Shrewsbury Folk Festival – tickets are now on sale

Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Kate Rusby

Tickets have gone on sale for the 2019 Shrewsbury Folk Festival as organisers have shared the first names to be added to the bill.

Weekend tickets to the four-day event, that will take place at the West Mid Showground from August 23 to 26, are expected to be in high demand. Last year the first tier of tickets were snapped up in less than 30 minutes and weekend tickets sold out a month before the August Bank Holiday event.

Two of the UK’s top solo stars Kate Rusby and Martyn Joseph will be topping the bill along with the legendary Oysterband and female supergroup Daphne’s Flight, who are returning after a triumphant performance in 2017. Scottish folk rockers Skerryvore have also been invited back after wowing crowds earlier this year.

Grace Petrie – photograph by David Wilson Clarke

Gary Stewart’s Graceland – a reworking of the Paul Simon classic – has also been signed up along with solo shows from Show of Hands frontman Steve Knightley, singer songwriter and activist Grace Petrie and appearances from The Phil Beer Band and Merry Hell.

Exclusive to the festival will be a special day of programming on its Pengwern stage by duo Chris While and Julie Matthews to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their musical partnership. The While and Matthews Takeover will see the pair curate performances on August 25th that will culminate in a big band show to close the night.

Granny’s Attic

Other acts will include Chris Elliott and Caitlin Jones, Edgelarks, Geoff Lakeman, Granny’s Attic, Mankala, Paul Downes, Rapsquillion, Reg Meuross, Track Dogs, the Urban Folk Quartet, and Winter Wilson. Festivalgoers will also be able to watch folk opera Here At The Fair by Mick Ryan.

Festival Director Sandra Surtees said many more artists are yet to be revealed.

“As ever the Shrewsbury line-up will feature some of the biggest names in folk, some popular performers that have been requested by our audience and a number of world and Americana acts.

“But the festival is about so much more than just the music – there’s so much to do during the weekend for all ages. The festival has its own magical atmosphere and we have many visitors who wouldn’t class themselves as ‘folkies’ but they just come to enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere with friends and family and listen to great music.

“The festival continues to go from strength to strength with a devoted audience who return year after year, demonstrated by the fact that we regularly sell out in advance.”

The festival has four main music stages, a dance tent featuring ceilidhs, workshops and dance shows, children and youth festivals, workshops, crafts, food village, real ale, cocktail and gin bars and on-site camping and glamping.

There are also fringe events at local pubs with dance displays held in the town centre and a parade through the streets on the Saturday afternoon. Weekend and day tickets can be booked at

TRACK DOGS – Serenity Sessions (Monde Green)

Serenity SessionsFor those who don’t know, Track Dogs are an Anglo-Irish-American acoustic quartet based in Madrid comprising Sheffield’s Howard Brown, Ohio’s Robbie K Jones and, respectively from Co. Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire, Dave Mooney and lead vocalist Garrett Wall, their instrumentation taking in cajon, banjo, ukulele, mandolin and trumpet alongside guitar and piano. Making their debut under their current name (after the New York subway maintenance teams) in 2011, they’ve already got four albums under their belt, Serenity Sessions being titled for the Spanish studio where most of them were recorded.

Given their roots and adopted home, it won’t be too much of a surprise to learn the music draws on American, British, Irish and Latin influences, getting things underway in laid back, jazzy manner with ‘To The End’, Brown’s trumpet taking the spotlight. They then pick up the tempo for the perky, trumpet, double bass and cajon driven ‘So Much Dust’ (a touch of Van Morrison in places), a similar jaunty groove to be found in the sunny ‘Don’t Waste Time’, Wall on ukulele and trumpet augmented by a couple of trombones.

Although they venture into softer territory for the close harmonies of the gentle waltzing cello-caressed ‘Broken Strings’, the overall sound is sunnily upbeat and melodic. ‘Whatever Happens’ touches on calypso colours, they give it some of that ‘Iko Iko’ groove on the handclap/leg slap percussive stomp of ‘The Lights Went Out In Cotos’ and introduce whistle into the banjo led ‘Only Human’ with its stylistic memories of ‘When I’m Dead and Gone’. They also briefly go electric as the wittily named Madrid guitarist El Twanguero joins them for the bluesy rolling vibe of ‘Love Me Like You Used To’.

Their live sets are apparently often strongly bluegrass inclined, and the genre’s served with a couple of numbers here, the train song ‘Orion Sees’ (which oddly reminds me of Toto’s ‘Africa’) and ‘Bon Scott, He Rocked’, a playful affection tribute to the late AC/DC singer. My personal favourite though is the album’s sole cover, closing things up with a lovely stripped back and slowed down, smoothly weary version of the Faces’ rowdy classic ‘Oooh La La’, Brown’s trumpet adding to its mellow ambience. Very much the sound of sunny summer festivals, pitch up a gazebo in the garden, chill the beers and enjoy.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ website:

‘Track Dogs – “Bon Scott, He Rocked”:

Track Dogs announce new album

Track Dogs

These particular dogs started life back in the autumn of 2006, under the name of The Garrett Wall Band. The starting line-up was simple but effective; guitar, bass, trumpet and cajón. They wanted a clean sound that would work as easily in someone’s living room as it would on the world’s stages.

They cut their “live” teeth playing twenty six shows in seven days at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and released their debut album Sky Pointing shortly after in 2007.

Tours in Ireland and Spain followed and the relative media in both countries started to take note. They followed this up with the album Hands & Imperfections in 2009.

When the time came to release their third studio album they realized a name change was vital. It was important the band be considered for what it was; a band. Not wanting to be considered a singer songwriter plus backing musicians any longer they opted (after an exhaustive search) for the name Track Dogs which comes from the maintenance teams who work the New York subway. These close-knit teams work while the trains are circulating and thus need to look our for each other at all times. What better name for a group that musically did just that!

Thus the simply titled Track Dogs was released in 2011 and from this moment things began to change for the band. The use of harmonies became a signature sound for them and they also expanded the line-up to include banjo & ukulele. Hailing from Ireland, the UK and the USA, the four expats set up their own label, Mondegreen Records, to handle all releases and the licensing of their music, understanding the importance of control over their recordings.

In 2013 the band was picked to perform as part of the Sounds From Spain platform at SXSW in Austin, Texas. In the same year they were also selected for Girando Por Salas (GPS), an important incentive for touring bands in Spain. With the release of their fourth album All Roads, the group’s unique sound was even more rounded and defined.

With their new album Serenity Sessions, named for the studio where they had recorded the bulk of their albums, the band has finally reached a point where the energy and power of their live sound is properly reflected in their recordings. With the addition of a richer production to their sound, and collaborations with artists such as El Twanguero this new body of work reflects the perfect mix of styles which defines what Track Dogs are all about.

Artists’ website:

‘Bon Scott, He Rocked’ – official video: