In April, the Hi Vis crew along with some friends made a pilgrimage to Laugharne, birth place of Dylan Thomas, as we had done in the previous year; however, this time the quiet village streets weren’t as quiet as they had been on the previous journey. The reason for this was that it was time for the Laugharne festival. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of it until our Welsh friend, Adele, introduced us to the set up.
The main drag in the village was host to multiple venues that all had their own interesting nuances that the performers seemed to be placed strategically in to enhance the performance/talks. We saw the big guns in the main hall (John Cooper Clark, Irvine Welsh in conversation with John Niven) and other talks in the marquee outside Browns (Stuart Maconie, James Brown) but my favourite venue had to be the church and in it we witnessed what had to be the highlight of the festival for us. Mike Garry, an established and respected poet that most of you will be familiar with, performed a set accompanied by The Cassia String Quartet. Picture this: the church pews full. The sun blaring through the stained glass windows, lighting the stage with a heavenly ambiance. Then the strings tickled in. Mike Garry stared at the crowd through the sounds of heartache and humanity. And spoke his words of Kids on Glue through the Mancunian drawl that he is known for. There was a stark contrast between his words, the setting and the accompanying music that pulled together to form, in your mind, an almost ethereal montage of working class images.
The thing about the Laugharne festival is that it’s not big and it doesn’t try to be. In fact, the people who run it, actively try to keep it small as otherwise it would outgrow the village and loose the charm that makes it a unique experience. Irvine Welsh said that "You can't beat Laugharne for festival fun. Artists and audience are united like in no other place. There really is nowhere like it.” And, it’s true. Walking into the Fountain Inn after you’ve had your fill of poetry, music and the likes and seeing John Cooper Clarke doing karaoke is one thing, but then as you look around and see: there’s Tony Robinson, Welsh, Niven, Mike Garry, and having Keith Allen’s house band constantly belting out their own renditions of banger after banger, well, it was surreal. There seems as though there’s no hierarchy to Laugharne; everyone is there because they enjoy it, even the performers and for that reason it really is a special festival like no other.
The above recording is Keith Ford at Laugharne's Got Talent. He got up to do a poem and Keith Allen and his house band slowly joined in. (Dean Lilleyman and Beth Aveyard also performed a stunning folk song but the recording won't upload for some reason.) This was the kind of thing that started off the party before the tables and chairs got cast to the side and the night was boogied away.
Big up DJ Uncle Funk!