East: Martin & Eliza Carthy with special guests


Featuring Sheema Mukherjee, Barney Morse Brown and dancer Ewan Wardrop, East is a new project brought to us by Martin and Eliza Carthy. It celebrates tunes and songs from the East of England, as well as extending further East via Sheema's sitar-playing and arrangements.

Sheema, Eliza, Martin and Barney all played together in the Imagined Village - we can't wait to see them on stage together again, lifted and complemented by Ewan's masterful step dancing.

Peggy Seeger


Peggy Seeger is totally unique. Sister of Pete Seeger and partner of the late Ewan MacColl, she has carved a special niche for herself in both the UK and America. Her experience spans 55 years of performing, travel and songwriting. She'll sing an unaccompanied traditional ballad, follow it with a tall tale about a circus high-diver, then launch into a topical song about drugs, war, hormones, politicians, unions, women, love or ecology. A multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, 5-string banjo, autoharp, English concertina and Appalachian dulcimer), she is probably best known for her feminist songs (such as Gonna Be an Engineer) and for The Ballad of Springhill, which latter is rapidly becoming regarded as a traditional song.

Her concerts are informative, entertaining and skillful, full of sly humour. Come prepared to sing along.

See Special Events for details on In Conversation: Peggy Seeger and Sandra Kerr.

Chris Wood


Chris Wood's songwriting is permeated with love and wry intelligence, uplifting and challenging as he celebrates the sheer one-thing-after-anotherness of life. Winner of 6 BBC Folk Awards, he’s played with The Royal Shakespeare Company and was a key member of The Imagined Village along with Billy Bragg and Martin Carthy. A wise and soulful craftsman, his concerts are a cliche-free zone.

Grace Petrie


One of the most potent, articulate, perceptive songwriters to emerge in decades, Grace Petrie is deservedly making a huge impact on the UK music scene. Recently she's done a stadium tour opening for Frank Turner, and regularly collaborates with the likes of Robin Ince, Josie Long, and feminist folk collective The Coven. She has gained an ardent fanbase for her songs of protest, love and passion, and has being likened to a young Billy Bragg. With bags of wit and charm, her live shows are a joy.



RURA are a multi award-winning act and one of Scotland’s most sought-after folk-based bands. With two heralded albums, a third due for release in June 2018, and extensive international touring, RURA affirm their position as one of Scotland’s leading groups.

Their exquisitely rugged yet refined blend of fiddle, Highland pipes, flute, bodhran and guitar has won a devoted following in many corners of the globe, amongst audiences and critics alike. Performances are skilful, dynamic and utterly exhilarating.

The Wilsons

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Hartlepool Folk Festival wouldn't be complete without our marvellous patrons. The Wilsons are the pride of Teesside song, and their powerful voices and rich family harmonies are unparalleled anywhere in Britain. They are, of course, absolutely hilarious as well. They will be about all weekend, keeping an eye on things and maybe even taking the odd soft drink during our pub singing sessions.

John Hegley

Friday, Saturday

Writer and performer John Hegley has been described as the Spike Milligan for our time, and as 'awesomely mundane' by The Independent. His chaotic comedy, rapport with an audience, and his hilarious struggle with words as they threaten to twist and turn out of his grasp make him a superb live performer. He brings his skilled wordsmithery to his own songs, which he will be performing at the festival alongside fiddler Eleanor Moreton. He is also part of our special commission, Your Affectionate Son.

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan


Outstanding musicianship, a lifelong grounding in traditional singing and instrumental playing, acclaimed original compositions, but most noticeably a visceral chemistry between these two make Kerr and Fagan a perennial favourite at festivals, venues and clubs across the country. They met in December 1995, and formed the duo and life partnership that has become the backbone of their professional career in music ever since.

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman


Duos come and go…some nurture and fine-tune their art, and watch it grow into something totally original, captivating and award-winning. Bonded by an intuitive alchemy, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have blended their professional and personal relationship into an enviable partnership of imaginative songwriting and musicianship.

The Dartmoor-based husband and wife have twice won the coveted Best Duo title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (2016 and 2013), consistently delivering assured, distinctive performances. They are an absolutely magnetic live act: we've been wanting to bring them to Hartlepool since our first festival in 2015, so we're delighted to have them with us this year.

The JigDoll Ensemble


In 2015, Hannah James introduced her one-woman show, JigDoll, which had a preview performance at the first Hartlepool Folk Festival. This innovative debut reinvented the notion of solo performance by combining all James’ disciplines simultaneously for an immersive, unforgettable song and dance experience.

Now, the JigDoll Ensemble sees Hannah's original concept enhanced by three masters of their instrument: percussionist András Des (Hungary), fiddle player Kate Young (Scotland), and bassist Marti Tarn (Estonia) perfectly articulate her visionary ideas for song, music and dance. We think Hannah is one of the most exciting and innovative artists working on the UK folk scene, and we're delighted to present this next stage of her creative journey.

Rowan Rheingans: Dispatches on the Red Dress


Dispatches on the Red Dress is an intimate and adventurous exploration of memory, identity, joy, sorrow, bird-song, war and waltzes. Unravelling the urgent message hidden in the folds of a story from her own grandmother’s youth in 1940's Germany, award-winning musician Rowan Rheingans sings to the past, the present and the future in this unique and deeply personal one-woman show. At once a warm family memoir and an unnerving elegy, Rowan explores how hope may be found in the very darkest pockets of history. Weaving storytelling and song with fiddles, banjo and guitar, live looping and subtle use of pre-recorded sounds, Rowan brings the intimacy of a folk gig to the imaginative possibilities of theatre in this poignant reflection on human empathy and small acts of transformation.

Hartlepool Folk Festival is very proud to have worked with Rowan to achieve the funding which brought her debut solo project to life. Dispatches on the Red Dress is supported by PRS Foundation, Arts Council England and the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Jackie Oates

Friday, Saturday

Jackie Oates is a singer and fiddle player hailing from Staffordshire. Her unique treatment of English ballads and songs, and pure, haunting singing style has established her at the forefront of the new English Folk revival. Since appearing as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2003, Jackie has performed extensively at festivals and venues across the country and beyond.

Will Pound & Eddy Jay


'One of the most breathtaking live acts I’ve ever witnessed; The wild man of the accordion EJ and harmonica whizzkid WP creating sounds you just wouldn’t credit coming out of those instruments.'
Tom Robinson, BBC6 (June 2017)

Triple BBC Folk Award nominee Will Pound & Accordion master Eddy Jay create a completely unique sound. Will Pound is one of the finest harmonica players of his generation, whose innovative style pushes the boundaries of his instrument and the folk genre. Three-time nominee for BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician Of The Year, and known for his inventive arrangements and outstanding solos, Will has performed with musicians as diverse as Martin Simpson, Concerto Caledonia, Michelle Burke and Guy Chambers. Eddy Jay is a real master of the accordion with the ability to turn it into an orchestra at his fingertips.

Robb Johnson

Friday, Saturday

Robb Johnson is simply a brilliant songwriter. He has a talent for capturing small, important stories that resonate right to the hearts of his audience. He has played pubs, clubs, pavements, pickets & benefits, festivals, BBC Radio 3 & 4, Belgian Radio 1, Nicaraguan TV & Channel 4. In February 2006 Robb appeared at the Barbican as part of the prestigious BBC “Folk Britannia” series, where, for the encore, he led all the artists (and the audience) in the World War I song ‘Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire’. Indeed, the album Gentle Men features beautiful and powerful musical portraits of his two grandfathers and their experiences in the First World War. The last time Rob was here in Hartlepool, he wrote an incredible song inspired by Hartlepool called The Wrong Monkey, which featured on his most recent album, Songs from the Last Seven Years.

We're delighted to have Robb back with us, and that he has written a whole new suite of songs for our commissioned show, Your Affectionate Son.

Damien Barber & Tony Hall


In 2019, Damien Barber is celebrating 30 years as a professional folk musician. We thought we'd take an opportunity to invite him to play with an old musical mate and fellow Norfolk legend, Tony Hall.

Tony Hall is a true one-off. He's a melodeon player with a distinctive, quintessentially English style, who played on Nic Jones' iconic album Penguin Eggs. His sets are laid-back affairs, interspersed with his dry, rather surreal humour. We're really looking forward to seeing Damien and Tony sharing the stage.

The Road to Peterloo


Ballads & Broadsides from the Radical North West

‘The Road to Peterloo’ tells the story of one of the most notorious incidents in British labour history – the ‘Peterloo Massacre’ in Manchester in 1819 – through some of the many broadside ballads that were printed around the time of the event. Three singers and musicians from North West England – Pete Coe, Brian Peters and Laura Smyth – trace the story from its roots in the poverty and hunger suffered by handloom weavers in the early 19th century. Laura, Brian and Pete present a trove of freshly-discovered material. Between them they offer three fine voices and instrumental skills on concertina, melodeon, bouzouki, guitar, cello and banjo, along with period dance music from the Manchester area.

Tom McConville & Tony Wilson


Award-winning fiddle player and singer Tom McConville, BBC Folk Musician of the Year 2009, is internationally renowned for his fiery, heart-stopping performances; from fast rhythmic dance tunes through beautiful slow airs and of course great singing - all presented with his inimitable sense of humour and style. Tony Wilson has toured the world as a singer, banjo, guitarist and ukulele player, as well as a first-class storyteller. As a duo Tom and Tony present an entertaining, rich and varied collection of music and song to display a refreshingly dynamic and unique take on folk music old and new.

The Davenport Family

Saturday, Sunday

All northerners by birth, Paul & Liz from Hull, Amy from Liverpool and Gavin from South Yorkshire, their voices all reflect their origins, strong but not strident, holding distinct individuality whilst blending in the way that only family voices can.

Jim Moray’s Never Mind the Bandoggs


Our panel quiz has become a highlight of the festival. Jim Moray will be giving silly things to do to a host of folk luminaries. Some will be set to music. Some will be very embarrassing. All will be very funny.

John Conolly

Saturday, Sunday

John has been a presence on the British folk scene since the folk revival in the early '60s. He's written many songs which have been absorbed into the folk canon, most famously Fiddler's Green - often assumed to be traditional, and covered by everyone from the Dubliners to the Clancy Brothers to Tim Hart and Maddy Prior. More recently, John has broadened the subject-matter of his writing - he has written tender love songs, hard-hitting political protests, and outrageously funny ditties which he describes as his "Saucy Postcard Collection" - the latter are sure to make an appearance at our Kiss Me Quick seaside cabaret!

Bagpuss: The Songs and Music


With Sandra Kerr, John Faulkner, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan

Put on your Charlie Mouse mask and prepare to be transported to the world of everyone's favourite saggy cloth cat. In the original TV series, Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner provided the voices for Madeline the Ragdoll, Gabriel the Toad and the cheeky mice - as well as writing and performing the show's unforgettable music. Joined by Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Sandra and John will take you back to some of your favourite Bagpuss stories and songs - be prepared to sing along!

A wonderful teatime family show, with free milk and biscuits for little ones! Tickets for children under 12 are free.

Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner


A rare duo gig from the pair responsible for the music of Bagpuss, but here in their context as folk musicians playing music for grownups! John lives in Ireland and doesn't come to Britain very frequently, so this opportunity to see them live will be a real treat.

Luke Daniels

Friday, Saturday

Luke Daniels is a BBC award-winning folk musician who has performed with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Cara Dillon and De Dannan. His 2015 album of melodeon music transcribed from early wax cylinders and 78s was described in the Scotsman as “outstanding.” A soloist on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit soundtracks, he performed at the Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. His commissioned work for the PRS for Music New Music Biennial in 2014 was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from London’s Barbican Centre and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. He recently sang and played live for Mark Radcliffe on his BBC Radio 2 folk programme, and was described by Mark as a “master melodeon player.”

Luke is joining us for Your Affectionate Son, for which he has also composed an original song.

Nick Hart


Nick Hart is a folk singer and musician deeply rooted in the English tradition. His repertoire is made up largely of songs from his native East Anglia, which are presented simply, with minimal guitar accompaniment and a great emphasis on storytelling. In May of this year he releases his new album, Nick Hart Sings Nine English Folk Songs. Recorded by Tom Moore over five days in October, in a portable studio set up in a house in the Norfolk countryside, all the tracks were recorded completely live, allowing nuances of timing and metre to shine through and the subtle interplay between voices and instruments to come to the fore.

Nick was hugely popular at last year's festival - who will ever forget his turn as Concertina Turner in the Eyes Down Cabaret? - so we've brought him back because he's not only incredibly talented, he's ridiculously good fun.

Iona Fyfe


Aberdeenshire folksinger Iona Fyfe has become one of Scotland’s finest young ballad singers, rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland. At twenty-one years old, Iona has established a strong sense of place in her repertoire and is the current Scots Singer of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards. A finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Iona has been described as “one of the best that Scotland has to offer.”


Saturday, Sunday

Landless are Ruth Clinton, Meabh Meir, Sinead Lynch and Lily Power. They sing unaccompanied traditional songs from Irish, Scottish, English and American traditions in close four part harmony. Their repertoire features songs of love, death and lamentation, as well as work songs, shape-note hymns and more recently penned folk songs. Landless have performed in a variety of settings, both in Ireland and abroad, and are closely involved with traditional singing sessions in Dublin and Belfast. A favourite last year, we're pleased to bring them back.


Saturday, Sunday

Always a joy to encounter at a festival, Wyndebagge (Paul Saunders) entertains audiences with musical mastery and dry good humour. At Hartlepool this year, he is changing up his usual medieval mischief, and joins us in his guise as a Victorian travelling entertainer. His brightly-painted barrow contains all sorts of musical delights, as well as a gaggle of fabulous jig dolls just waiting to delight you.

Baldrick’s Plan

Saturday, Sunday

Baldrick's Plan are a male trio, specialising in strong harmony singing, largely based within English traditional music, but also including songs, ancient and modern, from other backgrounds and traditions. They are based in West Cornwall and are all seasoned performers on the folk music scene.

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