FolkEast Festival (18th- 20th August 2017) has been building a solid reputation as being a festival with a difference, one that’s not afraid to offer a refreshingly different line-up. They manage to go the extra mile as they proved last year when they topped all festival bills and managed to bag Ushers Island. This was a fantastic treat for many as it was also Ushers Island only UK Summer appearance that year. Our Johnny Whalley was lucky enough to be there to capture the magic – five of the best Irish musicians of the last five decades together: Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Michael McGoldrick and John Doyle (read our live review here).
When Paul Woodgate attended their 2015 festival press day he gave us an insight into the ideas and passion behind the festival (read it here). Although they tend to let their line-up do the talking, husband and wife organisers John and Becky Marshall-Potter clearly mean business. As Paul revealed:
His experience [John Marshall-Potter] spans thirty-plus years and various roles at every major UK festival, starting out as the site electrician at Knebworth for Led Zeppelin in 1979. He’s a long-term promoter too, and was booking folk-legends like Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick into long-lost clubs and pubs in East Anglia 25 years ago, so he’s no stranger to the genre. He and Becky’s vision for Folk East is the culmination of that experience and a natural step from the Albion Fairs where lots of genuine bartering of arts and crafts took place.
Now in their sixth year, FolkEast look set to continue that reputation. The first names have now been announced for 2017, all of whom have featured on Folk Radio UK…it’s an exciting line-up from curators with impeccable taste:
First Names for FolkEast 2017
Jon Boden is one of the outstanding folk performers of his generation – having won 11 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, more than any other artist. This is a chance to see him striking out on his own after the Bellowhead juggernaut shuddered to a halt last year. One of his first solo festival performances, he will headline the main Sunset stage on Friday night in a genre-hopping set that promises to get FolkEast off to a buoyant start.
Winner of the Horizon (Best Emerging Act) award at the 2016 Folk Awards, East Anglian-born Sam Kelly will bring his Lost Boys band and unmistakable voice to the main stage on Saturday night, building on their success last year.
With a third headliner still to be announced, the FolkEast line-up will also include acclaimed singer-guitarist Michael Chapman, esteemed veteran duo Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick and another outstanding duo from the younger generation, Will Pound and Eddy Jay, who made waves with their debut album Ignite last year.
Lau, three times winners of Best Group at the Folk Awards, have also been announced. The acclaimed trio comprises Martin Green, Aidan O’Rourke and Kris Drever, whose song If Wishes Were Horses is nominated for Best Original Track at the 2017 Folk Awards.
Another duo making their first appearance at FolkEast will be Dorset’s Ninebarrow (Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere), their songwriting skills and perfect harmonies having won them a nomination for the 2017 Folk Awards Horizon Award (Best New Act).
Nominated in the same category is former Folk Singer of the Year Nancy Kerr, for her song Fragile Water; Nancy will be heading to FolkEast in the star-studded trio of Simpson, Cutting and Kerr.
Keeping the Irish flag flying will be the stand out Damien O’Kane Band. Coleraine-born Damien’s exciting modern spin on traditional Irish folk music saw his latest album Areas of High Traffic nominated for Best Album at the 2016 Folk Awards.
Irish traditional folk band Beoga, also from Ulster, are also Suffolk-bound. The Antrim five-piece is collaborating with Ed Sheeran on his upcoming album. They reportedly joined Sheeran at studios in Suffolk last June to record two trad folk tracks, one about Galway and one about Wexford, where Ed has strong family roots.
FolkEast’s irrepressible patrons The Young’ uns (Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes), popular winners of the 2016 and 2015 Best Group title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be headlining the Broad Roots stage and promise another action-packed live podcast.
One of the most singular events on the UK festival calendar, FolkEast was launched five years ago by husband and wife John and Becky Marshall-Potter.
“One of my very favourite festivals – great location, organisers, atmosphere and sound” Eliza Carthy
“I love this festival” – Sam Carter
“FolkEast has become one of those amazing, unique festivals” – John Spiers
“FolkEast is something else – very special. A warm feeling just like a family” – O’Hooley & Tidow
Rekindling the ancient Eastfolk moots on the Glemham Hall estate where for three days a year the folk from the East would meet kith and kin at harvest time for “a bit of a do”, this gathering has Suffolk running through it like letters in a stick of rock – from its locally sourced fare in The Imagined Suffolk Food Village to its suppliers, its arts and crafts, its own newspaper The Eastfolk Chronicle and its Suffolk Punch horses.
FolkEast offers a refreshingly different line-up across six stages (including St Andrew’s Church, the open air Sunset Stage and the hidden woodland Soapbox Stage), Suffolk food fare, two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving festival ales plus possibly the smallest pub in the UK, The Halfway Inn.
Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, packed dance programme, donkey rides, children’s activities, yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by Major Philip Cobbold.
Suffolk performers will include The Broadside Boys, John Ward Band and the duo Shorelark. The Soapbox Stage, curated by local promoter Amy Wragg will introduce up-and-coming musicians and poets from the region.
On board again this year as a media partner will be BBC Radio Suffolk. And this year’s event will see the return of one of the big successes – Instrumental, a festival within a festival. Bigger and better for 2017, it will bring together some of the country’s top instruments makers.
Jon Boden’s erstwhile duo partner and Bellowhead colleague John Spiers is also returning, not just as a performer, but as a green-fingered panellist in the Gardeners’ Question Time event, Gardeners Cornered!
Early Bird tickets for the FolkEast 2017 festival are now sold out. Advance weekend tickets are available price £115(adult), £100 (full-time students, senior citizens) and £70 for Youth tickets (12-17-year-olds) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17-year-olds are £342. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping is £12 per tent with a £24 charge for campervans and caravans.
Find out more here: www.folkeast.co.uk