The Shires added to Towersey line-up

The UK’s biggest country/ Americana act completes Towersey Festival’s massive 2018 line-up

Towersey

Acclaimed British country duo The Shires are the final headline act to be announced for the 54th Towersey Festival (24-27 August 2018, Thame, Oxfordshire).

Hailing from Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes, aka The Shires, are the biggest selling UK country act of all time, and the first UK act to be honoured with a Country Music Association (CMA) Award. Winning over US audiences with their lauded take on the revered genre, they’ve even performed in Nashville’s hallowed Grand Ole Opry, the very heart of country music.

With two record-setting Top 10 albums behind them (Brave and My Universe), their much-anticipated third collection, Accidentally On Purpose, is released on 20 April 2018. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, the album combines massive country-pop choruses with emotive lyrics inspired by their whirlwind journey, relationships, and their time in the States.

The duo close Towersey Festival on Monday 27 August 2018, and join previously announced headliners Richard Thompson Electric Trio (Fri), The Proclaimers and Big Country (Sat), and Beth Orton (Sunday). The line-up also features the Americana-tinged Wildwood Kin, songwriter/ guitarist Blair Dunlop, William The Conqueror, and the bluegrass influenced Bella Gaffney and Polly Bolton.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “We’re so pleased to finally announce The Shires as the last of our headline acts this year. They’re quite simply the biggest UK country/ Americana act there is, and they’ll be making the August Bank Holiday Monday a day to remember!”

Situated in easy reach of London and Birmingham, on the Oxfordshire/ Buckinghamshire border, and established in 1965, Towersey is one of the UK’s longest continuously running independent music festivals. Boasting 11 venues, alongside an extensive music programme the festival also features 24hrs of ceilidh, daily workshops, a well-stocked real ale bar, street food, spoken word, film screenings, events and activities for children and younger festival-goers, and more.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 24 to Monday 27 August 2018 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now (Tier 3) from £129 (adult), £115 (conc), £91 (youth), £59 (child) for the full four days. Day tickets are also available (adult £40; youth £28; child £18). Under 5s are free.

For further information, and to book, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

TOWERSEY FESTIVAL reveal line-up for 2018

Photo by Murdo Macleod

The Proclaimers, Richard Thompson, Beth Orton and Big Country are among the acts headlining the 54th Towersey Festival (24-27 August 2018, Thame, Oxfordshire).

Joining them at one of the UK’s longest running festivals are Fishermen’s Friends, the Sharon Shannon Band and Daphne’s Flight.

It’s been 31 years since Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid, aka The Proclaimers, came to widespread public attention. Calling on folk, country, rock’n’roll and punk, the brothers have built up an impressive back catalogue, with such hits as I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), Letter From America, King Of The Road, and more. They’ve even inspired a musical, the play and film Sunshine On Leith.

Richard Thompson is no stranger to Towersey, having last appeared at the festival solo/ acoustic back in 2015. For his latest appearance, the Fairport Convention co-founder brings his acclaimed Electric Trio.

Singer-songwriter Beth Orton‘s enticing mix of acoustic and electronic elements have won her huge acclaim. Her 1999 record Central Reservation picked up the BRIT Award for Best Album, and her recent releases, Sugaring Season and Kidsticks, continue to beguile.

Celtic rock band Big Country‘s hits include Field Of Fire (400 Miles), In A Big Country and Wonderland. The Live Aid veterans visit Towersey to perform their acoustic set.

Other notable acts on the bill include award-winning Irish accordion player Sharon Shannon; Cornwall’s chart-busting eight-piece Fisherman’s Friends, who are credited with kick-starting a revival in shanty-style choral singing; singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph; and a reunited Daphne’s Flight, featuring five of the most acclaimed female singer-songwriters from their generation (Helen Watson, Melanie Harrold, Julie Matthews, Chris While and Christine Collister).

They’ll be playing alongside 10 times winners of the National Brass Band Champions of Great Britain, the Brighouse and Rastrick Band; rising Americana/ roots trio Wildwood Kin; a collaboration between Peter Knight (Steeleye Span) and John Spiers (Bellowhead); and Whetstone Brinsford Kirkpatrick, recreating Dave Whetstone’s landmark mid-90s folk album The Resolution for an exclusive Towersey appearance.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “We’ve got a great mix of big names making their Towersey debuts this year as well as some real returning favourites, such as Richard Thompson. We’re especially pleased to welcome The Proclaimers for the first time – they always put on a great show and have so many fabulous songs.”

But as Joe states, one final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is yet to be revealed: “There is one more incredible headline act to announce for August Bank Holiday Monday. We’ve just confirmed and will be announcing officially very soon – so keep an eye out for some exciting news …”

Situated in easy reach of London and Birmingham, on the Oxfordshire/ Buckinghamshire border, and established in 1965, Towersey is one of the UK’s longest continuously running independent music festivals. Boasting 11 venues, alongside an extensive music programme the festival also features 24hrs of ceilidh, daily workshops, a well-stocked bar, street food, spoken word, film screenings, events and activities for children and younger festival-goers, and more.

DAY BY DAY LISTINGS (key acts only):

FRIDAY 24 AUGUST 2018
Richard Thompson Electric Trio
Sharon Shannon Band
Wildwood Kin
Faustus
Whetstone Brinsford Kirkpatrick (Exclusive Towersey appearance)

SATURDAY 25 AUGUST 2018
The Proclaimers
Big Country (Acoustic)
Daphne’s Flight
Martin Simpson
William The Conqueror
Tickled Pink

SUNDAY 26 AUGUST 2018
Beth Orton
Fisherman’s Friends
Martyn Joseph
Blair Dunlop
Brighouse and Rastrick Band
The Rheingans Sisters

MONDAY 27 AUGUST 2018
[Headline Act To Be Announced]
Blackbeard’s Tea Party (Festival Finale)
Roy Bailey
Peter Knight and John Spiers
Blowzabella
Lady Maisery

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 24 to Monday 27 August 2018 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now (Tier 2) from £119 (adult), £115 (conc), £84 (youth), £59 (child). For further information, and to book, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

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

THE PROCLAIMERS – Let’s Hear It For The Dogs (Cooking Vinyl COOKCD616W)

proclaimers 2015Enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the wake of the Walking On Sunshine film, the Reid twins return with their 10th album, the follow up to 2012’s Like Comedy and their highest chart entry since 2007. Although essentially business as usual with rousing melodies and crowd-friendly choruses, this time round they’ve been produced by Dave Eringa, best known for his work with the Manics. He’s brought a similar fullness of sound to the table to the likes of the anthemic ‘In My Home’ with its massive Spectorish orchestration and the soaring ‘If I’m Still Around’ as well as the punched up guitar work to be heard on the rock ‘n’ rolling ‘Then Again’ (the duo’s response to the Savile scandal and other sexual abuse behind the TV cameras and in Westminster paedophile rings) and ‘The Other Side’.

As usual, it’s a mix of balladry and uptempo material, the album heading out of the traps with ‘You Built Me Up’, its urgent punk influenced flurry and galloping drums offset by the gentler melodics of the nostalgic ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ and soulful swaying, piano backed album closer ‘Moral Compass’. As ever they entwine the political and personal, the former potently so on ‘What School?’ which reflects on Scottish sectarianism while the country-toned, organ-backed ‘Ten Tiny Fingers’ has Craig singing about (presumably) the birth of his second daughter, 21 years ago, without tumbling into schmaltzy sentimentality.

As I say, there’s nothing new here, but if you’re a fan, old or new, then you’d be barking not to take it for walkies.

Mike Davies

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‘You Built Me Up’ – the official video: