THE sixth Purbeck Folk Festival was all about variety.

Such a tremendous range of acts was on offer at Wilkswood Farm it was a shame not to have seen them all.

Saturday was fancy dress with the letter P – in my mind that stands for Perfect, as in the festival itself.


1. The always entertaining and still railing Chris Wood with his beautifully understated tales of social injustice, ageing and the modern world.

2. Nizlopi. Much more than just the novelty JCB hit in an energetic performance.

3. Eddi Reader, of course, included the Fairground Attraction number one Perfect, but her passionate, contempor-ary folk was excellent.

4 Singer-songwriter Aimee McKenzie, from Liphook, is a gigging veteran at 17. Her band is her younger sister on fiddle and little brother on cajon. Excellent songs and a confidence beyond her years. Say where you saw her first.

5. Ninebarrow; the two ex-Poole Grammar lads steadfastly refuse to cover Simon and Garfunkel, yet they sound so much like the great duo’s early years. Their tales inspired by Dorset are haunting.

6. Songwriters Circle – new for this year, in which four performers play a few songs and discuss how they wrote them. Sally Barker, of The Voice fame, Ringwood’s Ian Brown (who co-wrote I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker With Flowers In My Hair with Sandi Thom) and festival organiser Catherine Burke were among those participating. A great idea that’s sure to snowball.

7. Australian Emily Barker had three electric guitars on stage (at a folk festival?), and with part of her Red Clay Halo trio, she rocked the High Barn and showed just why she’s on the verge of the big time.

8. Roddy Woomble’s Idlewild play songs in the minor key and it’s good to see them back.

9. Coco & the Butterfields get the party started wherever they play. No disappointment here. They were bouncing with their self-styled ‘fip fok’ take on a fusion of punk, folk and hip-hop.

10. Turin Brakes can hardly be described as folk, but have been headlining festivals this year with their magnificent anthemic, almost Muse-like tunes. A cover of Chim Chim Cher-ee was thrown in to good effect.

Honourable mentions for Blair Dunlop, Tinderbox, Louise Jordan, Phil King Band, Mother Ukers, Wareham Whalers, Kadia, Caravan of Thieves and Fearne – all of whom are worth catching.

And that’s without mentioning Si Genaro’s open mic sessions, the poetry slam, Purbeck Rising contest, the ceilidhs, the many workshops, the children’s activities, the cinema and the food – much improved this year.

Purbeck remains the perfect little festival, no hassle, no edge – just a village-worth of like-minded people coming together for a few days before disappearing again. Until next year...