Blackbeard’s Tea Party

2019 saw Black Beard’s Tea Party making their fifth visit in eight years to Chester Folk Festival. Put simply, they are one of those bands that it’s hard to get enough of. Since they first took the festival by storm in 2011, this wonderful, crazy, eccentric and mightily talented Folk/Rock ensemble has become one of the most requested acts on the festival’s feedback forms. They have also gained a formidable reputation all over the country, regularly playing the biggest festivals and venues, filling concerts and ceilidhs with great sounds, enormous energy, good cheer and sheer fun! Thanks to Simmo’s video wizardry, we are able to present Blackbeard’s again - Dave Boston, Stuart Giddens, Laura Boston-Barber, Martin Coumbe, Liam ‘Yom’ Hardy and Tim Yates are your crew.  Great stuff!

Belshazzar’s Feast

Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin and vocals), “one of folk’s odd couples”, have for nearly 25 years wowed audiences around Europe, The States and Australia, with virtuoso musicianship tempered by wry humour. They ‘play like no-one else you've ever heard. Their music is breath-taking and wickedly inventive and the between-tunes interchange as intelligent and hilarious as the music.’ Belshazzar’s Feast start with traditional English folk music, throw in a bit of pop and classical, sprinkle over a few TV and movie themes, and top it off with lashings of laughs for a unique live experience. Belshazzar’s Feast received a coveted nomination for Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards.

Vicky Swan and Jonny Dyer

Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer have developed a strong reputation for delivering great performances time and time again. Once known mainly for for their instrumental skills with Scottish smallpipes, accordion and Swedish nyckelharpa, they are now being accepted as impressive song arrangers and writers.Vicki & Jonny effortlessly blend traditional material with contemporary interpretations whilst equally creating original self penned tunes and songs that are entirely at home in the tradition. Out of this combination they have developed a sound that is both familiar and fresh.


RPR is a Canadian folk-rock band known for engaging live shows, soaring vocals and huge harmonies, all showcasing the music of this powerhouse band. The line up features Rob and Steve Ritchie, Al Parrish (all former members of Chester favourites Tanglefoot) and Beaker Granger and together they create a memorable experience of arresting music, stories, laughter and reminiscence. Running the spectrum from stirring anthems to whisper-gentle ballads, RPR’s songs evoke joy, tears and laughter with a dynamic tapestry of musical styles that range from folk, rock and blues traditions in unique and refreshing ways. It’s cinematic storytelling from four captivating songwriters.

Virginia Kettle and the Dreamkeepers

Virginia Kettle was both inspired and educated by her formative years spent at Chester's Raven Folk Club, helping fuel her progression to prolific song-writer and dynamic performer at the creative heart of folk-rock festival favourites Merry Hell.  Her Virginia Kettle and The Dreamkeepers project allows her to explore the full breadth of her writing, combining favourites from the full band repertoire with further selections of her own songs in a more intimate manner.  All this whilst maintaining the company of three bandmates, including husband John.  A fantastic combination of the familiar and the newly-treasured is promised.

Christina Alden and Alex Patterson

The main song writing force behind award winning folk trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood. They have been playing and singing together for the last seven years  and have toured extensively in the UK and Europe - Including a twenty three date tour with Show of Hands, a show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for Celtic Connections and main stage performances at some of UK's most prestigious folk festivals.

Chris Sherburn, Denny Bartley and emily Sanders

Following a chance meeting at Whitby Folk Festival in 1993, Chris Sherburn (concertina) and Denny Bartley (vocals and guitar) have been bringing their unique sound to audiences across Europe and America, creating one of folk music's most enduring partnerships. Their obvious rapport made them one of the busiest acts on the folk scene, both as a duo and with their well-loved trio/quartet Last Night’s Fun. Their soul-stirring songs, exhilarating tunes and quick-witted banter ensures that no two concerts are ever the same.
In 2016 Chris and Denny joined forces with Emily Sanders (fiddle/viola and vocals) and have since become a well-established trio, for the first time blending vocal harmonies and strings to underpin Chris and Denny’s unique sound, as well as providing a female lead vocal for some songs, and bringing a repertoire of English folk songs to complement the band’s more Celtic and traditional roots.

Greg Russell

Possessed of an ‘extraordinary voice’ that’s ‘full of character’ (The Telegraph), over the last 8 years Greg Russell has established himself as one of the most significant performers on the U.K. folk scene. Playing guitar, bouzouki, banjo and singing, in 2013 he won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and in 2014 won the Horizon Award from the same source alongside Ciaran Algar.

Damien and the O-Men

In 2019, one of the most dynamic of folk musicians was celebrating being a professional performer for thirty years! Damien Barber, of Demon Barber Roadshow fame and Mike Wilson’s partner in crime in one of the finest duos around, was raised in Norfolk. Heavily influenced by such renowned traditional singers of that county as Walter Pardon and Peter Bellamy, Damien developed into a fine and distinctive singer and player of guitar and concertina in his own right. His exciting new four-piece band Damien & The Omen premiered their set at Chester 2019 with a return to mainly traditional material. The line up consists of Damien Barber (vocals, concertina, guitar), Ben Griffith (percussion, guitar), Matt Aplin (piano) and Hugh McDermott (double bass). Simmo captured them in full flow.

Reg Meuross

Reg’s clever and imaginative lyrics have earned him the title of  “Master Storyteller” (PennyBlack Music) and led Mike Harding (Mike Harding Folk Show) to introduce him onto the stage of The Royal Albert Hall as  “one of the finest singer-songwriters this country has produced”. Whether it’s a village hall or the Albert Hall, Reg brings to the stage a collection of extremely beautiful songs, performed with humour and depth, and sung with the voice of an angel. Reg has that rare gift of being able to touch people, through his songs and performance, on a really human level. His words and music paint pictures that remain with the listener long after the song has been sung.

Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne

Traditional and original songs and tunes from award winning singer and squeezebox player Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne. Best known for his work with BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award nominees Granny’s Attic, Cohen is a singer and instrumentalist with a love of English music. Cohen plays melodeons and anglo concertina as well as being a well-respected singer; in 2014 he won the Bromyard Folk Festival future of young folk award for singing. Expect traditional English folk songs and tunes along with a few original numbers.

Phoebe Rees

Phoebe Rees is a musician and songwriter from Oswestry. Influenced by a diverse range of musical genres and cultures, she predominantly combines elements of Celtic, English and American Folk traditions into her music making. Drawing on inspiration from her early years in the Scottish Highlands, experiences as a classical viola player studying in Edinburgh and London, and subsequent travels throughout the rest of the British Isles, Europe, South America and India; she performs her own compositions along with interpretations of material by other artists close to her heart. Phoebe sings and accompanies herself mostly on the fiddle, viola and guitar.

The Askew Sisters

When thinking about the dazzling array of youthful talent that has emerged from the British Folk Music community in recent times there are few, I would suspect, who would not put Emily and Hazel Askew in the front rank of that esteemed host - they are undoubtedly amongst the foremost current performers and interpreters of English folk music! The Askew Sisters’ live performances exude warmth, personality and good humour in equal measure, as well as illustrating the depth of knowledge, love of the music and commitment to their art of those who have been steeped in the tradition all their lives. Emily and Hazel are both skilled multi-instrumentalists who use fiddles, melodeons, concertina, cello and voices to rework, reinterpret and revitalise songs, balladry and traditional dance tunes in an authentic but entirely contemporary way.

Kimber's Men

Audiences everywhere rave over the harmonies of Kimber’s Men. They have appeared at Festivals in Ostende, Appingedam, Portmagee, Portsoy, Fano in Denmark, and all over the UK. Featured twice on Sunday Brunch for Channel 4, they also starred in the BBC2 and BBC4 production of Sea Songs, with Gareth Malone; the latter being the most viewed programme of the year, on BBC 4.
Kimber’s Men possess probably the finest bass singer on the British folk scene today in John Bromley, who plays guitar, whistle and bodhran. Neil Kimber is an experienced singer, plays guitar, and is the only real sailor in the group. Gareth Scott has a powerful and bluesy voice and is an accomplished guitarist. Recent stowaway, Steve Smith, is a sound engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and completes the group with his high harmonies.
Expect to laugh, sing and be generally entertained.


Fiddlestone is an exciting 5-piece band presenting a variety of songs and instrumental music. The current line-up has been together for over eight years and the music they present mixes a Celtic flavour with the existing rich repertoire of Fiddlestone’s traditional music and songs.
Ballads, airs, reels, and songs with stories created from a unique combination of instruments and vocals await you. The band has performed at folk festivals across the northwest, folk clubs far and near and some radio work. Their current CD ‘It’s About Time’ was launched at Chester Folk Festival in 2014 and contains a cross section of the music Fiddlestone love, and still love to perform.

Ben Robertson

Based in North Wales, Ben Robertson is a fingerstyle guitarist and singer who performs instrumentals and songs from across the folk tradition. Over recent years, he has developed a repertoire of Celtic and European fingerstyle guitar arrangements, and is currently working on new material whilst enjoying regular performances at festivals, folk clubs, and other venues." "Ben is a remarkable, remarkable guitar player, he really is" -Greg Russell, BBC Radio Sheffield "...prodigious young britfolk guitarist..." -fRoots Magazine

The Waite Collective

Mal Waite and her two daughters Rebecca Holmes and Katrina Turner, each with an “exceptional” voice, sing with belief and commitment. With a repertoire that is varied, not to say eclectic, their voices seem to blend effortlessly as they take turns to sing the melody and harmony roles. Their obvious enjoyment in singing and performing together spills over to include the audience in the warm rapport they clearly have together.

The Time Bandits

The Time Bandits are a Chester-based folk band who came together for the first time in 2001. They are equally at home playing for both concerts and ceilidhs. Their repertoire mixes Renaissance and early dance music, particularly tunes from the John Playford collection, with traditional folk tunes and songs and an increasing proportion of music written themselves.

Wet the Tea

Wet The Tea wowed audiences at Chester Folk Festival when they appeared for the first time and not surprisingly they were asked back for Chester 2019 where Simmo captured their performance. In the interim they had undergone a line-up change which resulted in founder members Andy Connally (vocals, flute, whistles, piano, guitar) and Andy Saunders (banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, bass) being joined by Richey Hayden (mandolin, fiddle, tenor guitar). With a strong background in Irish traditional music as well as Bluegrass, Contemporary Folk and Americana, these three chaps play like demons and perform the music the way it really should be played....with passion, fire and commitment. Wet The Tea are a great band and getting stronger all the while!

Welcomme, Finnan and Chrimes

Welcomme, Finnan and Chrimes are three of the most seasoned and accomplished performers from the North-West folk scene. John Finnan is, of course 'The Godfather' of the Chester folk music community, having started the first folk club in the city in the year the Beatles conquered the USA...that was 1964 for the younger amongst you! He and his colleagues then went on to inaugurate Chester Folk Festival eleven years later, so I guess it's true to say that without him we probably wouldn't be having a folk festival this weekend! Andy Chrimes, as a member of the excellent Fiddlestone, helped to run a superb folk club in The Traveller's Rest pub in Little Sutton for many years. Frank Welcomme is probably the only player at this weekend's event to have had a number one hit single (with Kinfolk in the 1970s) in East Germany!

Full House

Full House, a Chester band with a long and storied history, combine playing festivals, clubs and other venues with their role as the resident band at The Raven Folk Club, these days located in The Bear & Billet pub in Chester. Founded some thirty-odd years ago, Full House now comprises Chris Lee (mandolin, guitar, bass, vocals), Ian Jones (melodeon, flute, whistle, vocals), Nick Mitchell (vocals, guitar, mandola), Dave Russell (vocals, bouzouki, guitar, bass), Fluff Smith (vocals, fiddle, whistle) and Mark Woolley (bodhran, cajon, low whistle). This sensitive and original acoustic 6-piece line-up uses dazzling mandolins, pulsating melodeons, breathtaking whistles and subtle strings to present a varied repertoire of traditional, contemporary and self-penned material.

Close Quarters

Close Quarters' Steve & Sandra Harrison (on this occasion without Jen Wilson) sing acapella. They have a very broad repertoire including traditional folk, gospel, music hall and more recent material - including some of Steve’s self-penned songs. Their excellent harmonies fully justify the name "Close" Quarters. Engaging and entertaining, they are never happier than when they are in a room full of enthusiastic singers who like nothing better than to join in lustily with a few good choruses.


Playing music from the 12th to the 15th centuries, Maranella features four minstrels – Elizabeth and Ged Armstrong together with Marilyn and Peter Farrington. They dress in authentic medieval costume and play replica medieval instruments including citole (medieval guitar-like instrument), recorders, pipes, and harp. Their singing includes acapella part songs, as well as songs accompanied by lute, harp, and other instruments.

Fluff Smith

Fluff is a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, teacher and session musician who has played with an extraordinary variety of bands and artists, covering many musical genres. Tower Struck Down, The Incredible String Band, Nick Harper, Thea Gilmore, The Boat Band, Acoustic Whitesnake to name a few. Although hailing originally from Northampton, she has lived in Cheshire for many years. Locally she has played with noted Indie-band The Reads and in folk-mode is a member of Full House and Midswegan and was also in the crew of DJ Mark Radcliffe's notorious Pirate Folk-Rock ensemble Galleon Blast. Fluff directs ensembles for the Love Music Trust working with young musicians including the Strings Sinfonia and the Folk Ensemble as well as developing and delivering Folk Programmes in Primary Schools.

Will Riding

Lancashire born Will Riding, from Chester, is an acoustic guitarist and songwriter, his honest and occasionally quirky songs reflect the common experiences we all share from childhood onwards. He started writing his own songs to go with the folk standards he’d sing in and around Chester. Encouraged by the reception they received, he continues to write and is getting them out to a wider audience.

Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes is an experienced storyteller with a wide repertoire of tales for many occasions.  He's shared stories in castles, cathedrals, historic houses, museums, art centres, in informal clubs and on festival stages.  From traditional performances, to interactive stories where the audience join in the tales, to story walks, there's all sorts of ways Tom brings our rich heritage to life.

Bill Malkin

In a local folk and acoustic music scene which is blessed with more than its fair share of fine song writers, Bill Malkin stands out as one of the most accomplished. Combining strong melody and interesting lyrics, his songs span such diverse and eclectic topics as social and political change, the heroes and villains of history, the unusual and the ordinary. It has been said of Bill’s songs, “Here are tales to fascinate, atmospheres to savour and ideas to think about. His song writing is crisp, spare and straight to the point, like good songs ought to be.” Look out for his ‘Stories behind the Songs’.

An Croenen

In the time since An Croenen’s first visit to Chester Folk Festival in 2012 she has become an integral part of the Chester Folk community. A superb singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, she is a vibrant, charming and distinctive performer with a winning way with both a song and an audience! As well as her solo work, An was lead singer with The Time Bandits for five years. Recently she has been singing with the renowned Early Music group Piva.

Kate McCullough

Born in Yorkshire but having lived in Spain and Gibraltar, Kate now studies music at the University of Chester. Over the past year she has gained an increasing following having played a wide range of live venues, supporting Wet The Tea,  Mera Royle, and recording at The Narrowboat Sessions. Currently performing an array of traditional and recent folk and acoustic music, she has started to write, perform, and record her own material which has been well received by audiences across the North West.

“Kate is a genuine, understated talent of pure gold that will melt your heart.”- Wet The Tea 

Mark Dowding

From getting his first guitar in 1972 at the age of 11 (because his sister was getting one and he wanted one too) to having one of the most extensive repertoires of traditional and written songs, folk and otherwise, that you could imagine, Mark Dowding has been on a journey. He’s been influenced by some of the best guitarists and singers around and been encouraged by many. Watch out for his many CD releases, including some collaborations with Strawhead’s Chris Harvey (Pollington). He’s currently based in Lancashire where he is resident at The Wooden Horse Folk Club and where he is well-known for working with Sid Calderbank, presenting music and poetry from the Lancashire heritage at various North West festivals.

Moira Craig

Moira Craig was born in Glasgow and began singing from childhood within family gatherings and choirs. Her foray into folk music began in the late ‘60s and despite a few years’ break, continues to the present day. As well as being one third of the successful group Craig, Morgan, Robson, Moira has continued solo singing, performing at various festivals and folk clubs particularly down south where she has lived since 1983. Moira is still singing solo and with Carolyn Robson. She also sings with Ron Taylor and would have been performing at festivals this year. Moira has a solo CD, CDs with Craig, Morgan, Robson and has collaborated on CDs from Steve Turner, Hector Gilchrist, Mike Nicholson, Past Times and many others. Moira’s repertoire is mostly traditional, Scottish but incorporates some contemporary and humorous material.

Andy Connally

Andy Connally is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrument musician who currently combines playing with his trio WetTheTea with his solo work. He has experience of playing in various bands with genres ranging from traditional Irish, folk, pop, country, funk and live dance music. This broad range of influences and techniques has cut deep rooted tracks in his personal style and performance. He is known for taking traditional songs and tunes and putting his own twist or style into them; similarly, his background has informed his passion for writing and creating his own songs and music enabling him to create something that is slightly different.

Graham Bellinger

Graham Bellinger is a Chester-based singer, songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. In the past he has been involved in very popular collaborations with Staffordshire band The Deacons, in a duo with Steve Goodchild, and with the very talented Adrian Dear, Mick Green and Ian Southerton in Deportees. In solo mode, he is well-known for his laid-back ‘trademark’ mix of Folk, Blues, Ragtime and original compositions.

Martyn Harvey

Martyn Harvey is a popular, experienced and engaging caller based in Kendal, Cumbria. Although he works mostly in the North West, he regularly travels all over the country to call at some of the most prestigious ceilidh and dance clubs as well as folk festivals near and far, working with the top bands. Martyn is also well known for giving some of the most interesting, energetic and fun dance workshops around. Why not get out your dancing shoes (or slippers, if that works for you) and get ready to dance along?

Les Barker

Mr Barker has been writing poetry for several centuries now, but there’s
still no sign of improvement. For many years, he performed with his dog,
Mrs Ackroyd, who was far more entertaining, and also a better poet. He
spent over a decade touring extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Canada,
the USA and Hong Kong, for which British audiences will be forever
grateful. Mr Barker moved to Wales some years ago and is now
incomprehensible in two languages. He's won a small but growing number of
chairs, only one of which is big enough to sit on, for his Welsh poetry.
He’s never won anything for his English poetry.

Winter Wilson

One of the hardest working duos on the circuit, Winter Wilson tour widely, including working with folk rock icons Fairport Convention. Now in their 8th year as full-time musicians, Kip Winter and Dave Wilson bring a sense of intimacy to every venue, blending superb, often hard-hitting original songs, stunning harmonies and musicianship with sometimes hilarious humour and tales of life on the road. Kip (vocals, accordion, guitar, flute) "simply has a voice to die for” (John Roffey, Maverick Magazine), whilst Dave (vocals, guitar and banjo) is now rightly recognized as being amongst the top tier of British songwriters, with his songs sung throughout folk clubs across the UK and beyond. Together, their voices are sublime. You will laugh; you may cry. You will certainly want to see them again!

Run for Cover

Run for Cover Band formed in 2016 and brings together the varied influences of its four members to deliver a strong acoustic sound characterised by harmony vocals.
The band is led by Frank Hives (guitar, lead vocal), a well known solo performer on the local folk scene; Kevin Shannon (5-string banjo, mandolin) an accomplished bluegrass banjo player who currently runs Helsby Bluegrass Club; Carl Rogers (double bass, mandolin) better known as whistle and bodhran player with trad band Fiddlestone, and his wife Ruth Rogers (harmony vocal, percussion). Ruth developed a love of harmony singing through music therapy – a means of interacting with their daughter Rhiannon who is autistic.

Dave Vaughan

With a kilt for every ceilidh, Knutsford-born Dave was raised at Northwich Folk Club, and is a familiar face at the festival, not just for singing out at every opportunity, but also as part of Chester’s Rondezvous, teaching French and Breton dance.

John Warburton

John Warburton. Known as 'Warby' to his friends, is a singer/songwriter living just over the border in Flintshire. He's been around for a while now and can be found all over the place! 
John runs the successful 'Dragon's Breath Folk and Acoustic Club' in Treuddyn and is also a regular at the Hungry Horse Folk Club. He's played in Chester Folk Festival for a few years now, as well as the Wirral Folk Festival, Folk on the Farm, the Wild Festival and also regularly appears on the Golowan Folk stage in Penzance."

Mel Barrett

Originally from Birmingham, Mel has been living in the Chester area for more than 30 years. He performs regularly at a number of local folk clubs, and is also a popular participant in the Wirral Folk Festival as a performer and session compere. Although his repertoire is large and wide-ranging, he is probably best known for performing comic songs, and songs with complex lyrics (tongue twisters).

A Band on Ship

ABOS have been around a long time with collectively over a century of music making under their fingers. Faces familiar from other Chester-based bands belong to Chris Lee, Nick Mitchell, Fluff Smith and Russell Mabbutt. All four of them are in Mark Radcliffe’s Galleon Blast, whose latest album includes a bonus track written by and featuring Roy Wood. Expect bass and mandolin with guitar, fiddle and accordion. 
At the core of their fluid collective lies a love of real ale, cider and music, importantly in that order. “You can have beer without music, but music without beer is just wrong.” Perhaps their music sounds better after a pint or two, but that could be a universal truth. Songs and tunes plundered from 600 years of tradition create a feel-good sound that will leave your feet tapping and your glasses empty. A party waiting to happen.

Paul Sartin

Oboist, singer, traditional violinist, competent pianist and swanee whistle virtuoso, Paul is a prolific and highly-regarded performer, composer, arranger and teacher. He is a founding member of the award- and nomination-winning ensembles – Belshazzar’s Feast, Faustus and the late Bellowhead, and has also appeared in Made in the Great War, Travelling with Thomas, and with Jon Boden and The Remnant Kings. Musical Director of the Andover Museum Loft Singers, in 2017-18 he performed in, as well as arranged and directed the music for, a new production of Peter Bellamy’s ballad opera The Transports. (Guardian *****)

Paul Hutchinson

Paul is regarded as one of the top accordionists in the country because of his unique, refreshing, and at times classical approach to playing. A member of the much-loved duo Belshazzar’s Feast, Paul has 20 years of touring experience in the UK while appearances on television and radio gained them many plaudits, including a nomination for Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards in 2010. His love of fusion music originates from his days in the renowned Celtic jazzers, Hoover the Dog. Pagoda is the next exciting chapter in his musical journey providing a vehicle for his own compositions with more than a helping hand from the wonderful jazz clarinetist, Karen Wimhurst. Their debut album ‘Clarion’ received 5 Star reviews from Songlines and fRoots.

Rondez vous

Chester’s popular French and European Music and Dance group – bring instruments and/or dancing shoes.  You don’t even need a partner.

Alden, Patterson & Dashwood

Christina Alden (guitar, vocals), Alex Patterson (fiddle, vocals) and Noel Dashwood (dobro, vocals), are a young folk music ensemble, based in the beautiful historic city of Norwich, who have made a big impact in a short time! The award-winning band formed in late 2015 and has a rare talent for producing refreshingly different arrangements and adaptations of traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic. They work very much on the understated ‘less is more’ principle, weaving rich vocal harmonies with beautiful instrumental accompaniments. Their music, much of it original, is strongly influenced by the Folk traditions of both Britain and North America. A very special band in a Simmo video from 2019!

Dave Ellis and Boo Howard

Expect thoughtful, witty, well-crafted and sensitive songs, impressively played on acoustic guitars, bass, and even banjo. Dave Ellis has appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test, supported Rod Stewart at Reading Festival and toured with name bands. He's a very skilled guitarist from the Davy Graham and Bert Jansch camp. With highly talented co-writer and musician Boo Howard they will impress and charm you in a Simmo-recorded video.

Dipper Malkin

John Dipper grew up steeped in the folk tradition. Championing the viola d'amore, an early Baroque relative of the violin with fourteen strings (seven played and seven that vibrate in sympathy), he has developed a unique playing style. His music, including his own compositions, displays a great understanding and sympathy for the folk tradition. Dave Malkin studied guitar at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. His classical training has given him great technical facility and a deep theoretical understanding but like John he also has a deep love and understanding of traditional music. Dipper Malkin's debut release, Tricks of the Trade (2017) was a stylish blend of traditional and original songs and tunes, leaving no doubt that this exciting duo are indeed, in the words of Folk Radio, "A potent combination". Another of Simmo’s fantastic recordings.


Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere started singing together in 2012 and their well-merited rise on the British Folk Music scene in the ensuing seven years has been truly remarkable. Named after Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck Hills of their native Dorset, this multi-award-winning folk duo have known each other since the age of twelve. Therein may lie one of the secrets of their success, as their superb harmony vocals, intertwined instrumental accompaniments and seemingly telepathic musical communication with one another are usually amongst the tell-tale signs of performers who have grown up together as members of the same family or, as in this case, those who have known each other for a very long time! When Ninebarrow played a live session for BBC Radio’s The Folk Show, presenter Mark Radcliffe aptly described their vocals as like, “two halves of the same voice”; small wonder then, that they have created a major stir amongst audiences at festivals and clubs all over the country with their innovative and captivating take on the folk tradition. There are two of Simmo’s videos to look forward to.

Pilgrim's Way

As befits a band named (albeit indirectly) after an ancient Stone Age trackway which in Medieval times was frequented by travellers of all shapes and purse sizes (including pilgrims of course!) and also by early free-market entrepreneurs (or robbers as they were called then), Pilgrims Way have been on a long journey through beautiful and wild territory and with many twists and turns along the way, since they formed in 2010! With a unique and exciting take on traditional music, they describe their influences as, ‘starting in early music, passing through Playford and the Morris traditions, picking up prog, soul, and pop’, basically music then! The line up immortalised in 2019 by Simmo features: Edwin Beasant (drums, melodeons, vocal, guitar, harmonicas, electric Mars-Bar); Jon Loomes (vocals, guitar, hurdy-gurdy, concertina, keyboard, vacuum cleaner); Jude Rees (oboe, vocals, bagpipes, sax, sundry ancient things that go PARP); Tom Kitching (fiddle, mandolin, vocals, Otamatone); Heather Sirrel (bass guitars, vocals).  If that gives you the impression of a band who take their music seriously but themselves less so, then.....I think you could be right! Off the wall? Colourful?...You bet!!

Steve Turner

If you want to know how best to accompany a song on the concertina, you could do no better than to listen to Steve Turner. A fine singer, a virtuoso of the duet concertina and a cracking mandolin, cittern and banjo player to boot, Steve is a veteran of the Folk scene. As journalist David Kidman recently put it, “After more than three and a half decades in the game, Steve's still delivering the goods”. Steve began playing in the late 1960s and first came to the attention of wider Folk audiences as a member of the legendary Geordie band Canny Fettle. He turned professional as a solo artist in 1979 and throughout the 1980s, indeed until he withdrew from performing in 1991, he was a major figure on the club and festival scene, touring internationally and recording four acclaimed albums on which he was accompanied by some of the cream of professional folk musicians. Steve returned to live performance in 2004, and soon re-established himself as a major interpreter of both traditional and contemporary music and song.

Youth Room

The Youth Room is a carry over from the physical festival and is a series of daily events exclusively aimed at musicians in the 10-20 age group, which take the form of a workshop for the participants to exchange ideas, questions and experiences and to continue learning together. The daily sessions are at 11.00am on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and will be under the guidance of Clare 'Fluff' Smith and members of her Love Music Trust Young Folk ensemble, with additional input from some festival guests. The Youth Room is open to all comers under 21 who want to bring an instrument along, whatever their skill level. These events will be moderated by an experienced youth worker who is DBS checked.


Peter Simmonds (Simmo)

Special Mention and Thanks

Simmo (Peter Simmonds) is well known on the folk festival circuit where he regularly videos concerts which are recorded and produced to a high standard and then shared on YouTube. For this online festival he has edited specially for you some previously unseen footage shot at marquee concerts at Chester Folk Festival 2019 in Kelsall. I am sure he would want to join with the festival organisers in thanking also, and giving credit to, the wonderful guys from Tony Pugh’s team at Pivotal Sound and Lighting, Darren Hughes and Sébastien Allemand (Seb), who provided the fabulous sound for the marquee concerts. Simmo is able to take the sound for his videos directly from the sound desk which is how he is able to provide such a professional sound quality.


Chester Folk Festival Online 2020

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