Burnham Deepdale Festival is very unassuming. Behind the village’s shop fronts, you are met with a warm, glowing courtyard. It is lined with fairy lights and a large firepit sits in the centre, lighting up the faces of those around it. Most are sat at tables drinking and laughing and talking. Others potter around buying pints of Moongazer ale and feasting on delights from the Wood Fired Pizza Co. The festival emits a communal vibe, almost like a large family gathering.
In the end, however, people come to festivals for the music. The main stage, a modest brick barn, creates a small and intimate atmosphere, the music ricocheting off the old brickwork. Yet, it doesn’t give you that sense of awe the main stage normally does. I don’t mean a behemoth Reading and Leeds stage, but something more towards ‘Folk in a Field’ (also local and modest in size) would have been more effective.
For the festival’s first run, and with obvious budgeting constraints, I cannot be too critical of this. Work with what you have is the motto – they did and it worked fairly well. The second stage, named the Orchard Stage, was lovely.
Friday saw folk music conquer all, led by mandolins, acoustic guitars, violins and banjos. The Georgia Shackleton Trio provided a set of excellence, with the song “War Pigeon” – introduced by Shackleton as a “dead pigeon song” – being a personal favourite. They then invited another musician on stage, a member of the duo on before, to make a brilliant quartet.
Although delicate and beautifully played, each act’s music seemed to blend into the next. More variety in Friday’s bill would have kept the evening fresh and exciting – a possible improvement for next year.
Saturday was the stand-out day with Jess Morgan beautifully headlining the Orchard Stage just before Little Red Kings took their rock-heavy music to the Brick Barn Stage.
This is what I would have liked to see more of on Friday – a contrast. It makes the next act even more entertaining as you have not just listened to several hours of something very similar.
Jess Morgan is really special. She is charming and talks to you between songs like you’re an old friend, sitting in a bar somewhere, rather than watching her in concert. Her guitar work – a mix of travis picking, chucking, and strumming – complimented her voice perfectly. Her style and presence remind me of the wonderful Laura Marling.
Little Red Kings were a hit. The conservative and reserved audience was transformed: people jigged, moved, shook themselves and roared their heads – although, this may have had something to do with the amount of booze flowing. Their set consisted of heavy rock and slow, grunge-infused ballads. Multiple times, the band members came into the audience, played with them, and swapped instruments between themselves for impromptu jam sessions. It also was fun knowing their keyboardist was the champion parkour runner in the whole of New Zealand (an in-joke for attendees).
The atmosphere sometimes let the music down slightly, however. Excluding children, I was probably the youngest person there and, although this is not normally an issue, a lot of people were very reserved.
One example of this was during Little Red Kings’ 1 hour and 45 minute set. Camping chairs were placed several feet away from the front of the stage and their inhabitants sat there for the duration. Therefore everyone else, being the polite crowd they were, had to stand behind them as to not block their view. This left a huge empty space between the crowd and the band and led to bunching by the exit, meaning it was hard at times to come and go. As the beer kept flowing, however, this issue was resolved with people taking to the front of the stage, anyway.
That being said, Burnham Deepdale Festival catered very well to children with its stargazing and drum workshops.
For £12.50, the price of a few pints, you bag yourself a weekend of music. In this respect, Burnham Deepdale Festival was a resounding success. In the coming years, I would like to see more variety in the festival’s scheduling, an upgraded main stage, and it being targeted more at locals and younger people, rather than to older campers from afar. If it is being marketed as a festival, it should really try to do all of these with its natural growth each year.
Burnham Deepdale Festival will return and take place in late September next year.