Friday, 18 July 2014

Horse Mountain report from 26th North Wales Bluegrass Festival, Conwy


Set in the immediate vicinity of World Heritage Site Conwy Castle, this great little festival has been going steady for 26 years and counting. As one would expect from its geographical setting, the weather gods have not always been benign over the years - two years ago there was a torrential downpour leaving the site in a state that makes Glastonbury pale in comparison, last year it was really hot, this year was a nice mix, little rain, lots of sun, though a bit chilly by nightfall.

Alongside Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp (out of Nashville) and Czech mainstay "New Section", "Horse Mountain" were the only non-UK contributors. Old-Timers like Brian Golbey and Chris Moreton shared the stage with well-seasoned bands such as "Britannia Band" and "The Morris Boys" whereas "Shake The Roots" catered to a younger, more eclectic audience. Truly, there was something for everyone (for the full line-up see http://www.northwalesbluegrass.co.uk). The festival runs from Thursday evening to Sunday late afternoon, sprinkled with workshops on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

When first arriving in Conwy we were wondering why there was little if any presence of the festival in the medieval town - no posters, no flyers. When arriving at the nearby festival site we had all our questions answered: already on Thursday noon-time the camping area was more than two thirds full, and already a few jamming hotspots had developed. In other words, this festival does not need to spend any money on public advertising, it attracts quite a sizeable audience without it.

The hosts and promoters (Gill Williams and John Les) have been active as duo "Highly Strung" for many years now and, of course, they also perform at the festival. Huge thanks are due to them for their untiring effort and their perseverance in keeping this little gem alive over so many years. We greatly enjoyed two sets on stage and many hours of jamming in the field.

Next year's festival, the 27th is scheduled for July 2nd to 5th 2015.

More information about Horse Mountain can be found on their website and Facebook page.