Welcome to the 2019 Folking Awards and thank you again to everyone who participated last year. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were collated into shape by the Folkmeister and the Editor over a pint or two, which also involved, a few arm-wrestles and a spot of beer-mat aerobics, in a convenient local watering hole.
There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have impressed our writers during 2018.
As we said last year, all are winners in our eyes, as are quite a few who didn’t make the short list. However, it’s not just about what we think, so once more, it’s down to you, our ever-growing readership, to make the final call.
To vote, choose and then ‘click on’ one of the five nominees in each of the category voting boxes below.
*The Public Vote for each category will close at 9.00pm on Sunday 31st March (GMT+1).
Soloist Of The Year
Gilmore & Roberts
Daria Kulesh and Jonny Dyer
Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar
The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Trials Of Cato
Best Live Act
The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Martin Stephenson & The Daintees
A Problem Of Our Kind – Gilmore & Roberts The Well Worn Path – Seth Lakeman The Joy Of Living – Jackie Oates Queer As Folk – Grace Petrie Hide And Hair – Trials Of Cato
Smith & Brewer
Best International Artist(s)
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Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th August, 2019 Wickham * Near Fareham * Hampshire
He’s performed at Woodstock, Live Aid & Glastonbury. Now the legendary singer, songwriter and musician Graham Nash is the latest top-name artist added to our Wickham Festival line-up this summer.
As a founder member of both The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Graham Nash has the rare distinction of being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice.
Graham Nash will be appearing on the opening night, Thursday 1st August, performing a full concert set including classic tracks by The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as well as his solo material. Also appearing on the Thursday night is his long-time friend and occasional musical collaborator Judy Collins for whom one of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s greatest hits, ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’ was written. It promises to be a special night.
Day & weekend tickets are now on sale via our website, see link below.
More acts confirmed for Wickham 2019
Several other acts including The Men They Couldn’t Hang have also recently been confirmed for this year’s Festival. You can view the full line-up announced so far on our website here: wickhamfestival.co.uk along with the days on which each act will be appearing. And we have three more headline acts to announce later this week including a country music star; one of the world’s greatest guitarists making a rare and exclusive UK appearance; and a major British artist and band who’ve just completed a worldwide arenas tour.
More details later this week.
Wickham voted ‘Best Festival’ in The News Awards
We’re delighted to say that Wickham was voted ‘Best Festival’ in The News Guide Awards last week, beating many bigger and better-known festivals in the process. It was a public vote and we’d like to thank everyone who voted for us.
I sit here two weeks after The Great British Folk Festival with a Whitstable Bay Organic Ale in hand and I’m in good company as I have the new The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Cook-A-Hoop vinyl spinning on my turntable.
The album has made quite a journey from when it was first given to me by the band back stage after the interview we did in the early hours of Sunday 2nd December. The vinyl started its journey on top of a pizza box as Cush insisted it came along to the Oysterband back stage gathering (The MEN were playing on REDS stage outside of the Skyline Pavilion and Oysterband were in the Centre Stage complex and on at the same time). Like us, the new album couldn’t find its way there either as everything was locked up. It took 20 minutes in the rain with TMTCH in tow to realise that the best destination was now 109 Gull Court in The Keys area of Butlins Skeggy. This was the place where the album, the half-eaten pizza’s, The MEN and us hangers-on could be reunited with some more alcohol. However, not all of us made it to 109 Gull Court as the pizza was offloaded on to Simon Care who happened to be wandering past at 2am in the morning on his way to bed.
Anyway, I digress… so let’s get back to the fantastic new album and that late-night folking TMTCH interview.
Cook-A-Hoop has thirteen tracks, two instrumentals, and eleven songs, five written by Paul Simmonds, three by Swill and three by Cush. Cook-A-Hoop is both minimalist and musically expansive.
The songs start with ‘Sirens’, with revolution and a call to arms Pogue-MEN-Style followed by an escapism tale imagined at the speed of an ‘Arrow’ flight. Then a tremolo panther prowls, like a young Bobby Seale and gives his greeting by way of Sunday Soul ‘Salutations’ with trumpet heralding in the arrival of Marvin.
Next, ‘Three Ships Sailing’ haul away, plundering oceans, flying colours with far of canon-shot drum beat judging distance. While half the world is living on ‘Pone’, the unleavened maize bread, this rocking song with mental saxophone and growling vocals shoves it down your throat and reminds us that some people don’t have a choice.
Mantle then shrouds the tale of ‘The Queen of Crows’ who surveys the night to gentle pining fiddle. We journey then to the city of the ‘Archangel’, riding on camels, playing snake charmer grooves, telling tales of devils, demons and shotgun shacks.
Finally, Cush gives us a ‘Kings Street Serenade’ in green bomber jacket, and tight drainpipe trousers. A homage to the glory days of Joe Strummer, Pogue Mohon and being in heaven.
So, to sum the album up… Right Time, Right Place, Right Song. All packaged up in ‘The Amazing Carrier Bag’ of broken dreams and Brexit chaos.
Yes, its classic MEN, so if you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not yet, then you are in for a treat as it stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the rest of the back catalogue of 9 studio albums and over 139 songs.
Paul Simmonds has songs pouring out of him at the moment and Swill and Cush are on top song writing form. So, strap yourself in, fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for a TMTCH Cock-A-Hoop roller coaster of a ride of an album. The MEN continue to be, not just a band of brothers who have stuck together for 35 years through thick and thin but also a group that have survived their time and forged a new musical strength out of the political, blood, sweat and tears of their glorious musical past.
However, the biggest revelation of all is that Swill wished he had written Bat out of Hell!
Here is the interview that Paul Johnson and Darren Beech recorded with TMTCH after the show.
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Squelch… Wickham Festival finally kicked off to a great start with sets from Low, Barker, Morris & Tunstall which sounds like a firm of solicitors instead of musical, dance and poetry partners in festival law; Andy Fairweather Low, Les Barker, the Wickham Morris Sides and KT Tunstall.
Now tell me… where are you going to get a “bend me, shake me, a sermon from the church of the holy undecided, a strip the willow and a black horse and a cherry tree all the the same place!
Here is the moment when the sun came out and everyone forgot about the thirteen days of rain that fell on the site the day before it opened which caused the “elf and safety” three hours delayed start.
The main Thursday night event on the All Time Grates Stage was 10CC, who played all their hits, which they performed as a masterclass in song-writing. They even offered us the following words of wisdom from their extensive mantra…
Life is a minestrone
Served up with parmesan cheese
Death is a cold Lasagne
Suspended in deep freeze …
Friday afternoon had a definite garden party feel that went off with a Wizz, bang and Spooky side-splitting Tickell. It all started with the legendary Wizz Jones who rolled out all his hits including ‘When I Leave Berlin’ which Bruce Springsteen covered.
TheSpooky Men’s Chorale followed, the Antipodean Blue Mountain settlers, that worry local livestock to such a degree that the local farmers club together to pay for their international tours (so long as they agree to do reworked Abba and Bee Gees choral arrangements). Luckily, Kathryn Tickell was there to restore order, Northumbrian Pipe Style, who together with The Side brought Wickham back into the hear and now with evocative slow airs that could break your heart one minute and then fling you seamlessly into life-affirming jigs and reels the next.
In between Tickell and the Spookies (great idea for a band name!) I managed to dash across to the Hapi Stage to catch a bit of the fab Portsmouth based band Bemis. I also managed to grab a copy of their excellent new album A World of Difference that I encourage you all to go and check out for free here
There was barely enough time for a quick change over before it was pedal to metal down the West Country highway in search of Fishy Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands. All three did the West Country proud and I think its was a great bit of programming to put Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands all on the same stage and evening bill.
Here is my favourite moment of Friday night, when Show of Hands treated us to a slowed down version of the Don Henley classic “Boys of Summer” . Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Saturday opened with more Wickham Festival goodies… Alas, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie didn’t make it for the reunion but folk legends, Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe turned up on the All Time Grates Stage in the afternoon. Then it was a quick hop and skip across to the Hapi Stage for a blistering set from Gilmore & Roberts with festival energy in a bakers bun-dance. Then back again to the All Time Grates Stage as master Dhol drummer, Johnny Kalsi fired up the furnaces of the drums of the mighty Dhol Foundation to create a high-energy, pulsating folking brilliant musical soundscape of Punjabi beat, rhythm and intensity.
If that was not enough excitement for one day, there was a just enough time to sponge down before the main evening event of the big punk-folk-rock 3. I’m sure you will all know who they all are, as the Saturday evening, three in a row line-up, for many, was one of the dream festival programming highlights of this year (dreamt up by the mind of that festival organising genius, Mr Peter Chegwyn) which even included a returning Chopper as part of the Oysterband mix. For those who have not worked it out, it was of course The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Oysterband and The Levellers. I also legged it across to the Hapi Stage to see some of my old matesChris Sherburn & Denny Bartley set with the lovely Emily.
Time had flown by and before anyone knew it, it was “Sunday folk fun-day” and the fourth day of Wickham.
I’ll start with Ray “Chopper” Cooper who opened on the Hapi stage…
Fay Hield then blew in with the Hurricane Party on the All Time Grates Stage and Glasgow boys Imar followed and got the main stage dancing. Wickham festival favourite Duncan Chisholmfollowed with his Gathering before the afternoon slot was brought to a riotous close with Tankus The Henge (a great festival band).
LAU opened the Sunday evening slot which felt like a kaleidoscope of colour washing over the All Time Grates Stage. The power went off at one point so we even got a couple of un-amped numbers.
The finale for me was the crowned Queen of the Wickham Festival crowd, Eliza Carthy with Sam Sweeney & the rest of her merry Wayward Band. Unfortunately, I had to leave early so missed the Peatbog Faeries set but Eliza said that they tore the place apart, so I have been lamenting the early departure ever since.
I was bitten by a Ferocious Dog on the way out and am looking forward to repeating the experience at one of their other gigs soon.
This was a prestige gig billed for TMTCH as The 30th Anniversary Reprise Show – nothing like making the most of it.
The London Sewage Company are, in Ron’s words, a powerpunk outfit with a lead guitarist inexplicably missing from a heavy metal band. They also have a nice line in humour –“London sewage comes from everything you do” – ho, ho. They played a strong set but it lacked light and shade and you couldn’t help but wonder how their song about London’s lost toyshops would have sounded if written by Ray Davies.
Merry Hell showed them how it should be done, mixing power and restraint. My top track was ‘Bury Me Naked’ featuring Andrew Kettle’s only instrumental contribution – on hammer and spade! You have to hear the verses or the whole point of the song is lost so the band held back but the moment the last words left Virginia Kettle’s lips it was as though a switch had been flipped and that huge fairground chorus rolled over us.
They have a sizeable back catalogue now and they mixed them up and much as a ten song set would allow. Ron was disappointed that ‘No Money’ was omitted and I would have loved to hear ‘Iron Man’ but, although that song carried over into their first album, the days of Tansads are now a fond memory. Quite rightly – Merry Hell are their own new creation and ‘The Crooked Man’, ‘The Baker’s Daughter’ and ‘The War Between Ourselves’ are songs for this century.
The Men They Couldn’t Hang seemed a bit off form initially. Their third song, ‘The Ghosts Of Cable Street’, got the crowd bouncing and was excellent but ‘Shirt Of Blue’ seemed oddly lacking in energy. After the mid-set acoustic break – Phil Odgers sang ‘Carrying A Flame’ from The Defiant and Cush’s choice of ‘Hotel Chambermaid’ was interesting – they came back and suddenly stepped on the gas.
‘Smugglers’ hit the ground running and the other selections from The Defiant: ‘Bonfires’, ‘Fail To Comply’ and ‘Scavengers’ eclipsed the recorded versions. There are a few fixed points in any TMTCH set – it’s just a matter of waiting. Jon Odgers sat in for ‘The Crest’ after ‘Going Back To Coventry’ and ‘The Colours’ and ‘Ironmasters’ closed the set with ‘Walkin’ Talkin’’ as an encore.
This was their night and their crowd and at the end we were all bawling out the choruses. All together now: “Red is the colour of the new republic…”
Dai Jeffries Ron D Bowes
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