THE YOUNG ‘UNS: THE BALLAD OF JOHNNY LONGSTAFF
The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff is the story of one man’s adventure from begging on the streets in the north of England to fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, taking in the Hunger Marches and the Battle of Cable Street. A timely, touching and often hilarious musical adventure following the footsteps of one working-class hero who witnessed some of the momentous events of the 1930s. With their trademark harmony, honesty and humour, the Teesside trio known as The Young ‘Uns bring together 16 specially composed songs, spoken word, striking imagery and the real recorded voice of Johnny himself to tell a remarkable human story oozing with modern relevance.
SAM SWEENEY: THE UNFINISHED VIOLIN
Inspired by his violin, carved but never finished by Richard Howard in 1915, master fiddler Sam Sweeney plays instrumental music inspired by the Great War from his new album on Island Records, with a superb five-piece also featuring Rob Harbron, Patsy Reid, Jack Rutter and Ben Nicholls. Poignant, profound and uplifting.
NANCY KERR & JAMES FAGAN
A cut above, this Nancy Kerr & James Fagan combine outstanding musicianship, a lifelong grounding in traditional singing and instrumental playing, acclaimed original compositions and a visceral chemistry which makes them a stand out act on any stage. Their most recent release is a live album, capturing them in their natural habitat!
SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS
BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning Bristol-based singer, song-writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Sam Kelly heads up The Lost Boys, a formidable instrumental force, breathing new life into traditional music, contemporary originals, with a mix of youthful exuberance and instrumental virtuosity.
RACHAEL MCSHANE & THE CARTOGRAPHERS
Topic Records’ latest signing, for their 80th anniversary celebrations in 2019, Rachael McShane is a singer, cellist, fiddle and viola player based in NE England. Best known as an original member of folk big band Bellowhead, Rachael’s latest album When All Is Still (sees her reworking traditional songs with a new band, The Cartographers, featuring guitarist Matthew Ord (Assembly Lane) and melodeon player Julian Sutton (Kathryn Tickell, Sting).
NATIONAL YOUTH FOLK ENSEMBLE
Celebrating excellence in youth folk music, The National Youth Folk Ensemble brings together talented young folk musicians from across England to create and perform inspiring and exciting new arrangements of folk music, under the expert tuition of and guidance from Sam Sweeney, Artistic Director 2016-19, and a team of leading folk artist-educators.
MATTHEW CRAMPTON & PAUL SARTIN: LIVING BY THE SEA
Building on its popular debut last year, this feast of words and music re-unites storyteller Matthew Crampton and musical director Paul Sartin – the creative pair behind the recent adaptation of the Transports – with the band Faustus and a choir of festivalgoers and townsfolk. With specially-researched local stories, Sidmouth takes centre stage in this exploration of communities who live or depend upon the sea. Expect intimate tales, tragic ballads and heart-pounding shanties – all revealing the fierce hold the sea keeps upon those who live by it.
A new album out next summer, and right now, better than ever, Martin Simpson is widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, and uses the diverse elements of British, Afro-American and old-timey music in his unique interpretations of traditional songs – masterpieces of storytelling. His solo shows are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving.
HANNAH JAMES’ JIGDOLL ENSEMBLE
The JigDoll Ensemble sees the immersive and impressive one-woman song and dance show enhanced by three international master instrumentalists, who perfectly articulate Hannah James’ visionary ideas for song, tune and dance: utilising cutting-edge technology, a multi-layered soundscape and spellbinding dance.
A masterclass of instrumental and vocal skill! Bringing electro-harp, accordion, fiddles, flute, mandolin and three powerful voices together with a range of individual musical influences, The Shee produce an adventurous brew of Folk, Gaelic and American music. Featuring multiple nominees of Best Live Act at the MG Alba Scots Trad Awards and includes the BBC Radio Folk Award Musician of the Year, Rachel Newton among its ranks, they have recorded four stunning albums to date.
EMILY PORTMAN & ROB HARBRON
Two of the finest and most distinctive performers on the British folk scene and with multiple accolades for their years of work in different collaborations, Emily Portman (voice, banjo) and Rob Harbron (concertina, guitar, voice, fiddle) now form an inspired collaboration. Together they create a boldly stripped-back and intricately woven sound, mining the archives for hidden traditional gems and offering their own original contributions.
JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH
Simply one of the finest duos to have emerged onto the British folk and acoustic scene in recent years, this combination of outstanding vocal work, sensitive instrumentation, bound by a powerful thread of social conscience, has brought Jimmy and Sid universal praise. Their latest album, Many A Thousand, has garnered widespread critical acclaim including The Guardian: “To be a great folk singer, you have to be a great storyteller, as Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith are clearly aware.
Once labelled the ‘divas of the dance world’, Token Women are celebrating 30 years of playing. Especially for Sidmouth, former members, box player and percussionist Carly Rose and cellist Kathryn Locke, will join Jo Freya (Blowzabella), Alice Kinloch (Barely Works), Heather Horsley (Old Swan), Jo May (Stepling), Jackie Allen (founder member), Fi Fraser (Narthen, Polkaworks), Linda Game (English Contra Dance Band) for this week. Why? Because it all started at Sidmouth!