Friday, 22 May 2015

Meet the team: Mike Courthold

Time for you all to meet our Social Dance organiser at the Chippenham Folk Festival, Mike Courthold.

Name: Mike Courthold

Where are you from?: Hungerford, Berkshire

What is your festival role?: I am the Social Dance Director

What is your folk festival experience?: I have extensive folk festival experience having been calling a wide spectrum of dances and events for 34 years. Through energetic English Ceilidhs and American Contras, to barn dances you are sure to have come across me at some point. I have entertained at Sidmouth, Chippenham, Lichfield, Eastbourne, IVDVF and Broadstairs to name but a few.  In 2004 I became the Dance Director at Chippenham Folk Festival.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I'm a freelance caller and have worked with many different bands. I was responsible for resurrecting the Callers' Workshop & Showcase Dance for Sidmouth '98 and '99 and have introduced similar workshops here at Chippenham. I began folk dancing whilst at University in 1970. Folk is very much in the family. I met my wife Rita through dancing and both sons, Chris and Adam dance too. In fact Adam also helps with the Chippenham Folk Festival as our webmaster.

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: I once called a barn dance for work colleagues in Hawaii! During the day I work as cryogenic and control systems engineer, currently producing very large toys for particle physicists.

Social Dance: What to look forward to!

As usual we have plenty of social dance events happening this weekend. These are some of the highlights to look forward to.

Callers Workshop

There will be a practical Caller's Workshop on Sunday at 17:00 - 18:00 led by Mike Courthold, with music provided by The Falconers. If any callers would like the chance to practice calling to a live band, with mentoring from Mike, bring something to call (but please not that it will not be possible to use special music). We'll get trough as many dances as we can in the time available.

Mike will be running another Callers Workshop on Saturday at 11:45 - 13:00, focusing on working with recorded music, with practical advice on how to make it slick and professional.

Zesty Contras and Zesty Playford Dances

Chippenham Folk Festival is the place where Zesty Contras and then Zesty Playford Dances were hatched, which are now all the rage throughout the UK. Not to be outdone by rivals, Chippenham this year will feature TWO of each! The Zesty Contras will be on Sunday and Monday. These will be held in the Sports Hall, the home of the dances with energy.

Celebratory Dances

Its the 50/40th Anniversary American Dance on Sunday evening with Joe Hodgson and The Falconers. The Falconers band are celebrating their 40th year and Joe Hodgson is celebrating his 50th year as a caller (he started young!) and they invite you to celebrate with them on Sunday evening.

On Saturday evening its the 50th Anniversary Dance with Lisa Greenleaf and Weston Country Dance Band. Weston Country Dance Band are celebrating their 50th year and they are going to celebrate the occasion in style with their very own celebratory dance, with Lisa Greenleaf calling.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Meet the team: Sarah Foxley

I suppose its about time you met the person whose been blogging of late and responsible for Facebook and Twitter!

Name: Sarah Foxley

Where are you from?: Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (no accent though!) but have lived quite a few places since. Currently in Chippenham.

What is your festival role?: I am the Social Media Manager. Its the first year this specific 'role' as a separate thing has existed and I only took it on in December! I'm basically responsible for Facebook and Twitter and as of a few weeks ago the blog too. I'm hoping to finally meet some of you I've been chatting to on Twitter an Facebook as I'm out and about at the festival so do stop me and have a chat :)

What is your folk festival experience?: I really am the new kid on the block! I stumbled on Chippenham Folk Festival by accident when taking my sister to Chippenham to see where I would be working when I got a new job about 6 years ago. I just happened to pick festival weekend! I've not been to any other festivals yet though so apart from watching a few Chippenham Folk Festivals, that's my entire experience!

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: I love the atmosphere, the people, the fact the town comes alive. Its introduced me to so much like rapper dancing (I just love watching that!). I really enjoy being able to walk into most pubs over the weekend and there will be people just playing and enjoying the music.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I took up morris dancing about a year ago. In fact I'll be dancing busking spots with my team, Malmesbury Morris, on Sunday - a break from running around with my phone this entire weekend! I did once get mistaken for a morris dancer some years ago when I used to do Civil War reenactments! As I was firing cannons (with real gunpowder) I couldn't quite figure out where that had come from - maybe it was the bright yellow hose I had to wear?!

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: When I'm not working, travelling for work, morris dancing or studying I spend the rest of my time knitting. I particularly enjoy knitting socks and have recently designed several pairs of socks influenced by my background in archaeology! I will no doubt be wearing hand knitted socks this weekend :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Meet the team: Adam Courthold

Up next in our fabulous meet the team series is Adam Courthold!

Name: Adam Courthold

Where are you from?: Originally from Hungerford and now living in Melksham, just down the road from Chippenham

What is your festival role?: For over the last 10 years, I've been maintaining & designing the website for the festival, as well as problem shooting any issues in relation to the website and e-mails.

What is your folk festival experience?: Chippenham has been a festival that my family has been going to since I was 2 years old. Growing up through all the aspects of the festival that its puts on - the kids and youth events (making long term friends in the process), performing at the festival with NYFTE in my teens, plus ceilidh bands since then too.

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: Chippenham is one of the main key festivals in the year for me on a personal note, as I get to meet up with all my folkie friends from all over the country for the bank holiday & enjoy watching teams perform, listen to bands & also dancing the night away, followed by the last night sessions & socialising until the early hours of the morning!

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: Have I said I am a drummer in a few ceilidh bands?!... Well I started playing percussion at the age of 7 years, playing on the side of the stage with some of the bands that my Dad was calling for at the time. After sometime my parents bought me a small electric drum kit for my 10th birthday & I haven't looked back since. Did play in a few rock & heavy metal bands through school & college, but nowadays I just mainly play on the folk scene.

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: Last year, in connection with my work, I did a charity skydive for Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Great experience and I'm planning on doing it again sometime this year, which I never thought I'd be doing since I hate heights!

Meet the Team: Andy Stafford

Time to meet Andy Stafford our Ceilidh Manager

Name: Andy Stafford

Where are you from?: Newbury

What is your festival role?: Ceilidh Manager

What is your folk festival experience?: Been around theatre and festivals most of my adult life having done various jobs through Opera to Rock, though folk is my abiding passion. I have played in song and Ceilidh bands in the past.

I joined the Chippenham Folk Festival team in 2011 (I think) having done a number of jobs with and for the festival before then.

I can usually be found backstage at Warwick, Towersey, Folk on the Pier, Bromyard, sometimes at the Blue Mountains Music Festival, Katoomba; The National Folk Festival, Canberra and St Albans, NSW (rather than Hertfordshire!).

What were your first experiences of folk music and ceilidhs?: I have been around folk music since I was 15 when I started attending Stockton Folk Club.

The first folk musician I liked big time - Martin Carthy - still do! The first Ceilidh Band I saw - Teeside Fettlers - I have both their LPs. Now a defunct band but in the 60's and 70's they were tops.

Do you have a favourite ceilidh band?: I'm not going to confess my favourite ceilidh bands, that would be bad Karma. But I will say I'm a big promoter of new & young talent and this years lunchtime programme reflects that. If we stay embedded in the secure old stalwarts for too long there will be nothing left at the end, though again as can be seem from my programmes of the years the stalwarts feature as anchors.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I also judge the New Roots competition for under 25yr old folk musicians on a regular basis. The only years I've missed are those when I'm in Australia.

Finally tell us a fun fact about yourself:  Fortunately for Morris Dancing I rarely dance bow but it has been known and I still have bells and kit in my wardrobe.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Meet the team: Chris Riley

Up next in our lineup is Chris Riley, our Stewards Manager

Name: Chris Riley

Where are you from?: Until last June, Corsham. Now live in Barnoldswick, Lancashire

What is your festival role?: I am the Stewards Manager (Chief Steward)

What is your folk festival experience?: Prior to becoming involved with Chippfolk about 7 years ago, none. I now steward at Whitby and venue manage at Warwick.

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: The variety of the performances, the people who organise and run it, the atmosphere at the festival.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I play the guitar, and occasionally play in local folk clubs.

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: I live on a narrowboat!

2015 Ceilidhs

For those of you who have been to the festival before you'll know we put on some great ceilidhs. This year is definitely not going to be an exception!

In the evenings you can look forward to:-

But lunchtimes are different! Yes you don't have to wait til the evening you can dance the lunch break away too :-)  The venue has moved from last year though and you'll find the lunchtime ceilidh's in the Olympiad. The great thing about this is that there will be a bar and somewhere to eat your lunch. You can look forward to:-
This is a stunning line up with great bands and callers. Not got your ticket yet? What on earth are you waiting for?!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Meet the team: Cat Murphy

Next up in our meet the team series is Cat Murphy

Name: Cat Murphy

Where are you from/live?: Chippenham. My house is probably closer to the ceilidh venue than the campsite.

What is your festival role?: I'm the Children's Festival Manager. I plan the antics for the Children's festival area, come to be known as the kids castle, and organise the kids programme of artists and the awesome team of stewards who make it happen!

What is your folk festival experience?: I was taken to festivals in a buggy and never stopped. Grew up with ceilidhs, sessions, concerts, Dr Sunshine's parachute games, Ticklish Alsorts, Craft suitcases and circus skills. My Mum always called my family 'professional listeners' - the folkies who watch and enjoy rather than being musical ourselves.

I first came to the Chippenham festival in 91. We were moving here and our first visit to our future home was to come to the festival.

The truth is my memories of my first festival aren't very folky! I was 6 I think. I remember making friends with other kids in the campsite. I remember the infuriating bike the clown had in the Kids Den that however hard we tried none of us could cycle. I remember learning to juggle, a skill that's stayed with me, although I'm sure I was juggling scarfs at that point rather than my fire obsession these days.

I remember coming into town for the first time after moving here and being very disappointed how quiet and empty it was! Realising that Chez nu wasn't a local cafe by the river, there wasn't a town full of colour and music all year round and all the friends I had made wouldn't be back for another year!

As a teenager my parents venue managed the Neeld Hall. I've worked in the Kids Den ever since. When I took over managing it a few years back I was amused to find old paperwork listing me as one of the underage volunteers that were only allowed to help with craft.

Truth us I think I was just looking for an excuse not to grow out of it!

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: I don't often get out the castle for long but always escape to dance with my teams as much as I can. After the castle closes though its time to relax with the ceilidh and late night sessions.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I'm definitely not the professional listener as my Mum always called us. I think she'd be laughing if she knew I'd even convinced my brother to be a Morris dancer! I dance in two local teams. Appalachian with Footnotes and Border Morris with Tatters and Tails and play bodhran at sessions at the old road year round so we keep a tiny slice of the festival spirit going all year round :)

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: When I'm not dancing or playing at sessions I do fire poi and juggle fire with a local group Bath Fire Spinners. I'm learning to hula hoop with Wiltshire Hoop Dance, local artists that join in the castle.

Meet the team: Chaney

Up next in our meet the team series is Chaney from the Task Force.

Name: Chaney

Where are you from?: Chippenham

What is your festival role?: Task Force control - Admin for task force and keeping Rich and Bob happy

What is your folk festival experience?: Started as a general member of the Task Force Crew and ended up in Cabin sorting things due to an injury one year. Now I help sort the task force crew.

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: Love seeing the town come alive with colour and music and meeting new and old friends who are like family each year.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I made the Folked hi-vis vest used on Island Park :-)

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: Hi-vis is my favourite colour when the festival arrives in town.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Kids Castle reviews

As you will have seen from the Tour of the Castle there is lots to see and do for kids at the folk festival. Last year we asked parents and kids to review the Castle on luggage labels that we tied up around the kid's festival area. Here is some of the feedback we had:-

"The kids area is great - so many things to do! Especially enjoyed 'The Bear Show'!!

"Good variety of activities and well organised"

"I think it is a very good children's area. It feels sage and fun with all ages welcome"

"We loved the face painting and the circus skills. More Keith Donnelly please"

"Really great. Good value for money"

"Amazing entertainment and lovely staff. We love the kid's festival!!"

"It is cool and I am having lots of fun and the stewards are really nice"

"All jolly good especially Stiltskin and Scrapstore!!"

"The image was good, the crafty bits were much appreciated. Good dancing teaching - We have spent the weekend in the kids field. Thank you!!"

"I have sat here now for 5 minutes trying to think of a suggestion for improvement and failed!"

We also had several suggestions for improvements, some of which we have been able to take on board this year. For example the Kids Castle will remain open during lunchtimes! So make sure you come and see what all the fuss is about :) We're pretty sure you will enjoy it!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Meet the team: Richard Sarfas

The next person in our meet the team series is Richard Sarfas!

Name: Richard Sarfas

Where are you from?: Kent

What is your festival role?: Ummm.. taskforce manager/chief beer taster. My crew set up festival, camp site, festival sales, comms, run bar, maintain through weekend then pack it all away and party.

What is your folk festival experience?: I enjoy the atmosphere and love to see all walks of life having fun

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: Meeting all my folk family having a good sing and dance.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: I am tf2 and tf1 watches me

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: I once danced the full monty

Friday, 15 May 2015

Meet the team: Bob Berry

We're a week away from the festival now and we thought in the last frantic rush towards the start of a fantastic weekend we thought you might enjoy meeting some of the team who put it all together.

Our very first profile is none other than festival organiser Bob Berry!

Name: Bob Berry

Where are you from?: Originally from a small Cotswold village called Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

What is your festival role?: Festival Organiser (some people say dis-organiser!)

What is your folk festival experience?: I have been involved in all aspects of festivals from a steward, performer, organiser, m/c and I've even cleaned the loos

What do you enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival?: What I enjoy about Chippenham Folk Festival is the people that come to share it. Its all about the wonderful friendship shown by people who would drop everything and help even though we only meet for a few hours every year.

Is there any other folk trivia you'd like to share with the readers?: Both Gill (my wife) and I are in a folk band called Tinkers Bag. We have recorded 3 albums. I've been part of the restoration of tradition in my home village (Kirtlington Morris) and run an arts organisation in my spare time. Oh and I still work restoring traditional buildings - occasionally!

Finally can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?: I love heavy metal music and cycling - although not always at the same time.

We'll be posting more of these over the next few days so keep coming back to see whose next :)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

A Tour of the Castle and this years highlights

Every castle is a busy jumble of guilds, towers and halls and the Kid's Castle is no different. Our castle walls may be ply wood and our towers and halls marquees, but we have everything from jesters to the stables. Open from 9:30 to 5:30 this year the fun doesn't stop even for lunch!! Don't forget to bring a picnic, or check the stalls around Island Park to enjoy with our NEW LUNCHTIME SHOWS.

Are you ready for the tour? Lets go!

As you enter through the Tower you will be greeted and signed in by our Steward team. Under 8's must be accompanied by an adult and all adults must be accompanied by a child!!

The Black Smith's Workshop, ok we don't have hammer and anvil but the children will be busy building and crafting with the local Scrapstore Scrap Attack Sessions

What would castle life be like without the Bard's Guild to bring life to its feasts? With Story tellers popping in to tell a tale, singers and musicians and dance workshops. Let's Dance are loved for teaching Maypole, colourful ribbons and garlands and there may be the odd hanky, well it is a folk festival after all!! This year they will also be showing us how much fun you can have with a piece of string! Invading from Cornwall this year we also have Yoinks teaching the gathering crowds Border Morris.

Our Court Jesters Stiltkin head up the Jester's Guild with circus skills for all, with Wiltshire Hoop Dance joining us on the Saturday.

As always our Keep, the outside space, will have a dance floor used for circus skills and dance workshops when the sun is out. Our main marquee, the Great Hall, is for performances and to give us cover to retreat inside if the rain invades!!

New this year we have Showman Gacko regaling us with puppet shows, stories and side splitting entertainment throughout the weekend. On Monday afternoon after the parade we are expecting the sides of the Great Hall to be bulging at the seams as always for Keith Donnelly. Popular with the Kids, parents and stewards alike, Keith returns to ensure everyone has their healthy dose of custard and leave everyone singing about wanting to be a beer.

Our popular Castle Ceilidh with the Downfielders will be getting us all up and dancing on the Saturday either in the Keep or the Great Hall depending on how lucky we are!!

This year we have a special programme for our smallest castle guests with sessions for under 7's we have the Singing Hats, Toddlers with Toddler and even the babies have their own session with Baby Bops. These sessions will take place in the Bards Guild. In between sessions why not check out The Stables, a play area for under 5's will be open throughout the day. This is a small area, supervised by stewards with play equipment available such as our ball pit and play dough and soft play bricks kindly loaned to us by The Rise Children's Centre Group. This is strictly a 'stay and play' area where parents are asked to remain with their child.

With so much to see and do a visit to The Castle has to be at the top of any family 'to-do' list this year.