Sidmouth FolkWeek director casts his eyes over the programme

folk week

folk week - Credit: Archant

Welcome to another Sidmouth FolkWeek, in which cracking headliners such as Seth Lakeman, Oysterband and Dervish rub shoulders with some talented up-and-coming stars and some great one-off events only to be found at this special event. The 700-plus programme offers you a chance to dig deeper, beyond the major concert names, to find some real hidden gems!

Sidmouth seafront during FolkWeek.

Sidmouth seafront during FolkWeek. - Credit: Archant

The Manor Pavilion plays host to a fantastic range of special shows throughout the week. Check out the original fusion of music and puppetry on offer in Theatre Ballads on Sunday; a community-focused film and music event on Monday afternoon with a live film soundtrack from Highlanders Duncan Chisholm and Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail and a rousing performance from the local Sea Fest Community Choir to introduce the Working the Sea film about local fishing family, the Bagwells; an English Concert Party Variety Night (Monday); a Stories and Ballads night with Martin Carthy, Hugh Lupton, Ursula Holden Gill, Siobhan Miller (Tuesday); a No Voices Concert, an evening of instrumental music with Leveret and Purcell’s Polyphonic Party (Wednesday); No Petticoats Here sees Louise Jordan telling the stories of remarkable women of the First World War, recognising their extraordinary and inspirational achievements in many spheres, through song (Thursday) and a brilliant finale tribute to trad. Irish singer Margaret Barry, She Moved Through The Fair (Friday).

Other hidden treasure during the week includes the poignant collaboration between writer George Monbiot and Scottish singer Ewan McLennan in Breaking the Spell Of Loneliness on Monday afternoon at The Ham. World traditions are represented in many ways with popular return from La Bottine Souriante front man Yves Lambert and his trio, and warm first-time welcomes to Senegalese Baye Fall singer Batch Gueye, exquisite kora player Seckou Keita, appearing with Welsh master harpist Catrin Finch, and new voice and English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) bursary recipient, Haitian singer Germa Adan.

Some great new introductions to Sidmouth include the mighty young Scottish firebrands Ímar, punk poet Attila The Stockbroker, the social issue songwriting pairing of Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, Folk Awards winner Daoiri Farrell, Highland piper Brighde Chaimbeul and innovative and original young trios Savage Prunes and Alden Patterson & Dashwood. Renowned US dance caller Bob Isaacs makes his Sidmouth debut and there are welcome returns for dance caller Mike Barraclough and from the old friends of Sidmouth, Roy Bailey, Chris Foster, Sara Grey and Florida amongst others.

And the range and appeal of events remains as diverse as ever. At one end of the spectrum is innovation, with new Open Mics for young performers at Betsy’s Lounge at The Bulverton and some amazing leftfield performer like Slow Moving Clouds, United Bible Studies and Sharron Kraus in the Cellarful Of Folkadelia sessions. At the other is a commitment to grass roots tradition, with sessions with traditional singers and musicians Alvar Smith, Thomas McCarthy, Viv Legg, Bryan O’Leary and more.

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And atmosphere galore is provided by the cream of UK dance teams, brought together by Chris Cook, dancing in the streets and along the Esplanade, in the designated areas, as well as the ever-popular John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition. And look out for the many wondrous beasties entering the second-ever Sidmouth Horse Trials, all competing for the amazing Aardman Award on Sunday.

Whatever your interests, we know there is something with your name on it in the programme! Have a great week.

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Alan Bearman, Artistic Director

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