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.

A Small Quiet English Town

2014LOGO_chair_60th_distressed_lo_res_2Sidmouth FolkWeek (1st – 8th August 2014)
celebrating its 60th year and your festival in style


A major new independent film telling the story of Sidmouth Folk Festivals throughout its 60 years in existence is underway. The Producers from Fuel TV are now looking for fans of FolkWeek to come forward with personal stories and archive material that might become part of this major new film.

Producer Paul Tully says: “Sidmouth is a key festival in the English folk calendar: it has 60 years of stories and we would love the opportunity to get them to the big screen.”

The central idea is to tell the story of Sidmouth FolkWeek through the unique viewpoint of those who support it, year after year. Home movies, photographs, flyers, posters, memorabilia and audio recordings are all archive materials that could be used in this project. Any ‘moving picture’ documentation is of key interest for the filmmakers.

Sidmouth as a festival has enjoyed numerous highlights and survived many challenges in mounting the renowned event year after year. There is fascinating local and national history reflected in what happened at FolkWeek over the years and Fuel TV aim to capture those stories for this film.

Many unusual, vibrant, odd, bizarre and brilliant performances have taken place in the town during festival week. Characters, old and young, have enjoyed the colourful sights and sounds for many years. Fuel TV would like to hear from anybody who might have recorded, photographed or remembered the more memorable of these. The Producers would like contributors to email them in the first instance to sidmouthfilm@gmail.com and info@fueltv.ie

The film will be shot this year and will be ready for audiences to enjoy in early 2015.

FolkWeek organisers will shortly be making a similar call for archive materials as part of a physical exhibition planned as part of this year’s 60 years celebrations at the event from 1st – 8th August 2014.

Blockbuster FolkWeek 60th Anniversary Acts Announced!

2014LOGO_chair_60th_distressed_lo_res_2Diamond anniversary plans continue to fall into place for Sidmouth FolkWeek’s 60th festival (1st – 8th August 2014) as the line-up comes to fruition, featuring both gems from the archives – tapping the rich seam of vintage talent that has contributed to the festival’s glory down the years – and a hand-picked selection of the stars of the future.

We are delighted to announce that one of the UK’s greatest musical storytellers, Ralph McTell, will be joining us for a rare and very special appearance at our Pre Festival Special on Thursday 31 July.
Celebrating more than 40 years on the road himself, Ralph is a Sidmouth veteran, having played at the Arena for the 50th festival in 2004. A Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Ralph is renowned for both his virtuoso guitar style and his gift as a songwriter, most notably the poignant Streets of London.

Other headliners throughout the week include:
England’s number one traditional singing family The Copper Family; legendary ambassadors of Scottish music, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham; Irish songbird Cara Dillon; festival patron and local hero Steve Knightley and Friends; one of Scotland’s freshest new acts Breabach; the ultimate family duo Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy; the solid gold Oysterband – old friends of Sidmouth playing both a concert and an extra special ceilidh; an exciting new ensemble bringing together Northumbrian folk traditions and classical Kathryn Tickell & The Side; the ever-popular pairing of Chris Wood and Andy Cutting; the pioneering Quebecois Yves Lambert Trio; new powerhouse trio of Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr; crack Canadian fiddling, electric step dancing, sweet singing from April Verch Band; the side-splitting comic genius of New Rope String Band; vibrant Danish dancefloor-fillers Habadekuk; the galvanising Celtic instrumental union Kan; quirky acoustic festival favourites Moulettes; the soaring pipe driven tunes of Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson and a swinging 60s Silent Disco night.

A special WW1 Commemoration will be staged on the 4th August, the exact 100 year anniversary of the start of the war. Gentle Men: a history of the First World War through the lives of Pt Ern Johnson & Pt Harry Jenner, is an evocative and personal account of the 1st World War performed by Roy Bailey & Robb Johnson.

A special occasion deserves some special plans. Here’s a taste of what’s in store….
As FolkWeek means so many different things to different people, we aim to celebrate all week with special events in each part of the festival…from special guests from the very early years of Social Dance, where the festival began in 1955, in a Grand Anniversary Dance, as well as some vintage ceilidh bands, including Old Swan Band’s special anniversary ceilidh; some Diamond Geezers from the world of music and song; tales from festival friend and Storytelling Laureate Taffy Thomas; a beating traditional song and music heart; the return of some of the most influential Morris teams over the years and plans afoot for some special overseas guests who will bring back memories of Arena shows.

With an eye on the future generations, there will be a key role for festival founders English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) with their Folk Rising Plus concerts celebrating the new generation of folk music talent and the popular fRoots-sponsored Cellar Full of Folkadelia return. Sidmouth-born Shooting Roots youth sessions come of age as they plan to celebrate their 21st and the Children’s Festival promises extra special party atmosphere!

Getting together a milestone festival like the 60th is a mammoth enterprise, bringing the return of old favourites and new innovations. Our focus has to be on bringing our guests a special and memorable programme right across the Festival.

Festival Director John Braithwaite says: “For that reason, in 2014 we will be staying at Bulverton with our much loved and well established Festival Campsite and Festival Clubhouse. To ensure that our customers and guests knew as early as possible, with absolute certainty, what our plans were for this year, we set a deadline of end of January for any changes to this area of the Festival. Needing planning permission to go forward has pushed the project past the deadline date. So that customers can book with certainty, we decided to announce our intentions as early as possible, so that we can concentrate on giving guests a blockbuster festival to remember!”

“We are already feeling the excitement of this year’s event, bringing, as it will, a host of memories and new experiences for our guests in every part of the Festival. We look forward to welcoming back old friends, and new ones alike, to experience a very special 60th Sidmouth FolkWeek.”

For more details, visit www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk
Sidmouth Tourist Information Centre: 01395 577952


PHILLIP HENRY & HANNAH MARTINFast-rising Devon musicians and singer songwriters Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin (who recently clinched the Best Duo title in the recent 2013 Spiral Awards) are now out on tour. The Exeter pair also recently won the Best Folk Act title in the South West Music Awards.

They were originally “discovered” by Show of Hands front-man Steve Knightley who first encountered the duo busking on the seafront during Devon’s Sidmouth Folk Week. He describes their sound as “textured, hypnotic and utterly captivating”.

Henry, studied in Calcutta with India’s premier slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya which no doubt has helped his growing reparation as an accomplished slide guitarist. Henry is also a fine singer (as demonstrated in the  video below of The Boy That Wouldn’t Hoe Corn) and plays beat-box harmonica like a man possessed.  Coupled with Hannah light touched fiddle/ banjo playing skills and haunting vocals the pair have knack for tapping traditional music veins to create contemporary songs that are interwoven into the pair’s subtle chemistry. Certainly, a sound different from the run of the mill duo experience which is drawn from a wellspring of English folk music, Indian classical melodies, gospel and American blues.

The duo have supported the likes of fellow West Country folk roots luminaries Seth Lakeman, Show of Hands, Cara Dillon and Steve Knightley (solo UK tour) and played key festivals from Glastonbury to Sidmouth. Their debut album Singing the Bones, released in 2011, was praised by Radio 2’s Mike Harding and Radio 3’s Fiona Talkington (Late Junction).

In September the duo will release their second studio album, entitled Mynd, which will focus on music deeply rooted in the landscapes and history of England, particularly their native south-west. We are told that it will also include a haunting Hannah Martin penned song called Last Broadcast which is about the late American-born Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, who lost her life in Syria last year.

Artist’s website: www.philliphenryandhannahmartin.co.uk