Sidmouth FolkWeek 2011 - demise of the Sailing Club as a FolkWeek music venue?

sidmouth sailing club.jpg (81837 bytes) For many years, there has been friction between folk festival attendees and 'a certain person' at Sidmouth's sailing club.

The club is one of the town venues that is popular amongst the people who participate in Sidmouth's 'fringe' events. The club is also rumoured to have good showers.

In 2011, matters came to a head in the bar and an unpleasant altercation resulted in a mass walkout by people who had been attending for many years.

The version I heard was that the bar staff dislike people who buy only a limited amount of alcohol.

One 'disabled' man (the only description I was given) was sitting with his empty glass listening to music and the staff suggested he should buy more drink or leave.

This altercation produced a reaction - described to me in the following email, received on 7 August 2011 - and for 'Yacht' read 'Sailing' (!)

You may be interested to know that the big session which was informally run by the Loose Knit Band is no more. After enduring more unpleasant behaviour from the staff there it was formally announced that they would no longer meet there in future years. Following the announcement a large number of stalwarts walked out and will not return.

Many people have been on the receiving end of a particular persons unpleasantness over the years and this year it came to a head. I do not attend the Yacht club but many friends do.

Whilst the whole episode may 'blow over' - especially if the offending member of the club is removed from his post (even if only for FolkWeek) it does illustrate what is a general reality in Sidmouth - some traders and townspeople tolerate the festival only because of the money that it brings to the town. They are not interested in the song, the dance, the culture or indeed in any spirit of goodwill.

looseknitband2010.jpg (60233 bytes) You can look up several references on Google to the Loose Knit Band. Members include Gordon Newton from Kent who did so much to help save Sidmouth festival in 2005.

The Sailing Club is a central part of the music fringe at Sidmouth. Losing it would be most regrettable - maybe harmony can be restored for 2012?

Local musicians Pete and Nicole Mac can be seen in the first photo (photos from looseknit website)

Thus, whilst FolkWeek finances have been put on a sound footing by virtue largely of the sponsorship from traders that has been secured over the last few years (itself an amazing achievement) it does mean that the event will forever be at the mercy of people who do not have much or any genuine interest in it - apart from their own self-interest.

A related problem is that the festival management operate as a closed tightly knit group and with very little involvement of local singers or dancers - apart from Barry Lister and a few people from Great Western Morris. Far more genuine local involvement might help overcome the 'them and us' attitude which is still a feature of the festival - as it was in the Steve Heap days.

sidmouth sailing club showers.jpg (26453 bytes) From the mudcat folk forum: let's hope the showers are still made available - many people seem to appreciate them. Those in the rugby club are said to be best avoided!

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