This weekend I was invited to Wath Festival as a finalist in the Young Performer's competition. I've entered it a few times when I was starting out but I didn't really have my sound nailed down so I didn't get in to the final. They were looking for some late entrants this year so I entered on Tuesday before the Cross Folk gig and got it confirmed during the break1.

Competitions like this are really hard to plan for. Being given a limit of 3 songs makes life really difficult for me - especially since my most technically proficient and interesting pieces are all depressing2. In the end I settled for Paradise Square, I Lost My Love and Icarus, partly because they're all pieces I know very well but mostly they show off what I do well.

Before i go further into it, a quick word about the other contenders:

  • Toby Noble from Leeds was fantastic and I'd had pegged to win when I heard him playing before me. We spent a lot of time chatting about guitar tunings and the guitar I was using3. He's someone I'm going to follow quite closely - I reckon if he got a bassist and some other tune player he'd be unstoppable.
  • Jake Burns did his soundcheck and I thought "That's someone who likes Bob Dylan songwriting". I didn't get to hear his set since he was on just after me but for someone so young he's got a good songwriting head on him.
  • Sophie Hosken-Taylor who eventually won it came all the way from Bristol. Because she's crazy. Again, only got to hear her sound check but she seemed to write Marian Call-esque songs - the ones where you know it's not really a folk song but it's not a pop song either.

A really special mention has to go out to the sound guys. They're the best people I've ever worked with and they made everything sing. The lack of pick up made their life hell but they carried on regardless and I'm really grateful that they got as much out of it as they did.

My usual videographer (and lift to the festival) did a few videos of course:

I got a load of people asking me when I was next doing a gig in Sheffield so I'll be pushing for bookings over the next few months4. And the judge feedback was great as well - one of the judges said that he loved my vocal technique when I pulled back a bit more so I'll be looking into trying that a lot more.

All in all, Wath is a cracking festival. I'll try and get there more often.

  1. I was really suprised to get it actually. The other few times I've pretty much entered with the exact same application, but this time with a link to I Lost My Love. Them competition organisers are fickle. ↩︎

  2. It comes with the territory of being interested in Irish songs. ↩︎

  3. I recently bought a Blueridge BR-60 which I'm loving to pieces. The downside is that it doesn't have a pick up inside so I spent the gig surrounded by microphones. Me and the soundman shed a tear because it sounded so good but would've sounded phenomenal if I had a pick up. ↩︎

  4. Know somewhere I'd fit in? Let me know! ↩︎