A bit of early-Spring sunshine, a few April showers, and a couple of freezing (literally) cold nights - yes, it was a typical Upton Folk Festival weekend!
This was the third year the Poppy Folk Club had been invited to run a club night at this excellent little festival, and a really good set of regulars had given up their weekends to represent the club. On the night itself, in the back room of the King's Head (or should that be Kings' Heads - there are several Kings' pictures on the walls) we had a full house with standing room only with Phil & Julie, Dave & Mary, Marc Block, Ian Price, Jenny Bell, Yvonne Dreyer and Pat Shore (and Peter Poppy, of course) flying the flag for the club. It was really good to find that recent Poppy visitors, Steve and Julie, had come over from Derby to support us - big thanks!
We did the club proud, and heard some great singing from festival goers into the bargain. It was gratifying to have such a good turnout too, as we were up against one of the best concert line-ups of the weekend in another festival venue. At least twenty singers or groups performed over the course of the evening, most getting two bites of the cherry.
If you fancy joining us next year (and if we are asked back!); Upton is a low-key, friendly festival in a lovely town with some nice venues. It is aimed squarely at the folk club and morris dance end of the spectrum, but does put on some nice concerts and always has a few of the big names for an extra draw. I really enjoyed Jeff Warner and The Wilsons - both previous Poppy Folk Club concert guests - and was delighted to be able to see Harvey Andrews for my first time. Pete Grassby also impressed - a very versatile musician and singer. So much so that we have booked him for our Poppy Folk Day in March 2017.
Each year, the festival hosts a heat of The John Birmingham Cup - a competition to find the best newly written, unaccompanied, chorus song. The first time we visited as a club (in 2014) Poppy regular Dave Collins entered a song and was put through to the final at Whitby Folk Week, where he was he runner up. Since that time, Dave has been invited back to Upton each year to perform in the concert venues - well deserved!
Last year Dave got through to the final again, and won! This year, Dave had stepped up to become one of the two judges for the 2016 Upton heat, where he had to pass judgment on a group of excellent songs including one from our very own Jenny Bell. Jenny made a great job of her 'Oh boy!' song and got the audience singing along nicely but, unfortunately, was up against some very stiff opposition. It was a great first-time try though and we hope she'll have another go next year!