REVIEW: Poignant performances at Cromer’s Folk on the Pier as music continues today

Following in father's footsteps has taken on special triple significance, and poignancy, at this year's Cromer Folk on the Pier festival.

Rising star Blair Dunlop and members of the town's well-known Davies fishing family all did their bit to keep well-established traditions – folk-rock and Norfolk step dancing – alive and well.

And organiser Scott Butler paid tribute in the festival programme to his father, Lenny, who died last year after inspiring Scott to develop his passion for a wide range of music – leading to the start of Folk on the Pier 14 years ago.

Singer-guitarist Blair, who made an impressive solo debut at last year's Cromer festival, was back this time with the completely new folk-rock Albion Band which his dad, Ashley Hutchings, known as The Guv'nor, started 40 years ago after founding both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

The new Albion six-piece, all aged about 20, has just released a well-received first album and last night performed an especially impressive set of 'rocked-up' traditional folk songs and tunes, as well some of their own material, in the pier theatre.


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In true folk tradition the band looked mostly to the past for songs but hauled them into the modern day with imaginative arrangements and instrumentation.

The group left many in the audience convinced they had witnessed an early gig by an act heading for the very top.

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Earlier, Cromer favourites Little Johnny England played an especially lively set, strong on tunes, and new Anglo-American duo Kevin Dempsey and Rosie Carson, and Anglo-Welsh duo Maartin Allcock and Huw Williams proved especially popular.

Reggae-folk band Edward II mixed melodeons with brass and electric guitars to get everyone in a dance mood – just in time for a late-night folk dance with Ceilidhography in the new North Lodge marquee.

The tent audience earlier saw regular Cromer visitor Harvey Andrews enthral his listeners with laid-back and intimate stories and songs.

This morning members of Cromer's crab-fishing Davies family led a traditional step-dancing , music and song session at The Cottage in memory of Richard Davies, a former town lifeboat coxswain and traditional step dancer who died in 2010. His daughter, Fiona, herself a step dancer and singer, plans to make the session an annual event.

Film of Richard and Jack 'Shrimp' Davies step dancing can be seen at www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/31

The Folk on the Pier festival concludes tonight after more concerts on the pier and fringe sessions around the town. See www.deckchairproductions.co.uk

Brian Gaudet

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