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Warwick musicians celebrate an ‘Abbaration’ in folk

Warwick Folk Festival Round-up, July 26-29. The most talked-about act at this year's Warwick Folk Festival was that well-known Swedish quartet Abba. Next year it will be Elvis. Yes, we are talking folk and the boundaries do seem to be more fluid these days. A highlight of last weekend's four-day programme of concerts, ceilidhs, sessions and dance displays was a Sunday lunchtime event billed as "I can't believe it's not folk!"

For over an hour, a dozen festival guest acts - local and international - donned wigs and spandex to perform classics from the Abba repertoire. Mama Mia, SOS and Thank You For the Music were all given an irreverent but respectful, folkie treatment with the dynamic young Worcestershire trio Granny's Attic winning first prize for their rendition of Does Your Mother Know? The contest was the brainchild of Leamington-based singer, songwriter and comedian, Keith Donnelly who MC-d and performed like a true super-trooper (pictured above with the Swedish pop stars). Under his direction, the show took on an atmosphere of kitsch hilarity not usually associated with the serious business of exploring folklore and preserving traditions. While other first-rate folk music and dance performances were taking place in venues on the site and in town, this glittery homage to 70s and 80s pop was pulling the biggest crowds and next year's Elvis event looks set to become one of the main attractions of the weekend! Warwick also witnessed spectacular performances by acts from Canada, Australia, Ireland, Spain and across the UK. These formed just part of a large, diverse choice of concerts, music sessions, shanty sessions, choir performances, puppet shows, lectures, workshops and every style of morris dancing imaginable.

Despite the rain - and a mini-tornado playing havoc on the campsite - a full programme of entertainment for all ages kept up a joyful momentum. Next year, July 25-28, marks the festival's 40th anniversary and organisers are appealing for photographs, videos, anecdotes and memories with free tickets offered for those used to promote and celebrate this musical landmark.

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