Well. That was all rather special. Seven years in and Beardy is still a fabulous long weekend. Every year, the passionate organisers add a little tweak here, a nip & tuck there, and year upon year the festival progresses, develops, matures, improves. 2024 was arguably the best yet. Our Reviewers adore Beardy; they enthused about 2023’s shenanigans (Read the Review HERE), but 2024 excelled, despite the weather!

Hopton Court is beautiful and located in the heart of the stunning Shropshire countryside. The music stages are set in the natural amphitheatre of the Grade II Listed Georgian Country House’s splendid Walled Garden. The two main stages offer back-to-back scheduling to minimise downtime. The bar sells splendid local Hobsons Ales at £5 a pint, or six for a twenty-five quid beer card – that’s a frankly stunning £4.17 a pint in real money. A bargain at typical 2024 festival pricing. Likewise with the various food stalls. Rip Off Britain is another country - Quality and Value are the watchwords at Beardy. Indeed, that same Quality and Value extend to the whole festival; be that in organisation and planning, spotless and ample facilities, excellent camping areas, security and stewarding, music policy and scheduling, and, and… oh the list goes on. FFA won’t labour the point. Let’s just say there is nothing here to fault. Beardy is simply a wonderfully compact little bijou bash, that’s impossible not to love.

Away from the stages, there was Laughter Yoga on the house lawns overlooking the lake, Improv Comedy in the Orangery, Morris and Maypole Malarkey in the meadows, Park Runs out in the woods, and Workshops, Sessions & Ceilidh abounded. If that all sounds idyllic, quaint, and charming – it’s because it simply was. For a festival of this size, the non-music activities were extensive; with plenty for the kids and not so young too – just as a for instance - not so young FFA took in a wonderful hour being enthralled by the tall tales of Storyteller Mark Fraser and had a magical time! You can read about everything Beardy 2024 had to offer HERE.

But all that is just the mechanics of the thing.  Many festivals can offer some of the above, but they remain sterile affairs – little more than bands in field. What sets Beardy apart is its people. The organisers set the tone. The crowd it attracts are as interesting and diverse as the music policy. People ARE a festival – everything else is just the trimmings. There is a strong sense of community here, a togetherness other events would kill for. Many in the crowd followed Beardy through the Covid years, where, commendably, Beardy was one of only a handful of events to stage over those two dreadful years. This crew are battle hardened. They have seen it all. They are one of the most friendly, open, and good-time audiences you could ever hope to meet. Later on in this review, FFA will highlight just one example, just one small ‘Beardy Moment’ that typifies everything these lovely people are about. Trust me – it was wonderful.

Artists come and go each year, it’s the festival itself which is the thing; everything else is transitory.  What does remain a constant artist-wise however, is the sheer consistency of quality that Beardy somehow manage to conjure up year upon year.  The 2024 batch were, once again, uniformly excellent. What follows below is what worked for FFA. It’s not a comprehensive list! There are plenty of omissions – space constraints, some simply were not our personal bag, or we’d be away drinking and talking nonsense somewhere or other. Artistic merit is all opinion after all, and what follows happen to be ours! 


Blimey – what a start to proceedings for FFA with lovely atmospheric indie-folk from The Deep Blue. These chatty Happy Shiney Mancs radiated pure warmth and good times. Beautiful vocal harmonies, sometimes belying a much harder lyrical edge. Frothy, but with substance and depth. This outfit are one to watch. Beardy 2024 was truly up and running. Welsh singer-songwriter Cynefin held court over on the Acoustic stage, and FFA thought him excellent. The guy’s sheer pleasure and pride in expounding the treasures of his roots was infectious. This Reviewer loves passion in performance and the man excelled. A fine set.

Beardy always offers musical variety with a heady blend of world music in the mix; none more so than a splendid set from Mishra, featuring the haunting guest vocals of Deepa Shakti. Their Indian fusion Folk-Ragga mash up was an absolute delight and the interplay and weaving of Shakti’s vocals with Ball’s mesmeric tabla was a highlight. Beardy were spoiling us, and it was only Friday afternoon! Friday night’s weather was rather interesting. Firstly, heavy rain, then a severe electric storm, then pounding hailstone, then an absolute deluge, then a plague of frogs, then the rivers ran red with blood, then the … ok, ok, you get the picture. Sadly for 3 Daft Monkeys, they hit the stage just as it all kicked off. Understandably, given the intensity of it all, they were hauled off stage after a couple of songs, never to be seen again. It was undoubtably the correct decision by the organisers as arena conditions were absolutely awful. The Dafts are an excellent band live and it was a big loss. FFA were lucky enough to review the band a couple of weeks back at Bearded Theory and HERE is what everyone missed. Shame.

But fear not. Beardy came, er, storming (sorry) back with a rip-roaring set from Jess Silk in a wind and rain swept Acoustic Stage. The woman’s feisty rabble-rousing style was just the ticket, and the atmosphere was electric (sorry again). Seriously good stuff, with band and audience as one in defiance of the mayhem all around. Now then. FFA promised you a memorable ‘Beardy Moment’, and it was a cracker! Headliners The Magic Numbers had to pull out due to illness, and at very very short notice, Shooglenifty were drafted in. They were effectively a scratch band, playing on borrowed, makeshift kit, with a bassist they had neither played, or even rehearsed, with. The weather was atrocious and the stage partly waterlogged.  It had all the makings of an absolute shit-show. Disaster loomed. BUT. You know what?, that bedraggled Beardy audience, that bloody amazing Beardy crowd, well they looked up to the heavens, gave a resigned British tut, a little sigh, and then they… Danced!!! The band played on and it was all wonderful. Triumph from adversity. A majestic occasion built from scraps. The band fed off the crowd and vice versa, boundaries blurred. Shooglenifty were outstanding. A full-on party manufactured from absolutely nothing in the worst of conditions. It is in little moments like this that you realise why Beardy and its crowd are so special. A truly memorable night. This Reviewer must have got some grit in his eyes, overcome by the power of the human spirit, the camaraderie, the collective coming together; but it may just have been the rain after all.


Zervas & Pepper are far more than one trick ponies, but their excellent take on some classic West Coast anthems sets them apart. A fine band, featuring the likes of David Crosby songs and many of his acolytes, was an absolute joy. A great start to a largely damp Beardy Saturday.

Talking of excellent singer-songwriters - Jack Rutter wowed a packed Acoustic Stage with a potent mix of traditional folk songs interspersed with self-penned gritty, and often amusing, Northern ballads like ‘The Lancashire Liar’ (he is a Yorkshireman after all!). Highlight of an excellent set being his mandolin fuelled take of Gabriel’s ‘Salisbury Hill’.  Top stuff.

Some artists are naturals on stage, and none more so than Nati. Her bubbly personality and cracking Scottish banter filled the arena. A great set of excellent songs. A big-up to her bassist Charlotte too (for it was she who saved the day playing bass with Shooglenifty the previous evening).

Just as the best Disney films manage to appeal to all ages, and spellbind the kids, whilst being multi-layered enough to engage the adults in knowing humour – ladies and gentlemen, Beardy gives you Dan The Hat! The man was promoted to an Acoustic Stage slot to compliment his Pallet Stage performances, and on his birthday too! The guy was again excellent. Juggling, stunts, and tricks abounded, and all underpinned by genuinely funny, laconic, mock world-weary banter. Go seek this guy out. Take the kids. Take yourself. A splendid entertainer.

Beardy do weird and wonderful very well, and Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip certainly ticked all the boxes. The man’s ability to turn the everyday banal into something funny, thought provoking and meaningful is a rare rapping skill. The crowd loved it. His pathos can actually be quite moving, like the excellent ‘Wonderful Things’. The beats from his splendid backing musicians drive it all along nicely, and the resultant atmosphere in the Acoustic Stage was to die for.

All roads let to Mad Dog Mcrea’s headline set. Their self-penned material is always on the button, but when this crew turn their accomplished hands to the folk classics, there are genuinely few better. Just listen to their take on ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ as a for instance. It was, however, the band’s take on Bloom’s ‘You Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time’ that blew FFA, and the adoring crowd, far far away. A wonderful rendition. The regular pints of Stout gifted to frontman Mathieson and the band obviously worked wonders throughout the set, and FFA thought them excellent.


In relatively decent weather, Alt Country crew The Rosellys did for FFA on the Main Stage. At their best stomping up some rousing Cajun tunes. Yet another example of the sheer quality Beardy offer up throughout the bill. Firewoodisland delivered a sometimes emotional, sometimes spellbinding set, with a fine portfolio of songs, largely based upon life experiences and all its pleasures, trials and travails. Earnest and joyous in equal measure. Loved it.

Bob Harris & Martin Stephenson! What a pair of raconteurs. There is nothing better than listening to two icons in conversation, and the guys excelled. Each expanding on their own life drivers and personal ethos. The chat took some fascinating twists and turns, from Stephenson detailing his own spirituality to Harris proclaiming that ‘Country is the new Rock’! FFA could have listened to these troupers for hours.

For emotion, warmth of spirit, damn fine musicianship, and all-round good cheer, not much beats a Virginia Kettle & The Rolling Folk performance. Rolling Folk may be a new outfit (an offshoot of Merry Hell) – but tight as a nut and musically excellent. The new album ‘East of Elsewhere’ numbers sounded wonderful but triumph of a triumphant set had to be the beautifully fragile ‘Falling’. A message of hope over experience if ever there was one. In a world where Knaves twist words to turn neighbour against neighbour, where difference is to be feared and hated, Kettle’s lyrics are full of love, hope and compassion. She sings of individual empowerment, but also of community and collective strength. It’s a powerful antidote and emotive elixir, but also a guaranteed bloody good time. Ye Gods, that woman can work a crowd! She’d primed audience singers from an earlier session she held in the Enchanted Woods to take front of stage for one last full-on singalong. It was all a wonderful dancing sea of song and movement as the tent bounced. A stunning finale to one of the sets of the festival.

Leeds finest, and proud Pudsey boys, The Dunwells took Beardy by storm. An excellent performance of quality vocals and instrumentation. Trust me - everyone should own a copy of their smash ‘I Could Be a King’, and the set further exemplified the sheer calibre of these guys. The crowd loved ‘em. Stick In The Wheel!!! 2024’s programme was truly a multi-genre ‘folk’ feast in all its glory that you served up to us Beardy! How had this crew passed FFA by until now. This Reviewer always loves what he can’t easily categorise, and this outfit generate the most hypnotic, minimalistic, profound, irreverent, street folk possible. Dobro guitar driven, thoughtful percussion, and Kearey’s matter of fact/intense (delete as appropriate) vocal style were absolutely stunning. Urban and trad coming all at once. It is also very comedic – with everything inspired by a 15th century French poem or the nearest Nando’s! A new wave of English Roots music?  Whatever – FFA thought them fabulous.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party finished the festival with a truly great headline set.  This band always put on a show – well rehearsed and larger than life, but never take themselves too seriously. Synchronisation counts for nowt without talent – and the guys simply excel in every department. Frontman and melodeon wizard Giddens was a multi-hatted, dancing swirling whirlwind, whilst fiddle player Barber was right at the top of her game. At one point she played the fiddle whilst the drummer joined in, playing her violin body and strings with his sticks!  Stunning stuff. Folk, Rock, Sea Shanties, it was all there in spades. In a rare moment away from the levity, Giddens took time out, without preaching, to outline some of the reasons for our choices at the forthcoming ballot box, based upon some of the drivers for their upcoming album ‘We Are People’. I may just have got some more of that grit in my eye. Anyroadup, a genuine good-time band to finish off the whole Beardy bash, a worthy headliner who FFA, and the bouncing crowd, thought outstanding.

So it goes. That was 2024 Beardy Folk Festival for you. Just to be part of this wonderful crowd was the honour. Everything else was just the bonus. A fabulous weekend.    

Article & Snaps by Barrie Dimond