Keep the music playing
Derbyshire Life|October 2020
Derby’s Folk Festival will look a little different this year. But, as local star Lucy Ward tells Nigel Powlson, there’s plenty to get excited about
Lucy Ward

Derby Folk Festival has survived the 2009 financial collapse and the destruction by fire of its main venue in 2014, but faces its biggest challenge yet thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This October would have seen the 14th coming together of folk musicians and fans at multiple venues across the city, but with live events still off the agenda in the current health crisis, organisers have had to think outside the box, for this year at the very least.

Like so many things in 2020, Derby Folk Festival will be a virtual event with a digital package of curated concerts substituting for the live music that was originally planned.

Derby Folk Festival at Home gives audiences the chance to connect with some of their favourite artists in the best way possible at the current time. There are four sessions, each featuring concerts from three artists, which will take place on the same dates as the original event, from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th October. It will feature concerts created especially for the festival from many of the artists who were booked to appear in person in the city, including Lucy Ward, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, Winter Wilson, Kitty Macfarlane and more.

Lucy Ward, the award-winning folk artist from Derby, is one of the festival’s patrons and she is delighted that something has been preserved from this year’s events to keep things ticking over.

She says: ‘The festival did a good thing in deciding very early that with the social distancing measures we thought might be in place it just wouldn’t be possible. Making that call gave us the longest time possible to create a really exciting online event.

‘The folk scene is a really welcoming, friendly, open community of people, and because we are an October festival we tend to be the last before winter properly sets in, and over the years of playing and being a patron I have felt that sense of everyone coming together before the year turns around again. I know that Derby Folk Festival has taken that on board and is making sure people can interact with us. I prerecorded my concert, but I will be online chatting to people and responding in that way.’

Lucy plays guitar, ukulele and concertina, but considers her voice to be her first instrument. After getting her first guitar at the age of 14, she ventured into acoustic clubs, picking up her enduring love of traditional music. In 2009 she reached the final of the BBC Young Folk Awards and hasn’t looked back since.

She won the Horizon Award for best newcomer at the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and in 2014 was one of the youngest ever performers to be nominated as Folk Singer of the Year. Still only 30, she is firmly established as a leading performer on the scene, but her recorded session for Derbyshire Folk Festival at Home is still a new experience.

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