Category Archives: Community

It’s awards season and Folkstock has joined the party!


The Festival may be over, but it feels like things are just beginning…

As you probably know, the Folkstock Arts Foundation community interest company was set up in February of this year, and we are delighted to have won a place in the finals for two Hertfordshire Business Awards: for Hertfordshire Business in Community Award and Business Person of the Year (for our Festival Director Helen Meissner). Herts_Business_finalist
The next stage for the 5 finalists in each category, is to be visited by the judges and the announcements are made at the Knebworth Barns ceremony on 28th November.  Other Herts based finalists include Harriet Kelsall Jewellery from Weston, who is a highly feted entrepreneur who co incidentally has been a great supporter and sponsor of Folkstock Arts Foundation musicians!



A week later, on December 2nd, the UK festival awards announce their winners in London’s prestigious Round House, which until the end of October also incorporates a public vote. We are thrilled to be included in the nominations for 5 awards, including Best New, Best Small, Best Grassroots, Best Toilets and Best Family festival! Other Herts based festivals are also nominated for various awards, or can be voted for by the public if you go to the Festival Awards website and all of these listed had Folkstock artists performing or indeed whole stages managed and curated by the foundation for acoustic musicians – they are Standon Calling, Wilkestock, Balstock and Folk by the Oak.

You can vote until the 1st November if you feel so inclined, for any festival you have enjoyed.  If they are not nominated, you can suggest them for ‘Best of the Rest’. To vote click here.

Message from the Festival Director:

“We are thrilled that the awards nominations have given us another chance to promote the foundation which will increase the profile of the musicians who are associated us. Many Herts based musicians were included in the 16 who have been on our mentoring, marketing and masterclass programme this year and they have performed at a number of events put on by the foundation this year. However, we are not sitting on our laurels, in fact, regardless of the outcome that getting this far in these lovely awards has afforded us, we are in a very exciting developmental time.

Following on from Folkstock Festival just over a month ago, we are broadening the existing support for acoustic musicians to provide more opportunities for
them to make a living from music.
Introducing Folkstock Represents and Folkstock Records”.

My lasting message from Folkstock Festival…


I’ve made no secret of the fact that Folkstock is all about providing a platform of opportunity. Of course the Folkstock Foundation, which the festival was born out of, was established to support new and emerging acoustic, folk and roots musicians and help to bridge the gap between artists and the harsh business and marketing world – which is the ethos of the entire event – and I’ve written before about the fact that the festival was used to launch local business: Espiritu, but there’s an underlying current that runs a bit deeper than that, in my view.


As you may well know, Folkstock Festival is being used as a case study for social and community research by Dr Linda Wilks, and I’d like to put my two-pence worth in (that’s what a blog is for, surely?).

Whether realising the extent of this or not, Folkstock has allowed me as an individual to explore some of the links between professionalism; breaking into a career path, and the way that a combination of student media and local events can help one to realise their potential.


Earlier in the year Festival Director Helen Meissner approached me, as the then Editor of Hertfordshire Students’ Union magazine; BlueMoon, to write an article about Folkstock Foundation, the festival, and its lead-up events. I was able to include the piece in my ‘Talent Issue‘, which I’d hoped would provide exposure to the many positive things that the students at the University of Hertfordshire are doing; the research taking place, the awards won, and also advice from graduate peers and a spotlight on ways and places to showcase said talents (cue the article about Folkstock). I’d also hoped that my team of writers, photographers and designers responsible for creating our magazine would gain some recognition too.


The article featured in BlueMoon

It was a ploy that worked well. After sending out a copy to Helen (as I did with all the interviewees and contributors external to the university) she researched me and found I’d blogged for the St Albans Film Festival for its debut year. All of a sudden I was agreeing to become the official blogger of Folkstock Festival (bringing a student’s eye view to the proceedings) and my associate editor; Kealie Mardell (an up and coming music journo) was given opportunity to interview the festival team and artists for the UniVerse Newspaper.

Better still, unbeknownst to me, the model of one of our featured photos was being signed up to perform at her first festival.

Natalie Denise, as featured in BlueMoon Magazine

Natalie Denise, as featured in BlueMoon Magazine

I have to give credit to photographer Saahil Dossani of S.H Photographic for his stunning photo of singer/songwriter Natalie Denise (which incidentally won a Student Recognition Award for Student Media’s Best Photo). This captured Helen’s eye and with a bit more research, she had brought Natalie on-board (I can’t stress enough how appreciated it is when professionals take the time to follow up on individuals!).


Natalie did a great job on the Folkstock Presents… Stage on Saturday. You’d have never known that this was her first festival performance; her sweet voice and moving lyrics of her song dedicated to her nan (Little Hand) – which she is using to fundraise for the Alzheimers Society – had the audience captivated. I hope this leads to good things for her. Find out more about her charity single here.

Never one to miss a trick, you may have read already that I took a small team with me to help with coverage of last Saturday’s festival. There was two reasons for this: the first hope was that between the three of us, we would be able to get some form of coverage of as many artists as possible; whether it be photography, video, audio interview, a tweet, or simply notes on my page – and secondly, because I knew it would give an opportunity for my fellow UH students to put their skills into practice in a real, live event environment.

Eric Sawyer, our videographer for the day, is an enthusiast for all things media, and is set to take on the role of head of Hertfordshire Students’ Union television outlet this academic year. He has filmed many of the acts at the festival and is currently completing post production work and editing footage ready uploading on this blog. All of which will be making its way to our video page.


Audio editor and interviewer Michael D’Souza was the Assistant Station Manager for Crush Radio last year. I invited him along after listening to his repertoire of interviews on SoundCloud and remembering that he was looking to explore radio further and make industry contacts. There came a brilliant moment when I was covering the Main stage when BBC Cambridgeshire’s Sue Marchant, who was host for that stage, commented before Pauline Alexander & Edwin Gallagher’s set that radio’s don’t do enough to support these kinds of events.


Ever the one to challenge things, I raced to my blogging team and suggested Mikey D carry out an impromptu interview with BBC’s Sue Marchant addressing that issue. Listen to the result of that conversation below:

So all in all, students and community do go hand-in-hand – and when a local organisation and event gives us the opportunity to step-up, I think we media-folk can produce great results in promoting local talent, and in turn can help promote our own talents. I think we all gained something from the festival on Saturday; whether it be exposure for the artists or exposure as journalists, bloggers and media producers.

Exposure and opportunity: that to me is the lasting impact of Folkstock Festival.

Stay tuned for my last few summary posts coming up over the weekend and lots of videos too!

An Explanation


After 3 months of going it alone this on this blog, on the day of Folkstock I was joined by two extra pairs of hands to help with all the coverage of events. Whilst I will be writing the content of the blog posts post-event – and the photos and a few (of the less impressive) videos will still come from me, you may notice I start saying “we” a lot more, and there may be some strange faces appearing on the blog… Don’t fear! Here’s who I’m talking about (and what they lack in beauty, they make up for in sheer talent… and braun? No, scratch that).

FROM LEFT:Me (aka McFly) taking on the role of: bossy. Eric Sawyer (aka Captain Green Beard) taking on the role of: filming. Mikey D (aka The Smurf) taking on the role of: sound editing, interviewing and psycho-analysing (disclaimer: Mikey is not a trained psychologist).

Thank you to the guys and girls at Espiritu for decorating us!

Who’s playing at Folkstock?


I’ve been busy this week trying to think of all the ways to get information about our amazing Folkstock Festival (and the talented  line-up) across to our followers, and those in-betweenies that are thinking about buying a ticket but not yet sure…  (just remember, you always regret what you didn’t do, not what you did 😉 ).

I have previously introduced some of the main acts playing at Folkstock, but seeing as that was a while ago – and likely to have gotten lost in the mass of blog posts, I thought I’d bring you a quick and easy way to get to know some of our artists: via my Pinboard.

If you are – or know of – any Folkstock Festival artists that aren’t on the board, please help a blogger out and go ahead and add them – I’d love to see all of the acts’ websites on there by the weekend!

Follow the board through to Pinterest to see the larger range of our artists – all image will take you through to their websites.

The stage is set…


It’s getting so close, isn’t it? Only 6 days to go until Folkstock Festival. We’ve put together a full set list now of acts, times and stages (click the image below to view) – so once you have your tickets, you can get planning your weekend already.


Andy Shepherd of Shepherd Audio has kindly supplied us with this plan of how the area is going to look next Saturday, so you can get a good feel for the size and area its going to take place in. Excited doesn’t cover it!!

Folkstock merchandise, including the t’shirts (as modeled by festival director Helen Meissner and folkstock artist Amy Pettingill below), are now also available to buy via the website. Those of you who read the previous post about t’shirt designs may be pleased to see both designs are available to buy, with a list of various artists on the back.

If you can’t wait until  next weekend to have a listen to some of the artists that will be performing at Folkstock Festival – click here. Last Wednesday I headed to Nick Stephenson‘s Mid-Week  Music Open Mic night at The Boot, St Albans, to see Zoe Wren perform ahead of Folkstock – and if her set at The Boot was anything to go by, the Folkstock crowd are going to love her!