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/

JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH – Night Hours (Fellside FECD278)

night hoursNight Hours is the second album from Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith and I must confess that I have been shockingly remiss in catching up with them. This is a remarkably powerful record, solid in the sense of being unmoving in the face of opposition which, sadly, is something that the protagonists in some of these songs were unable to do. The mix of material is the sort that we used to take for granted: some traditional, some covers, some original songs which still manages to address modern concerns whatever the vintage of the material.

The record opens with a few seconds of field recording made at night in Bristol which leads into the title track, a meditation on the thousands of night workers who keep our world working but remain unseen and anonymous. From there Jimmy and Sid move on to the dispossessed and the migrants with Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Harvest Gypsies’, a song about the farm workers who fled from the dustbowls in 1930’s America, their exodus forced by the loss of their land after years of monoculture.

‘The Ballad Of Yorkley Court’ updates the story of the Diggers. In this case the people who wanted to establish sustainable farming on derelict land were harassed, bullied and finally defeated by the law which is in the hands of “them” not “us”. Banjo Paterson’s ‘Along The Castlereagh’ proves that the story is by no means a new one. ‘Moved On’ transfers a similar battle to an urban environment where the fight is for social housing. Lest you think that Jimmy and Sid are rebels for every cause, Sid’s updating of ‘The Grazier Tribe’ points out the danger of permitting nothing to change.

The basic instrumentation is banjo, fiddle, guitar and concertina but “basic” is too crude a word. Dominic Henderson’s uilleann pipes and whistles provide some stunning contrasts, particularly on ‘Bonny Bunch Of Roses’. Jimmy and Sid don’t rush anything – there seems to be a feeling about that audiences can’t cope with long ballads any more – and give both the stories and their musical development all the time they need.

Night Hours has to be one of the best albums of the year – I hope it will be fresh in the mind when the awards come around.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH – Night Hours link to be taken to 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.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: http://www.jimmyandsidduo.com/

‘Night Hours’ – official video: