Andrew Cowen and Dave Freak preview a cultural highlight on the Birmingham arts calendar – The Moseley Folk Festival.
It’s the last great hurrah of the summer, your final chance to roll out the picnic blanket and sit on the grass, imbibing great sounds and atmosphere before autumn starts to bite.
Moseley Folk Festival, which kicks off on Friday night and lasts the weekend, is now well established as one of Birmingham’s cultural highlights and this year, the line-up is as strong as it is eclectic.
Here are some of the stars, but remember, it’s often the less well-known names that serve up the biggest surprises, so stick around for fun.
Friday night sees Damon Gough, known to all but his mum as Badly Drawn Boy, headlining. This instinctive songwriter is now in the same pantheon as other barbed and literate English songsmiths such as Elvis Costello and Neil Hannon, a previous Moseley Folk headliner.
This Boy’s songs are warm, funny and tuneful and he has a vast catalogue to draw from. His Mercury-winning debut may have been his most promoted set, but Gough’s songs have always been strong.
He’s flanked by Gruff Rhys, the powerhouse psychedelicatessen from Super Furry Animals, who is another songwriter steeped in the English underground tradition but not afraid to write a pop song.
Villagers are the dark horses of the evening. Moseley Folk’s organisers have a knack of booking the next big thing on the cusp of major success and Conor J O’Brien’s bunch are being tipped all over the shop.
Like a certain other band from Dublin, Villagers, essentially a live vehicle for O’Brien’s songs, pack an emotional charge and deep Celtic soul. There the comparisons with Bono must stop however. This new band are neither hide-bound nor pompous. They rock, but in a good way.