Farewell to folk like Alan

Fleetwood - no other place like it. Fylde Folk Festival director Alan Bell.
Fleetwood - no other place like it. Fylde Folk Festival director Alan Bell.

Alan Bell admits he might be shedding a tear and downing a glass of scotch when the curtain finally comes down on his tenure with the Fylde Folk Festival.

For 42 years Alan has been the tireless director of this huge event which he founded, choosing the acts, contacting them (or their agents), sorting out venues, insurance and a myriad other things.

But this year will be the last time he does it.

Alan is standing down after the event, which takes place in several Fleetwood venues next weekend (August 29-31).

It won’t be the end of the festival; happily it is to continue next year with a new company.

Fleetwood man Alan, who has also been a folk performer for some 60 years, said: “At the end of this year’s event there will definitely be mixed emotions.

“I will probably shed a tear and reach for a glass of scotch.

“But I will be relieved, too. I’m 80 years old and while in the past I was able to deal with the stress, these days it takes a lot longer to get over it.

“I’m delighted a group of Fleetwood folk fans are keeping it going, under a new company. I will be there to help and advise them, but from next year I can relax and just enjoy the music.”

There will certainly be no shortage of music over next weekend.

The festival will feature up to 200 musicians, performers and dancers in 130 events in 10 venues over three days.

Among the highlights will be the big Friday night concert (August 29) at the Marine Hall at 7.30pm, when acclaimed young duo Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts will appear, as will another high flyer, Edwina Hayes. Indeed, Edwina is performing as a thank-you to Alan for giving her a platform early in her career.

Saturday’s big concert at the Marine Hall (August 30) will feature the Ramblin’ Riversiders, Tom Lewis and Polish group Poles Apart, Isla St Clair from Scotland and Dallahan of the Irish Republic.

Alan and his band will also be performing on the Sunday, while Fleetwood’s pubs will also be busy with live music, including free sessions. There will also be a number of fun workshops.

Also check out the annual folk concert on board Fleetwood heritage trawler Jacinta, on Bank Holiday Monday (August 25) at 8pm. As usual, the £6 tickets are available on board.

To book and for information on the various festival tickets and events, call the Marine Hall box office on (01253) 887693.

A programme of events will also be available.