving hankies – what more could you possibly want? See you there.

Read last year’s review for a taster.

The Best Dance Event In Ely…Ever!

Axwell and Utah Saints are the latest acts to join the star studded line-up for Dance Island 2008.

Image: Dance Island 2008

Swedish house legend Axwell is the first among a list of names to be added to the Koolwaters house arena who will be joining Stonebridge along with Kate Lawler and local stars The BeatThiefs.

Dance music pioneers Utah Saints make a long awaited comeback to the festival circuit for 2008 and will be joining the already massive house line up.

As if this wasn’t enough, Judgement Sundays resident Micky Slim and Deepgroove join Koolwaters residents Marc Vedo and Jaxson have also been announced as additions to the Koolwaters arena.

Early bird tickets have already sold out and standard tickets are flying out of the door, so make sure you don’t miss out on Dance Island 2008 by getting your ticket from soon.

Dance Island 2008 is set to take place on 5th July near Ely, Cambridgeshire.

With a 10,000 capacity, 5 arenas hosted by BIG, Slinky, Natural Born Ravers, Raindance and Koolwaters, an outdoor stage hosted by Kiss FM and world class DJs, including Audio Bullys (Live), Stanton Warriors, Freemasons, Mauro Picotto, Agnelli & Nelson, Dave Pearce, Tidy Boys, Audio Surgery, Kutski, Dougal & Gammer, Baby D, Ratpack, Mark Doyle and Big Ben, this festival will be East Anglias biggest electronic music event of the year.

Dance Island is already making waves in its debut year, featuring as 13th best festival in the latest edition of clubbing bible Mixmag, ahead of the likes of Gatecrasher Summer Sound System, Escape in the park and many more established festivals.

Ely Folk Festival 2008 Box Office Now Open

After last year’s gloriously successful festival, plans are well under way for an even more exciting festival line up this year including Show of Hands, Martin Simpson (Best album and best original song Radio 2 Folk Awards 2008) Spiers & Bowden, Boo Hewerdine, Saor Patrol, Mawkin:Causeley and many more.

There is also an opportunity for those with talent to enter the band competition with the winners appearing on Main Stage 1 to open the festival on the Friday night. For further details see the website.

Tickets are now on sale online at or by calling 01353 669985.

Beware The Ides Of July

One of the highlights of Ely’s Amateur Dramatic calendar is the annual ADS open air Shakespeare production, performed each year in the Sue Ryder Gardens. This year’s presentation is the classic drama of power, betrayal and political intrigue, ‘Julius Caesar’.

Following on from the company’s successful productions of ‘The Taming Of The Shrew’ ‘A Comedy of Errors’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Julius Caesar’ is the first ADS production to be directed by Fiona Gilbert, an associate director of all of the previous open air shows. “Like all great epics, this show has been a long time in the making,” explains Fiona. “I began my preparation as soon as the curtain came down on last year’s production and hopefully, after all this work, I’ve put together an entertaining and thought provoking version of the play.”

Despite being set in Roman times and written in the Elizabethan era, it is most definitely a play for today. On its debut, Shakespeare’s drama reflected the anxieties in English society provoked by Queen Elizabeth’s refusal to name a successor. Thankfully the intrigue that has surrounded this country’s 21st Century political succession has been resolved with accession of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but the behind the scenes machinations that have brought him to power could have fuelled their own Shakespearian tragedy. “As we were rehearsing the play, whenever we got to Caesar’s famous assassination scene, I couldn’t help but imagining a version of the play that cast some of the great political leaders of this era,” laughs Fiona.
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Sample 2007’s Folk Festival

If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket for this year’s Ely Folk Festival then great news for you, the festival is going to be amazing this year, The Battlefield Band, Tin Tin Lady, Eddy Morton, Shooglenifty and much, much more.

Image: Ely Folk Podcast

Each year the festival just gets better than the last, with an impressive guest list and programme of workshops, concerts, displays, ceilidhs and children’s entertainment. The musicians appearing at the Ely Folk Festival reflect the rich diversity of the modern music scene, with a mixture of established favourites and newer talent.

The organisers are especially proud that the festival remains a small and friendly festival where you can meet the artists ‘unplugged’. You can take part in workshops, dances, sessions or perform in the Club Tent.

With less than a month before the festivities begin, Ely Online has created a special podcast to highlight the diversity of artists that represent this year’s Ely Folk Festival (July 2007).

Many thanks for all the artists that kindly allowed permission to use their tracks in this podcast.
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The Old Fire Engine House Telegraph Review

The Old Fire Engine House Restaurant & Gallery has been one of Ely’s most popular restaurants since it first opened it’s doors in 1968. The use of many local recipes, seasonal ingredients and traditional English cooking has helped make this quaint restaurant much loved with the residents of Ely and beyond.

Image: The Old Fire Engine House Restaurant

Respected journalist Rowan Pelling recently visited the restaurant and wrote this review for the Daily Telegraph newspaper as part of her column ‘Are you ready to order?’

Here is the review:

A friend and I once decided that the four words most likely to incite a public riot in Britain were: “I hate Judi Dench.” Some institutions are just too beloved to allow dissent.

Another such may well be The Old Fire Engine House at Ely. This idiosyncratic restaurant and art gallery (and former Victorian fire station) is a stone’s throw from the cathedral and has been in the same hands since 1968.

I have not met anyone in Cambridgeshire who doesn’t speak of the place with the unrestrained ardour Brits normally reserve for Labrador puppies.

Eating there feels like dining with a favourite aunt who cooks sturdy comfort food in a no-frills English tradition. It’s the only restaurant I know where you are always pressed by a solicitous hostess to have seconds, though I have yet to see anyone manage the feat.

I have not met anyone in Cambridgeshire who doesn’t speak of the place with the unrestrained ardour Brits normally reserve for Labrador puppies.

Most ingredients are sourced nearby and cooked using local recipes: pike and eel crop up regularly. So you can imagine the umbrage in the Fens this autumn when a pundit from another newspaper popped up from London and slated the food.

It was hard not to feel that the poor chap had somehow missed the point – rather like criticising the Queen for not being Kate Moss.
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Ely Folk Festival ’06 – Pre-Event Gig & Ticket Offer

Image: Ely Folk Festival

Ely Folk Festival kicks off the festival with a pre-festival Gig at The Lamb Hotel, Ely on Saturday 1st July at 8pm. Appearing are festival guests Cave supported by John Meed. Entrance fee £5 payable on the door.

Cave are a young band from Northampton performing self penned traditional style folk rock songs bringing a new fresh sound to the folk music scene. John Meed singer and songwriter based in Cambridge, plays beautifully melodic heartfelt songs that range across war, the world, injustice and love.

Earlier on Saturday 1st July at lunchtime in Ely Market place another festival guest Adrian Nation will be playing alternating sessions with Cave between 12 and 2pm. Ely & Littleport Riot Morris side will also be dancing in town.

Ely Folk Festival organisers are also offering a chance for local families to go and see what the festival is all about and is offering reduced price family tickets for the Sunday – 9th July. For residents in CB6 and CB7 postcodes the festival is offering a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for £25. This includes admission to the site and all concerts and workshops held during the day and evening. This offer is limited to the first 50 families so make sure you book in advance!
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21st Ely Folk Festival 2006 – Provisional Line-Up

Website: Ely Folk Festival 2006

Can it be only 4 months away? It doesn’t seem five minutes since we were basking in the sun of 2005’s 20th Ely Folk Weekend.
Held over three days and three nights Ely Folk Weekend has steadily grown (in size and stature) since its demure beginnings at Ely’s Pocket Park. This year sees the event undergo a slight change in name from ‘Ely Folk Weekend’ to ‘Ely Folk Festival’ and the publicity has a more polished appearance and what better time to do this with the sudden resurgence of Folk music (did it ever go away?) by artists such as Devendra Banhart, Espers, Josephine Foster, Beth Orton, Jack Johnson, The Eighteenth Day of May and even Vashti Bunyan releasing a new CD. All this appreciation has the potential to bring a new following to the Ely Folk Festival.

This year’s confirmed artists are (click names for websites):

For the first time you can now order your tickets online. Tickets for the whole weekend for an adult are £52.00 but if you order your tickets by June 1st you can save yourself £7.00.

Full details of artists and ticket prices can be found at Ely Online’s Event Listings or for up-to-the-minute news the Ely Folk Festival website.

If you were there last year you will know just how magical that hot weekend in July was. If you missed it, mark your calendar for July 7, 8 & 9, 2006 and we’ll see you soon.

Maltings Cinema Launch

Image: ADeC Cinema website

As the ‘The Maltings’ cinema (now known as the ADeC Cinema) reopens next month here is a quick roundup of not-to-be-missed titles.

Only an independent cinema can carry such a range of titles and genres without the over expensive popcorn salted dross.

The cinema reopens on June 1st at 5pm with a film for any age, ‘Robots’. From the makers of Ice Age, this animated film is beautifully crafted if a little cliched at times.

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Electric Eels

The Maltings complex has found a way to keep Ely’s teenagers from following the route of their predecessors in buying an old, loud car and terrorising the streets at night by racing round and round the city centre.

Every one or two months the Maltings, in association with ADeC and the Babylon gallery, hosts an Electric Eel event. Local bands play in the events hall and give Ely’s more rock influenced citizens something to watch for an evening.

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Ely Folk Weekend Review 2004

This, the 19th Ely Folk Weekend, was the fourth to be held at the Outdoor Centre and was, quite literally, the biggest yet. The main tent was wider than in previous years after the problems of overcrowding on the Saturday night last year. Also, another performance Marquee was added for ‘meet the band’ sessions to free up the beer tent for drinkers and impromptu jams.

As ever, the Ely On-Line brief was to capture the spirit of the weekend through our non-folkie eyes, pens and Karl’s high-tech camera.

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