The people of Hexham dug deep in their wardrobes (and capacity for community support and tolerance) for lumpy wooly jumpers and/or handstitched kaftan-like ensembles in preparation for a weekend of folk. The bearded and bohemian flocked in their droves to be vigorously fiddled and fluted until their eardrums were worn down and withered away with a little sigh.
Even I embraced the Folk Philosophy and sported an oversized knitted affair. One has to appear willing to fit in at events such as these; it is hard to tell the expressions of folk lovers due to the abundance of wild, untreated (unless with henna) hair that they are enshrined in, despite the ample use of scarves and hippy head wear, but I would hazard a guess that they convey anger and disgruntlement adequately towards those openly shunning their beloved music.
There is something mildly disconcerting about the way a seated audience mutely and motionlessly watch folk bands on stage, who in turn are motionless apart from whatever part of their body is required to produce instrumental sound. They stare out into the crowd, soulless and disturbing, with only a foot manically tapping in time, whilst the music is full of life, rhythm and vigour (even if every single tune is actually the same one repeated, I refuse to believe otherwise). It is fascinating.
Actually, I may be exaggerating slightly. There was the odd person in the audience who insisted on persistantly juddering out the beat, making the entire row of seats shake. That, and the infrequent half-hearted whoop from an embarrassingly 'in the zone, feeling the music' spectator.
In direct opposition to the dead-to-the-world players was the awe-inspiringly enthusiastic and animated host of the event. The word 'magic' was associated with the horrors of folk music no less than 17 times. Fact. And I lost feeling in my fingers due to the requests made for 'showing support' and thanking those on stage and generally celebrating the joys of musical collaboration, youth, high spirits and jigs. One more clap or mention of the 'wonderful power of making music together' and I would have been done for.
A woman behind me actually lent over to the girl seated at my rear (who, incidentally, had been one of the jigglers and whoopers) and said 'You know, it's a very good thing that you're crying. It shows the strength of emotional reaction to the music.'
I'll show her intense emotional reaction to the 'music'.