Both Big Love and Knockengorroch have provided the perfect springboards to catapult me head on into festival season this year. They’ve both set the bar pretty high for crowd awesomeness and have reminded me that festivals are not about facilitating hedonism but bringing empathetic people together and making them feel loved, alive and inspired, albeit within the bacchanalian spirit of course.

As I said in a previous post, this year I’m concentrating on smaller festivals and so next up I’m heading to Fire In The Mountain, a 1000 capacity festival in Mid West Wales which concentrates heavily on Folk, Roots and Americana music. Sadly if you don’t have tickets already, it’s sold out for this year but if you’re already going then I’ll be playing at 3am on Saturday night just after Indian Man. Despite the musical nature of the festival though, I’m more likely to be playing a banging Soca Carnival set than my Hillbilly style selection. Either way, whether you’re headed down there or not, here’s a small selection of personal recommendations from the line up.

Currently one of my favourite Folk acts (I’ve also booked them for Boomtown this year), Lankum’s impressive skill as musicians, mixed with their raw unpretentious approach and incredible ear for a song embody everything that I love about Folk Music. Previously known as Lynched, their album ‘Between The Earth And The Sky’ is out now on Rough Trade and is magnificent. This is their cover of a song that seems to originate from Mary Delaney, an Irish Traveller recorded in London in 1973.

One of my favourite sets from Knockengorroch Festival at the weekend was Honeyfeet. Although I’ve seen them many times now, I’d not heard some of the tracks from their new album performed live before and they sounded fantastic, especially ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ (below), which had me stomping in full on rave mode when I heard it. Ríoghnach Connolly is one of the finest vocalists around, but if you’re used to her delicate delicacies in The Breath, then you should probably prepare yourself as she gets down and dirty with some funked up Blues music when playing with these boys. Their ‘Orange Whip‘ album is out on Wah Wah 45s now.

I first came across Truckstop Honeymoon whilst they were supporting Beans On Toast (he recorded his ‘Rolling Up The Hill’ album with them in Kansas). I missed their Bristol show and an ex-girlfriend of mine phoned me to demand I book them in future. As she’s not generally someone to undeservedly sing praises, I figured I should check them out and fell in love with their heartwarming and down to earth Bluegrass songs that carry more than a hint of old time jazz, betraying both their roots in New Orleans. I made sure I caught the final sold out show of the tour in London and although I’ve not managed to book them yet, they’re definitely on my list for the future and I’m looking forwards to seeing them again at FITM.

I was very happy to see Afriquoi at number one in the ‘Essential Festival Bands’ article that was published in the leading World Music magazine Songlines recently. They’ve always felt like an in-house favourite for the festival faithful but at last year’s Glastonbury they packed out the West Holts stage with an incredible set. Mixing up various traditional African styles with club friendly beats, I can only see them gaining even greater exposure as the year goes on so it’s great to be able to catch them in such an intimate setting.

I also highly recommend The Langan Band, Henge, The Carny Villains, Martha Tilston and Cut A Shine if you’re down there but there’s plenty of acts I’ve never seen so I’m looking forwards to finding some fresh favourites. You can find out more info at their website, which also includes a budget breakdown, pretty impressive level of openness which I certainly salute.

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