Ruby date sparkles for festival crowds

Festivalgoers gather at the Mount Hotel, in Fleetwood and (below) Alan Sandiford with his McNally Strum Stick.
Festivalgoers gather at the Mount Hotel, in Fleetwood and (below) Alan Sandiford with his McNally Strum Stick.

ONE of the hottest tickets in folk music was on offer on the Fylde coast this weekend.

The Fylde Folk Festival in Fleetwood took place this weekend, luring in fans of quality music with more than 200 artists in 10 venues throughout the town.

Alan Sandiford with his McNally Strum Stick.

Alan Sandiford with his McNally Strum Stick.

It is the festival’s 40th anniversary after Fleetwood man Alan Bell launched a music event which has grown into a major fixture on the folk calendar and an important boost for the economy of the area.

There was a warm-up for the festival on Thursday with events at the North Euston Hotel, Strawberry Gardens pub and the Steamer Hotel.

But one of the first shows of the festival proper was a Musicians’ session at the Mount Hotel featuring The Festival Ceilidh Band.

It is an occasion when they are joined by anyone who wants to come and play.

Multi-instrumentalist Alan Sandiford, of North Drive, Cleveleys, said: “There are about 15 of us and we play across the Fylde.

“But this is a chance for people to come along and join in.

“People take their turns in playing and enjoy themselves.

“It doesn’t matter if you hit a bum note, no one bothers - it’s a chance for people to play in public.”

Mr Sandiford was playing the stick dulcimer: a slim three-stringed instrument which is only a little wider around the sound box.

He said: “It comes from the Appalachian mountains in America.

“People didn’t have a lot of money and made their own instruments.”

Among the big names at the festival this year are Show of Hands, one of the country’s leading acoustic duos and Vin Garbutt a song writer who covers controversial topics including the troubles in Northern Ireland, unemployment and abortion.

The festival closed last night with a big concert featuring the winner of the Young Performers’ Contest and the Lancashire and Cheshire Clog Dancing Championship.

Also on the bill was Show of Hands and acclaimed Trio the Young ‘Uns.