As a frequent visitor to the city of Venice, American author Truman Capote was once asked for his thoughts on the place, to which he famously replied that being there was like '...eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go'.
I really don't want to stretch the metaphor, but imagine being in a place that you love, being there on three glorious summer days, and being surrounded by plenty of friendly people as great music wafts towards you from several directions. Now, imagine that this was the first time that you had been reconnected to live music that you love so much in over a year and a half. This then is my Truman Capote in Venice experience. My entire box of chocolate liqueurs. This is the return of the Moseley Folk and Arts Festival.
I was going to describe the event in just pictures (see below), but that wouldn't do it justice, so here goes...
Initially, there is the comfort of seeing acts that I've enjoyed for many years. On the first night, The Waterboys are as exciting on stage now as they ever have been, as are The Wonder Stuff. What's more, Richard Hawley was the perfect choice to close the festival and to send the crowd home feeling elated.
The real surprises come with the acts that I've discovered over the lockdown(s). Those that have only existed online, those that I haven't yet heard as part of an audience or shared in the communal 'wow' of seeing perform. That handful of artists this weekend included Katy J Pearson, Keeley Forsyth, Maz O' Connor, and Katherine Priddy. Acts that I have harped on about and only now can drag people along to see. Attaching YouTube clips to WhatsApp group messages just isn't the same. And then there are the artists that I discovered at the festival that I may harp on about in the future: Our Man in the Field, Julianne OC, and George Boomsma.
Away from the music, at Speaker's Corner, there are some inspiring conversations with some inspiring people (Jess Philips, Cold War Steve to name a few). Most of all though, it was a delight to hear music writer Pete Paphides discuss his touching and honest childhood memoir 'Broken Greek'. Although there are many memoirs that touch on how and when a writer first realized that they are fascinated by music, Pete's account is different (and it's not just that it takes place a few miles away from where I grew up). His account finds the elusive universal in a specific tale. It's also poignant, unpretentious, and occasionally heartbreaking.
As I wander from Pete's talk to the Main Stage, 'Itchycoo Park' by the Small Faces is playing on the PA system in the park. I smile when the song gets to the chorus, I remember that Truman Capote quote about Venice and then sing along. Yes Moseley Folk Festival, welcome back, it really is 'all too beautiful'.
Mike Scott of The Waterboys
Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff
Our Man in The Field
These and other images from Moseley Folk and Arts Festival can be viewed and downloaded at Jay's photo page here