Wickham Festival 2015 – Reviewed by Simon Burch

Click on the photo below to see the full set…

Wickham 2015

Staged in a corn field and with three stages linked by alleyways of food and crafts stalls, Wickham proved to be a good nursery slope for my family of first-time festival goers: no intimidating vast crowds and a relaxed atmosphere which built steadily through what turned out to be some swelteringly hot days.

showofhands_wickham15Musically, in the main All Time Grates big top stage it was folk with a twist of vintage pop and rock: from crowd-pleasing sets by folk stars such as Seth Lakeman, Show of Hands, Eliza Carthy, Lisbee Stainton and Martin Carthy to The South – Beautiful South survivors Dave Hemmingway and Alison Wheeler – 10CC, Billy Bragg, Cockney Rebel, Wilko Johnson and The Proclaimers.

Crowd_Wickham15The crowd was an eclectic mix of folk devotees and commuter belt families, but overall the demographic was mature and knowledgeable so that at times the main stage had the contented air of a cricket match, with festival goers seated sensibly underneath sun-hats on folding chairs, sipping real ale and completing sudokus to the sound of music.

Giants@WickhamI soon found out that for a parent festivals have to be enjoyed in the round. My children weren’t there for the music, but found instead joy in the laser quest – a shoot-‘em-up inside a series of sweaty, dark inflatable tunnels – the solar-powered Groovy Movie cinema and the digital funfair, a quirky installation where gamers played Space Invaders while sitting on a stationary bike or racked up high scores by slapping two headless mannequins on their plastic buttocks in time to music.

Playbus_Wickham15After a while it became possible to enjoy the music while waiting for them to complete their activities or resisting their pleas to spend the GDP of a small country in the various food and craft stalls, simply via the proximity to the three stages, especially the acoustic stage, where a varied line-up of young up-and-comers and older veterans strummed, picked and twanged their way skilfully through a mixture of their own material and interpretations of popular classics, finding favour with a sprinkling of punters lounging back on the straw-coated ground.

At the top of the festival was the sweatier and rockier Bowman Ales Stage 2 tent – which hosted performances from Edward II, headlining prog rockers Stone Cold and Damn Beats – but I confess that, as a first-timer wanting to immerse myself in folk my visits there were fleeting so I concentrated on the main stage, where a succession of acts filled the afternoons and evenings with musical stories from every corner of Britain and beyond.

SpookyMen_Wickham15From the lilting Northumberland romance of Kathryn Tickell and the Side, to the seasoned yarns of Huw Williams and Maartin Allcock and the acapella oddness of the Spooky Men’s Chorale, it is fair to say there was something for everyone’s tastes, but the big top came into its own later on as the sun dipped behind the food stalls and the headliners took to the stage.

BillyBragg_Wickham15Among the highlights was the life-affirming return to action of Wilko Johnson, the welcome familiarity of The (Beautiful) South’s hits and the appearance of Billy Bragg, whose wit and political zeal brought Friday night to a close. The next night, Seth Lakeman gave a rollicking masterclass of modern folk rock, sweeping the audience along and raising the temperature in the big top.

Proclaimers2_Wickham15Despite the passing of years, festival headliners The Proclaimers hadn’t seemingly aged that much and their set was a polished resounding collection of love songs, devoted to Scotland as much as to the objects of their desire. The large TV screens showed that the Reid twins had their committed fans who knew all of Proclaimers1_Wickham15the words, but as the night continued, you did get the feeling that most people in the tent were waiting for their signature tune – I Would Walk 500 Mile – like a seashore full of surfers all readying themselves for the big wave that would take them right to shore.

And, duly, at about five to 11, it arrived: cueing a joyous outburst of jigs and a singalong in affected Scottish accents. This provided the most exuberant moment of the weekend, before it drew to a close with a thank you and good night, and the boys left the stage.

The third night was over, but the next day the sun again rose hot and strong. Family holiday commitments meant I had to slip away early, but in my absence the crowds returned with their chairs and sun hats, eager for more.

Simon Burch – 23 August 2015

Skerryvore – new single featuring Sharon Shannon

Photograph by Kris Kesiak
Photograph by Kris Kesiak

‘Happy To Be Home’ is the new single from Scottish folk-fusion band Skerryvore featuring legendary Irish musician Sharon Shannon.

The song is the first preview track from the bands new album Decade – a special 10th Anniversary release featuring never heard before live tracks from festivals including Celtic Connections as well as a special live session at Castlesound Studios, Pentcaitland.

‘Happy to Be Home’ is available to download now with the new album Decade set for release on the Monday 1st June immediately following the band’s special anniversary concert on the 30th May when they will perform to over 5000 people at Mossfield Stadium, Oban.

Listen to ‘Happy To Be Home’:

Artists’ website: www.skerryvore.com

SINÉAD O’CONNOR re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua due 8th April 2013

Sean-Nos NuaApril 2013 will see the UK & Ireland re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua, first released in 2000 selling more than 200,000 copies worldwide. Literally translating as “Old Songs Made New”, Sean Nos Nua is a redefining moment in Sinead O’Connor’s career, an album composed of songs extracted from the bottomless well of traditional Irish folk song. Indeed, as many have proved in the past, this ancient repository is an apt source of material from which to draw and compliment the outsider’s oeuvre of an artistic mutineer such as O’Connor, for, along with the customary stories of lust and heartbreak, Irish traditional song and verse, much like that of other folk song emanating from the British Isles, is stuffed to the gills with bloody narratives of tragedy, intransient rebelliousness and lawless skullduggery. Continue reading SINÉAD O’CONNOR re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua due 8th April 2013

TIM EDEY TO RELEASE SOLO GUITAR ALBUM – with special Scottish guest musician Patsy Reid

TIM EDEY 2013Tim Edey has announced that he will be releasing a solo album of guitar music this Augustaugmented by a string quartet led by popular Scottish fiddler Patsy Reid (you may remember Patsy from Breabach).  The album will be officially launched at Kent’s Broadstairs Folk Week in Tim’s home town and he will be closing the festival on Friday, August 16 with support from Devon duo Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin (recently featured on folking).

Tim’s hot property in the contemporary worldwide Celtic music scene, his melodeon and guitar playing is featured prominently on Christy Moore’s 2011 album, and his touring and recording credits read like a who’s who of the Celtic scene: Capercaillie, Sharon Shannon, Lunasa, Michael McGoldrick, Seamus Begley, Altan and Mary Black. Tim has also recorded an album with guest musicians Tim Edey: The Collective.

Tim has been in demand since his wins at the RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS in 2012 where he picked up both BBC  “MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR” and the BEST DUO award (with Brendan Power). He has guested on BBC Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday, Mike Harding and Simon Mayo  shows, BBC Radio 3’s “World on 3” and Radio 4’s Midweek and been seen on BBC South-East, Ireland’s RTE1 John Murray show and, with The Chieftains on Later with Jools Holland

Dividing his time between Scotland and Kent, he also released the eclectic The Best of Tim Edey – a superb 18-track album that charts the course of his career to date and showcases his collaborations with luminaries from the Celtic music world including Sharon Shannon, Ross Ainslie, Seamus Begley and Mike McGoldrick. It includes the track “Why”? which evolved into a tune questioning the condition OCD to which Tim is no stranger and with which he feels music has helped him cope.

Tim will be making several key appearances across the Atlantic this year. In July, he will perform at one of Canada’s biggest festivals – Stanfest – before appearing with top international fiddler Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy in Ontario and, in October, returning to Cape Breton’s world famous  Celtic Colours festival followed by a Canadian tour with multi award-winning JP Cormier, the Canadian bluegrass/folk/Celtic singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

Back in the UK, Tim will appear at Derbyshire’s Edale Folk Festival in May and in August, Towersey Festival and Broadstairs Folk Week where he will launch his guitar album and do a CD signing. Then in November, he has been invited to return to Dougie Maclean’s Perthshire Amber Festival.

Artist web link: www.timedey.co.uk

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

SHARON SHANNON and THE RTE CONCERT ORCHESTRA – Flying Circus (CACD2415)

Following her own yellow brick road (judging by her choice of footwear) Sharon Shannon has chosen yet another…how shall we say ‘obscure’ bedfellow in utilising the services of the RTE Concert Orchestra. This possibly may not seem so odd if any of you have heard either of the two 1980’s James Last In Ireland recordings or Vladimir Cosma’s “Kidnapped” (my favourite record of all time!) where combining traditional Continue reading SHARON SHANNON and THE RTE CONCERT ORCHESTRA – Flying Circus (CACD2415)

TIM EDEY – The Best Of Tim Edey (Gnatbite Records)

Kaleidoscope may not be the coolest word to use at the moment thanks to John Bercow, Speaker Of The House Of Commons but it happens to be the way I view Tim Edey’s colourful rise to fame within the ‘folk’ community. Having recently been the recipient of the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for 2012 as musician of the year no less Tim’s prowess as a multi-instrumentalist has long been admired by those of us fortunate to have shared his company at sessions or performing on stage. Edey’s unbelievably technical flawless musicianship is displayed on this ten year retrospective proving just how comfortable he is in his own company or with that of his equally talented associates including Michael McGoldrick, Seamus Begley and Brendan Power. Opening with the almost ‘harp’ sounding “Out On The Ocean” thanks to his intricate nylon strung guitar playing this leads nicely into the jazz-styled “Independence Hornpipe” with an astonishing display of digital dexterity on melodeon. As if being a fantastic musician wasn’t enough he also displays a talent for tune writing with his own wistful melody “Little Bird” where he’s accompanied by Sharon Shannon. Anyhow, enough of the name-dropping and on with the jaw-dropping…if it’s digital dexterity that floats your boat (by the way, Tim’s based in the sea-side town of Broadstairs…and proud of it) then I can thoroughly recommend this CD. PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

Artist web link: www.timedey.co.uk