This is Grass Roots at Their Very Best
This is grass roots, community arts festivals at their very best. Involving the people who live there and inviting other to join in. Thank you Peter Aldcroft and A V F team.
Allen Valleys Folk delighted crowds when it returned at the end of September. One of the highlights of the North East’s music calendar, it engaged the whole community with eight venues hosting a variety of music, dance, workshops and, of course, the legendary Allendale Wolf.
To many, the ceremonial burning of the wolf is the highlight of this three day festival and this year was no exception. The wolf was delivered in a boat aptly named HMS Boaty McFolkface and was burnt to a soundscape of howling, drumming and a lone mournful trumpet. It was a surreal and spectacular piece of theatre which enthralled the large crowd assembled in Allendale market square. The sculpture was designed and built by Jonah Maurice, Ashley Hipkin and Bill Pierce. Drumming from Wearside based Nordestinos and Jack Drum Arts. Music and vocals from Mikey Kenney (fiddle), Martin Smith (trumpet) and Jonah Maurice (vocals).
The Allendale publicans seemed happy with the crowds gathering outside their premises with spontaneous music sessions going on until the early hours. And the weather behaved itself! Jonny Burns of the Golden Lion commented ‘AVFF injects a much needed boost to trade as we move into the Autumn’. Musically, this year’s festival was more diverse than ever with artists travelling from Scotland, Liverpool, London and Toulouse, France, performing alongside musicians from Tyneside, Wearside and Northumberland. Regular festivalgoer Michael Porrit commented ‘I must give particular mention to the incredible acoustics of St Cuthbert’s, which perfectly showcased the mesmerising skills of the Rheingans Sisters’.
The church stage was recently re-named ‘The David Crellin Stage’. Sadly, David, one of the founders of AVFF nine years ago, died of Motor Neurone Disease in March this year. Michael added ‘Finally, just when we thought the best of the music, and our energy, was gone, along came Talisk on Sunday afternoon to really raise the roof with a spectacularly energetic and talented performance. Not dancing was not an option!’ And as the pounding energy of Talisk closed the festival on Sunday, we all wondered what AVFF 2023 has in store.
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