“I have always been proud to be from Hertfordshire, I feel it really is the ‘county of opportunity’ as flagged on the signage as you enter the county,” shared Folkstock Managing Director Helen Meissner, as she chatted with local journalist (and UHSU Media great) Kealie Mardell. “Local talent is a critical part of my plans, and the Folkstock Arts Foundation Community Interest Company has been created to guide, support and develop a number of artists of all ages, who write their own acoustic or folk music.”The Foundation’s projects involve one to one sessions, live gigs, performance reviews, live radio slots, photo sessions, recording, marketing advice and practical help. “I have been thrilled that the local Borough and Town Councils have embraced the opportunity to introduce more live artists to their local community. This is really exciting as I now have lots of superb musicians available to play quality gigs, and the stages to put them on!”
No stranger to searching for gigs and stages is Louise Hamilton, better known as the folk persona Flaming June, who has been playing around London, East Anglia, and across the UK since 1995. Helen has been helping with Flaming June’s promotion over the past few months, so Louise was delighted with the opportunity to play at Folkstock. She feels that local events are important because they offer support for independent music, which is often overlooked for those with label signings. “There is a plethora of brilliant original creative music out there, yet it is not getting the audience it deserves.” Louise advises upcoming artists to: “work hard, have fun and enjoy the journey wherever it may lead.”
One of the local acts performing at Folkstock are the female folk trio Said the Maiden. Based in Hertfordshire, they work closely with Helen in order to build their network within the industry. The trio jumped at the chance to be involved in Folkstock, as they felt it was exciting to be involved in something brand new.
“When we started out, we were always a lot more confident playing to ‘home crowds’ so events such as Folkstock help to encourage new acts to get up and perform in a less intimidating atmosphere,” they said. Said the Maiden advise new artists to “take every opportunity to play that you can get….take advice, praise, and criticism in your stride.”
Minnie Birch, another local artist, said that she found her influence and inspiration from the amazing music and musicians that come from the area. She said: “Having a local music scene is really important, so we need people like those behind Folkstock who are willing to put in the hard work to get events like this happening.”
Folkstock is not just an arena for local talent, as performers are coming in from across the country. One such act is Two Coats Colder, a folk band from Norfolk, who found out about the event through Facebook. “I’m constantly surprised at the amount of music related networking that goes on via email, Facebook, and other social media…It makes me wonder how everyone managed before,” said Anna Bass (Guitar, Harmonium, Vocals). The band took the chance to perform at Folkstock, as it is an opportunity to “showcase talented performers in a more intimate setting.”Also brought into the scene is Lánre, an acoustic solo artist, who has toured across various venues and events including Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bath Musical Festival, and in Canada and Paris. Helen contacted Lánre about Folkstock, and she felt: “I had to be a part of it just because it gives the musicians an opportunity to be part of their community, and the community in turn are given the opportunity to get involved with their musicians.”
“The beautiful thing about music is its ability to unite people, communities. It’s like a common place for people to meet and start relationships that may end up being a lasting one. I think for that reason alone it’s important that local events like Folkstock Festival are supported and encouraged,” said Lánre.
For upcoming artists trying to find their break in the music industry, Helen’s Meisnner’s best advice is to write your own music and search the local area for open mic nights. “Always ask for feedback from the organiser, tell them that you know you are inexperienced and any advice is gratefully received,” she says. She also stresses the importance of social media and an online presence, with Facebook pages and YouTube accounts becoming an important aspect for musicians.
Keeping a consistent brand for yourself is also crucial: “Think of a good name, check it’s not already taken, and then set up your social media network.” Once you have created your network, “make an effort to connect with people” advises Helen, “Think of what can make you stand out from the crowd, and what will make people remember you.”
The opportunities for young arts talent to get involved in Folkstock are extensive, and this is an exciting opportunity to gain experience in the music industry. From blogging, reviews, recording, marketing and more, this isn’t just for artists and performers. If you have an interest in music and the passion to get involved, visit the Folkstock website and contact the team for more information at: www.folkstockartsfoundation.com