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Crowds of music lovers turn out for Folk on the Pier festival in Cromer

PUBLISHED: 14:41 11 May 2014 | UPDATED: 17:09 12 May 2014

Folk on the Pier 2014. The Willows.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Folk on the Pier 2014. The Willows. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Music lovers are celebrating after a quirky festival celebrating the variety of folk rock was busier than ever.

Folk on the Pier, in its 16th year, was held at the end-of-the-pier Pavilion Theatre in Cromer and venues around the town from Friday and will finish tonight.

The festival, which featured 18 acts in the theatre and a more than 30 for the free fringe events, attracted hundreds of people from East Anglia and further afield.

Festival director Scott Butler said: “It has been busier than ever for the fringe festival. We have increased the amount of performers for that part of the festival and they gigs have been well attended.

“The younger artists have been well appreciated and this year has been the widest mix of music.”

The theatre was full for each of the six shows per day.

Acts have come from across Britain and abroad, including Frères Guichen, two of the Breton brothers who were at the forefront of “electrochoc” in the 1990s, a groundbreaking interpretation of Brittany’s traditional music.

Other performers included young Cambridge family folk-roots band The Willows, folk stalwart Harvey Andrews and six-piece favourites Brass Monkey - who include folk legend Martin Carthy.

One of the highlights on the bill was Ashley Hutchings’ Morris On, celebrating more than 40 years since the release of an album of the same name.

Mr Butler added: “The festival is a good opportunity for people to see what they like as well as being exposed to something they have never seen before.”

He did not know if the festival would last after its first year and said it has taken 15 years to establish the annual event as a highlight on the folk music festival calendar.

Mr Butler said: “I always try to change things and keep it fresh. The regular audiences like to see familiar faces but they are excited about things they have not seen before.

“Folk on the Pier has become a brand and the lovely theatre is the star of the show. It is not just another festival in a marquee. It is magic.”

He added the festival allowed people to discover Cromer and the event helped boost the local economy.

Musician Gareth Turner, from Northampton, an MC for the theatre shows, has been performing in the festival with various bands since the beginning.

He described it as a festival of like-minded people.

Mr Turner said: “The Pavilion Theatre is a fantastic venue. You get a captive audience and it has great vibes.

“It is so relaxed. It is a highlight on the festival calendar for musicians. The audiences are great and there are a lot of faces you recognise each year.”

Both he and another musician, Simon Care, also from Northampton, said the weekend was similar to a family reunion.

Mr Care, a squeezebox player for Tickled Pink and the Morris On, said: “It does not have an us and them feel. It feels very inclusive.”

Two of the people enjoying the festival were husband and wife Maggie and Nigel Sargent, 60 and 71, from Wolverhampton.

Mrs Sargent, a retired teacher, said: “It has been tremendous. We came to the festival for the first time last year. It is quite quirky having a festival on a pier. It has been good. It has a great atmosphere and we can combine it with our holiday.”

They were one of the dozens of people who pre-ordered tickets for next year’s Folk on the Pier.

Within four hours of tickets being on sale this morning, about 170, just over a third of them had been sold.

For more information about the festival visit www.folkonthepier.co.uk

For full reviews visit www.northnorfolknews.co.uk

Do you have an interesting music story? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

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