More acts announced for Towersey 2019

Towersey Festival 2019

Newton Faulkner and Bruce Foxton’s From The Jam are among the latest line-up additions announced for the 55th Towersey Festival (23-26 August 2019, Oxfordshire).

They’ll be joining previously revealed acts The Selecter, Hothouse Flowers, Seth Lakeman, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Fisherman’s Friends, Oysterband, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The festival has also revealed the artists booked for the very special tribute concert dedicated to the memory of the late folk singer and activist Roy Bailey. These include Tom Robinson, Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and John Kirkpatrick.

Having previously visited the festival in 2017, Newton Faulkner’s return coincides with the release of his new album The Best Of … So Far, which spans the acclaimed guitarist’s career.

Since releasing his debut album, 2007’s Hand Built By Robots, Faulkner has sold over 1.5 million records and amassed 180 million streams, making him one of the millennium’s most successful UK singer-songwriters. Increasingly in demand, he recently returned to the stage to perform The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist in Jeff Wayne’s spectacular The War Of The Worlds UK Arena tour.

Featuring The Jam’s legendary bass player Bruce Foxton, From The Jam have played almost 1,000 headline shows in the UK since their inception in 2007. Throughout their time, they’ve consistently delivered the kind of incendiary live performances that sealed the reputation of The Jam all those years ago.

Their visit to Towersey will see the band delve into their powerful catalogue, which includes such hits as ‘Eton Rifles’, ‘Town Called Malice’, ‘Start’, ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’, ‘Going Underground’ and more.

Both Newton and From The Jam top off the festival’s Saturday night bill (24 August 2019).

Roy Bailey, who passed away in November aged 83, was a key figure in the foundation of Towersey and performed at the very first festival, way back in 1965. Later a patron, he appeared more times at the event than any other artist, with his much-loved Monday afternoon shows always packed to capacity.

In honour of his countless achievements, both on and off stage, as well as his long-running association with the festival, Towersey presents Roy Remembered: A Celebration of the Life and Times of Roy Bailey, on Monday 26 August 2019.

An afternoon of music, stories and collaborations, the concert features an A-Z of friends and associates, all of whom worked closely with Roy over the years. Among those appearing are songwriter and BBC 6Music presenter Tom Robinson, Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting, John Kirkpatrick, The Wilson Family, Boff Whalley (Chumbawamba), Stephen Taberner (The Spooky Men’s Chorale), Ray Hearne, Kit and Max Bailey, Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, and Marc Block. With host Steve Heap, they’ll be sharing their memories and performing choice songs from Roy’s vast repertoire.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “From The Jam are undoubtedly one of the best live acts in the UK right now, their shows have such energy, while it’s fantastic to welcome Newton to Towersey again. We’ve had loads of requests to get him back since he last appeared, so we know people are really looking forward to seeing him.”

Discussing the special one-off tribute show, Joe added: “Roy’s afternoon concerts were an utter joy – warm, funny, poignant. We miss him greatly, but hope everyone will join us in celebrating the great man’s life on August Bank Holiday Monday – it’s going to be an unforgettable event with some truly fantastic guests.

“He helped shape Towersey, from the very beginning, and his influence and beliefs remain very much with us today.”

Situated in easy reach of London and Birmingham, on the Oxfordshire/ Buckinghamshire border, Towersey is one of the UK’s longest running independent music festivals. Boasting nine venues, alongside an extensive music programme the festival also features over 30 hours of ceilidh, daily workshops, well-stocked bars, street food, spoken word, film screenings, roaming performers, an acclaimed programme of activities for children and younger festival-goers, and more.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August 2019 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now (Tier 3) from £139 (adult), £130 (conc), £97 (youth), £65 (child), with under 5s free. For further information, and to book, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

Weekend Tickets (4 days)
Tier 1 & Tier 2: SOLD OUT.
Tier 3: Adult £139; Conc £130; Youth (12-17yrs) £97; Child (5-11yrs) £65; under 5s Free
Tier 4: Adult £149; Conc £140; Youth (12-17yrs) £104; Child (5-11yrs) £65; under 5s Free

Day Tickets: Adult £46; Youth £32; Child £21; U5 Free.
Weekend camping and per-night camping options available.

No booking fees. Instalment Plan available. Car parking free.

Festival website: www.towerseyfestival.com

 

Towersey Festival announces top names

Towersey

Hothouse Flowers, Seth Lakeman, Steve Harley, and The Unthanks are among the acts headlining the 55th Towersey Festival.

The annual four-day folk and roots festival takes place from 23-26 August 2019, in Thame, Oxfordshire, and also boasts appearances from folk rock legends Oysterband, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Two-Tone heroes The Selecter, and shanty singers Fisherman’s Friends.

Former buskers, Hothouse Flowers hit the international stage when Dublin hosted the Eurovision Song Content in 1988. Since performing as an ‘interval act’, they’ve forged a reputation as a blistering live band, combining rock, soul and folk.

Steve Harley emerged from the London acoustic scene in the early 1970s and set the charts alight. A contemporary of Bowie and T.Rex, his hits include summer anthem ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and the enduring ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)’.

Five years from his last appearance at the festival, Seth Lakeman arrives in the wake of an acclaimed globe-trotting stint as part of Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters. Expect to hear tracks from across the West Country musician’s career, including ninth album The Well Worn Path.

Remarkably, The Unthanks first ever live gig was at Towersey in 2004. Fifteen years on, and the Mercury Prize-nominated band have established themselves as one of contemporary music’s most inspiring, surprising and enquiring acts.

Also returning are Fisherman’s Friends. A huge success with audiences at 2018’s festival, the story of their incredible rise from Port Issac’s quayside to the UK album charts has now been turned into a film starring James Purefoy and Daniel Mays (in cinemas from 15 March 2019).

Others joining the line-up include Welsh/ African duo Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, winners of the fRoots Album of the Year 2018 Critics Poll; Show Of Hands’ guitarist Steve Knightley; BBC Scots Trad Music Award 2018’s Best Live Act, Elephant Sessions; and representing an exciting new generation of British singer-songwriters, troubadours Beans On Toast and Will Varley.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “After an amazing 2018, we’ve really set out to capture what people love so much about the festival.

“As a result, 2019 is one of our most exciting and eclectic line-ups, with some of the biggest names in folk and roots music, from Seth and The Unthanks to shanty superstars Fisherman’s Friends, alongside major musicians from across the British Isles, Africa, and North America. There’s also the usual collection of names, such as Beans On Toast, who may be new to Towersey audiences, but who we know they’ll love.

“There’ll be loads of other surprises too,” enthuses Joe, who adds that further announcements are to follow shortly, including details of Saturday night’s headliner and more information about the festival’s celebration of the life and work of musician, tutor, activist and Towersey Patron Roy Bailey, who sadly passed away in November.

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 running independent music festivals. Boasting nine venues, alongside an extensive music programme the festival also features over 30 hours of ceilidh, daily workshops, well-stocked bars, street food, spoken word, film screenings, roaming performers, an acclaimed programme of activities for children and younger festival-goers, and more.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August 2019 at Thame Showground in Oxfordshire, are available now (Tier 2) from £129 (adult), £120 (conc), £90 (youth), £65 (child). For further information, and to book, see: www.towerseyfestival.com

ROBB JOHNSON – Ordinary Giants (Irregular IRR223)

Ordinary GiantsAt first glance Ordinary Giants seems like a sequel to Robb Johnson’s wonderful Gentle Men but it isn’t. It’s more of a companion piece; there is no formal spoken narrative – Robb won’t spoon-feed us, although he helps us along here and there – and the album encompasses the last hundred years of British history interleaved with the story of his family and in particular his father, Ron Johnson. It’s rather like an audio advent calendar with each track displaying a snapshot of a moment in time. This is a triple-CD set with a book so it isn’t something you can rush through nor, I suspect, will anyone listen to it in a single sitting.

Although the songs are arranged with a light touch there is a big supporting cast; among them Roy Bailey, Matthew Crampton, Rory McLeod, Phil Odgers, Tom Robinson, Miranda Sykes as the main female voice, Boff Whalley, four community choirs, Frances O’Grady and Dennis Skinner. Robb wrote nearly all the songs – there’s a traditional tune, a couple of borrowed melodies and the assistance of Robinson on ‘Holding Hands With Hitler’. He succeeds in capturing the style of each period, particularly in the first part, covering the years 1918 to 1939 and puts the most appalling words in the mouth of Adam Clayson as the Mosley-supporting Major Utterswine. The problem is that the same words reappear in the third part covering the period from 1970 to the present day.

Inevitably, Ordinary Giants, is a very political record; you’d expect nothing less from Robb, but the politics are embedded in the words of ordinary people and often creep up on you when you’re not expecting them. The first ‘Lou’, one of Frances O’Grady’s three spoken word pieces is a perfect example, starting innocently enough but ending in verbal conflict. There are causes close the Robb’s heart such as ‘Craven Vale Hall’, dated 1958 and celebrating the building of the first post-war care homes.

The final tracks of the second disc and all of the third can be quite painful because Robb’s view is that things haven’t changed that much and it’s hard to argue with him. The songs are peppered with political slogans and he makes his points with humour and sharp insights in songs like ‘Goalkeepers’ and ‘Who Buggered Bognor?’ but beneath that is the realisation that we’re still fighting the same battles in whatever guises they appear.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://www.robbjohnson.co.uk/

There are no videos from this album yet so we’ll have to make do with this:

Roy Bailey announces first ever live album

Roy Bailey

Six years on from his acclaimed album of children’s songs, Tomorrow, singer and activist Roy Bailey returns with Live At Towersey Festival 2015.

As the title suggests, the 11-track collection was recorded live at the long-running Oxfordshire festival, and will be officially launched at the 2016 event, on Monday 29 August.

Roy’s relationship with Towersey stretches back over 50 years. Friends with the festival founders, he was present at early planning discussions and appeared at the very first festival, in 1965. He’s been a much-loved regular visitor ever since, with his firmly established Monday afternoon concerts drawing capacity crowds.

Live At Towersey 2015 finds Roy interpreting songs by Bob Dylan (‘With God On Our Side’), Tom Waits (‘In The Neighborhood’) and John Tams (‘Rolling Home’), along with three compositions by American singer-songwriter Si Khan. Among them is Si’s ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’, which opens the album.

“’What You Do With What You’ve Got’, as I understand, was written on behalf of disabled people,” says Roy, who first met Si at a Canadian folk festival during the early 1980’s. “For me it has almost become my signature tune, as I invariably sing it at the beginning of my concerts and have done so since about 1984/85! It has a central theme that applies to us all.”

Joining Roy on several tracks are guitarist Martin Simpson and melodeon player Andy Cutting, plus Marc Block (bodhrán) and Ian Brown (guitar), as well as Roy’s daughter and grand-daughter, Kit Bailey and Molly Simpson.

The 2015 show was recorded in secret by Roy and co-producer/ engineer ‘Ich’ Mowatt, who then edited the 90 minute concert down to 11 tracks. Expertly capturing the intimacy and warmth of a live performance, it’s remarkably Roy’s first live album.

“I wanted to do one … but never go around to it,” says Roy simply.

Roy Bailey is one of the UK folk and acoustic scene’s most admired and accomplished performers. He began his long career performing skiffle in student union bars in the late 1950s before falling in love with traditional songs and the stories they tell. Quickly developing a unique repertoire of songs of dissent and hope, he’s gone on to perform on stages, TV and radio all over the world. En route, he’s been joined by such artists as Leon Rosselson, Martin Carthy, Chumbawamba and MP Tony Benn (a collaboration which won them a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award).

Today, he remains as committed as ever to his life-long principles of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Internationalism.

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‘I Thought I Had No Voice’ – live with Martin Simpson:

 

What A Week

SidmouthSo, we’ve come to the end of a fantastic celebration of 60 years of the folk, dance and song festivals in Sidmouth. What a week!

We have been blessed with summer holiday weather, helping to create a joyful festive atmosphere throughout the town  – busy, colour-filled streets, packed venues and a bustling seafront. Tens of thousands of visitors have filled the streets and venues throughout the week, enjoying the welcoming, party atmosphere.

Even when it did rain, the packed out open-air 60th Anniversary Old Swan Band ceilidh was very swiftly moved indoors as the heavens temporarily opened on Tuesday night… and up-and-running again in no time.

We have enjoyed some cracking performances, from the sell-out Ham Concerts from the likes of Ralph McTell, Oysterband and Steve Knightley to the small traditional sessions to the full on roots mayhem of Danish party band Habadekuk, the family fun at Blackmore Gardens, or the ever popular John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition! Diversity is the bedrock of Sidmouth FolkWeek. And for our 60th birthday, we had it in bucket and spadefuls: our ‘something for everyone’ promise being more than fulfilled and venues throughout the town full to the brim!

As well as a happy celebration of our 60th year, a more poignant anniversary was also marked this year with some moving commemorations of WWI, including a touching account of two ordinary men in Gentle Men with Roy Bailey & Robb Johnson and Ouse Washes Molly Dancers’ performance focused on the fate of the ‘Pals’ Battalions.

Thank you to all those who attended this year. It made the Diamond Anniversary feel very special indeed.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s FolkWeek. Dates for the diary are 31st July – 7th August 2015.

Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making

New book celebrates half-century of much-loved Oxfordshire festival

The celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Towersey Festival continue with the publication of a new book.

Towersey 50Featuring 300 photographs, stories from festival-goers and interviews with many individuals who’ve shaped the much-loved annual event, Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making traces the festival’s history from its small-scale beginnings as a one day event in 1965, to its current position as one of the most significant and popular events in the annual folk festival diary.

Beginning with a brief history of the village, the book also includes newspaper reports and reviews, plus profiles of many of the key artists and acts who’ve entertained audiences, from Pam Ayres, Dave and Toni Arthur and the Cock And Bull Band, to Show Of Hands, Bellowhead, Eliza Carthy and Australia’s hairy Spooky Men’s Chorale. There are also contributions from regular attendees, who’ve grown up with, and been inspired by, the festival, turning annual attendance into a longstanding family tradition.

“The festival set out as a fundraising event to rescue the decaying Towersey Village Memorial Hall – a building that commemorated the 14 men who had lost their lives in the First World War,” writes author Derek Schofield. “In that first year (1965), it was a one-day village fete with morris dancing and a folk singing session in the pub barn. Its success can be measured by the money raised, the enjoyment of the day by the village residents and visitors, and by the fact that, in the following year, a three-day event was held.”

That second three-day event, attended by a few hundred people, has since spread over five days, and now attracts over 10,000 visitors to the Oxfordshire village. Discussing the festival’s appeal and longevity, Festival Patron Roy Bailey states: “Children play safely and many lifelong friendships have been developed here. People met here and got married here and generations of families return every year.”

Visiting the 1966 festival, the Thame Gazette asserted that Towersey was the ‘little village with the big ideas’. Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making shows those initial ideas have never lost their appeal.

Author Derek Schofield is a freelance writer and a former college manager. He edits the folk magazine, English Dance and Song, and has written on many aspects of the history of the folk music and dance revivals.

Derek Schofield’s Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making is published on 23 July 2014 by Mrs Casey Music Ltd, and is available priced £20 (plus £5 P&P) from: www.towerseyfestival.com. Copies can also be purchased at the 50th festival, which runs from Thursday 21 to Monday 25 August 2014, and includes performances from Richard Thompson, The Bootleg Beatles and Seth Lakeman, plus a celebration of 75 Years of Topic Records with Eliza Carthy and special guests.

Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making by Derek Schofield
Price: £20
Publisher: Mrs Casey Music Ltd
Publication Date: Wednesday 23 July 2014
Available: www.towerseyfestival.com
ISBN: 978-0-9547502-1-3