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First look: Folk East's updated line-up 2019

PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:01 19 March 2019

FolkEast 2018 - jellyfish parade. Photo:John Heald

FolkEast 2018 - jellyfish parade. Photo:John Heald

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Folk East continues to grow in size and sature as one of the most eclectic folk festivals in the country. Arts editor Andrew Clarke takes a look at this year's tempting bill of fare

Cara Dillon is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Matt AustinCara Dillon is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Matt Austin

One of the UK’s most highly regarded (and most easterly) folk music festivals has unveiled more top names for its 2019 line-up.

Now in its seventh year, FolkEast is one of the most distinctive festivals to be found on the summer calendar. Set in the glorious grounds of Suffolk’s 16th century Glemham Hall, the roots music festival runs from August 16-18 and has announced 17 more main stages acts for this year’s event.

Legendary headliner Richard Thompson had all ready been announced but now he has been joined by a host of other great names.

Richard Thompson is one of the headline acts at this year's Folk East festival Photo: Folk EastRichard Thompson is one of the headline acts at this year's Folk East festival Photo: Folk East

The new acts on the bill range from some of UK folk’s national treasures to some of the most exciting new kids on the block; numerous BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners and notable overseas acts from Canada and Poland.

They join an already outstanding line-up from across Great Britain, spearheaded by the legendary singer songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson, Cara Dillon & friends, the Karine Polwart Trio, John Smith, Calan, Sharon Shannon Band and Ross Ainslie, Jarlath Henderson and Ali Hutton.

Blair Dunlop, one of the most exciting and gifted young singer songwriters on the scene will make his first appearance at FolkEast.

Karine Polwart is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019  Photo: Paul HeartfieldKarine Polwart is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Paul Heartfield

Blair won the Horizon award for Best Emerging Act at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and now has four acclaimed albums to his name, the latest being last year’s release Notes from an Island.

The strong female presence at the festival will include Daphne’s Flight, featuring five of the most highly regarded vocalists, instrumentalists and songwriters in the Brit folk-roots scene – Christine Collister, Melanie Harrold, Julie Matthews, Helen Watson and Chris While.

Another all-female line-up will come from Canada. The Good Lovelies are a feted folk/country harmony trio of Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore who won a Juno Award for their 2010 self-titled album and whose latest 2018 album Shapeshifters has seen them merge more into mainstream.

Siobhan Miller  is one of the headline acts at this year's Folk East festival Photo: Folk EastSiobhan Miller is one of the headline acts at this year's Folk East festival Photo: Folk East

Last year was quite a year for Siobhan Miller, ‘one of the finest young voices on the Scottish folk scene’. Renowned for her unique vocal style paired with her evocative song-writing, Miller released here latest album Mercury and won the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Traditional Track, whilst also nominated for Folk Singer of the Year, and is the only ever three-time winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards. Siobhan will be bringing her band line-up to Suffolk.

The diverse performers will be spread across seven stages and will also include Sheffield-based husband and wife duos Nancy Kerr & James Fagan and Richard & Jess Arrowsmith who will also merge their talents in the acclaimed Melrose Quartet. Nancy and James are twice winners of ‘Best Duo’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards whilst Nancy was named Folk Singer of the Year at the 2015 Awards.

Getting the joint jumping will be the foot-stomping folk tunes of South West quintet Sheelanagig – from furious dance medleys to intriguing original compositions; York’s high energy six piece folk-rock favourites Blackbeard’s Tea Party and the blue-coated, wave-making rock band from Leeds, Hope and Social.

Sharon Shannon  is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk EastSharon Shannon is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk East

There will be a special event on Sunday with The Pitmen Poets, four of the North-East’s giants of folk music, championing the musical and industrial heritage of their home land. The Pitmen Poets features County Durham’s prolific and celebrated singer songwriter Jez Lowe, ex Lindisfarne member Billy Mitchell, renowned singer/instrumentalist Bob Fox and Benny Graham, leading exponent of Tyneside song.

A show that digs deep into the heart of Britain’s coalmining tradition, it has been described as “an epic journey through the life and times of people who made a living in Northumberland and Durham’s coalfields.” Illustrated by atmospheric archive photography, it mixes storytelling and song, humour and pathos, triumph and tragedy.

Also confirmed for the main stages are State of the Nation, an act combining the mercurial talents of Boo Hewerdine with acclaimed American blues guitarist Brooks Williams, showing influences from Willie Nelson to Johnny Cash.

Daphne's Flight is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk EastDaphne's Flight is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk East

From Poland comes the acapella group Brasy while eclectic five-piece indie folk band Patch and the Giant have also been announced.

Grant Baynham, former presenter of TV’s ’That’s Life’, will bring his witty and topical songs to the festival while “superior fingerstyle guitar master” Adrian Nation hops across to Suffolk from his Essex base.

A new discovery with a stand-out voice is young singer songwriter Kathryn Priddy whose debut album Wolf made waves last year while Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, nominated for the 2018 Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will showcase his melodeon and concertina skills when he appears alongside guitarist George Sansome and fiddle and mandolin player Lewis Wood in the feisty young trio Granny’s Attic.

John Smith  is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk EastJohn Smith is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk East

The main stages have been programmed for the first time by Michael Hughes, from The Young’uns, who are festival patrons.

With its ever present mythical emblem The Jackalope, it offers a refreshingly different line-up across its seven stages (including the ‘Sanctuary’ stage at St Andrew’s Church, the open air Sunset Stage and the hidden woodland solar-powered Soapbox Stage), with two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving competitively-priced ales (including Suffolk-based Green Jack Brewery’s festival ale Green Jackalope) plus possibly the smallest pub in the UK, the 6 x 4’ Halfway Inn.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, Instrumental, bringing together some of the country’s top instruments makers, a packed dance programme, archery, donkey rides, children’s activities (including den building, storybook making and a mud kitchen linked together in a special new children’s trail) yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by estate owner Major Philip Cobbold.

Youngsters making art at Folk East Photo: Folk EastYoungsters making art at Folk East Photo: Folk East

Advance weekend tickets are available price £120 (adult), £108 (full time students, 65+) and £80 for Youth tickets (12-17 year old) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds are £365.

A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping under canvas is £20 and camping on wheels £30. More information: info@folkeast.co.uk

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