Since moving from a small site near Hay-on-Wye across the Welsh border to the Brecon Beacons, the Green Man festival has grown into one of the landmarks of the festival calendar, and with its catholic selection of all music guitar based, it’s easy to see why.
Although folk music in the broadest sense does take up a lot of the bill, there is plenty here to entertain the most reluctant consumer of that genre.
Reformed 1960s legends Pentangle, who were combining psychedelia and folk long before Devendra Banhart was a twinkle of stardust in the cosmic universe of his father’s eye, are the major coup of the weekend. Featuring Jacqui McShee’s crystal vocals and Bert Jansch’s folk jazz guitar, they might not be everybody’s cup of herbal tea, but 40 years from their original outings, reviews of recent gigs suggest the band have lost none of their fire or creativity.
If you are less of a folk fan then Super Furry Animals, Spiritualized, Black Mountains and Fuck Buttons, to name but a few, should provide enough major interest. And the chance to see Badly Drawn Boy at the tiny Green Man Caf will prove quite a draw.
Emmy the Great, Mercury-nominated Laura Marling, Los Campesinos! and Fight like Apes will no doubt provide some of the buzz. And if BDB and Laura Marling are your thing then Rod Thomas is well worth checking out. It’s not all British acts, and Alela Diane, Iron And Wine, and Damien Jurado bring some pan-Atlantic class to the proceedings.
With children’s events, gardens, and the back drop of the Welsh mountains, the festival is more child friendly than most, there’s a large dedicated family camping area and events start early in the day. For those without minor charges, or on a break from the babysitting duties, there will be literary events and talks by major performers, as well as a DJ tent featuring appearances by Andy Votel and David Holmes.
As far as the music goes, two of the best sets on the line up look to have been bumped down the bill. Not content with Bert Jansch in Pentangle, the organisers have hooked another folk-guitar legend, Richard Thomson, to usher in SFA on Saturday night. He may just be the greatest British songwriter ever, and live his musicianship will have your chin in the mud. And if you reckon you can think of a better way to bring on the Sunday evening at a festival against a backdrop of cloud-crowned hills than a set by Nina Nastasia peddling her darkly humorous urban folk-noir, you’re either lying or crazy.