Review: Granny’s Attic at Sidmouth Folk Festival

Grannys Attic at the Bedford: Lewis Wood (left), George Sansome and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne. Pict

Grannys Attic at the Bedford: Lewis Wood (left), George Sansome and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne. Picture: Paul Strange - Credit: Archant

It is unusual to find yourself attending a sell-out gig at 11.30am, let alone one held in the back room of a seaside pub.

Rich Endersby-Marsh and Harri Endersby at the Bedford. Picture: Paul Strange

Rich Endersby-Marsh and Harri Endersby at the Bedford. Picture: Paul Strange - Credit: Archant

But the huge queue outside Sidmouth's Bedford Hotel on Wednesday, August 7, was a clue that this performance might be a little out of the ordinary, and so it proved.

Granny's Attic - a young trio who have been playing together since school - were nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2014 and have become firm festival favourites.

Hailing from Worcestershire, the band comprises Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (melodeon, concertina and vocals), George Sansome (guitar and vocals) and Lewis Wood (fiddle, mandolin and vocals). They perform a mix of traditional songs and tunes as well as Wood's own compositions with energy and infectious enthusiasm, bounding around the stage and clearly taking a delight in sharing the music they love with the audience.

It's this fresh approach combined with their respect for the English folk tradition that's won the approval of hard-core folkies since their debut album, Better Weather, in 2014.


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Despite their youth, all three are virtuoso musicians, playing with effortless skill and maturity. Wood's eloquent fiddle sang through the instrumentals and provided a plaintive underscore to traditional ballads such as The False Lady. Sansome's confident guitar provided a solid base to the band's sound, while Braithwaite-Kilcoyne's accomplished concertina and melodeon playing drew out the beauty of traditional tunes like Dove's Figary.

The band's powerful and moving harmony singing provided the spine-tingling moments of their set, such as the shanty The Death of Nelson, and ballads including The Highwayman and What I Saw in my Dream as I Slept in My Chair, two political songs with current resonance.

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Support was ably provided by Durham singer-songwriter and Sidmouth first-timer Harri Endersby on guitar and vocals, with her husband Rich on guitar and percussion. Endersby's songs, inspired by traditional music, tell stories based on personal experience. The poignant Mazes examines feelings of confusion, while Close to Home is an eager anticipation of homecoming. Endersby's clear, pure vocal and musical innovation make her an artist to watch in the future.

DELIA PEMBERTON

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