Derby Folk Festival announces its final line-up

Derby Folk Festival
Oysterband

The 11th Derby Folk Festival takes place from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 October 2017 and is jointly produced by Derby City Council’s Derby LIVE and Derbyshire-based PR Promotions.

This year Derby LIVE are proud to welcome a wide variety of performers, including the multi-award-winning Friday headline act, Oysterband, who will be appearing at Derby Folk Festival as part of their 40th Celebration Special. They will perform in the City Marquee, on the Market Place at 9.30pm on Friday 6 October as part of a concert starting at 7 pm, also featuring The Hut People and Martin Simpson.

Oysterband still play with that spirit of the punk ceilidh band that roared through people’s lives all those years ago. But the growing depth and sensitivity of their songwriting, coupled with the strength of John Jones’ voice and their remarkable musicianship, have lifted their music into a richer, more acoustic era. Their occasional collaboration with folk diva June Tabor has produced two cult-classic award-winning albums, Freedom & Rain and Ragged Kingdom. The latter and their hugely influential album Holy Bandits were voted nos. 4 and 5 among the Ten Best Albums of the last 30 years by the public in a poll by fRoots Magazine in 2016.

False Lights

This year’s festival line-up is already a who’s who from the broad spectrum of folk music, with many exciting artists confirmed for a variety of venues in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter. Show of Hands will return, three years after their last amazing appearance in the festival marquee, to headline Saturday evening. Folk rock group, False Lights will also perform their vibrant headline set on Sunday evening from 6pm-8.30pm in the City Marquee, closing the festival with folk music you can really jump to.

From 2.45 pm-4.15 pm, on Saturday 7 October, Derbyshire’s own Barry Coope and Lester Simpson will be on stage with Jim Boyes as Coope Boyes and Simpson in the City Marquee. Joined by special guests, they will be giving their ‘Last Ever Performance’ in a show that is sure to invoke both tears and laughter from the audience. Formed in 1993 their first album Funny Old World was named Roots Album of the Year by Q Magazine. Twenty three years later, with a career that has encompassed at least a dozen albums, numerous tours and festival appearances, as well as a Folk Awards nomination, Coope Boyes and Simpson released what will be their final studio album, Coda. Their last ever performance will mark a celebration of their career and will feature material from across their entire repertoire.

Getting the festival started from 7 pm on Friday night, with a quirky celebration of our rich musical heritage are The Hut People. This English instrumental duo (Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond) have firmly established themselves as one of the most unique, entertaining and best-loved acts on the UK folk scene today.

Also appearing in the City Marquee on Sunday from 11.30am are multi-instrumentalists Narthen (Barry Coope, Lester Simpson, Jo Freya and Fi Fraser) who will be playing and singing often in four part harmony, a capella and accompanied, demonstrating they are all extremely talented, and well-loved. From 2pm-4.15pm, introduced by festival patron, John Tams, popular solo folk artist Bob Fox will be performing the songs from War Horse. This will be followed by Leveret, which features three of England’s finest folk musicians in an exciting new collaboration. Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron are each regarded as masters of their instrument and together their performances combine consummate musicianship, compelling delivery and captivating spontaneity.

Derby LIVE are delighted to announce that Derby born folk singer and songwriter Dave Sudbury, will also be performing during this year’s Festival. Dave is possibly best known for his song The King of Rome (a true story about a racing pigeon, bred in the West End of Derby) which was brought to the attention of an international audience by folk singer June Tabor and her own recording of the song. Dave will be joining the Village Folk Clubrooms line-up, which already includes award-winning folk and roots musicians, Oka Vanga, and is curated by the team who organise Village Folk concerts in the Lawns Hotel, Chellaston.

Derby Cathedral will be hosting two concerts entitled Folk Reflections by virtuoso ensemble, Sinfonia Viva who will return to bring a different angle to the festival programme. The Orchestra of the East Midlands will be performing on Friday 6 October at 5.45 pm-6.45 pm and 7.30 pm-8.30 pm. One of the longest running folk groups, Travelling People will be performing a wide variety of music from traditional to contemporary on Saturday 7 October from 12.30 pm-2.30 pm at Derby Cathedral. One of the trio, Dave Perkins was Canon Precentor of Derby Cathedral for four years from 2009, so it will be great to see him back there, joined by his musical partners Pete and Richard Stevenson. Also appearing on Saturday at Derby Cathedral will be Marc Block, a Nottingham-based folk singer and songwriter, who’s just released his new CD, Brisk & Breezy.

Derby Folk Festival will also be featuring new talent, Robyn Wallis Johnson at the Clubrooms on Saturday 7 October from 1pm-2.20pm. She will be performing a selection of self-penned songs in her own unique style, more often than not, reflecting on the ups and downs of human existence. On Sunday 8 October fiddle-singers The Rheingans Sisters will perform alongside Bob Fox from 4.15pm-6pm at the Guildhall Theatre. Rowan and Anna grew up in the Peak District, surrounded by traditional music and were encouraged to pick up the fiddle by their violin-maker father from an early age. Their debut album, Glad Gold Hearts, was released in June 2013 to wide critical acclaim and they have been described as having “vocal harmonies to die for” by fRoots who pronounced their first album as “a subtle gem”.

A fantastic set of venues throughout the Cathedral Quarter will continue to provide the perfect backdrop for the festival, including the enlightenment era Derby Cathedral, the rustic Old Bell Hotel, the City Marquee on the Market Place and the Guildhall Theatre. The festival will also include a host of free fringe events, dance acts, workshops and sessions, as well as an Arts and Craft Fair and food stalls on the Market Place. These free events will be taking place in Derby City Centre, spreading the festival’s intoxicating atmosphere throughout the city and making sure the festival is available to everyone.

For the last few years, Friday night in the Guildhall Theatre has been taken over by Adverse Camber from Cromford in Derbyshire and one of their great storytelling productions. This year is no exception; the festival will be showcasing Dreaming the Night Field: A Legend of Wales – weaving live music with Welsh and English to create a thrilling, funny, powerful and poetic show. This spellbinding new storytelling and music performance will take place on 6 October from 7.30 pm-9.10 pm. Tickets are available as a stand-alone show for £12 from the Derby LIVE Box Office on 01332 255800 or online at derbylive.co.uk they can also be purchased at the Sales and Information Centre, on the Market Place, Derby, DE1 3AH.

With the whole festival programme taking place in and around the city, it is perfectly placed for those arriving by either bus or train. Weekend tickets are on sale now at £88, and Friday Evening Tickets are priced at £24 for adults. Concessions are available. Festival tickets can be purchased through the Derby LIVE Box Office on 01332 255800 or online at derbylive.co.uk they can also be purchased at the Sales and Information Centre, on the Market Place, Derby, DE1 3AH.

Find out more at derbyfolkfestival.co.uk where you can download a copy of the festival flyer and keep up to date with the latest news on twitter and facebook.

A full list of confirmed acts can be found on the Derby LIVE website along with details about the artists and full programme on the Derby Folk Festival website.

Festival attenders can find the latest accommodation information at visitderby.co.uk where a range of hotels are available for all budgets and group sizes.

Welcome To The Folkies

With Oscar fever rising to a climax it’s time to say “Welcome To The Folkies” – the 2016 Folking Awards. We’ve sifted through the albums and performances of 2015 – always a long and difficult task punctuated by bouts of thumb-wrestling to settle disputes. Adopting the pattern followed by everyone else, here, in no order of precedence, are our nominations. With the exception of one category we have restricted our choices to British acts.

All nominations are 2016 Folking Awards winners.

Welcome To The Folkies

Soloist Of The Year

Steve Tilston
Sam Carter
Kathryn Roberts
Steve Knightley
Ange Hardy

Best Duo

Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin
India Electric Co.
Show Of Hands
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
Clype

Best Band

Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
Tradarrr
False Lights
Merry Hell

Best Live Act

The Demon Barbers XL
Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
Tradarr
CC Smugglers

Best Album

Layers Of Ages – Peter Knight’s Gigspanner
Head Heart Hand – Megan Henwood
The Girl I Left Behind Me – India Electric Co.
It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice – Elle Osborne
Disco At The Tavern – The Demon Barbers

Best Musician

Dan Walsh
Peter Knight
P.J. Wright
Chris Leslie
Kris Drever

Folking’s Rising Star

Will Varley
Sam Kelly
Wes Finch
India Electric Co.
Chris Cleverley

Best International Artist

Gretchen Peters
Tom Russell
Gandalf Murphy And The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams
Justin Townes Earle
Los Lobos

To give the awards a further edge, we opened the vote to our visitors and run a public poll in all of the 8 categories (as listed above).

The Public Vote closed Sunday 28 February at 20.00 hours and “The Folking Winners” have now been announced here at: http://folking.com/the-folking-winners/


If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl) of any of the artists featured here, download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above to be taken to that relevant page via our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

THE GREAT BRITISH FOLK FESTIVAL, Skegness, 4th-7th December

The idea of holding a folk festival in Skegness in December probably raised a few eyebrows when it was first mooted. The suggestion that it should be held at Butlin’s may have caused a pursing of lips but it makes perfect economic sense. The artists have a major venue and a captive audience to add to a winter tour and the camp and its staff gets extra use and revenue. There are two main venues, both are very large and both were packed on Friday evening.

Friday

THE GREAT BRITISH FOLK FESTIVAL, Skegness, 4th-7th December
False Lights

Entering the Pleasure Dome, sorry, Skyline Pavilion trying to figure out where everything was it was nice to be greeted by the harmonies of Said The Maiden on the Introducing Stage – the third open venue in the middle of the pavilion. It was nearly the end of their set, unfortunately, but we stayed to hear Kings Of The South Seas before insinuating ourselves into the Centre Stage for False Lights. Live, they are less reliant on Jim Moray’s synth wizardry and proved themselves to be an exceptionally good folk-rock band in the classic style. They may prefer to think of themselves as mould breakers but they are actually doing what some bands seem to have forgotten how. Their attempt to perform ‘How Can I Keep From Singing’ without PA was not a success, however; the natural acoustics of the room are not as good as they believed.

Wayward Band 2
Eliza Carthy And The Wayward Band

At an event like this you can’t hear everything so I was now faced with a decision – Eliza Carthy And The Wayward Band or Billy Bragg? The fact that we now had decent seats settled it and we stayed put for the first half of Eliza’s set. Her twelve piece band are set to be the next Bellowhead (whatever anybody says) and are more than up to the task. As well as old favourites, including a “duelling fiddles” interlude with Sam Sweeney in ‘My Boy Billy’, there was a new song, ‘Devil In The Woman’, slated for their first studio album. Bragg called, however, and we arrived for what seemed like the mellow end of his set with ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’ and ‘Greetings To The New Brunette’. No! Amongst the polemic he sang ‘Between The Wars’, still powerful and relevant, and ‘There Is Power In A Union’. I reflected that the latter needs some revision with the unions battered down. We may discover that there is power in unity. ‘A New England’ wrapped up his set perfectly.

Richie Prynne 2
Richie Prynne

CC Smugglers followed with the sort of set that only a band as youthful as them could have the energy to play but shouldn’t have the chops to pull off. They have played so many gigs since I first saw them, even ones they weren’t invited to, and have become so tight and slick. Richie Prynne prowled his stage like a circus ringmaster, never still and rarely silent, cajoling and haranguing the audience, the songs and even his band-mates like a true showman. If the idea of the last set of the night was to wind the audience down then CC Smugglers were not the right choice.

Saturday

Moulettes
Moulettes

The first and last time I heard Moulettes was at very uncomfortable gig and I was looking forward to hearing them in a nice chair. Actually, the best seating for the band is a bean bag with a lava lamp, joss-sticks and a guy dishing out small squares of blotting paper. Sadly the only mind-altering substance available was a pint of Hobgoblin. This was the final gig of the Constellations tour and Moulettes were also previewing their new album, Preternatural, with songs which, for want of more specific titles, we’ll call ‘Octopus’, ‘Nematode’ and ‘Behemoth’. I love the sound of the band, I love their instrumentation and their style but I really don’t know what they are about a lot of the time. “Surreal dreamscapes” were mentioned and I guess that’s about right.

I chatted to Ruth Skipper after the set to ask her impressions of the festival. It turned out that they had only just arrived and gone straight on stage, which accounted for some of the sound man’s problems. At their simplest Moulettes can be two guitars, bass and fiddle but at various times will be added electric cello, bassoon, autoharp, some meaty drums and keyboards and a balance that’s right for the beginning of a song may be wrong by the end. I did discover that the band were looking forward to the water-slide and hearing more music later which proves that I have no future as an investigative reporter.

Chris Simpson
Chris Simpson

Next up were Magna Carta. Chris Simpson on-stage is pretty much the same as Chris Simpson off-stage – he’s a raconteur, discursive and philosophical and Doug Morter is his perfect right hand man. Chris has surrounded himself with some very fine musicians but the set felt loose and the decision to give Morter a solo of one of his own songs seems questionable. Back on the firmer ground of The Fields Of Eden things were much more sure-footed and ‘Airport Song’ was a nice encore.

Sam Carter
Sam Carter

The queue for Tom Robinson curled twice round the pavilion and things were clearly running late so what might have been another difficult decision was made easier and we settled in to hear Sam Carter. He opened his set with ‘Yellow Sign’, the song he began with when I first heard him, and I was shocked to realise that that was six years ago. He has grown as an artist so much. Just when we were settling into the style of his own songs he switched to ‘The Wife Of Ushers Well’, which he sings with False Lights, and ‘Rocking The Cradle’. He played a superb set which showed the power of one man and his guitar. Sam was probably the highlight of the weekend for me.

The Unthanks
The Unthanks

We got back just in time to catch the end of Tom Robinson’s set so I did get to sing ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ again before The Unthanks appeared on the Centre Stage. With the full ten-piece band on stage it’s easy to overlook the contribution of Niopha Keegan to the group but her trumpet playing was the fondant icing on several songs. The technical problems rolled on so The Demon Barbers XL were thirty-five minutes late on stage, almost taking the gloss off their excellent set which began with traditional songs and ended as a dance display featuring hip-hop, interpretative dance and a fearsomely fast rapper. It’s quite disconcerting to see a stage bare of wires, mic stands and other clutter but they needed all the space they could get. I got to bed by 2.00 am, more or less – it was a long day.

Sunday

By midday the pace was beginning to tell and the queues for the afternoon sessions were noticeably lighter and some people I spoke to were planning a power nap in preference to more music. No such luxury for your man on the spot.

TradArrr
TradArrr

TradArrr were excellent. They can really rock and with Marion Fleetwood on lead they can turn in a bittersweet ballad like ‘My Laggan Love’ or ‘Silver Dagger’. Between them they boast five lead vocalists, a full string quartet, a keyboard player who frequently added unexpected flourishes and two drummers, one of whom plays cornet. There were hints of high camp as PJ Wright planted a foot on the foldback and Guy Fletcher prowled the stage hunched over his mandolin but they restrained themselves well. It was then a choice between waiting for Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle or scurrying off to catch The Band From County Hell – sorry Jacqui.

The Band From County Hell
The Band From County Hell

The Band From County Hell are a Scots/Irish group from Lincolnshire and are huge fun – ‘The Day My Granny Died’ is a song everybody should hear at least once. They have been around for a quite a while, with six albums to their credit and it seems odd that they aren’t better known – although they don’t lack for support. The first notes played by Blazin’ Fiddles were on keyboard and guitar which is, I’m sure, their little joke. It’s not logical to find them restful but they are so tight and their music is so hypnotic. I promise that I didn’t nod off but I was definitely on a different plane of existence for a lot of their excellent set.

Chris Cleverley
Chris Cleverley

I returned to the Introduction Stage to hear Chris Cleverley whose debut album, Apparitions, I really like. His set, mixing traditional songs and his own compositions didn’t disappoint and he’s already working in new songs including ‘All I Want’ which will send me back to Joni Mitchell’s Blue as soon as time allows. I stayed for Polly And The Billets Doux, who won the day’s vote for a main stage slot next year, and The Black Feathers, who really needed a more sympathetic environment.

Vo Fletcher
Vo Fletcher

The Ric Sanders’ Trio have finally come out as a fun band with their new album and set of old blues, string band and swing numbers. It might be called the Vo Fletcher Trio since it is his guitar that forms the foundation and his voice that sings the songs but when the singing stops it is Ric’s flights of instrumental fancy that take their music to another place. The album is a lot of fun and their set reflected that. Then it was decision time again. I’d been told that Fotheringay would be playing the same set that they had toured all year “only better”. That was true but I missed the excitement of the earlier gigs when the band were still finding their way into, or back into, the music. Nevertheless, theirs was the set everyone wanted to hear.

Steeleye Span
Steeleye Span

Since they lost Messrs. Knight and Zorn I really wanted to hear what Steeleye Span would do. With two new musicians to induct the answer was to go back to first principles so ‘All Things Were Quite Silent’ was followed by ‘Blackleg Miner’ and ‘Weary Cutters’ was teamed with ‘New York Girls’ featuring Maddy Prior on ukulele. And they rocked. Julian Littman added a rap to ‘Boys Of Bedlam’ and Spud Sinclair played the sort of electric guitar that we haven’t heard in the band since Bob Johnson’s time. As a final touch they closed with an a capella version of Rick Kemp’s ‘Somewhere Along The Road’.

Nick Gibbs
Nick Gibbs

There is no getting away from the fact that playing the final set of a festival after Steeleye Span have gone off to rapturous applause is a daunting task but Folklaw threw themselves into it with energy and aplomb. Fiddler and songwriter Nick Gibbs was joined by Gaz Hunt on a minimalist drum kit, Martin Vogwell on bass and mandolin and Bryn Williams on guitar and bodhran – not to mention crossing the venue floor on the backs of chairs! They sent the crowd off exhausted but happy.

So does a December festival work once you get over the culture shock of rocking up at 5.00 pm on a Friday in the dark? This is still Skegness and with Storm Desmond blowing around us “bracing” just didn’t begin to describe it but when the wind dropped on Sunday it was mild and pleasant. The accommodation and facilities were excellent and the unsung stars of the weekend were the Butlin’s staff who were friendly and helpful and worked long hours. However, this was folk music adapting to Butlin’s not the other way round. The artists existed in a bubble of stage/backstage/ accommodation or arrived, performed and left and there were quite a few I would have liked to have spoken to so I apologise to them. A bulletin board for messages or to arrange meetings wouldn’t take much to set up and would be a big help, too. But, yes, it works and if you have considered going but not done so I can recommend it.

Dai Jeffries