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2008 Festival

FESTIVAL BLOG CLICK HERE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENED...although we couldn't get signal over weekend which curtailed updates a bit!
Review: Musicport Festival - Yorkshire Post
Published Date: 24 October 2008 by Jill Turner

This year, Musicport sealed its reputation as a major international festival, and can now be ranked alongside WOMAD in the UK for its ability to attract musicians from all over the world.

Under the directorship of Jim McLaughlin, Musicport has grown in popularity, necessitating this year's move to the refurbished Spa in Bridlington.

There were films, stalls, a children's festival, workshops, DJs and more than 70 acts across four stages, which included an intimate Edwardian-style theatre where Curtis Eller was the surprise hit, and the central ballroom area, with its large stage, just perfect for Friday night's headliners The Levellers.

Described as one of the most important musicians in Africa, Toumani Diabate can trace his musical roots back to the 12th century. His musicians included Malian national treasure Kasse Mady, who sang with him on a stage where earlier that day the Lani Singers, from West Papua had proudly shared their freedom songs, Etran Finitawa from Niger cooked up some extraordinary hypnotic rhythms with Bridlington school students, and Reem Kelani and Liana premiered a specially commissioned project, From Palestine to Portugal , dedicated to Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

This was just the tip of a fantastically diverse iceberg, which included folk from the Young Coppers and Martin Simpson, Mazovian transminimal roots music from the Warsaw Village Band, Bengali-inspired jazz from Zoe and Idris Rahman, plus some of the best Yorkshire musicians, Mambo Jambo, The Hut People, Belinda O'Hooley, The Alley Cats, Bad Panda, Nahro Zagros, Robert Maseko, The Light Garden and Skavolution.

It's onward and upward for Musicport '09, scheduled for October 23-25.

by Danielle Millea

For the ninth year of this, the largest indoor world music festival in the UK, the venue has changed from Whitby Pavilion to the newly refurbished Bridlington Spa Theatre. This venue over looks this pretty part of the East coast, giving chance on this mild weekend to have a stroll on the beach between bands, though Saturday is a little nippy for that!

The Spa holds 3,500 people; more than double that of the Whitby theatre, with a large hall and a fabulously decorated ceiling. The festival has a definite outdoor feel, with stalls lining every wall, selling hand-crafted items and funky clothes. To the side of the main hall there is a café selling a range of vegetarian food; chilli, chips, lasagne, and a few bars are dotted about with a range of beer and real ale.

The main stage is situated in the main hall, with room for 3,000 people. Seats are available upstairs, and there's a free and easy vibe like at the Big Session festival, you just come and go as you please. To the side of the hall is a DJ room called Cloudbase, kitted out with circular screens surrounded by feathers and soothing light shows by a Yorkshire DJ and décor collective. Through the day this is a Q and A room, but at night it turns into a disco.

Upstairs is the second stage titled the North Sea Stage, and its full length windows give the performers a beautiful backdrop of the North Sea. At the opposite end of the huge venue is the fully seated theatre, and the Gallery Suite is the host for the various world films on show throughout the weekend, including 'What About me? 1 Giant Leap' featuring Stephen Fry, and 'At Five In The Afternoon' directed by Samira Makhmalbaf. There is a lot of emphasis as you would imagine on kids having fun too, with a full range of activities like circus skills, African dance and singing workshops.

As this is an indoor festival, and it is now Autumn, accommodation is from nearby B and Bs, hotels and for the crazy folk the official campsite; the South Cliff Caravan site. This is the closest camping area, and is a good twenty minutes plus walk away. We have opted for a tent (Old Betsy the campervan is not budging this year), and regret it. It is not that cold, but normally at a festival is loud all the time, so you adjust and sleep through it, but here we are slap bang next to the main Bridlington road, and vehicles wake you at every chance, though the rest of the time it is quiet. It is a lovely site; I just wish I was in a van of some sort...

Levellers finishing of the Friday night with classics like 'Riverflow' and new tracks 'Burn America Burn', to the amazing Toumani Diabate and his beautiful kora playing on the Saturday, to the one and only Rolf Harris headlining the Sunday.

Friday also sees acoustic ska band Skavolution play two sets after opening the festival in the café, fiddler Jim Eldon plays on, and comperes the North Sea Stage, Robert Maseko play his hip-swinging Congolese soukous music in the theatre and Moussu T E lei Jorvents play Thirties inspired music of Marseille, and getting the crowd involved with sound effects!

Saturday includes beautiful music from vocalist Laye Sow, cousin of Baba Maal, which just captivates the tired looking audience. Martin Simpson also wins over the crowd with his incredible guitar playing, as does the Reem Kelani and Liana set where they present 'From Palestine To Portugal', a collaboration by the two singers looking at the links between some Portuguese music and that of the Arabs and their similar pains.

There are workshops including a Q and A from Niger's Etran Finatawa in the Cloudbase, with demonstrations of their unique sounding sounding instruments and song descriptions. 100 Man Orchestra can not make it, but Mr Tooley's 45rpm Travelling Gospel Jukebox and a longer acoustic set for Bridlington Rock band Bad Panda fill the bill. Comedy comes from Mitch Benn and The Distractions with two sets in the theatre, whilst Nahro Zagros brings his classical violin playing from Iraq to the North Sea Stage, and Ska Cubano once again get the main hall dancing into the early hours with a real Caribbean party!

On the last day people are looking all the more tired, but enjoying every second this wonderful festival has to offer. Local band The Alley Cats play a little skiffle in the North Sea Stage, while East Riding Youth Dance County Company: Hyped Up take over the main hall floor for some hip hop moves. A wedding is happening in the Cloudbase room at 4pm; what a great place to have as your reception, especially with Bulgarian Ivo Papasov and his Wedding Band playing jazz infused stambolovo straight afterwards on the main stage!

Warsaw Village Band mix traditional Polish folk with electronic samples of sirens and other things for a lively show. After Rolf's spectacular set it's time for Afro Celts side project The Outernationlists to mix funky world music to a dancing crowd to end the festival at the Monday morning friendly hour of midnight.

After this successful year I believe Musicport has found a new home at the Spa; many people I met say it is bigger and a better venue for the free atmosphere the festival encourages. All I can say is that next year please provide a cloakroom, as we are layered up for the cold months and would like to dance without the layers! That said, this is my only complaint. The festival is a great way to spend an Autumn weekend by the sea.