The centrepiece of concerts at the festival, the Ham Marquee provides a comfortable seated-venue for three first class concerts each day. Here’s the final line-up for the Ham Marquee Evening Concerts:
Friday 3rd August – Peter Knight and John Spiers plus Les Barker
Pairing of legendary fiddle player Peter Knight (ex-Steeleye Span) and melodeon player extraordinaire John Spiers (ex-Bellowhead) proved an undisputed highlight of Folk East in 2016, where the idea for this collaboration was hatched. Few fiddlers can hold a candle to Knight whose presence has enriched the British music scene for more than four decades and hugely popular John Spiers is one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation. What’s not to like?!
Plus Les Barker: Much-loved on the festival circuit, Les Barker has spawned a number of folk heroes: Jason and the Arguments, Cosmo the Fairly Accurate Knife Thrower and Captain Indecisive amongst them. A guaranteed belly-laugh of a performance!
Saturday 4th August – Show of Hands with Miranda Sykes plus Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow
More than two decades on the road, 25 album releases, 2 Honorary Doctorates, 3 BBC Folk Awards, 4 Royal Albert Hall sell-outs and tours in 14 countries from America to Australia! Festival Patrons and all-round stars Steve Knightley and Phil Beer (with double bass player Miranda Sykes) bring us their annual Sunday night gift of acoustic mastery and song-writing brilliance.
Plus Kit Hawes & Aaron Catlow, Bristol-based duo who play folk music from Europe, America and beyond; combining dazzling playing with a fine sense of musicality and showmanship. “Reminiscent of Martin Carthy and the late Dave Swarbrick and I can give them no higher accolade.” Mark Radcliff BBC Radio 2.
Sunday 5th August – Blowzabella at 40 with Special Guest Jim Causley
Celebrating their 40th anniversary of glorious driving, drone-based sounds, Blowzabella remain pioneers in creating their own dance (and concert) music inspired by English and European traditions. Playing with a fabulous sense of melody, rhythmic expertise and sheer feeling, the band features: Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion), Jo Freya (vocals, saxophone, clarinet), Paul James (bagpipes), saxophones), Gregory Jolivet (hurdy-gurdy), David Shepherd (violin), Barn Stradling (bass guitar) and Jon Swayne (bagpipes, saxophone).
With special guest Jim Causley, “the finest folk singer of his generation” from Devon, who’ll bring his nectar tones and engaging stage presence to the night’s performance.
Monday 6th August – Drever, McCusker, Woomble plus Josie Duncan & Pablo Lafuente and Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail
Before The Ruin 10th anniversary concert: It’s been a decade since the release of Before The Ruin – the collaborative album between three of Scotland’s best current writers and performers – award winning folk musicians John McCusker, Kris Drever (LAU) and Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble. Since its release the album has proved a slow burning contemporary Scottish folk classic. Three talented and unique musicians performing a collection of melancholic, poignant & much-loved songs.
Plus Josie Duncan and Pablo Lafuente, 2017 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Winners, who bring their diverse Highland/Spanish/Glaswegian roots to bear in their accomplished performances, and a new line up from the talented young Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail.
Tuesday 7th August – Karine Polwart plus Kaia Kater
2018 Folk Award Singer Of The Year and honorary PhD recipient Scottish singer and songwriter, Karine Polwart conveys the most powerful of human emotions and experiences in her performances. Her talent for crafting enduring melodies, of saying just enough without overstating her case, of conveying powerful social and environmental messages through compassionately crafted lyrics, all come together in songs of powerful contemporary relevance, drawing the listener towards her like a fireside storyteller. “Polwart writes music for social change, with lyrics that articulate their values poetically and succinctly, obliquely and persuasively.” The Guardian
Plus Kaia Kater, a young African-Canadian roots star whose old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering widespread critical acclaim. Often praised for her capacity to sound new and old at once, Kaia anchors her music the space where tradition and innovation intersect.
Wednesday 8th August – Cara Dillon plus Ryan Young with Jenn Butterworth
With the rich cultural heritage of her native County Derry in her heart, Cara is one of the finest exponents of traditional Irish song. With a pure and distinctive vocal style, she has successfully steered an eclectic musical path, entwining traditional and contemporary elements, alongside her husband and musical partner, Sam Lakeman. You would be hard pressed to find a more emotive and captivating performer. Her latest release, Wanderer, topped the Official Independent Album Charts and she was amongst the “Singer Of The Year’ nominees for this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Plus Ryan Young with Jenn Butterworth: extraordinary and enchanting young fiddle player with powerhouse guitarist. Previous Scots Trad Music Awards winner, and Folk Award nominee, Young’s style bears the stamp of Clare fiddle music – particularly that of his hero Martin Hayes – in its often unhurried and eloquent fluidity.
Thursday 9th August – Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening plus Ye Vagabonds
A new direction for the world-renowned Northumbrian piper. With musicians from Northumberland, Scotland, Ireland and England, the oldest Northumbrian tunes and songs are given a global perspective, bringing Ancient Northumbria to the modern world. Kathryn’s stellar cast of musical companions including Kate Young (vocals, fiddle), Amy Thatcher (accordion, clogs, vocals), Cormac Byrne (percussion), Joe Truswell (drums) and Kieran Szifris (mandola, guitar, samples). [Image Credit: Georgia Claire]
Plus Ye Vagabonds, offering up gorgeous sibling harmonies and gentle acoustic warmth from Ireland. They combine Irish and English folk influences with a raw Appalachian-coloured sound, all the while creating an identity that’s utterly original.
Friday 10th August – Gigspanner Big Band plus Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar
Led by seminal Brit folk-rock fiddle player Peter Knight, this is a fleshed out five-piece of the popular and innovative trio, with the addition of award-winning multi-instrumental duo Hannah Martin and Phillip Henry. The Gigspanner Big Band “are taking folk music down new and enthralling paths” and promise to be one of the most exciting live bands you are likely to see this year.
Plus Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar: Joining forces in 2011, Russell’s powerful vocals and driving guitar style with Algar’s All-Ireland winning fiddle playing since when the duo have become one of the most sought after acts on the British folk scene. Already with multiple Folk Awards under their belts, the future looks bright with these two at the vanguard of the next generation of folk musicians.