One of the absolute revelations of the current folk scene, Lankum (formerly Lynched) are a four-piece traditional folk group from Dublin, Ireland, who combine distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar. Their repertoire spans Dublin music-hall and street-songs, classic ballads from the Traveller tradition, traditional Irish and American dance tunes, and their own original material. With a raw, uncompromising style, Lankum breathe new life and integrity into the tradition.
"There is folk that wants to whisper in your ear, and then there is the music of Lankum: urgent, desperate and detonating, full of lyrics and sounds smacking together like waves shattering stones in a storm." - The Guardian
Take a group of the hottest contemporary fiddle players from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, mix with some wonderfully sympathetic piano and guitar arrangements and you’ve got the award winning Blazin’ Fiddles on your hands. Like rare single malts, each member of Blazin’ Fiddles draws the distinct flavour of music from their part of the Highlands and Islands. Blending solo and ensemble sets, aged with the occasional insightful tale, they all come together in a fiery blend to excite your senses.
Featuring Bruce MacGregor, Jenna Reid, Rua Macmillan, Kristan Harvey, Anna Massie and Angus Lyon
Based in the traditional music of Great Britain, False Lights have transcended their original aim to make ‘folk-rock for the 21st century’ to become one of England’s most exhilerating acts. Their first album, Salvor, gained five star reviews, a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nomination for best album, and copious airplay on BBC Radio2, 6Music and beyond. Now they return with Harmonograph, an even more ambitious and charged set of traditional songs.
Sam Carter and Jim Moray, the band's originators, are joined by virtuoso melodeon and fiddle duo Tom Moore and Archie Churchill-Moss (of Moore Moss Rutter), dub-tinged bassist Barnaby Stradling (Eliza Carthy, Blowzabella) and drummer Stuart Provan (Luke Sital-Singh); together, they make old words and tunes resonate in a modern world. False Lights are anything but retro, folk-rock but never nostalgic.
Kathryn Tickell joins us for her first visit to Hartlepool Folk Festival. She is widely acclaimed as one of the foremost exponents of the Northumbrian pipes, as well as a composer, performer, educator and and recording artist whose work is deeply rooted in the landscape and people of the North East. She has released 15 of her own albums to date and has also recorded and performed with Sting, The Chieftains, Penguin Café Orchestra, Jon Lord, Evelyn Glennie, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta and many others. In 2015 she was awarded the OBE for services to folk music.
Kathryn will perform in the Bishoprick Garland, as well as in concert with accordion player and clog dancer Amy Thatcher. Evocative slow airs that could break your heart move seamlessly into rapid-fire jigs and reels, with Amy’s clog steps providing a joyous percussive element. A very special concert is in store with this sparkling duo.
WINNERS OF THE BBC SCOTS TRAD MUSIC AWARDS ‘ALBUM OF THE YEAR’ 2017; Nominees for BBC Folk Awards Best Band 2018
2017 has been a remarkable year for Elephant Sessions. The band who hail from the Highlands of Scotland and who met at the Newcastle University Folk degree have exploded onto the indie folk scene with unparalleled effect.
The release of their award winning album ‘All We Have is Now’ in June of this year, was followed by live appearances at some of Europe’s most notable festivals. Audiences crowd surfed their way through the summer and marquee floors broke under the weight of bouncing fans.
‘The versatility of Elephant Sessions is its strength. Passionate about their culture and their origins, these Scots are using their instruments like weapons to destroy clichés. ...We love them’ – Rolling Stone Magazine
From Billingham, Teesside, the vocal powerhouse that is The Wilson Family has been singing the songs of the region in inimitable a capella style for more than 40 years. Showcasing family harmonies and razor-sharp North East humour, they have sung everywhere from the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall to the New York Public Theater, where they were hand-picked by Sting to appear in his production The Last Ship.
We are honoured that the Wilsons are our Festival Patrons; wherever they go, they fly the flag for Hartlepool Folk Festival.
From deep roots in their hometown’s vibrant music, song and dance scene, to smashing concert appearances in the UK and abroad, Sheffield-based Melrose Quartet (Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, and Richard & Jess Arrowsmith) have attracted a reputation for making music that truly connects with people. All four are internationally renowned singers, instrumentalists, writer/composers and teachers. In concert, Melrose Quartet perform a diverse repertoire – carousing chorus songs, lively dance tunes, ancient stories and modern pieces. This is music for everybody.
The mighty vocal tsunami of the North East meets the full force of Sheffield acoustic harmony - head on! The Melsons is one of those occasional, almost mythical musical happenings which was requested by both bands - how could we refuse? And in true Wilsons/Melrose spirit, it will happen in a pub, so space will be limited. Though we expect you'll be able to hear them all the way to Stockton...
Edgelarks are BBC Folk Award-winning duo (and 2018 nominees) Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. British traditional music, ethereal vocals, Indian classical slide guitar and a stomping-roots-beatbox-harmonica party combine for an utterly magical live experience.
Nominated for Musician of the Year at the BBC Folk Awards 2018, and a previous winner in the Musician of the Year and Best Duo categories, Tim is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. He has toured the world and recorded with most of the major names in Celtic/contemporary roots music including the Chieftains, Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Natalie MacMaster, Altan, Stockton’s Wing, Capercaillie, Brendan Power, Michael McGoldrick, Seamus Begley, Dougie Maclean, Julie Fowlis and Frankie Gavin to name but a few. His live performances are extraordinary.
We're delighted that, in addition to performing, he'll be giving an instrumental masterclass at this year's festival.
For more than 50 years, Roy Bailey has been one of the UK Folk & Acoustic scene’s most loved and admired performers. Approaching 80 years of age, Roy remains committed to his life-long principles of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Internationalism. He is a member of the current Anti-Capitalist Roadshow along with many of this country's leading and respected socialist folk singers and song writers.
Jim has been a staple on the folk scene since releasing his first album, Sweet England, in 2001. He's become a familiar face at HFF, not least because of his hugely popular panel game 'Never Mind the Bandoggs'. This year, for the first time, he's joining us as a performer in our centrepiece production, 'A Bishopric Garland'. He'll also be playing with his band, False Lights.
Described as ‘the finest English-style finger-picking guitarist of his generation’ by Jon Boden, Sam has toured the world, equally happy to perform intimate solo shows on acoustic guitar, on electric with a full band, or to collaborate with other artists. Recent collaborations have included Sweet Liberties, an EFDSS and Folk By the Oak joint-funded project, a trip to Pakistan to work with revered South Asian classical musicians Sajid Hussain and Haroon Samuel; an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show playing songs cowritten with Zimbabwean musician and former refugee Lucky Moyo; and, closer to home, as part of the all-star tribute tour The Lady: A Homage To Sandy Denny.
Sam continues to break new ground in his work with Jim Moray in False Lights, a band with the stated aim of updating the template of folk rock and making a joyful racket.
Julie Murphy is a singer songwriter and member of Welsh folk innovators Fernhill. Her remarkable voice, spectrally beautiful one moment and darkly rich the next, has led to collaborations with John Cale and Robert Plant and to TIME OUT declaring her a ’must see, must hear singer’. In 2016 she released her fourth solo album, EVERY BIRD THAT FLIES, receiving airplay from across the BBC. The album was included in the MOJO Top Ten folk albums of 2016 and was a fROOTS magazine critics choice album.
"Like Julie Fowlis in Scotland and Eliza Carthy in England, Murphy should be recognised not just as one of the foremost interpreters of Welsh traditional music but as one of the most important voices in British folk." - The Guardian
"Every now and then I’ve been fortunate enough to come across an album which, in that too-brief moment of listening, time seems to stand still. Julie Murphy’s Every bird that flies is one such album; a record of such quiet beauty it takes your breath away." - Folk Radio UK
One of the most exhilarating bands to come out of Newcastle in recent years, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra present a unique take on American country blues and ragtime hokum - what they refer to as "North Eastern swing". With knowing lyrics that occasionally touch on political themes, and influences ranging from from Bob Wills to Django Reinhardt, George Jones to Cab Calloway, you can expect a jumpin' hot good time!
Two of Scotland’s most revered multi-instrumentalists, Mairearad Green (accordion and bagpipes) and Anna Massie (guitar, banjo, fiddle) are a truly captivating duo, providing a highly energetic performance with an instantly warm and friendly stage presence.
Jess and Richard Arrowsmith are singers and musicians (fiddle & melodeon) well established in the traditional English music scene. They bring you powerful vocals, subtle accompaniments, lively tunes and a broad range of material that will have you laughing, weeping, tapping your feet and joining in the choruses. Jess’s self-penned songs have been performed and recorded by a range of other artists and are entering the tradition in their own right. Jess & Richard’s project in conjunction with James Fagan & Nancy Kerr, the Melrose Quartet, earned them a nomination for “Best Group” at the 2014 BBC Folk Awards. Other projects past & present include Hekety, Glorystrokes, Crucible and Pecsaetan.
Thomas McCarthy is a particularly fine singer and storyteller. From an Irish Traveller background, his repertoire is genuinely unique, drawn mostly from his own family's treasure trove of songs. His singing style is like nothing you've ever heard, rich with ornamentation. His performances are engaging and utterly compelling.
Jean, Tom and Ashley Orchard are English Gypsy musicians from North Devon. Tom and Ashley play the accordion, Jean is a singer (her mother was Amy Birch) and Tom step-dances in the traditional style. Their music is wide-ranging and very accessible.
Sandra has had a long and distinguished career in folk music since her days with Ewan MacColl’s Critics Group. Well known as the co-writer, with John Faulkner, of the music for "Bagpuss" (as well as being the voice of Madeleine the Ragdoll), she also directs folk choirs including the popular and award-winning Northumbrian Choir Werca’s Folk, who are also visiting the festival. She is an adept multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, dulcimer, autoharp and the English concertina. She's also one of the loveliest people in folk music, and we're delighted to welcome her back to the festival.
One of the North East's finest and best-loved musicians, Alistair joins us for our special event, the Bishoprick Garland.
Devised and performed by Brian Peters
When emigrants left 18th century Britain and settled in the New World, they took with them their songs, which survived tenaciously in remote mountain communities. One hundred years ago English songhunters Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles ventured into the heart of the Southern Appalachians, and there noted down sixteen hundred old ballads, ditties and fiddle tunes - one of the greatest folk collections ever made.
Brian Peters tells the story of the hardships and the triumphs of their heroic quest in music, song, words and images – the photographs of singers Sharp himself took. Brian accompanies himself on guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin.
"Combining true mastery of the material with a rare degree of erudition concerning the folksong tradition... a delightfully varied performance, as entertaining as any concert and as fascinating as any history book."
Steven Winick, The Library of Congress, Washington DC
A singer with one of the finest voices around, and a passion for the songs of his native North East, Benny served his musical apprenticeship in the region's folksong clubs of the 60s. During the intervening years has gathered together a veritable wealth of songs and reminiscences, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other artists.
Benny appeared at the first Hartlepool Folk Festival in our Come All Ye Bold Miners show. We're delighted to welcome him back for the Bishoprick Garland, and for other performances during the festival.
As one of the content advisors for the Farne Archive, the seminal digital collection of the songs of the North East, Jonny was an obvious choice for the Bishoprick Garland. A key figure in the region’s folk revival of the 1950s and ’60s, we're delighted that he'll be bringing his knowledge and talents to the show.
Brian Peters is one of the English folk scene’s great all-rounders: a compelling singer of traditional songs and a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist proficient on anglo concertina, melodeon, guitar and banjo. He tours internationally, and his special presentations on the Child Ballads and Cecil Sharp’s Appalachian collection have won great acclaim, from Celtic Connections to the US Library of Congress.
In addition to performing, Brian will present a talk on the English roots of many Appalachian songs. Appalachian folk music is often assumed to have ‘Scots-Irish' roots. In this talk Brian Peters highlights the huge English influence on the mountain singing tradition, using modern historical analysis of the 18th century migration from the British Isles, and analysing the songs themselves, with the aid of fascinating archive recordings.
The Doyle Family are a force of nature: the 9 children play a range of instruments including banjo, uillean pipes, low whistle, button accordion, fiddle and tin whistle. Taught in the Traveller music style by their father, Simon, a piper, who in his youth played alongside Michael McGoldrick, it's a delight to watch them playing together.
Norwich based folk/Americana trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood weave fiddle, dobro, guitar and mandolin around beautifully written original songs and melodies, along with some of the finest harmonies you'll hear anywhere. Their music takes influence from folk traditions from both sides of the Atlantic, with uplifting instrumentals and self-penned songs depicting tales of young travellers, sleepy seas and their affection for home.
Tom Moore (Viola) and Archie Churchill-Moss (Accordion) create new compositions and devised improvisations with roots in local folk tune traditions. Two of the most assured instrumentalists of their generation, and members of acclaimed trio Moore, Moss and Rutter, their aim is to challenge the usual writing and arranging process in an attempt to find an English trad sound for the modern listener.
Kitty Macfarlane is a Somerset-based singer and songwriter. Her lyrics combine honest snapshots of everyday humanity with the bigger questions that have connected minds and voices for centuries, driven by her own fingerpicked guitar. Her debut EP Tide & Time features Sam Kelly (co-producer), Jamie Francis, Lukas Drinkwater, Maya McCourt and Ciaran Algar.
Ursula is a one woman tour de force; award-winning storyteller, comedienne, performer and educator. She started life as an actor (you may remember her from Emmerdale or Teachers!) but in more recent years has established herself as a unique and pertinent talent on the British storytelling scene. From her beautifully characterised adaptations of traditional folk and fairy tales to her signature streetwise, savvy, self – penned originals, Ursula can make you laugh and cry, think, reflect and roar again, all in the space of half an hour...a shape–shifting scallywag who is truly one to watch!
We're delighted that Ursula will be taking on some of the epic stories in the Bishoprick Garland, as well as performing over the weekend.
With a passionate strong voice and strident guitar style, Pete Morton's songs are an unruly mix of humour, politics, love and social comment, wrapping their way around the folk tradition. Many have become folk club standards, and his live performances are a joy.
As a child in Jerusalem, Avital Raz trained as a classical singer. Degrees in composition and vocal performance followed before she relocated to India for six years to study singing in the Dhrupad style, an ancient Hindustani musical form that can be traced back at least as far as the thirteenth century. She is well-versed in the theory and practice of the musical systems of the Middle East, and has recorded in styles as wide-ranging as Indian raga, English folk and cabaret.
Workshop: Indian Raags. Learn about Indian raags, or ragas, beautiful melodic structures which are used to "colour the mind". Each raga invokes a particular emotion associated with seasons, mood, or time of day. Join in with voice or instruments, and experience firsthand this unique method of music-making.
A singer and melodeon player from Essex, Nick has been knocking around the London folk seen for a few years, playing with interesting people, running instrumental lessons in back rooms of pubs, and generally representing a fresh, young take on the grass roots of folk. His debut release, 8 English Folk Songs, is a masterclass in how understatement sometimes masks real skill and talent. He'll be performing, running workshops and leading sessions all weekend.
From acoustic to electronic, Harri Endersby blurs the lines of the folk genre, drawing inspiration from both contemporary and traditional music, as well as the rugged landscape of County Durham, the place that she calls home. Her debut album Homes/Lives, released in February 2017, has impressed critics around the country and she has had tracks played on BBC Radio 6, Radio Scotland, and Radio Wales. At live gigs, Harri is joined by husband Rich, who also plays guitar and percussion.
Bob Knight is a folk/traditional singer based in Aberdeen, Scotland. As well as traditional songs, he also writes new songs in traditional Scottish style, using Scots and Doric. For his own songs he accompanies himself on guitar, but traditional material, for the most part, is sung unaccompanied. He is also an excellent story teller.
Through his mother, Margaret Stewart, Bob is related to all the great Scottish traditional singers of traveller origin.
Werca’s Folk, directed by Sandra Kerr, is a hugely popular choir of women’s voices, based in Morpeth, Northumberland.
Their name derives from ‘Werca’ (from whom the village of Warkworth derived its name and is where Sandra lives) who is described variously as a ‘wild and witchy woman’ and ‘saintly’…very much like the choir, in fact. They are known for their passionate singing of the beautiful songs of their region, and a wide range of folk and contemporary songs which express the joys, hardships and hopes of women of all times.
They sang and appeared on Clare Balding’s C4 documentary ‘Death of a Suffragette’, and again with Clare ( who is their patron) on her R4 series, ‘Ramblings’.
Landless are a traditional Irish vocal group from Dublin & Belfast who sing unaccompanied traditional songs from Ireland, Scotland, England & America in four-part harmony. A glorious live act to behold, their repertoire features songs of love, death and lamentation, as well as work songs, shape-note hymns and more recently-penned folk songs. They have been spellbinding audiences around Ireland, the UK & Europe since 2013 and have just released their achingly beautiful debut album, Bleaching Bones.
As the revivalists of the Greatham Sword Dance, Redcar perform a traditional longsword dance together with its play - much as Cuthbert Sharp described in The Bishoprick Garland in 1834. We're delighted that they will be part our specially commissioned show. On Saturday, they'll give a workshop which discusses how the dance was rediscovered and revived, along with teaching some of the basics of longsword.
Windjammer are a contemporary folk trio, based in Plymouth. They play original material, along with new arrangements of traditional songs and tunes, and sing in three-part harmony. They are: Jake Sonny Rowlinson on vocals, anglo concertina and percussion; Jeremy Bunting on guitar, percussion and vocals; and Fran Rowney on piano accordion, low whistles, piano and vocals.