Every first Thursday of the month people assemble at the George Hotel, Leadenham, for an acoustic singaround. The hotel is famous for its 600 different brands of whiskies on sale – hence 600 Whiskies Unplugged. As with all such events the singaround is open to anyone, to play, to sing, or just to listen. We started the singaround in about 2008/9 and after a year or so we started to think!! There are some very talented people who come and play, we thought, they deserve a wider audience. Let us put on an afternoon concert one Sunday. Basically, I am a sucker. I allowed people to convince me that the newly planned afternoon concert could be an all-dayer. Moreover, as well as concerts, we could have a singaround in the hotel’s public bar, a tune session in the adjacent Stable Bar. Oh! And while we are at it we could put up a gazebo in a hidden lawn at the front of the building and have some workshops. We could hire the village hall too! Stalls would be good – and perhaps a second concert stage in the Orchard.
It seemed too much but, as if by magic, it worked. PA systems were set up in the Yard Stage and the Orchard Stage. Handled sensitively by our experts and separated by a big stone stable block, we were delighted to learn that the sound from the systems stayed in the immediate proximity of the stages.
The day worked too. We had no idea whether it would. And because the event was in a public space we couldn’t charge an entry fee. Therefore, we couldn’t pay any of the acts. But people wanted to play. So we had acts from all over the county and our own regulars all playing free of charge. A ‘free festival’. They played and the audience listened – and something special happened. Uncannily. Remarkably. A ‘vibe’, a special atmosphere, evolved.
And eight years on that atmosphere still pervades. Many acts have since played Lincolnshire Day of Folk Music Dance and Song and all talk of the ‘relaxed and friendly festival’.
But nothing is free. We have costs. Publicity, first aiders, website. But we also have people who want to contribute, either in kind during the setting up, by delivering posters or, and this is remarkable, by making financial contributions. In 2016, the artistes provided tracks to Bob Ebdon, who kindly turned them into a festival CD with all sales coming to the festival. Such acts of kindness are very much in the spirit of the festival – people giving of their time and talents for the benefit of others. Long may it continue!