Wednesday, 11 August 2010


2/8/10, Sidmouth Folk Festival

Belshazzars Feast are a pair of Pauls, one very shaggy with an accordion who does most of the talking, one clean-shaven and deadpan with a fiddle and occasionally a swannee whistle. Mainstream folk-plus-musical jokes, including snippets of familiar tunes (Mozart, Ode to Joy, Hallelujah Chorus). Witty repartee. Undemanding but most entertaining.

Brass Monkey something of a disappointment: a five-piece embracing two folk greats, Martin Carthy (guitar) and John Kirkpatrick (vocals), formed in the 80s by Carthy and reformed in the 90s. There's also a trombone, a trumpet and a chap playing sax/tambourine/boghran/side drum.

The first couple of numbers were thrilling: folk crossed with German oompah music. But after a time, and despite numerous changes of instrument by the fifth member and some changes of pace, it started to get boring. Some people left (towards the end that may have been because the set was over-running and other performances were due to start elsewhere in town).

The band were without their regular trumpet player, stranded in Jamaica, but his replacement seemed more than competent, so it probably wasn't that. Martin Carthy isn't really a team player: the others were in dark shirts, he was in a brightly coloured tie-dyed T-shirt, hanging loose.

And where Kirkpatrick has a good voice, Carthy's is a CofE hymn-singer's drone.

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