Wickham Festival News


With their heady blend of authentic uplifting Irish swirl and electric ballsy Punk swagger Neck are the cutting-edge that scythes incisively through the contemporary Celtic scene. – As befits a band known as ‘The Heavy Artillery of Irish Music’!

Steeped in its’ musical traditions, Neck’s pedigree traces from all four provinces of Ireland – with one salubrious Dublin neighbourhood being of particular note – via the legendary UK Punk movement, through Shane MacGowan’s Popes, to the Irish enclaves of North London, where, like a lot of good Irish ideas, they were ‘born in a bottle’! The band’s roots have also informed their tour-schedule, as their inherent Irish élan and wander-lust have taken them to the four corners of the globe.

The band already have a movie appearance* and three album releases under their belts, with their seminal second album, Sod ‘em & Begorrah! consolidating them as the cutting-edge of Celtic Punk – and being rated, variously, the second- and third-best Celtic Punk album of all time, behind only The Pogues and Flogging Molly.

Plus, Clash-inspired social awareness saw their Anti-racism anthem ‘Everybody’s welcome to The Hooley!’ hitting the UK Charts – and setting an historic precedent when it was plugged through an early-day motion in the House of Commons!

But it’s their kick-arse, high-energy shows over a wide range of events, from folk to metal, that make them live favourites – particularly at festivals – and even private parties (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Hell’s Angel’s Club Houses, etc), and led to them supporting acts such as The Levellers, Stiff Little Fingers, Shane MacGowan and Damien Dempsey; as well as to their front-man (an original, former, member of Shane MacGowan’s Popes) guesting or collaborating with the likes of The Alabama 3, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Hayseed Dixie and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.

“Manic psycho-ceilídh from the London-Irish heirs to the Pogues’ legacy”
Hot Press, Ireland

“Anti-racist lyrics and a Reel halfway through exemplify Neck’s riotous sound: as if The Clash were born on the Emerald Isle!”
The Irish Post

Six Glastonbury appearances and countless gigs, festivals and parties across three continents, have also established Neck as one of the leaders of the Celtic / Folk Punk scene. This extensive touring has taken-in thirty seven European trips, eight U.S. ones, ten Irish, one Asian (Moscow, in front of 8,000), and ranged from Cornwall to the Shetlands in the UK!

Their heart-felt songs and passionate performances, allied with their ‘Trad. Irish’ authenticity and musicianship, have forged them a big reputation i.e. the Irish Cultural Centre awarded the huge honour of asking them to play a Traditional Irish music seisiún for the Irish team at the 2012 Paralympics; as well as gaining them the firm respect of their big U.S. contemporaries (and friends), The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, and even famous fans such as Johnny Depp…

“Neck are, simply, the real deal. Sin é.”
Johnny Depp

Martin Stephenson & The Daintees

Martin Stephenson began his career as a busker aged 15. He then spent three years plying his trade as the guitar player in various bands in the North East of England . But Martin wanted more, he wanted to tell stories of his own and he was quickly developing ways of doing just that.

He developed his song-writing technique by firstly learning a few licks from a Spanish guitar book and repeated the process with Jazz, Blues, Country, SkifFle, Reggae etc. Eventually, this glorious collision of styles would become the trademark which Martin has carried through his career of almost 40 years.

Martin formed his band The Daintees, who became busking sensations and were signed by Kitchenware at around the same time as Prefab Sprout and Hurrah! The band, and indeed Martin, have always been known for their incredible range of styles, each album covering a multitude of genres, tempos and moods. The Daintees went on to release four critically acclaimed albums between 1986 & 1992; Boat To Bolivia, Gladsome Humour and Blue, Salutation Road, and The Boys Heart.

His must-see live performances are an exuberant tour-de-force combining heart-in-your-mouth intimacy with playful humour and warm self-deprecation.

The Copper Family

The earliest mention of The Copper Family is in the village of Rottingdean when in 1593, a male Copper was married in the parish church. There is a very good chance that the family were resident in or around Rottingdean long before this date. Always working in the agrarian community, most were farm labourers or shepherds, although James ‘Brasser’ Copper (b.1845) and his son Jim Copper (b.1882) were farm baliffs or managers.

Singing seems to have run in the blood and we know that the Coppers were particularly renowned. In 1896, ‘Brasser’ Copper and his brother Tom were ‘collected’ by a musicologist Mrs Kate Lee, who noted some fifty songs from them which in many ways became the foundation stone upon which the Folk Song Society (later the English Folk Dance and Song Society) was formed in 1898. The songs were kept alive in the village through the lean years of disinterest in the 1920s and ‘30s by Jim Copper and his bother John. Post-war, Jim’s son Bob Copper and his cousin Ron took on the mantle and, largely through Bob’s diligence and writings, they survive into the modern era.

Today the family is represented by Bob’s son and daughter John and Jill, his son-in-law Jon Dudley and their respective children, Mark, Andy Sean, Ben, Lucy and Tom. Recently Bob’s great grandson Flinn has joined the line-up thus making it the eighth consecutive known generation of The Copper Family to sing.

Dream in Colors

This is one not to be missed, with several Wickham favourites who have formed a new folk roots supergroup!  Dream in Colors will be performing on Saturday 3rd August 2023.

Renowned Musicians Steve Knightley (Show of Hands), Johnny Kalsi (The Dhol Foundation), Eliza Marshall (Ranagri), and Bennett Cerven (The Trouble Notes), unite to form ‘Dream in Colors’.

Celebrated singer-songwriter and former Show of Hands frontman, Steve Knightley, known for his soul-stirring melodies and evocative storytelling, is thrilled to announce the formation of a new festival band, Dream in Colors. This extraordinary ensemble of musical talents promises a unique and captivating festival journey that transcends boundaries of race, age, and background, to deliver some of the most exciting and uplifting global roots music of the decade.

Dream in Colors unites the song writing prowess of Steve Knightley, the mesmerizing percussion skills of Johnny Kalsi, the virtuosic violin performances by Bennett Cerven, and the renowned flute melodies of Eliza Marshall. Their enchanting fusion encompasses dance rhythms, anthemic songs, trance grooves, and world music heartbeats. Stay tuned for updates on live performances, festival appearances, and the release of their highly anticipated debut album.

“I am incredibly excited to introduce Dream in Colors to music lovers worldwide,” shared Knightley. “Our fusion of trance, rhythmic beats, and world music grooves creates a sonic tapestry that invites audiences to let loose, embrace the rhythms, and celebrate together. With the exceptional talents of Bennett, Eliza, and Johnny, we aim to transport listeners on a rhythmic journey that sparks joy and connection.”

Tony Christie

One of his most memorable songs, (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, was famously brought to a new generation by comedian Peter Kay. Since then, Tony has enjoyed somewhat of a revival, sparking renewed interest in his extensive career as one of the most popular UK singers around. Tony enjoyed his first taste of commercial success back in 1971 when his track Las Vegas took the British charts by storm. Written by famous songwriters Peter Callander and Mitch Murray, the song was instantly recognised for its great songwriting. This success was followed up with the songs I Did What I Did For Maria and Is This The Way to Amarillo, which brought him further attention.

In 1972, Tony’s performance of Avenues and Alleyways was included as the soundtrack to the British action thriller The Protectors, marking Tony’s first feature in the world of television. His most famous song of this era, Is This The Way To Amarillo, would go on to become his most notable commercial success. By 1972, the record had sold over a million copies, earning itself a gold certification in the process.

Not long after, Tony began to enjoy popularity as a talented performer on the international stage. As a result, Tony came to make an appearance at The Golden Orpheus, a music festival held in Bulgaria. The success of his performance there saw the live show released as a full-length record, further increasing Tony’s popularity. Over the next several decades, Tony enjoyed a rewarding career on the European mainland, recording several notable albums in Germany alone.

Tony’s musical output came to enjoy somewhat of a resurgence when his song Is This The Way to Amarillo was featured on Peter Kay’s comedy series Phoenix Nights. As a result of this renewed appreciation for his work, the song was re-released in aid of Comic Relief. The song stormed the British charts yet again, reaching the very top of the UK charts. When Tony re-recorded the song several years later, he was eventually awarded the freedom of Amarillo, Texas, proving the success of his song with the city’s population. Always eager to further hone his craft, Tony continues to build upon his status as one of the most famous British singers around.

Over the course of his career, Tony has performed a vast array of memorable songs – many of which remain popular to this day. He has sold over 10 million albums worldwide, continually finding new audiences through his thrilling performances. In doing so, he continues to enjoy vast popularity as an ideal choice for corporate events and music venues alike.

Virginia Kettle

Virginia’s vocals have been a key element of Merry Hell’s sound since the band’s inception a decade ago. Before joining her husband John, brothers-in-law Bob and Andrew, and sundry others in the eight-piece folk-rock outfit, she’d already established herself as a singer-songwriter in her own right. As “Virginia Barrett”, she released two solo albums: ‘The Quiet Bridge’ and ‘Sense of Human’ prior to joining the band.

Since Merry Hell began she released her first album, No Place Like Tomorrow.  It’s a more intimate affair than a typical Merry Hell album, both in terms of personnel and in terms of subject matter. The songs have far less of an obvious political tone than many Merry Hell songs and here Kettle tends to touch on more personal matters: love, relationships, family life. ‘Union Jack House’ is the most political song on the album but is structured and delivered in a way that has surprising echoes of Victoria Wood (with a little bit of Are You Being Served thrown in!)

Chris Walker’s Pedigree Jazz Band

Chris Walker presented a weekly Jazz Programme broadcast by radio stations all over the world for over 30 years. However he is also a very fine musician and was a founder member of the famous Real Ale and Thunder Band, who’s many T.V appearances, included a “Songs of Praise” for the BBC.

A while ago he decided to get back to his roots and recreate the hit tunes of the British “Trad Jazz” boom of the 50’s and 60’s. To do this he formed The Pedigree Jazz Band. In their show “SALUTE TO TRAD JAZZ they play the most popular tunes of the era, such as ‘Midnight in Moscow’, ‘Petite Fleur’, ‘Green Leaves Of Summer’ and many others. The band has proved to be a resounding success, with rave reviews and repeat bookings from nearly everywhere they perform.

Hence they now tour extensively, and if you miss them when they are in your area, you will miss out on a great show. The success of this venture is greatly helped with continuing sponsorship from Marston’s Brewery.

Naomi Bedford & The Ramshackle Band

Naomi Bedford is an English singer working in the folk and country genres. She has made four acclaimed albums; most recently ‘Singing It All Back Home’, a collection of Appalachian ballads which was a Guardian Album of the Month in 2019. Her previous albums have featured contributions from UK music legends such as Justin Currie, Andy Summers, Alasdair Roberts and Paul Heaton. She also regularly performs and records with Paul Simmonds, chief songwriter and mandolin player with The Men They Couldn’t Hang.

Naomi has toured widely throughout the UK and appeared at many prestigious Festivals including Glastonbury, Cambridge, Celtic Connections, Sidmouth and Wickham. She has also appeared in session for Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2 and on BBC Radio Scotland. Among her many supporters are; Iggy Pop, ‘Amazing. Naomi pulls no punches’, Shirley Collins, ‘The best singer of Appalachian ballads that I know’ and Del Amitri’s Justin Currie, ‘An English Emmylou’.

The Ramshackle Band are a revolving troupe of musicians that feature guitars, banjos, lap steel, harmonica, bass, percussion and rich harmonies, all of which combine to produce an entrancing folk/country/ceilidh hybrid that is all their own.

Naomi’s latest album, ‘Strange News Has Come To Town’, will be released in May 2024 and features regular collaborator Paul Simmonds alongside a full Ramshackle Band for the first time. They will be appearing across the UK throughout Summer and Autumn of 2024.

The Longest Johns

I doubt any of Bristol’s The Longest Johns ever imagined they would be able to get so far on just four voices.

Born out of a mutual love of traditional folk songs and shanties, they rock maritime songs alongside the more unusual and less traditional folk tunes.

In a few short years they have gone from singing sea shanties in a kitchen to International folk festivals, tours, TV appearances and gained a huge online following.

As the face of the 2021 sea shanty revival with their track Wellerman, the Johns are reaching millions of new fans all across the globe and showing them just how great these songs can be.

Cut Capers

The Glastonbury & Boomtown Festival favourites will bring their infectious dance grooves to Wickam Festival again after they went down a storm in 2022.

Bristol favourites Cut Capers are embarking on their biggest-ever nationwide tour to celebrate the upcoming release of their brand new album “Sightseeing & Short Negotiations”.

The explosive 9-piece have built a killer reputation for their live shows; ultra-high energy experiences, with epic arrangements, booming brass hooks, and scintillating solos. This tour will see them performing a host of new material from their eagerly-anticipated third LP, as well as the crowd-favourites.

With special guests and extended sets, this is not a tour to be missed!

“Come on! That puts a wiggle in your walk!”
Craig Charles, BBC Radio 6

“Something really special and unique”
Steve Yabsley, BBC Radio Bristol

The Marching SKAletons

The Marching SKAletons are a horn led Day of the Dead group that can perform either as a street or electric band, being equally at home on stage or weaving through a festival crowd. They can play a set of traditional ska instrumentals for diehard ska fans or mix it up with surprising ska versions of hits from Depeche Mode, Taylor Swift, Kraftwerk and even Europe. The line up features a powerhouse horn section, guitars, marching drums and bass. The music is a celebratory energetic fusion of ska, Latin, electro, pop & mariachi that guarantees audiences will be dancing.

The band have performed at a varied selection of events and head a regular ska night at The Pelirocco in Brighton. They have entertained crowds at festivals and council events throughout the UK. Past performances include Glastonbury Festival, Together the People festival, Elderflower Fields festival as well as supporting Madness at the Brighton centre. They perform annually at Hove County Cricket grounds bonfire night and have entertained at the National Trust carnival at Montacute House as well as arts council funded Basingstoke’s Day of the Dead. Media appearances include Channel 4 News & BBC Hampshire.

Ryan Young

Ryan Young, a multi award winning fiddle player, is injecting fresh and innovative ideas into the realm of traditional Scottish music. He has gained international acclaim for his captivating fiddle interpretations. Ryan’s debut album, produced in collaboration with four-time GRAMMY winner Jesse Lewis (notable for his work with artists such as Bela Fleck and Yo Yo Ma), was unveiled at the Feakle Traditional Music Festival in County Clare. He was accompanied by the renowned guitarist Dennis Cahill, known for his work with Martin Hayes and The Gloaming.

Ryan’s musical focus revolves around traditional Scottish tunes, but he breathes new life into age-old and sometimes forgotten melodies through his unique approach. His fiddle artistry is characterized by fresh melodic innovations, an infectious rhythmic energy, and an impressive range of dynamics and precision. His signature sound takes the audience on an emotional and adventurous journey with each performance.

Ryan Young boasts an impressive academic background, holding both a first-class honours degree and a Masters from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He earned recognition as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards on two occasions and was twice a finalist in the prestigious BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of The Year competition. In 2017, he was honored with the ‘Up And Coming Artist Of The Year’ award at the Scots Trad Awards. In 2018, he received a Horizon Award nomination at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and was crowned Folking.com’s Musician Of The Year.

His accolades further extend to multiple MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards nominations, including Album Of the Year,  Folk Band Of The Year and Live Act of the Year. Ryan Young was notably the sole UK artist chosen to perform at the esteemed World Music conference, WOMEX, in 2019. In 2023 Ryan toured the USA and 2024 sees him touring the world with concerts from Australia to Austria.

Ryan’s second album ‘Just a Second’ was relaesed in the USA in September 2023 and was released in the UK and Europe in October 2023 to critical acclaim…

“Young’s technical ability is simply jaw-dropping, the pace frantic, dizzying, triumphant.”

Jim Malcolm

Jim Malcolm is the ultimate Scots troubadour. Travelling the world with his guitar, harmonicas, and engaging wit, he sings the traditional songs of Scotland and his own masterfully crafted songs in a style which is modern and accessible, yet utterly authentic. He is highly regarded as an interpreter of the songs of Robert Burns, and has been described as “one of the finest singers in Scotland in any style”.

Though he now works solo, Jim was lead singer with the world-renowned and multi-award-winning Old Blind Dogs for eight years, a fantastic experience with some of Scotland’s finest musicians, taking him to the most prestigious festivals in North America and around Europe.

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    Newly confirmed.  Widely regarded as one of the worlds finest exponents of Scottish Harp (clarsach) playing, Rachel Hair accompanied by guitarist Ron Jappy will be at Wickham on Friday 2nd August.  Day & weekend tickets now onsale via www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

    Newly confirmed. Widely regarded as one of the world's finest exponents of Scottish Harp (clarsach) playing, Rachel Hair accompanied by guitarist Ron Jappy will be at Wickham on Friday 2nd August. Day & weekend tickets now onsale via www.wickhamfestival.co.uk ... See MoreSee Less

    3 days ago

    6 CommentsComment on Facebook

    Have you announced the Sunday headliner yet?

    Excellent she's brilliant live

    Great news. Thank you

    Ooooh can’t wait

    Interested. Look forward to it.

    Jerry Douglas?

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    Newly confirmed. Widely regarded as one of the world's finest exponents of Scottish Harp (clarsach) Rachel Hair accompanied by guitarist Ron Jappy will play Wickham Friday 2nd August joining @Suzi_Quatro @SethLakemanNews Day & weekend tickets now onsale http://www.wickhamfestival.co.uk


    Change-of-date. 17-year-old Irish country blues sensation Muireann Bradley will now appear on Friday 2nd Aug. instead of Sunday 4th Aug. Anyone wishing to change day tickets please email eastfest@talk21.com

    Top Scottish Celtic-rock bands @ManranOfficial @RURAband award-winning singer-songwriters @KatherinePriddy @jimmoray shanty singers @TheLongestJohns & 17-year-old Irish country blues singer Muireann Bradley are among the latest artists confirmed for this year's #WickhamFestival.

    Newly confirmed. We're delighted to announce that Gaelic celtic-rock supergroup Manran will be at Wickham on Sunday 4th Aug. Day & weekend tickets selling fast

    Nice feature on #wickhamfestival on @SGFolkClub1 Listen at 36 mins 50 seconds... but there is some great music if you tune in to the whole show!

    Pleased to announce The Spooky Mens Chorale will be back at Wickham this summer on Friday 2nd August. For full confirmed daily line-up so far + tickets please see http://www.wickhamfestival.co.uk