Monday, 9 June 2014

Balham Folk Festival

HE may have started out as a keyboard player with rock gods Iron Maiden but these days Tony Moore is focusing his attention on a very different style of music - folk.However, this should not be a surprise because since those heavy metal days of the late 1970s, the Clapham-based singer songwriter, radio presenter and music promotor has certainly been around the musical block.
As well as Iron Maiden, with whom he started his musical career in 1977, his CV boasts a varied array of work including as keyboard player with pop band Cutting Crew in the 1990s, founding the now defunct live music venue Kashmir Klub and more recently in 2003 he took over the management of music nights at the Bedford pub in Balham.
It is here that he has created a live music venue with an emphasis on showcasing emerging talent as well as established acts.
Indeed over the last 10 years or so the Bedford has built an envious reputation for nurturing and supporting the likes of Paolo Nutini, Ed Sheeran, Newton Faulkner and James Morrison in the early stages of their career.
But last week Tony was back to doing what he loves best, playing music - not to a packed crowd in a club or pub but busking at rush hour on the pavements of Balham.
The session was to promote the London FolkFest, an annual four day event at the Bedford Pub in Bedford Road Tony organises which celebrates the very best in folk, acoustic, roots and organic music.
It is the fourth year the festival has run and Tony is delighted with the way its grown to become a must-see event in South London's music calendar.
"I love playing music - music engages with people in a really special way - and I thought busking outside the pub would be a good way to help promote this year's festival," he says.
"I love the way you can interact with random people in random places with busking. It was great fun, we handed out a lot of flyers and the best bit was that it didn't rain!" he adds laughing.
This year he says the festival boasts a stellar line up of more than 50 acts many of whom are performers and musicians local to South London.
Those headlining the event will include Jon Gomm, Danny And The Champions Of The World, The Dunwells, Beth Rowley, Crowns, Emily Barker and Natalie Shay.
"We've got fantastic mix this year which I'm really excited about," says Tony. "I love the fact we can attract a whole range of artists from the young up and coming and relative newcomers to more established ones.
"There is also a real diversity in terms of the music which will be performed and which shows how varied folk is as a genre.
"Some of it's really acoustic but in others you will be able to see how it's influenced pop, country, hip hop, dance and rap music so to see it all meshed together over four days will be brilliant.
"It's going to be amazing, particularly as the Bedford is a unique space with four stages. It's very intimate only accommodating about 400 people but I think there will be something for every taste.
"It will be a true family festival," Tony adds. "Everyone gets a wrist band, you can move freely between the four rooms and of course the pub will be open for food and drink.
"I've also tried to make it as affordable as possible which I think is really important."
As well as all the fabulous music, this year as in the two previous, there will be a range of Folkfest Insight Seminars to help and support those who are new to the industry and who are serious about carving out a career within it, something that Tony is keen to promote.
"There are so many people who want a career as a musician but there isn't really anywhere for them to go to get the practical information they need to succeed," he says.
"Things like where to get a decent manager, the writing process, how to release and then promote your music, getting a record deal and all the financial stuff, it's all really important. They don't teach you that at school."
They will also feature an anonymous demo drop in which artists can submit tapes of their work anonymously for critical analysis.
"It is a lot of hard work to make it these days," says Tony. "Like any job, if you want to make a success of it it involves a lot of hard graft but it can be done and I hope these seminars prove useful to those who come along."
Most of all though, he hopes that the festival sparks an interest in both those who love folk music and those who have yet to discover its delights.
"Folk music has become more popular and mainstream over the years but I'm not surprised," he says. "You can see its roots in lots of other different styles of music and by the emergence of artists like Mumford And Sons, Laura Marling and Ben Howard who are really exciting.
"There will be a great atmosphere and I hope people who have never been to see folk music live will come along and take a look."

The London FolkFest takes place between June 5 and 8 at the Bedford, Bedford Hill, Balham. Visit for full listings.

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