This summer’s 16th Gate To Southwell Festival (June 29-July 2) looks certain to be the Midlands’ most international, entertaining and musically diverse event yet, with Sunday’s headliners and other key artists still to be announced.
Among the headline acts already confirmed are acclaimed World music stars The Raghu Dixit Project who perform highly danceable Indian ethnic music. Raghu himself is a famous singer-songwriter, producer and film score composer from Bangalore, and the Project have become one of India’s best musical and cultural exports.
Also headlining GTSF will be The Dog Show Sessions – an unmissable collaboration between British folk music legends Show Of Hands and the Madrid-based Irish-American roots quartet Track Dogs. Both acts have played Southwell before but together they’re sure to become a folk roots supergroup.
Other high calibre artists already booked for the festival include Thursday Blues Night headliners the veteran British R&B outfit Nine Below Zero (the big band version featuring Charlie Austin on vocals); the Hoth Brothers bringing bluegrass and Americana from the wilds of New Mexico; old-time & ragtime from Italian duo Max De Bernardi & Veronica Sbergia, famous West Ireland traditional musicians Gatehouse, alt-country from London duo Morton Valance, top quality slide blues guitar from the Martin Harley Band and Birmingham’s rising progressive folk band, Bonfire Radicals.
As usual there’ll be plenty of great singer-songwriters performing including John Smith, who missed the 2022 festival due to Covid but whose ‘Far Too Good’ has been streamed nearly 50 million times on Spotify, and the Californian troubadour Tom Russell who’s been compared to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams or described as “Jack Kerouac meets Johnny Cash” (Americana UK).
More than fifty great music acts will perform across four stages including raving Welsh steampunk-meets-traditional from NoGood Boyo, the immensely danceable rhythms of London Afrobeat Collective, and the legendary Martin Joseph, one of the UK’s most politically-charged singer-songwriters and charismatic performers who’s rightly been branded “the Welsh Springsteen”.
Amongst recent additions to the GTSF line up there’s Jake Blount, one of the rising stars of American roots music. A captivating live performer, talented multi-instrumentalist and soulful singer, Jake’s trio has been described as an “incredible combo” by Rhiannon Giddens. The Rhode Islander’s acclaimed recent albums ‘Spider Tales’ and ‘The New Faith’ have also shone a light on important contributions made by black, indigenous and LGBTQ artists to American folk traditions.
Other artists signed up to play include the Manchester collective Kabantu, the award-winning folk duo Good Habits, English folk ambassadors Tarren, Northallerton-born poetic guitarist George Boomsma, rhythmic South African soulful trio Stone Jets, Northumbrian harmonies from Brothers Gillespie and the highly-regarded vocal and instrumental virtuosity of Jon Doran & The Northern Assembly. Plus there’s a welcome comeback from that unique singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rory McLeod, who played Southwell back in 2010 and 2018. Rightly branded a British storytelling troubadour, Rory’s also been a fire eater and circus clown and remains one of the great entertainers on the festival circuit.
As well as the Blues Night on Thursday June 29th, there’ll be a new format on the Folk Stage with an evening of music hosted by Kip & Dave from Winter Wilson and Ali Russell. It’ll start with a folk club-style show featuring artists such as Lauren South in “floor spots” (to be announced) and later will develop into “The Big Sing” with sing-a-rounds and shanties with The Caisterways, Higgs Bosun and others.
Of course there’ll be plenty of opportunities to get dancing at this year’s Gate To Southwell Festival. Friday night’s ceilidh (June 30th) will be led by one of the most exciting dance bands on the festival folk circuit, Lasair. They’re a class act, featuring members of Steamchicken and Albion Band, with a supercharged line-up of fiddle, mandolin, melodeon, drums and guitars. Meanwhile Saturday night will welcome high quality performers Juniper, the six piece who memorably hosted an accessible ceilidh in Birmingham for the Commonwealth festival.
For those with the energy and stamina, there’ll even be a special Sunday morning dance set from a very untraditional ‘prog folk’ band, Bonfire Radicals, who deliver global grooves, instrumental fireworks and rich vocal harmonies.
This year, GTSF and the streets of Southwell will also welcome sides such as Mortimer’s Morris from Nottingham, Poacher Morris from Lincoln, Rattlejag from Retford, Witchmen from Northhants and Whip The Cat Rapper & Clog also Nottingham.
Regarded as one of the best family-friendly gatherings on the festival calendar, the 16th GTSF will also showcase an outstanding line-up of family entertainers including comedy jugglers Dan The Hat and Nutty Noah. As usual there’ll be great camping and glamping facilities, ceilidhs and music workshops, spoken word & comedy, pub gigs, Camp Fire, craft stalls hosted by an eclectic mix of traders, top-quality cask beers and ciders, and great food.
Plus there’ll be free parking and a regular festival shuttle bus to and from Southwell and the festival site. The festival again takes place at the beautiful rural lakeside setting in Kirklington (NG22 8NX).
Tickets for the East Midlands’ best loved and most environmentally friendly music event are now available from www.gtsf.uk