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The Baring-Gould Folk Weekend in Okehampton goes undercover

Folk music lovers will definitely want to visit Okehampton on the last weekend in October and participate in the unique Baring-Gould Folk Weekend. Organised by Wren Music, this Folk Festival is packed with concerts, workshops, a Feast and a Ceilidh.
As October in Devon can be damp, the former Baring-Gould Folk Festival is revising its name and its location for the last weekend in October. Now known as the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend, the organisers assure visitors that it is not in a field, you won’t get muddy and you don’t have to sleep in a tent. All in all that sounds like a great move to ensure a fabulous weekend for folk music fans!

Wren Music organises the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend

This long-standing Folk Festival has been running since 2001 and includes over 30 different events, concerts and talks. is a Devon folk arts charity and they put together an excellent family-friendly festival which this year will take place in various indoor venues around Okehampton’s town centre.

The programme starts on the Friday of the weekend and includes concerts, dances, talks, a Prize Conker Competition and the Festival Feast. The Feast takes place in Okehampton Church Hall with catering by a local chef to complement the evening of songs and folk music. Street entertainment during the festival is provided by Moulton Morris, a motley crew who perform a series of dances and high energy routines to traditional folk tunes.

As if that isn’t enough to whet the appetite and attract the curious, the fabulous lineup of performers for 2014 includes Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman who were worthy winners of the Best Duo at the BBC Folk awards 2013. They will be in good company with Tickled Pink who will be leading the Ceilidh on Saturday. Alfie and Jon are returning along with the Wren Team themselves and Lester Simpson running the Festival Choir.

Baring-Gould Folk Weekend Song School

As part of this amazing folk festival, there will be a Song School running the week after the folk weekend from Monday to Friday. Attendees of this Baring-Gould Folk Song School get the opportunity to work on their voice and song development as part of a singing community. It allows singers from all over the country to gather with others who are passionate about singing and learn from a course specifically designed for those who want to improve professionally or simply enjoy singing for pleasure.

In the past, the Song School has brought together professional singers, singing tutors and those who lack the confidence to join a choir or singing group but want to get involved. Tuition is varied with small groups, large groups and one-to-one coaching, depending upon what you require.

In 2014 the Song School will be led by the Wren Music Director, Paul Wilson, who himself is an accomplished singer, songwriter, composer and educator for over 30 years. Sarah Owen will be providing input from her experience with folk songs and electronics as a vocal leader with Wren Music. The visiting tutor will be Janet Russell who is best known for her work with Scottish traditional material, having made a name for herself in the 1980s on the folk circuit.

Those interested in signing up for the Baring-Gould Folk Song School will also get a free pass to all the events at the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend.

Who the @#$%^& is Baring-Gould?

The Baring-Gould Folk Weekend focuses on the folk songs collected by . He was one of the great social historians and researchers of the Victorian era, living from 1834-1924. Baring-Gould collected traditional songs from peasants and farm workers, particularly in West Devon.

His life’s work remained largely unrecognized and lay in storage at the National Trust property of . In 1992, the collection was dusted off and shown to the directors of Wren Music. The amazing compilation included 650 Westcountry folk songs among the manuscripts, broadside ballads and chapbooks. Wren Music has spent over 20 years digitizing the collection to make it available as a comprehensive resource for academic and other research into folk music history.

What does the name Baring-Gould mean to you? Can you share the title of your favorite folk song with us, perhaps from his Victorian collection – we’d love you to contribute to the discussion.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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