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Popular festival needs funds to be able to come back in town in 2020

This year’s Southdowns Folk Festival could have been the last in Bognor Regis.


Founder and organiser Roger Nash said the event was doubtful for 2020 if enough backing could not be found.


“This year has been a fabulous event. The vibe around the town has been absolutely brilliant,” he said.


“I would estimate 12,000 people have at the festival during its four days. I know we had visitors from the USA, Germany and France, as well as from around England.


“I would love to do it again next year but we need people to get behind us to support us financially. I will be talking to people over the next few months to see what we can do.”


The latest extravaganza of all things folk was the seventh to take over the town centre. It involved the Alexandra Theatre in the Regis Centre as well as the centre’s three studios, five other venues, a marquee and the open air performances.


A total of 117 events were in the programme. Topping them were rock-folk legends Lindisfarne.


Rod Clements was a founder member of the band in 1970. The guitarist said: “It’s good when these festivals take over a town for a few days.


“You get all kinds of things going on – dancing in the streets, little groups singing here and there. It’s what life should be like all the time, but can’t be.”


Rod and his bandmates delighted a sold-out 350-seat theatre with a set which included the well-known Fog On The Tyne and Run For Home.


“It feels strange to have been going for almost 50 years. If you had said to us in the 70s, the band would still be going now, we would have thought you were joking.


“The appeal is in the songs. Our songs tell good stories, they have got good choruses that people can sing along to and people can relate to them,” he said.


The four-days of music and dance began last Thursday night with a concert by The Young ‘Uns. Other concerts in the theatre were Blair Dunlop, the Alistair Goodwin Band, 3 Daft Monkeys and Oysterband.


A host of other musicians performed a series of more intimate concerts in Studio One of the Regis Centre.


They included the modern folk music duo Friction Farm, from America, whose members, Aidan Quinn and Christine Stay, made their appearance on Sunday, the last of a ten-date tour of the UK.


Christine said before their concert they were looking forward to bringing their brand of story-telling, social commentary and humour in songs of everyday life to Bognor Regis.


“The nature of the music and the stories which are told in folk music are pretty much universal. We tell about the stories of everyday people, the things that happen in our lives and that people can relate to.”


Aidan said:


“The more the world changes, and it seems to be going through turmoil at the moment, the more you find that history repeats itself.”


French singer Eric Duval also appeared on Sunday at the RAFA Club for his first gig in Bognor Regis for 50 years.


He studied English in the town from 1966 with Mr Nash as his tutor.


“We used to perform at places like the Rex Ballroom. Roger asked me to participate in the festival.


“I am motivated by the sound of folk music in which you can hear the sound of the guitar. It’s not electric or metallic.”


Most of the festival events were free to watch. They included the second Southdowns Ukulele Festival, based around a marquee on the Place St Maur.


Singing and strumming from those who attend the town’s monthly Making Your Mark sessions opened the marquee last Friday. Among the 40 or so players of the popular instrument was Bognor Regis resident Pat Hopper, 72.


She said:


“It was really good. You just forget everything else because you are concentrating on the music. You don’t realise other people are there. I love it.”


Her fellow performers included Biff Atkinson, 77 of West Meads. She said:


“I enjoy everything about playing the festival – the music, the atmosphere. It’s just wonderful. Everybody is out enjoying themselves. Playing the ukulele is fun.


“The people you are with are so nice and so friendly and very helpful.”


The festival largely avoided the wet weather which plagued last year’s occasion. But heavy rain on Sunday morning caused some last minute re-arranging.


Open air events in the London Road precinct and the Place St Maur were switched indoors, where possible, to places like the William Hardwicke pub.

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