Immersive woodland folk music
Catch this folk gig with a difference both about and set in woodland
Dark nights getting you down? Embrace them with Tree and Wood, a beautifully atmospheric immersion in woodland and music at Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens that is on as part of Horsham District Year of Culture.
It’s an unusual event, part folk gig, part Fringe-style show combining image, sound, light and song and it makes full use of the short evenings.
I joined the audience for a performance, weaving down through the woods (wellies advised after the recent deluge) and gathering round a fire pit nursing hot chocolate and mulled wine from the cafe. From here we were led onto to a natural clearing where we sat on log benches topped with spongy mats we’d be handed.
The natural stage was so dark that the different elements of the action were able to unfold without forewarning. A woman singing from the top a ladder, a projection on a hedge, a singer in front of a previously unseen cabin and a whole tented woodworking workshop sprang up before our eyes.
For the most part the show is folk singing – think a kind of tree-hugging Mumford and Sons – with a particularly strong female singer. Though it wasn’t possible to catch all the words most songs were about trees – with a bit of history about war and ship building thrown in. There’s a clever, quite comic sequence where saws are used as musical instruments, cutting rhythmically through logs or being hit like a hanging xylophone.
The lighting was slick – I particularly loved a projection effect of trees growing at the end. The background sound was also beautiful and melded with the genuine night sounds of Leonardslee – ducks quacking were local, cicadas were an effect. The smell of the woods too added to the sense of place.
Tree and Wood runs at Leonardslee Gardens daily until Sat 2 Nov. Tickets are £15 (concessions £12.50).
Do wrap up warm and bear in mind that layers fine for walking around in may not be adequate for sitting still in for an hour. You might also want to bring a torch or have your phone light to hand for negotiating the paths to and from the performance area. There is tree cover over the seating but if rain is forecast you’ll need to bring a waterproof.