Who’s headlined for Sidmouth Folk Festival 2022?

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Published:
2:26 PM 8 June 2022



Updated:
2:28 PM 8 June 2022

Sidmouth sees the return of the week-long folk festival which is back in full force for the first time in three years. SU CARROLL looks to the future…

The coastal town of Sidmouth has welcomed folk festival visitors every year since 1955 and – after being hit by covid restrictions – 2022 sees a busy schedule of over 700 events to choose from, including concerts, dance performances, workshops and ceilidhs.

It also means the return of artists from around the world, including Australia’s daring Bush Gothic and The Spooky Men’s Chorale, Guinean balafonist N’famady Kouyate, Senegalese sabar dancer Batch Gueye and Bulgarian singer Eugenia Georgieva.


Australia’s daring Bush Gothic will perform.
– Credit: Sidmouth Folk Festival

This year’s headlines under the Ham marquee feature the best in contemporary folk music with Kate Rusby, Devon’s Own Show of Hands, Eddi Reader, Spiers and Boden, the Yves Lambert Trio, Fara and Jez Lowe. There are also pre-festival concerts by Steeleye Span (July 28) and The Fisherman’s Friends (July 29).

During the week of the festival, music blares from all corners of the city, in venues large and small, as well as plenty of activity on the waterfront.

Along with headline shows from artists like Sheelanagig, Peatbog Faeries, Grace Petrie and Edward II, expect jaw-dropping ceilidhs and late-night song-and-dance sessions. Folk Radio UK’s Cellar Full of Folkadelia afternoons present a new musical world inspired by tradition.

Performers include Serious Sam Barrett, a touring Yorkshire folk and country singer, and Olcay Bayir who delivers ancient folk poems and original songs in Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian.


A woman with the setting sun behind her.

Eddie Reader is one of the headliners at this year’s Sidmouth Folk Festival.
– Credit: Geneviève Stevenson

There are a host of other treats to partake in, intimate song events, folk dancing, children’s activities, youth workshops and sessions, dance performances, processions and much more. For anyone who enjoys learning something new or honing their skills, this year’s workshops offer everything from Secrets of the Hurdy-Gurdy with Steve Tyler to Bhangra with Avtar Indian Dance, Beginners Whistle to Singing with Sandra Kerr or of the Spooky Men’s Chorale.

For fans of spoken word and storytelling, there are sessions with Rattlebox Theatre, Katy Cawkwell, Daisy Black, Louise Sherman and Janet Dowling. Racker Donnelly will be back with his unique comedic verses and Ilse Pedler will offer poetry sessions.


A dancing couple.

There’s always plenty of crowd-pleaser at the Festival.
– Credit: Pete Bond

The hugely popular children’s festival moves to a new home this year in the beautiful Peacock Lawns where the marquees will host a mix of old favorite workshops and activities and popular evening family shows. The Shooting Roots program also returns with workshops for 12 to 17 year olds in dance, orchestra, theatre, arts and crafts, storytelling and spectacular singing with Stream of Sound.

Sidmouth Folk Festival is from July 29th to August 5th. For more information, click on here.


A man and a woman singing in a folk group.

Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson in the street at the festival in 1989.
– Credit: Sidmouth Folk Festival

Thanks for the music

This year’s event will also pay tribute to two faithful friends of the Festival – folk matriarch Norma Waterson and Morris icon Mike Boston.

Norma, who died earlier this year at the age of 82, began her folk life in The Watersons, a group which included her brother Mike, sister Lal and cousin John. Her warmth and open-arm performances deeply touched all who were captured by her barrel-aged vocals. She first came to the festival over 40 years ago as a busker.

A True-Hearted Girl in the Ham marquee on August 2 will celebrate her rich musical life and legacy, led by her husband and Sidmouth patron Martin Carthy, her daughter Eliza Carthy and her many folk fans and admirers including Martin Simpson, John Kirkpatrick, Sandra Kerr and Jim Causley.

Mike Boston, the Devon Morris dancing hero and Sidmouth legend who died in December, gets the farewell he would have loved with an energetic farewell party. For 45 years, Exeter-born Mike played ‘crazy’ with Great Western Morris. From 3 p.m. on August 1, festival-goers are encouraged to put on their dancing shoes and party with his favorite band, Blowzabella, in the Blackmore Marquee.


Morris men dancing.

Mike Boston (in red hat) with Great Western Morris in action at Sidmouth.
– Credit: Paul Clayden

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