One of my favourite shops in Bakewell is the Bakewell Bookshop. As well as having some good reads it has an excellent choice of CDs. There’s not Virgin Megastore amounts of them but there is a good range, chosen with love, and often with little notes attached explaining why it is there. Some of the most obscure artists are represented and there are particularly interesting choices of blues, folk and world music. A few months back I saw a poster there for the Bakewell Acoustic Music Festival and planned to attend. Like most of these things the weeks pass by and you forget. In this case I managed to rally the troops and so we went down to the Showground just for the Saturday night.
Initial impressions are great. It’s a nice sized event on the Showground with free on-site parking. It’s a family event with some entertainment but mostly loads of room for the children to run around in a safe environment. The entertainment tents are approached through around 30 food and retail tents selling guitars, clothes and books. The food was very good – the pizzas looked delicious and the nachos with chilli were exceptional.
Admission for the Saturday was £35 and children under 15 were free. Quite steep for an evening but we could have had a whole day of entertainment and the main acts looked promising. The reception was very friendly. There are two tents – the main tent has the main acts and then the Acoustic tent has smaller, more intimate acts. There was stilt walking and fire juggling going on to keep the children entertained. In the main tent there was seating for a few hundred people but also people brought their own camping chairs and plonked down where they wanted. There was an excellent bar serving the magnificent Thornbridge beers as well as, thank goodness, Jack Daniels – all at a reasonable price.
Due to illness (the act not our’s) the first act we saw was Flight Brigade. They are an Anglo-American band featuring three singers (playing accordion, guitar and violin respectively), plus guitar, drums, bass and keyboard – quite a squeeze on a small stage. They were very good sounding a bit like a cross between Fleetwood Mac and Arcade Fire with the emphasis slightly on the Fleetwood Mac side. The lead singer Oliver and the violinist Dorry stood out as performers but they are also strong song writers with a good and varied set. There was a good queue to buy their CDs after the set.
Next up was Gypsy Fire. They are a four-piece with two jazz guitars, a double bass and a violin. The soundcheck showed they were virtuosos with rapturous applause for the two Ben’s version of the Four Seasons. They are essentially gypsy jazz in the style of Django Rheinhardt and Stephane Grapelli but with a twist. They play the standards but also had some interesting classical twists – Flight of the Bumblebee was great. They ended the set with Duelling Banjos segueing into YMCA! They also ended the set with the whole audience on their feet – absolutely fantastic entertainment.
The headliner was Seth Lakeman – Mercury-nominated folk singer. He has a four-piece band featuring guitar, double bass and a manual drummer – no sticks just his hands. He has a fantastic voice and the sound setup was perfect for the venue. The set featured a few tracks from his latest Tales from the Barrel House. He soon had the whole audience up and dancing. The style is traditional English Folk but very percussive. He covered more traditional laments, sea shanties and then ending with a “hoe-down”. One of the highlights of the set for me was a solo violin piece by Seth which had everyone stomping. It ended with everyone on their feet and an encore – magnificent.
All in all a really great intimate venue – top class acts and a nice family atmosphere. It would be a good place to camp for a weekend regardless of the festival – a nice setting, easy access to Bakewell town centre and some top-notch evening entertainment. I’d definitely go again.