Underneath The Stars announces its 2019 line-up

Underneath The Stars

The Proclaimers, Billy Bragg, Kate Rusby, The Unthanks, Hope & Social and TV writer and actor Ruth Jones are just some of the names topping a stellar line-up for the sixth Underneath The Stars festival.

Run by the production team behind folk artist Kate Rusby, Underneath The Stars features performance arts, crafts and more for the whole family plus food, drink and shopping, sourced from independent vendors, brought together in the stunning rural setting of Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley.

Independent family festival Underneath The Stars is set to return for its sixth year on 2-4 August 2019, bringing three days of live music, performance arts and scrumptious food to its cosy corner of rural South Yorkshire. Founded and run by the family production team of award-winning folk singer Kate Rusby, the festival boasts a stellar musical line-up of internationally renowned musicians and emerging talent from Yorkshire and beyond, performing in the idyllic countryside setting of Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley.

Bringing together a wealth of artists spanning folk, pop, acoustic, world, Americana and more, Underneath The Stars proudly announces its full 2019 line-up: The Proclaimers, Billy Bragg, Kate Rusby, The Unthanks, Hope & Social, Ruth Jones, Le Vent du Nord, CoCo and the Butterfields, Baskery, CC Smugglers, Talisk, Sam Kelly Trio, Damien O’Kane with family & friends, Old Man Luedecke, Ruth Notman & Sam Kelly, K.O.G & the Zongo Brigade, Cut Capers, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, You Tell Me, The Local Honeys, Shadowlark, Laurel, Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers, Bess Atwell, Hannah Read, Alden Paterson and Dashwood, Barnsley Youth Choir, Milly Johnson, Emma McGrath, Katherine Priddy and Toby Burton.

Headlining on Friday, The Proclaimers – aka twin brothers Craig and Charlie Reid – have carved out a niche for themselves where pop, folk, new wave and punk collide, promising a formidable live experience. Topping Saturday’s bill, Billy Bragg has been a fearless recording artist, tireless live performer and peerless political campaigner for over 35 years, his songs skilfully straddling popular and political. The festival will be brought to a close by the Barnsley nightingale, Kate Rusby, performing traditional folk and stunning self-penned songs from her newly released album Philosophers, Poets and Kings.

The Unthanks full band will be bringing their North-East flavoured art-folk with a booming socially conscious heart and Hope & Social are returning by popular demand, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into their anthemic songs and infectious melodies. Best known for her award-winning television writing, Ruth Jones makes a special festival appearance. She’ll discuss her famed roles including the incorrigible Nessa in her hit TV series Gavin and Stacey and Sky 1’s Stella, during An Audience with Ruth Jones. Renowned as the foremost ambassadors of Quebec’s traditional folk music revival, Le Vent Du Nord’s driving music has seen then win multiple awards. CoCo and the Butterfields have developed an enviable reputation for their exhilarating live shows. Baskery are three sisters who take roots and Americana and turn it on its head, blending the straightforwardness of punk with the subtlety of singer-songwriting. Fronted by the charismatic Richie Pyrnne, CC Smugglers blend of old-time, world and folk styles. Young Scottish firebrands Talisk have stacked up several major awards for their explosively energetic yet artfully woven sound.

Innovative Irish folk musician Damien O’Kane has appeared at every Underneath the Stars, both with his wife Kate Rusby and his own bands. This year Damien will be joined by his entire immediate family members and other guests, for a special one-off show. Renowned for his storytelling art, song craft and comic timing Canadian roots singer-songwriter Old Man Luedecke appears hot on the heels of his new album Easy Money. Ruth Notman and Sam Kelly are two of the finest young folk singers in the UK, who recently joined forces to record a dynamic duo album, Changeable Heart. Sam will also be appearing with his acclaimed Sam Kelly Trio earlier in the day. K.O.G & the Zongo Brigade sees Ghanaian force of nature Kweku Sackey, aka K.O.G, and the whirlwind of energy that is Jamaican rapper Franz Von Song, together with the rest of the Zongo Brigade deliver infectious, high-energy West African grooves. Cut Capers is a nine-piece band with a style based in live hip-hop and swing, known for their high energy shows. Don your knitwear – as from the not-as-posh-end of Barnsley, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are making their festival return. With their talent for Bar-Stewardizing famous songs with comedy lyrics and various folk instruments, they promise to rock you… but gently!

You Tell Me are Peter Brewis, half of Field Music, who has been honing the craft of pop songwriting for almost fifteen years and Sarah Hayes, who has been exploring contemporary folk in her solo work, and the world of indie-pop via her band Admiral Fallow.  From the rolling hills of the Bluegrass and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, The Local Honeys deliver hard-driving fiddle tunes, singing the high lonesome sound. Shadowlark combine the ethereal and visceral with unnerving aplomb with the trio’s front-woman, Ellen Smith, bleeding her personal experiences into raw and emotive compositions. Laurel is a rising young artist whose debut album, Dogviolet, features raw guitars and stirring melodies. The surreal Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers play tuba, piano, drums, ukulele all while tickling and rubbing your senses into a fun stew. Ethereal punk princess Bess Atwell’s dynamic live show with a full-live band will showcase the gifted singer-songwriter’s stunning vocals; From Scotland but now based in Brooklyn, Hannah Read is known for her fiddle playing and songwriting and as member of Songs of Separation, was described as one of “the finest singers of the day.”

In Conversation with Milly Johnson will see the multi-million Barnsley based author, one of the Top 10 female fiction authors in the UK, reading and discussing her work. Norwich based folk trio Alden Patterson and Dashwood weave rich vocal harmonies, fiddle, dobro and guitar around beautifully written melodies, depicting tales of young travellers, sleepy seas and their affection for home. Barnsley Youth Choir consists of over 400 singers and is ranked 5th in the World Rankings in its category, winning first prizes in some of the biggest international competitions in the world. Emma McGrath makes her festival debut. An 18-year-old singer-songwriter heralding from Harpenden, North London whose ascent is firmly on the rise. Birmingham Folk’s starlet Katherine Priddy is a fresh talent whose debut EP, Wolf, has been receiving critical acclaim. Toby Burton is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Penistone, who sites his influences as being City and Colour, Paolo Nutini and Passenger.

Alongside the musical line-up are lively street-arts performers, storytellers, art installations and host of workshops to take part in, including everything from ukulele, swingdance and Tai Chi, to singing workshop with a Kentucky US flavour by The Local Honeys and singing, songwriting and instrumentation with Alden Patterson Dashwood.

Underneath the Stars handpicks food traders and prioritises quality ingredients and value for money. In addition to its boutique street food vendors and bar areas, the Makers Market showcasing local independent traders returns for 2019. It is committed to fair and ethical trading and making environmental sustainability a priority, pledging to be plastic-free in 2019.

A non-for-profit community interest company, the festival is born from a genuine passion for music and offers a charming and friendly experience with its welcoming atmosphere, teams of volunteers and circus-style set-up, making it a firm favourite with festival goers of all ages. A great deal of attention has been put into guest comfort, with provisions for a high level of accessibility for those with disabilities. Live music is performed in two striking circus-style big top tents and the main stage offering a seated arena. There are four campsites to choose from, including two boutique luxury options.

Folk artist Kate Rusby, Underneath the Stars festival ambassador, says “It’s thrilling to be announcing these incredible musicians who will be brought together for Underneath the Stars, including the festival’s biggest headliners to date, award-winning artists from all over the world and talents from our very own little pocket of Yorkshire. Underneath the Stars has been built on my family’s passion for music and a desire to feed back into our local community. In its sixth year it’s a real honour to see Underneath the Stars becoming firmly established on the UK festival scene as a highly creative, unique and quality festival for all generations to enjoy and experience together – we can’t wait to welcome them in August.”

Tickets are available from www.underthestarsfest.co.uk

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: