Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Broadstairs Folk Week

Cocos Lovers were back at Broadstairs Folk Week, this year getting to play on a beautifully situated outdoor stage in the front gardens of the Albion Hotel. This is looking out to sea, with a sycamore tree growing out of the back of the stage. They also got to bring along some special guests, and wisely chose Canterbury's Syd Arthur.

I got their via a most enjoyable bikeride across marshes to Thanet. On arriving, I saw Vicky (who I shared a house with near Whitstable in '92—'93) we used to know her as "Vicky Volume" 'cos she was so quiet. She used to play a bit of clarinet in a local folk band called the Tree Party. Now she's got two kids and is known by her friends as "Vicky Mermaid". We last crossed paths at a tVC free party over ten years ago, so that was a nice surprise.

There was a contingent from the Furthur crew, as well as an ever denser clustering of various folkies, bearded old hippies and random passers by seeing what was making this joyous noise.

Syd Arthur started with uncharacteristically mellow version of "Willow Tree", but had to bodge the ending as Liam broke a string at a crucial moment. But the other three managed to end it respectably and then built a nice little mandolin, bass and drum jam while he fixed it. They then played "Moving World" (title track from the forthcoming album) and it happened again. This was no doubt frustrating for them, but quite a treat for those of us who've seen them a lot lately, since we got another jam (Raven on violin this time). So it took a bit longer than usual to build up the momentum. By the time they played "Dawn Chorus", they were there. One of the new ones they've been playing this summer reminds me of some spikier 70's King Crimson...I really like this direction they're evolving. Directions, more accurately. They managed to get in some of those sections of curiously weightless spaciness, and a bit of flute playing (always good). Some of my favourites seem to be slipping out of their playlist rotation, but I like what I'm hearing (and those songs will quite possibly resurface and mutate).

So not exactly "folk" music, but that term has been stretched so far now that the presence of a mandolin and a fiddle will suffice. No one was complaining, anyway.

Cocos at Broadstairs last year
Cocos at Broadstairs last year (indoors)

Cocos played as a seven piece, yet another subset to add to the many I've seen. No Nicola this time. They played a set somewhere in between their mellow/contemplative and their raucous/festival sets &mdash got it just about right for the situation, I think. A nice mix of songs. The drums were perhaps propelling everything along a bit more than usual at first. An old friend requested "Poor Wayfaring Stranger", and they played it, particularly well. An encore was enthusiasically demanded by the by-then very populous audience. They joked about having run out of songs (what happened to "Cracks and Boulders"? "Dead in the Water"? "Gone to the River" would have been nice...or "Hal-an-Tow" (wrong time of year, but this was a folk festival))...But, another, nice surprise, Mary-Anne sang her "Oh My Love", beautifully. I listened from the back of stage, ready to cycle up the hill, not wanting to miss my train. The last few bars dissolved into her and (her sister) Natasha's laughter, and I cycled away with another huge Cocos Lovers smile on my face...


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