Oxford Folk Weekend announces headline names

Oxford Folk Weekend

Drum roll please… Oxford’s favourite community based, volunteer-run festival is gearing up for its sixth year in big style! Folk Weekend: Oxford has grown steadily every year since its inception in 2012, with increasing support and collaborations from local and national folk artists and performing groups. Known for the strong representation of Oxfordshire’s folk groups, young performers, and emerging acoustic talent, this community festival is a hidden gem in the annual festival calendar, with unique opportunities to see top quality performers in intimate and beautiful settings around Oxford city centre. All tickets are now on sale, including Weekend season tickets at £67 (£62 concessions), day season tickets starting at £30, and tickets for individual events.

We are very excited to welcome Nancy Kerr and James Fagan back to Folk Weekend as our 2017 headliners. Twice winners of ‘Best Duo’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, their outstanding musicianship, acclaimed original compositions and a visceral chemistry between the two make Kerr and Fagan a perennial favourite at festivals and folk clubs across the country.

Joining our headliners will be Leveret – an exciting new collaboration featuring three of England’s finest folk musicians, the amazing Melrose Quartet, Ange Hardy (celebrated by the Telegraph as ‘one of Britain’s top folk musicians) and the incomparable Jim Moray who has been at the forefront of a new movement in English traditional music.

Folk Weekend also boasts an all-star cast of supporting acts including patrons Jackie Oates (with Megan Henwood and Pete Thomas in their new acoustic roots and folk trio) and John Spiers, one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation. Other artists include Dan Walsh, Dipper Malkin, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, The Emily Askew Band and The Discussion Topic.

The cream of Oxfordshire’s folk and acoustic scene can be spotted throughout the festival with the likes of Coldharbour, Edward Pope, Irwing-Brown-Acty, Shivelight, White Horse Whisperers, The Skeptics and land-locked shanty crew (and self-proclaimed darlings of the Oxfordshire Women’s Institute) Short Drag Roger.

Folk Weekend Director Cat Kelly is delighted with the line up of the 2017 festival: “I’m exceptionally proud of the fantastic programme we have pulled together this year. Our headline artists are award-winning performers, and they will be ably supported by a host of superb acts, including (as always) a large number of fantastic local artists.”

Alongside this varied concert line-up, the festival promises ceilidhs, workshops, European-style dancing, Morris dance displays, and many free family events. Folk Weekend is proud to be paving the way in accessible and inclusive music-making, and is building on the previous two years which have seen ‘relaxed’ and inclusive performances for people who may normally feel excluded from the folk arts. The ‘Special Saturday’ events include a Makaton-signed performance of folk songs and a ceilidh for people with Special Needs.

“There’s a real shared sense of engagement and history that ran through the whole weekend.” – Daily Info

“Three days of diverse and beautiful folk music of the highest calibre, intertwined with traditional dancing (Ceilidh! Morris!), workshops, storytelling and a thriving village fete.” – Oxford City Guide

“Folk Weekend Oxford isn’t just a series of gigs, it’s a colonisation of the city centre. [It] doesn’t just become omnipresent, it does everything it can to pull the public towards it… This was the precise opposite of elitism: joyously and enthusiastically inclusive, throwing music and dance out across the city with as much energy as possible.” – Music in Oxford

Tickets are available now via the website; the full programme will be available to download in March.

Festival website: http://www.folkweekendoxford.co.uk/

DIPPER MALKIN – Tricks Of The Trade (own label DM001)

Tricks Of The TradeIf you wish for an exemplar of the adage that less is more look no further than Tricks Of The Trade, the debut album from the duo of John Dipper and Dave Malkin. John is a maker and restorer of concertinas which may surprise those who know him only as a player of instruments of the bow and string persuasion with, for example, Methera. His trade goes some way to explaining the cover picture and the title which in full should be “don’t learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade”. Dave is a singer and guitarist – a fine soloist and a remarkable accompanist.

Dave plays just guitar on this album whilst John plays only viola d’amore in a tuning variation of his own which can give the music a very baroque feel or sound like a regular fiddle. There are just two guest appearances. Tom Dennis plays flugelhorn on one track and Corrie Dick adds percussion to two, the latter being foot percussion on a set topped and tailed by two Quebecois tunes.

The opening track is ‘Wine & Women’, a triple-time hornpipe in which the two instruments duet on equal terms with each one taking it in turns to be the “leader”. That’s followed by the rather gloomy ‘King Storm’ sung as a lullaby over pizzicato viola d’amore and paired with a Playford tune, ‘Daniel Cowper’ which is where the flugelhorn comes in. ‘The King Of Poland’ is technically a jig, and the expected rhythm emerges from time to time although you probably wouldn’t want to dance to it.

‘Gravity’ and ‘Flower Of Kent’ are two of John’s tunes, the latter being given a particularly involved setting. The second song is ‘All Things Are Quite Silent’ which manages to keep the pastoral simplicity of the piece despite a rich accompaniment and finally we have Dave’s extensive rewrite of ‘The Parting Glass’ with a few modern twists. Tricks Of The Trade is an album of stunning musicianship without a single dull note.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.dippermalkin.com

‘Gravity’ live at the South Bank Centre: