Starting line-up revealed for the annual Towersey Festival

Towersey Festival

Folk favourites Kate Rusby, Steeleye Span and Show of Hands are some of the confirmed acts that will welcome festival-goers at Towersey Festival’s new home of Buckinghamshire, in August 2020.

The iconic folk and roots festival will celebrate its 56th year from 28-31 August 2020, in Buckinghamshire’s stunning Claydon Estate, in Middle Claydon.

Joining these folk greats are more contemporary names such as This Is The Kit, Grace Petrie, London’s ground-breaking Brass ensemble The Hackney Colliery Band and Scottish power trio Talisk. Also, on the initial roster are new band The Magpie Arc, featuring guitar great Martin Simpson, English folk singer Nancy Kerr and leading musicians from Scotland.

Four years since her last visit to Towersey, Kate Rusby was described by The Guardian as “one of the superstars of the British acoustic scene”. Forever proud to call herself a folk singer, Kate’s beautiful, expressive vocals never fail to connect the emotional heart of a song to that of her audience. The crossover appeal Kate enjoys is unprecedented for a folk singer and has been achieved without resort to compromise.

Among the most commercially successful and influential traditional artists, thanks to their hit singles ‘Gaudete’ and ‘All Around My Hat’, Steeleye Span changed the face of folk music forever. After 50 years, they are as creative and vital now as ever, with a new album that is garnering rave reviews and taking their live performances to new levels.

Also returning to Towersey 2020 is the multi-award-winning Show of Hands, with their new four-piece line-up including master percussionist Cormac Byrne, who returns with his blistering additions by popular demand. There’s no doubt that Show of Hands the four-piece, now something of a supergroup, and their combined musicianship is guaranteed to sound nothing short of magical.

Towersey is renowned for staging artists that are not often seen at bigger music festivals so it should not be a surprise to see one of the country’s leading choral groups, The London Welsh Male Voice Choir, amongst the first artists revealed.

Others joining the line-up include indie-folk band Laura Cortese And The Dance Cards, girl power bluegrass band Midnight Skyracer and 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award ‘Best Album’ winners, The Trials of Cato.

Towersey Festival Director Joe Heap said: “After a record-breaking 2019 festival we are very excited to be moving to an incredible new site and working with Claydon Estate. 2020 will be such a special year – our new and stunning location provides such a fabulous backdrop for our festival, and with these first-named artists, we have the beginnings of what could be our greatest line-up to date.

“There’ll be loads of other surprises and more great names to come in 2020, but we are so excited to be sharing these first artists now as well as announcing our exclusive Circus and Music Show ‘Circocentric’ which will premiere at Towersey.”

Towersey is the UK’s longest-running independent music festival, with seven venues featuring an extensive music programme, over 30 hours of ceilidh, and a packed schedule of daily workshops. 2020 will feature many of the regular favourites plus the introduction of new circus shows and workshops, well-being & mindfulness activities and outdoor experiences.

With a dedicated and acclaimed programme of activities for children and younger festivalgoers, as well as street theatre performers, arts and crafts, film screenings, late-night sessions, real ale and cider bars and street food, there really is something for everyone.

Tickets for Towersey Festival, which runs from Friday 28 to Monday 31 August 2020 at Claydon Estate, Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire (claydonestate.co.uk), are now available from £144 (adult), £134 (concessions), £70 (young person 5-17). For more information go to www.towerseyfestival.com

The line-up so far

Friday 28 August

Steeleye Span
Show of Hands
Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
Forest of Fools
Whapweasel
Honey And The Bear

Saturday 29 August

This Is The Kit
Talisk
Midnight Skyracer
The Trials of Cato
Jackie Oates & John Spiers
Smith and Brewer

Sunday 30 August

Kate Rusby
Hackney Colliery Band
The London Welsh Male Voice Choir
Ranagri
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra

Monday 31 August

Grace Petrie
The Magpie Arc
Matthew Byrne
Circocentric – EXCLUSIVE TO TOWERSEY! A newly created Circus show by The Chipolatas and The Pirates of the Carabina!

TICKETS:

Weekend Tickets with camping (4 days)
Standard: Campsite access from 9am on Friday 28th August.

Adult £169; Conc £159; Young Person (5-17yrs) £85; under 5s FREE.

Weekend Tickets without camping (4 days)
Standard: Site access from 9am on Friday 28th August.

Adult £144; Concession £134; Young Person (5-17) £70; under 5s FREE.

Day Tickets without camping

Fri Adult £45; Young Person (5-17) £30; under 5s FREE.

Sat/Sun Adult £50; Young Person (5-17) £35; under 5s FREE.

Mon Adult £35; Young Person (5-17) £25; under 5s FREE.

Day ticket camping Adult £15; Young Person (5-17) £10; Under 5s FREE

Box office: 0115 807 7900

Festival website: www.towerseyfestival.com

 

SMITH AND BREWER – Live 16/12/2017 (Own Label)

Smith And Brewer LiveRiding high on their success in front of their biggest audience to date at Cropredy, as well as playing a host of other festivals, Americana duo Smith & Brewer are having a good year. For everyone who’s been enjoying their performances, Live 16/12/2017 provides a chance to take the magic home and skitch the coat-tails of summer a little longer.

Even though this soft-launch album is not the band’s main-feature release this year, it’s worthy of an honourable mention. Recorded before a live audience on a wintry December night in The Plough pub in Shepreth, near Cambridge, the album gives a solid representation of the duo’s live set and sound, with a crisp, clear audio quality that keeps the tight harmony vocals and guitars in sharp focus.

Four songs will already be familiar from their Ben Smith & Jimmy Brewer EP, including a slightly more leisurely version of the delicious ‘Blow Wind Blow’, the uplifting ‘Isabella’ and intense ‘Beaten Track’.

Smith & Brewer seem to specialise in writing songs where a light touch in melody, harmonies and guitars counterpoints something far bleaker in the subject. The sunny, chilled vibes of ‘A Lovely Day For Doing Nothing’ hide a heart of darkness, “lately all my food’s delivered, in little boxes I forget to throw away”, and the bright guitars of ‘A Better Man’ belie self-doubt, “I have always thought you deserved a better man”.

Love, in all its aspects, is very often the subject matter, and on ‘Better Than Your Father’, Smith’s beautiful hymn to his son, it’s a pragmatic wish-list, “may you not pick up bad habits, I’ll try not to give you mine”. Yet even as the chirpy country of ‘Life’s Too Short’ coldly throws out “if she wants to leave you for somebody new, then let her”, it also features some gorgeously warm intricate picking. Along with the insistent, rolling blues of ‘Julietta’ with its frenetic guitar interplay there’s no doubting just how seriously good Smith & Brewer are and how compactly they work together.

Live 16/12/2017 certainly captures the Smith & Brewer sound and, despite the slightly disorientating “Happy Christmas” sign-off (give it a few months, it’ll be relevant again), it will help keep summer in mind until they drop their full studio album, due later in the year.

Su O’Brien

Artist website: www.smithandbrewer.com

‘Life’s Too Short’ – live at Cropredy:

SMITH AND BREWER – Mumford Theatre, Cambridge (21st April 2018)

Smith And Brewer

It’s surprisingly hard to recall, on this bright sunny Spring day, that a little over a month ago, snow and gales stopped play. Back then, I should have been reviewing Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer as part of the Cambridge Roots Festival. This afternoon comes my chance to make amends, courtesy of Anglia Ruskin University’s programme of “Lunchtime Sessions”. A mixed audience of students and civvies flow into the theatre’s darkness from the warm sunlight outside.

The artists formerly known as Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer have recently undergone a, some might say, rather overdue metamorphosis. Now appearing simply as Smith and Brewer, they proudly display the embossed guitar straps bearing their respective surnames. Yes, maybe it does sound a tiny bit like a craft ale, but it rolls off the tongue so much more easily. And I have been known to say it often when evangelising about this pair to anyone within earshot. Not normally Americana/Country’s loudest advocate, I’m utterly beguiled by this duo’s charming blend of close harmonies and melodious songs. It’s an obvious, perhaps even rather tainted comparison to make, but they’re a sort of English Simon and Garfunkel – without the relationship issues, hopefully.

Starting off with ‘Isabella’, a natural classic from their eponymous EP, they motor on through ‘Another Shade Of Blue’ and the vigorous, sassy guitar of ‘Life’s Too Short’. ‘Blow Wind Blow’, another EP track, follows after which Smith leads on a sweetly tender ode to his young son, ‘Better Than Your Father’. As a young artist in the front row makes rapid sketches of them, Brewer delivers some Spanish-tinged guitar with ‘Love You Forever’.

‘A Lovely Day For Doing Nothing’ is another of those instant classics: but despite sounding deceptively like a chilled summer anthem, it’s lyrics are rather gloomier. It’s still not entirely an obvious choice to appear on a Dutch horror movie soundtrack, but do be sure to listen out for it, coming soon to your local Dutch cinema.

It’s not just their facility with melody and harmony; they are richly proficient guitar players too, with a cooperative style that elaborately interweaves Smith’s warmth with Brewer’s steelier tones. Mostly, they look quite relaxed, but their most “guitarry” song, ‘Julietta’ (continuing a tradition of four-syllable female name song titles), features a lengthy, fast and energetic break that illuminates the physicality beneath their playing.

The forceful, lively ‘Favourite Photograph’ follows, and they close with the angular ‘Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me’. Although time hasn’t really been allotted for an encore, such is the crowd appreciation that they return anyway to finally round off proceedings with the gently funk-inclined ‘Hold On’.

A group of students filing out say, “Well, that was really great”, and mean it. It was, really great.

Smith and Brewer’s first album is due to be released later this year.

Su O’Brien

Artist website: www.smithandbrewer.com

‘A Lovely Day For Doing Nothing’: