FESTIVAL REPORT: Moseley Folk & Arts Festival 1

FESTIVAL REPORT: Moseley Folk & Arts Festival

When: 2nd – 4th September 2022

Where: Moseley Park and Pool, Birmingham, England

This year the exceptionally hot and dry conditions have continued to plague parts of western Europe, including the UK, and after what was the driest July in this country since 1935 the Environment Agency declared a drought in several regions in England. One of those regions was the West Midlands. Given this and the ongoing impact of climate-breakdown it felt almost inevitable that it would rain this weekend. And, of course, it did. Not nearly as much as had been expected, though, and let’s be honest a bit of drizzle and a few autumnal showers were never really going to dampen spirits at the Moseley Folk & Arts Festival.

Back for its 16th annual outing in the familiar surroundings of Moseley Park and Pool – that idyllic urban oasis of calm which lies a mere two miles due south of Birmingham city centre – the festival once more rose to the occasion with three wonderful days and nights of top-class music, featuring headline appearances from Supergrass, Seasick Steve, Jethro Tull, and The Coral. There was also plenty of comedy, talks, and an array of other activities also taking place over the course of the weekend in this most beautiful of settings.


And joining more than 6,000 other like-minded souls in a near capacity crowd, God Is In The TV was once more back in the park to enjoy yet another fabulous programme of entertainment in what is always such a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Here are just a few of the many highlights that we experienced at this year’s Moseley Folk & Arts Festival.


Theo Bleak is the artistic character created by Dundonian, Katie Lynch. The stage name suggests a certain desolation, a view reinforced by the subject matter of her lyrics which range from eating disorder to dysfunctional personal relationships. Yet they came to us wrapped in such uplifting melodies, the earlier clouds just magically disappeared, and the rain suddenly stopped, right on cue, as she struck up ‘Summer Song’.

Bess Atwell is so much more than just another confessional singer-songwriter, a fact affirmed by this delightfully elusive performance whereby simple classification always remained tantalisingly out of reach. Accompanied by Chris Mathewson on guitar, the Brighton-based musician’s set was largely drawn from her second album, last year’s excellent Already, Always. Saturated with innovation, these tunes converged at a point where the stars of melody, songcraft, and arrangement were all perfectly aligned.

Bess Atwell

In her billowing pale blue and white costume depicting the sky and sea, Tamara Lindeman – fronting the Canadian folk band The Weather Station – gently moved us beyond the shame of climate-change to a position of love, a transformative process greatly enhanced by a closing trio of songs – ‘Robber’, ‘Atlantic’, and ‘Parking Lot’ – that elevated their set towards the transcendental.

The Weather Station’s appearance at Moseley Folk underlined the festival’s continuing commitment towards showcasing newer, emerging talents alongside some of the more seasoned performers.

Over in Speakers Corner, local historian Carl Chinn took the audience on a fascinating journey back to the original Peaky Blinders and his family connections with them.

A sublime cover of Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame member Mickey Newbury’s ‘Why You Been Gone So Long’ illustrated the Newcastle bluegrass band The Often Herd’s skill and versatility, not to mention their stamina as both fiddler Niles Krieger and guitarist Rupert Hughes still had enough petrol left in the tank to join fellow North Easterner Martin Stephenson on the Kitchen Garden stage later that night. Stephenson contributed his customary performance packed with warmth, wit, and wellbeing. He made mention of one of Birmingham’s favourite sons, Roy Wood, and leaving the Folk on the Slope area mid-set brought the perennial perils of Stephenson likening you to anyone from Jamiroquai to Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum.

Martin Stephenson


This year the festival launched a brand new and innovative bursary scheme in honour of its long-time friend and supporter, Janice Long, who was the regular compere and a much-loved presence at the event. The Janice Long Bursary was set up to support new and emerging artists in their careers and the first winner of this prestigious award, Louie Miles opened proceedings on Saturday morning on the stage named after the renowned broadcaster. Furthermore, he will be the headline on that same stage next year. 

With their binoculars, vintage microphones, and sheepskin coats they bore an uncanny resemblance to a couple of presenters from a 1970’s episode of the British game show It’s a Knockout. Yes, The Commentators were back in their observation post looking down on the festival’s main arena. From there they were able to provide a running narration of events in the park exactly as things happened. Any movement on your part was fraught with danger lest you caught their eagle-eyes. Their gentle humour and wry observations on festival life could be heard throughout the day via a series of speakers secreted in the park’s trees, yet another delightful touch which added to the intimacy of the occasion.

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The Commentators

Saturday’s music was folk-centric and who better to properly ignite the day’s flame than Martin Carthy, a man who for nearly 60 years has stood in the vanguard of English traditional music. And now 81 years of age, he shows no sign of stopping.  He played songs such as ‘The Bedmaking’ (from his 1976 album, Crown Of Horn) and ‘My Son John’, which he had sung on The Imagined Village’s second album 12 years ago, and intertwined such treasures with recollections of his extensive life on the folk scene.

Many other performers throughout the day followed his example in keeping this music alive, their enthusiasm and passion for their craft shining through. Annie Dressner & David Ford, their voices a perfect complement to each other, concluded with ‘Just Like You’, dedicating the song to Janice Long. It was one of many such warm tributes paid to her over the weekend.

The Magpies, of which two were in full flight today, saw Bella Gaffney’s voice and guitar and the mesmerising fiddle of Holly Brandon counterpoint to enthralling effect. There was an agility and freedom in their playing that added to the ongoing modern revolution of such traditional music.

Another progressive folk musician is George Boomsma and one of the many delights of his performance was when he was joined by the Birmingham-based artist Katherine Priddy for their collaboration, ‘Ready To Go’.

George Boomsma and Katherine Priddy

And as the light faded from the day and darkness descended over the Kitchen Garden Stage, Gilmore & Roberts‘Bone Cupboard’ assumed an even greater dramatic effect. On today’s evidence alone folk music was still very much alive, and its future remains assured in all of these most capable and expressive of hands.


“Hey Moseley, what’s up?” Yasmin Williams introduced herself to the festival Sabbath with such understated charm bringing with her all the way from Alexandria, Virginia one of the most unexpected pleasures of the entire weekend.  Her finger-picking guitar style, incorporating numerous percussive strikes, moved such instrumentation into another cosmic dimension altogether. “It’s always good to throw in a rap cover at a folk festival”, she concluded, before taking on Post Malone’s ‘Sunflower’. A complete and utter breath of fresh air.

Yasmin Williams

Sporting a T-shirt bearing the name and image of multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist, Iona Zajac, the Dublin musician John Francis Flynn confirmed what we already knew, he is a man of considerable taste. Accompanied as always by Ross Chaney and Brendan Jenkinson, Flynn once more evidenced his unerring ability to transfigure traditional folk music into something that verges upon the avant-garde.

Such was the smile across her face, and given its levels of hospitality and the sheer warmth of its ambience, the American indie-folk artist Anaïs Mitchell was one of countless musicians who could not hide their immense pleasure and sense of privilege at being able to play at this festival. Her richly melodic and unashamedly romantic ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ was one of the songs of the weekend.

John Cooper Clarke never disappoints. The great punk poet blended old chestnuts such as ‘Hire Car’, ‘Beasley Street’ and ‘Evidently Chickentown’ with relatively newer material like ‘Bedblocker Blues’ in which he reflected with subtle poignancy upon the issues of ageing and mortality.

Flo and Joan (sisters, Rosie and Nicola Dempsey) kept another packed crowd at Speakers Corner royally entertained with songs reminiscent of Victoria Wood and other great musical comics.

Perhaps mindful of the fact that prog-rock titans Jethro Tull would be following them onto the main stage, Midlake showcased the flute on the pastoral ‘Acts of Man’ from their 2010 album The Courage of Others when, according to frontman Eric Pulido, “we dabbled in the British folk world”. As if to prove that this was a passing, but nonetheless most engaging fancy they concluded with the swirling, spectacular euphoria of ‘Head Home’.


Diana Jones proved that the days of the protest singer within the idiom of folk music are not numbered with a courageous performance anchored by a strong commitment to human rights. ‘We Believe You’ is her powerful response to the treatment of immigrants, a song imbued with empathy for the dispossessed and oppressed.

As night closed in at the Kitchen Garden Stage, the manager asked, “would you like to hear one more proper folk song?” and, the audience having answered in the affirmative, the Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts duly delivered a spellbinding a cappella reading of Brigid Tunney’s ‘The Heathery Hills’, a song whose unfettered joy and freedom of expression seemed to capture the very essence of this incredible festival.

Before The Coral drew the 16th Moseley Folk & Arts Festival to a triumphant close, though, there was a most fitting and extremely moving tribute to Janice Long. Performing directly in front of Janice’s family and closest friends, Merseyside musician Ian Prowse played first ‘Home’ and then ‘Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?’ in memory of the Liverpool-born broadcaster who was, and still is, such an integral part of the Moseley Folk Festival Story.

Additional reporting: Claire Eggleston

All photos: Simon Godley

More photos from Moseley Folk & Arts Festival 2022 can be found here:




God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.