Dozens of notable new talents were on display this weekend at the London FolkFest 2016, the annual festival of acoustic music at the Bedford in Balham, south London. Liv Austen, Balsamo Deighton and Emma King were among the acts to catch uDiscover’s eye at the highly convivial event.
FolkFest is staged by a team headed by director Tony Moore, a respected champion of new names on the UK’s live circuit who oversees the Bedford’s tireless, year-round commitment to providing a platform for fresh talent. The festival has run every year since 2010, featuring hundreds of emerging names, including a then-unknown Jamie Lawson, whose self-titled album on Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records went straight to No. 1 in the UK last October.
Notables on this year’s bill included Blair Dunlop, Hunter and the Bear, Lisbee Stainton and Lisa Wright. On Saturday (4), Norwegian-born, London-based Liv Austen provided ample proof of her superior country-pop credentials with a performance at the Lavish Habit café opposite the main Bedford venue. ‘Don’t Regret A Single One,’ the lead track from her current EP Who I Am Today, was a particular standout.
Lavish Habit also hosted strong sets from Australian duo Belle Roscoe (who returned to close Sunday night’s proceedings), Sheffield/London band Tales From The Hills and Prague-born singer-keyboard player Lenny. Saturday’s action in the ballroom included a typically assured showing by British duo Balsamo Deighton, featuring the admirably interlocking talents of Steve Balsamo and Rosalie Deighton. Highlights from their new Unfolding album included ‘Light In The Dark’ and ‘Run Back To Your Life.’
On Sunday, all performances were on the venue’s theatre stage, where sibling trio Orfila delivered a spirited set with fine harmonies, before Emma King and her guitarist Ritch Spence played songs from her just-released eponymous debut album. King’s engaging stage demeanour and powerful vocal delivery culminated in the album’s uplifting ‘(Let’s Hope) Tomorrow Is A Better Day.’ It was another high point of a weekend that confirmed new acoustic talent to be in an extremely strong vein of form.