With a career in Irish music spanning 35 years, Altan has achieved legendary status in a genre that has equally been shaped by the band’s influence and genius. Audiences from Ireland to Japan to Australia to Europe have embraced their heartwarming, dynamic live performances and their exquisitely produced, award-winning recordings.
Martin Simpson is one of the world's premier acoustic guitarists and a powerful songwriter with a rich, characterful voice. His playing, which has helped define the English acoustic guitar sound, is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable, and revered among guitar fans. His body of work is diverse, encompassing all types of traditional and acoustic music, and he has toured with everyone from June Tabor to Steve Miller.
Fiddle-led music that draws heavily on Celtic dance forms and traditional song, but from there UFQ is unlike any folk band you have ever heard. Their approach is to embrace any and every influence, from funk grooves to middle-eastern melodies, afrobeat to north Indian rhythms. Featuring Joe Broughton, Paloma Trigás, Tom Chapman and Dan Walsh, UFQ are one of the most popular and sophisticated bands on the festival scene.
A fantastic new duo. Jim Moray is amongst England’s finest interpreters of traditional song. A five-time BBC Folk Award winner, his music has been featured in Grey’s Anatomy, Dr Who spin-off Class, and he has presented documentaries on traditional music for BBC Radio 3. Tom Moore has lent his blistering fiddle-playing to acts including Moore Moss Rutter, Nick Hart, John Dipper, False Lights and Maz O’Connor.
Our special commission for 2020 is a revival of The North Sea Suite. First staged in 1986, it blended folk and brass instruments, original and traditional music, and numerous well-loved songs to explore the impact of the sea on the lives of the people who live here on the North East coast. Originally conceived by Johnny Handle and performed by some of the region's finest musicians and singers, we are delighted to present the Suite at Hartlepool with some of the original participants, plus a few new faces, all of whom will be announced very soon.
Sounds magazine marked out Martin Stephenson as “one of the finest and grossly underrated singer-songwriters this country has given birth to”. Few who bought his 80s albums with The Daintees – especially Boat To Bolivia and Gladsome Humour & Blue – would disagree with that bold assertion. Durham native Stephenson broke up the band in 1992, since recording a series of well-received solo and collaborative albums. We're delighted to welcome him to Hartlepool for what we expect to be one of his trademark sets full of warmth, hilarity and gorgeous songs.
Rattle on the Stovepipe are Dave Arthur (banjo, guitar, melodeon), Pete Cooper (fiddle) and Dan Stewart (banjo, guitar, fiddle), who play Anglo-Appalachian songs, ballads, and dance tunes. Pete Cooper is one of the leading fiddle teachers in the UK, and is Director of the London Fiddle School. He runs workshops all over the world. Dan Stewart is a banjo, guitar and fiddle teacher from Sussex, widely recognised as one of the top Old Time banjo players in the UK. Dave Arthur is a musician, writer and storyteller. For many years he was a regular writer, researcher and presenter for BBC radio and television on folksong and folklore.
Widely regarded as two of the best players and innovators in traditional folk amongst a precociously gifted generation, Moore & Moss’ finely-crafted arrangements wield a rare potency. Now, having toured with with some of the biggest and brightest acts in the British folk scene, they reconvene to perform as duo. The distinct pulse and intuition of trad-music haunts their playing as they continue to quietly reconsider English instrumental music, listening and responding to the world around them as much as their musical ancestors.
Cohen has been a musician since the age of 6, took to squeezeboxes in his teens, and has since developed into a fine player of both the melodeon and anglo concertina. Cohen is also a well-regarded singer, and in 2014 won Bromyard Folk Festival's Future of Young Folk Award. He's been to the festival previously with his band Granny's Attic, and we're pleased to welcome him back in his own right.
Kadialy was born in Kolda, Senegal, into a family of Griot ‘dialis’ - oral traditional storytellers from the Mandinka culture. He started to play kora at an early age: a unique, harp-like instrument with 21 strings, it is played in a style similar to Flamenco guitar. The effect is beautifully hypnotic, and is accompanied by solo voice. Since his arrival in the UK, Kadialy has enriched the London musical scene with his Griot legacy. As a Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS University of London for the last decade he has taught the kora to UK students, alongside his involvement in countless projects both as a collaborator and session musician.
Sara Grey and her son, Kieron Means, play authentic American traditional music. Old-time ballads, cowboy songs and Primitive Methodist hymns are all delivered with warmth and understated passion. Sara's unique frailing banjo style and Kieron's blues-inflected guitar are in perfect harmony, and this instinctive family symbiosis is what sets them apart.
Sam is a fiddler, guitar player and student on the Newcastle University folk music degree, who is already winning a following for his gorgeous interpretations of traditional songs.
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