I’m so disappointed that the Folk’n Feet Fest has been cancelled. I totally understand that it’s not worth the financial risk at this time; I was just hoping that March next year would be far enough in the future for the organisers to take a gamble.
The main thing I’m bummed about is missing out on seeing the acclaimed Mary Widdlestein Trio. They were billed to be coming out from Memphis especially for the occasion, and given that Mary is 93, I’m not sure how much more international touring she has left in her. Still, nothing surprises me where Mary Widdlestein is concerned. After all, we’re talking about the woman who single handedly positioned toe-picking as a legitimate banjo technique back in the 1960s. She’s a living legend.
She was also the first person ever to receive commercial sponsorship for playing banjo, albeit from a semi custom orthotics manufacturer, which I always thought was a bit of an odd fit. I mean, you can’t very well wear orthotics while toe-picking, in addition to which Mary is almost never seen wearing shoes. I just don’t see her as an orthotics user. But, you know, there’s the whole foot connection so I guess it’s fair.
As for me, I’m not much of a foot specialist. Around Cheltenham, toe-picking isn’t that well known. People tend to look at you funny if you so much as take your shoe off, although occasionally there’ll be one old hippie in the corner who’ll nod approvingly. Maybe that’s why Mary doesn’t wear shoes too often – being barefoot makes it easier to sneak in a bit of fancy toe work before people have a chance to figure out what you’re doing.
Anyway, I haven’t really developed my toe skills, which is partly why I was so looking forward to doing a masterclass with Mary and seeing her in action. I’ve heard her double bassist does some crazy things with elbow plucking, too, and I was very keen to see what that’s all about. Still, there’s nothing I can do about it, and I’ll just have to look forward to Folk’n Feet 2022.