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THE FIRST WEEK IN AUGUST - Fifty Years of the Sidmouth Festival By Derek Schofield Published by Sidmouth International Festival Ltd ISBN 0-9547502-0-9

Published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Sidmouth Festival, this book is the fruit of extensive research by Derek Schofield with contributions by several hundred people. There is a foreword by Martin Carthy; a brief history of the Folk Dance Revival leading up to the 'Folk Dance Festival, Sidmouth' held in August 1955; then the impact of the Folk Song Revival weaves itself into the story of the early years of Sidmouth until 1962 when the festival changed its name to The Sidmouth Folk Festival.

Any history of Sidmouth mirrors to some extent the history of the folk revival. Each chapter of the book has a Year heading that also gives a few bullet points from normal life in that year, e.g. 1962 was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the release of the Beatles' 'Love Me Do' and 1973 saw the introduction of VAT and hits from Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and Slade. This is a neat idea and perhaps some brave soul could use the Sidmouth chapters in a similar way, as subtexts to a broader work reflecting the wider folk revival over the past 50 years. The final chapter talks of 2005 and beyond and touches on some of the issues that made the future for the festival somewhat uncertain.

The book has the style of a typical EFDSS publication, somewhat old fashioned but functional. There are more than 450 photographs all printed in rectangular format and relatively small. The introduction of a more modern style and with larger photographs would have enhanced the book, but it would also have made an already substantially thick book, even thicker and more expensive.

My approach to reading it was first to skim through, then I picked out memorable years from my personal recollections of Sidmouth, before finally reading through on a year by year basis as a series of short stories. For me it has turned out to be both a reference book and an easy read. It has currently taken up residence in our bathroom - sorry Derek - with each year a comfortable read.

Are there any omissions? Over 50 years there will have been many thousands of stories to tell, so the book could have been endless. I think that the overall balance is good. What could be added are parallel projects that would bring together the sights, sounds and voices of such a vibrant festival. A box set of recordings from Sidmouth has already been released. The contents of that set, although weighted towards 'star names', hinted at the existence of more historic material. Perhaps there is more of the story yet to be told. However, the book has been written; thanks go to Steve Heap for commissioning it and congratulations to Derek Schofield for a job well done.

Pete Heywood