The Ham, a comfortable seated, hi-spec venue, is the centrepiece venue for three first class headline concerts each day at the festival. The final line up for evening and afternoon concerts will be announced in early January but a sneak preview of the impressive line-up for evening Ham concerts include:
RICHARD THOMPSON (SOLO ACOUSTIC)
A chance to catch a truly captivating performance from iconic guitarist and songwriting genius, Richard Thompson who has fifty years and nearly twenty solo albums under his belt, from his formative years in seminal folk-rock alchemists Fairport Convention to his acclaimed solo work. Expect fleet-fingered fretwork and evocative songcraft as featured on his rave-reviewed release 13 Rivers.
Multi-award winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis is a quiet torchbearer for her native tradition. A warm and engaging live performer, well-known for her presenter as well as performance skills, her ‘crystalline’ and ‘intoxicating’ vocals have enchanted audiences around the world.
Flook are back on the scene. Launching their long-awaited new album Ancora in early 2019, the flutes and whistles of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen, the guitar of Ed Boyd and the bodhran of John Joe Kelly are firing explosively on all four cylinders! A rare blend of fiery technical brilliance, delicate ensemble interaction and a bold, adventurous musical imagination.
Stunning singer from Co. Cavan, Lisa O’Neill offers up an unadorned “stripped raw, rough and calloused” delivery of both heart-breaking traditional and original songs. Her latest CD Heard a Long Gone Song has stirred up a maelstrom of critical acclaim. A vital, uncompromising, straight-for-the-jugular soul singer!
“One of folk’s great odd couples”, Belshazzar’s Feast: Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin and vocals) deliver their amazing musicianship with wry humour, always a winner with festival audiences. Both busy men of folk, a previous Sidmouth appearance was reviewed by Mike Harding as ‘My personal find of the festival …Their music is breath-taking and wickedly inventive and the between-tunes interchange as intelligent and hilarious as the music.”
Granny’s Attic – featuring last year’s Sidmouth great success Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (melodeon, concertina, vocals) with George Sansome (guitar, vocals) and Lewis Wood (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) – are three young men who play (and sing) from the English tradition with verve, energy and their own inimitable style. “Great tunes, great energy, great arrangements, great stuff!” said Jon Boden, and he knows stuff.
THE SPOOKY MEN’S CHORALE
Brandishing a shiny brand new CD Welcome To The Second Half, the magnificent, craggy ensemblage of heavenly singing male bodies known as The Spooky Men’s Chorale return, ever more comfortable with their whimsical humour and musical breadth – a winning spectrum of Georgian songs, pindrop-beautiful ballads, highly inappropriate covers, and immaculate man anthems.
STEVE KNIGHTLEY & FRIENDS: Fifty Shades of Sidmouth
Sidmouth Folk Festival patron Steve Knightley has been coming to the festival for half a century now. With the help of some old friends and special guests he traces his musical journey, from apprentice to patron and from busker on the beach to headliner at The Ham.
LE VENT DU NORD
A leading force in Quebec’s progressive francophone folk movement, Le Vent Du Nord ignite any stage with their blazing charge through a wide repertoire drawing from both tradition and original compositions, injected with a broad range of global influences.
With their unique approach to harmony singing, intelligent and thoughtful arrangements of both traditional repertoire and original compositions, Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans harness and celebrate their united voice. Whether unearthing a feminist twist hidden in a traditional tale, delivering a poignant anti-war ballad, or showcasing their immense multi-instrumental talents in original compositions that draw on a myriad of musical influences, Lady Maisery are skilful explorers of the power, beauty and vitality of song.
THE ASKEW SISTERS
Emily and Hazel Askew’s live performances as The Askew Sisters brim with the depth and connection not only of two sisters, but also of two singers and multi-instrumentalists who have been immersed in English folk music all their lives. Together, they rework and reinterpret songs and balladry, allowing centuries’ old words to resonate profoundly with contemporary audiences and use fiddles, melodeons, concertina and cello to bring old dance music to life. A long awaited fourth studio album will be released in 2019.