Wickham Festival News

Daisy Chute

Daisy Chute is an American-Scottish folk singer and songwriter. A banjo-wielding multi-instrumentalist, her musical roots are born out of her transatlantic heritage and she writes award-winning intelligent songs with stories, performing them with spine-tingling vocals & intricate instrumentation.

Whilst still at school Daisy signed to Universal/Decca as one quarter and lead vocalist of multiple platinum selling band All Angels. A mix of Celtic, American, Classical and Jazz backgrounds has since seen her feature across Film/TV/Game soundtracks ranging from The Sims 4, Shaun The Sheep the movie, Loki, 47 Ronin and Yesterday to David Attenborough documentaries (‘A Perfect Planet’) and Radiohead albums (session vocalist on ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’).

Recent projects have garnered support from the likes of her songwriting mentor Sir Ray Davies who describes her as a ‘committed, professional and creative songwriter’ and from music journalist Paul Sexton who counts her among his ‘top music tips’.

Her original work has had features on BBC Radio Scotland / Ulster / London / Kent / Coventry / Surrey, C4, BBC 1, 2 and 3, Sky, ITV, CNN, Bob Harris’ Under The Apple Tree series and London Live.

Virginia Kettle

Fans of Merry Hell (not in short supply @ Wickham) are in for a treat this year as Virginia Kettle will be performing solo before the band take to the stage. 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!)

Midge Ure

Midge Ure’s bands have included Slik, Thin Lizzy, Rich Kids and Visage, and of course as the frontman of Ultravox. In 1984 he co-wrote and produced the second-highest-selling single in UK chart history Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which has sold 3.7 million copies.  He also co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof.

Following the overwhelming response to 2019’s ‘The 1980 Tour’, Midge Ure & Band Electronica are delighted to return to the road with the ‘Voice & Visions’ tour, celebrating 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums.

At the start of 1981, Ultravox were laying their claim to be one of the defining acts of the 80s following the global success of hit ‘Vienna’. Heading back into the studio the same year invigorated, they recorded their second album with Ure as frontman, Rage in Eden, which hit the Top 5 in the UK album charts. Quartet, their third album with Ure, came in quick succession in 1982 with production from legendary Beatles producer George Martin. Continuing the band’s impressive chart run, it became their third Top 10 album, featuring four Top 20 singles including the anthem ‘Hymn’.

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.

The Zombies

We’re delighted to announce that Iconic British psychedelic pop legends The Zombies will be appearing at Wickham Festival 2023 on Sunday 6th August. A part of the historic 1960s British Invasion, they were the second U.K. band following the Beatles to score a #1 hit in America.  They will be celebrating the release of their latest album, Different Game, which features new tracks Merry-Go-Round and Dropped Reeling & Stupid.

Rod Argent got in his car recently and eagerly asked Spotify to play “Dropped Reeling and Stupid.” The song had just been released as the latest single by the Zombies. That’s the group the keyboardist and singer Colin Blunstone co-founded as schoolboys in the English town of St. Albans in the early 1960s and still lead. The song was out in advance of the group’s new album Different Game.

It was a thrill to hear the song blasting out of the car speakers, he says. But he was in for a bit of a shock with what the streaming service’s algorithm pulled up next.

“It was the very first song I ever wrote, ‘It’s Alright With Me,’” he says, delightedly. “It was the very first song we ever recorded in our very first recording session.”

What really got him going was that hearing them back-to-back like that, something came through wonderfully: a common spark.

“I thought, ‘My God! Colin sounds exactly the same!’” he says. “It’s obviously a very different song, but they both sound absolutely from a similar mold. And it was because they were both written from the same excitement, the same wish to make something work. And I think that’s true of the whole new album.”

Indeed it is. The inventiveness and spirit that have made the Zombies’ classic, enduring hits — most prominently “She’s Not There” or “Tell Her No” or their biggest, “Time Of the Season” — flourish anew in Different Game.

That spark is in the stately organ progression that kicks off the opening title tune, the gut-punch of the single, the wistful lilt and chiming harmonies of “Rediscover,” the boisterous rock stomp of “Merry Go Round,” the breathtaking beauty of the strings-and-voice showcase “I Want to Fly.” That excitement, that creative energy connects the then and the now, infusing Argent’s inventive tapestries of jazz, pop, rock and classical modes and Blunstone’s angelic voice and entrancing phrasing with fresh power.

Those musical signatures made the group a singular force in the ‘60s British Invasion, an enduring legacy that has seen the Zombies influence artists from Tom Petty to Pat Metheny. The hits remain cherished favorites for fans cutting across generations, and the band’s second album, 1968’s ambitiously sweeping Odessey and Oracle, is a perennial high pick in fans’ and critics’ rankings of essential releases of its era. These innovations and achievements saw the Zombies honored with a 2019 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Different Game is the Zombies’ first album since that induction. It’s also the first, sadly, since the death in 2018 of bassist Jim Rodford, who as Argent’s older cousin had helped turn him on to rock music in their youth and joined the band in its 2001 resurrection after a three-decades hiatus. His spirit remains strong in the power of the music, as well as in the presence of his son, drummer Steve Rodford, who also joined in 2001. Tom Toomey, who joined in 2010, continues to provide the sharp, lyrical guitar at the core of the sound, while Søren Koch, who stepped in after Jim Rodford’s death, anchors the band on bass. And giving added dimension to many of the songs is the presence of the Q Strings quartet, with stellar arrangements mostly by Argent. It’s a touch that expands and enhances the emotional depth of the songs.

Through touring and now recording together, Argent, Blunstone, Rodford, Toomey and Koch have become a lively, versatile unit that draws on the past while moving forward in great leaps. Key is the vibrant immediacy in the album. The basic recordings, produced largely at Argent’s custom home studio by him and Dale Hanson, were done with the five Zombies together in the room in straight takes — even Blunstone’s vocals.

“The guys say it helps them, and it certainly helps me,” Blunstone says. “It’s totally different to sing with a band, live with all that energy in the studio. It lifts you up. I really enjoy it. And often we keep those live vocals.”

“We did it with quite a few on this album,” Argent says. “With ‘Dropped Reeling and Stupid,’ that’s pretty much one vocal. They were only meant as guides, but they work so well. Something about the chemistry with what is all happening together. And we intended to replace the solos too, but often we didn’t. On that song that’s the solo I played when we were all together, one take. It’s the way we used to record, because in those days there was no other way of doing it.”

The electricity was palpable and inspiring from the moment they first got together to record new songs in late 2019, still soaring from the Hall of Fame honors. But that, along with the rest of the world, came to a sudden halt with the pandemic. As frustrating as that was, it provided an opportunity: With the unexpected luxury of time, Argent set about scoring string quartet backing for several of the songs. Hanson connected the band with the Q Strings, four women who have worked with Jeff Lynne’s ELO.

The strings and the band make a perfect blend right off from the title song, a blend of all the inspirations that moved the Zombies through the years. There’s the rock and jazz, of course. But “Different Game” kicks off the album with the spirit of a different lifetime musical passion: Bach. Argent wrote it after he and his wife attended a performance of the composer’s Mass in b minor shortly before the pandemic hit. At home he went to work out the chords of one passage.

“And I started writing a song around it,” he says. “That was the whole opening sequence and became the verse. So that was the musical beginning of the album.”

Blunstone was quite taken with this bit of Bach ’n’ roll on first hearing.

“I felt I could sing it quite naturally,” he says. “I felt an affinity to it.”

As for the words, it’s a call to take stock, to look around and to celebrate the many riches of life and to embrace changes it brings.

“The original trigger to ‘Different Game’ was a situation where somebody actually in a band — I’m not going to say more than that — started to become very disenchanted and blamed everyone else around the band,” Argent says, cryptically. “But in truth it was him growing older and life changing from what it had been when they started. That was just the trigger, but then I felt it could be looking back over the years, life seems such a different game.”

The theme of embracing life’s changes is a thread through the album, culminating with the breathtaking, heartrending finale of Blunstone’s “The Sun Will Shine Again.”

“It is a love song,” Blunstone says. “But it’s a love song from a parent to a child. My daughter was going through a difficult period a few years ago and that’s what triggered this song. But it’s not specifically about me and my daughter. It’s about all parents everywhere, really — the love that you have and the challenges that you go through as you bring up your child and how that relationship changes. And of course it ends with them leaving,”

He pauses.

“Oh, it sounds really sad,” he says.

“It’s beautiful, Colin!” Argent interjects. “I loved it the first time I heard it.”

Just as beautiful are the wordless, layered harmonies that open “Rediscover,” recalling the Beach Boys’ glorious chorales. It was, in fact, written while the Zombies were on tour with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys in 2019.

“I had a piano in my hotel room and the next morning after one of the gigs I was just messing around, and then I had this song written,” Argent says. “And just for fun I scored a basic version of that opening eight bars where it does sound Beach Boys-ish.”

Blunstone laughs at how this song brings back memories of the early Zombies days again, the group’s distinctive set of roots all flowering anew here.

“Rod’s a very good harmony arranger,” he says. “He was in the cathedral choir at St. Albans. It’s a huge cathedral. And until he was 18 he was singing in the choir. Sometimes we would go pick him up right after evensong at about eight o’clock in the evening and go very fast to the rock ’n’ roll gig we had. There weren’t many gigs on Sunday nights, but it did happen. And I think it gave Rod’s voice a bit of a bashing.”

He continues, to Argent: “I remember you were a bit hoarse after you’d done evensong, and then there would be all the songs we used to scream when we were 16 or 17!”

That is just about the Zombies in a nutshell.

“Yes!” Blunstone says. “Evensong to Bo Diddley!”

Harmonies mark several other songs, particularly “Love You While I Can,” on which Toomey plays an almost Spanish-style fingerpicking part around which Argent built the song, but playing the tricky passages on an electric guitar. Blunstone also rose to a challenge as the melody, too, has some surprising twists.

“There are some quite intricate songs on the album,” Blunstone says. “But the toughest one for me to sing was this one.”

The rock ’n’ roll part of the mix comes to the fore in “Got to Move On,” a bit bluesy with electric piano with maybe a nod to Ray Charles, Argent says, plus something unexpected.

“I played what I’d started to write to my wife and she said, ‘Why don’t you play harmonica on it?’” Argent says. “I said, ‘I haven’t played harmonica for about 50 years!’ But she said, ‘Have a go.’”

On “I Want to Fly,” though, the music is stripped down just to the string quartet brings the strings behind Blunstone’s plaintive singing, and it is breathtaking. The song was originally on 2004’s As Far As I Can See, but with a bigger arrangement. Blunstone and Argent felt that it deserved a new life, and this one handed over the arranging duties to Christopher Gunning, whose ties go back to arranging strings on Blunstone’s cherished first solo album, 1971’s One Year. The connection comes through strongly and gorgeously.

“It could have been done at the same time,” Argent says. “And Colin’s voice could have been done at the same time. I mean, he’s 77, as am I, and his voice is just as strong as it was then, stronger in
some ways.”

Having the strings realizes something left unfulfilled in the original Zombies’ 1960s run, particularly on Odessey and Oracle.

“We had a very small budget back then,” Blunstone says of the 1968 session on which they used a Mellotron — the same one the Beatles used on Sgt. Pepper. “We couldn’t use strings and we had to
record very quickly.”

It’s fulfillment and full circle.

“Different Game was completely an in-house production,” Argent says. “We worked within our small group and even the strings were recorded in my place here. And that’s exactly what we did with Odessey and Oracle. We produced it ourselves because we wanted our own stamp on it. I’m really pleased. I think it’s the best album we’ve done since Odessey and Oracle. It’s the most whole and musically successful, and it’s reflecting how we are on stage, how things are now.”

The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, inducting Blunstone, Argent and co-founders Chris White and Hugh Grundy at the Hall of Fame ceremony, cited the innovation and impact of the group’s hits, but focused on the deep personal meaning it had for her.

“It never fails to touch me, inspire me, excite me and dazzle me, to make me feel less alone, to lift me when I’m down,” she said. “And even when their music moves me with it’s poignancy to tears, it reminds me of what it is to be alive, to be human and of the power of song and music to connect us all.”

She is hardly alone. Tom Petty was, famously, as big a fan. He and the Heartbreakers often did their own version of the Zombies’ 1965 rocker “I Want You Back Again” in concert, and he wrote the forward to The “Odessey”: The Zombies in Words & Images’ , the 2017 book detailing the band’s history. Dave Grohl and Paul Weller are among the many others who have explicitly cited the Zombies as a crucial, beloved influence on them. And it’s hard to imagine the jazz mystique of Steely Dan or the poetic chamber-pop of Belle and Sebastian without the Zombies having paved the way. On meeting Argent in the ‘70s, innovative jazz guitarist Pat Metheny exclaimed that “She’s Not There” in particular was an epiphany that unlocked his own musical ambitions.

It’s a rather heady legacy for a band formed in 1962 by schoolboy friends in St. Albans, about an hour’s drive from London. What became the classic lineup of Blunstone, Argent, bassist Paul Atkinson, guitarist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy quickly won notice locally and, signing with Decca, well beyond, with “She’s Not There,” their first single, going top 20 in the UK and No. 1 in the US. Months later, “Tell Her No” did nearly as well. Various followups failed to break through, though, but that only spurred the band’s artistic ambitions, realized in the glorious songs and arrangements in Odessey and Oracle, its second album, recorded in 1967.

When the album was met with little support from their record company, though, the discouraged quintet broke up, only to have “Time of the Season” rocket up the charts. They declined offers to regroup to tour behind this success (though fake versions of the band were put on the road by unscrupulous promoters). Argent formed the band bearing his name, which would have the global smash “Hold Your Head Up” in 1972, while Blunstone started a solo career. But even through that, the Zombies were present, as White worked with the band Argent as a non-performing songwriter and Argent, & White both were integral contributors to the Blunstone’s One Year.

The formal reunion started casually, when in 1999 Argent was playing at a concert in tribute to English jazz musician John Dankworth and, seeing Blunstone in the audience, called the singer on stage to perform a song with him. After doing some shows as Rod Argent & Colin Blunstone, they brought the Zombies back to life with the Rodford’s father-son pair and guitarist Keith Airey. Through four albums and various tours, the “new” Zombies solidified and grew. Some of the concerts featured appearances by the surviving original members (Atkinson died in 2004), particularly shows built around complete performances of Odessey and Oracle celebrating the album’s 50th anniversary.

That momentum powered Different Game.

“When we started, I thought, ‘I don’t want to make an album that is a typical “vintage” album where people seem to tone down the energy, give you a quieter, more laid-back version of what they’ve done in the past,’” Argent says. “I wanted to reflect the energy and commitment we have on stage. How we really psych ourselves up on stage is by going out on a limb and expressing a lot of energy. At the same time there are four or five tracks that do really romantic things and they make a beautiful contrast.”

At the heart of it all, what really keeps them going, is the relationship that has continued to grow with their fans.

“We always remark on this, particularly in America,” Blunstone says. “But wherever we play there is a real cross-section of ages at our concerts, from teenagers up to the people who have followed us from the very beginning. There’s a huge energy from the audience that comes back and really lifts us. It’s been a wonderful experience to see the band grow a second time. I think it’s probably what I’m most proud of what we’ve achieved.”

The Ross Couper Band

The Ross Couper Band features Ross Couper on fiddle, Michael Biggins on Piano and Paul Jennings on Drums. The group can also feature Sam Mabbett on accordion, . Ross Couper is a known virtuoso which features a distinctive Shetland style.  His explosive fiddle playing lies at the heart of the mighty Peatbog Faeries.

The Tuneless Choir

LOVE to SING! We love your Wonky Notes!

Join us on Sunday 6th August at midday for the WICKHAM BIG SING with the Tuneless Choir.

Love to sing? Dread anyone hearing you? Wouldn’t dream of joining a ‘real’ choir? Then come sing with us at the WICKHAM BIG SING. If you can sing – come along as well – we don’t discriminate – in fact, we need all the help we can get 🙂 Lyrics will be available to download by scanning the QR Code – available at the performance. You probably won’t need them as we are sure you’ll know all the words to these top tunes (click to view on YouTube):


Click here to download the lyrics for our 2023 Wickham Festival performance.


Or you can scan the QR code below.

Point your smart phone camera at this QR code to download lyrics for Wickham Festival 2023.

The Tuneless experience is unique. We sing purely for the pleasure of it – with no pressure or expectation to improve – and simply aim for everyone to leave us feeling energised and uplifted.

In 2022 The Tuneless Choir proved Wickham loves to have a sing-along, so we invited them back for 2023!

Sharon Marnell, leader of Locks Heath and Solent Tuneless Choirs says “We know that singing in a group brings huge benefits. Some of those are physical, as we know choirs benefit conditions such as Parkinson’s and COPD. I believe, however, that the greatest effect is on our mental health from the emotional and social benefits.

“Research has shown that group singing reduces cortisol levels, so decreases stress and anxiety. It also increases endorphins, our “happy hormones”, and so people who sing regularly are shown to have greater life satisfaction. I’m not surprised as when you are in a positive frame of mind, it’s so much easier to cope with what life throws at you. It’s just incredible how doing something so simple can increase someone’s quality of life.

There are 30 plus Tuneless Choirs around the country, but for our WICKHAM BIG SING we’ll be led on stage by two Local Tuneless Choirs from The Solent and Locks Heath.

Singing is for everyone, come join us!

Toyah & Robert Fripp

Toyah and her husband Robert Fripp of ‘King Crimson’ fame will be bringing “Toyah & Robert’s (Late) Sunday Lunch” to Wickham. This is a welcome return for Toyah who appeared with The SAS Band in 2021. It’s a debut at Wickham for Robert Fripp. We can’t wait!

For 42 years Toyah has taken to the stage like no other. She has won numerous awards and nominations from singing to writing to acting. In 2001 Toyah was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Central England in Birmingham.

In 2018 Paul McCartney awarded Toyah a LIPA Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Companionship for Outstanding Achievement in music, drama, performance and media.

Toyah was awarded a star on the Kings Heath Walk of Fame and a star on Birmingham’s Broad Street Walk of Stars recognising her achievements. She has been an inspiration and role model for generations through her iconic hit singles, film and theatre roles and steadfast commitment to always being individual and creative.

From punk princess to cult stage actress, Toyah Willcox is a uniquely gifted performer and an inextinguishable flame. Charismatic, outspoken and impossible to categorise, she is one of Britain’s beloved household names – an award-winning rock legend as well as a much-loved stage/screen actress and music composer. Toyah has amassed thirteen top 40 singles, recorded twenty-five albums, written two books, appeared in over forty stage plays, acted in over twenty feature films and presented hundreds of television programmes.

Robert Fripp is a British musician, songwriter, record producer, and author, best known as the guitarist, founder and longest-lasting member of the progressive rock band King Crimson. He has worked extensively as a session musician and collaborator, notably with David Bowie, Blondie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall, Midge Ure, Talking Heads, and David Sylvian. He also composed the startup sound of Windows Vista operating system, in collaboration with Tucker Martine and Steve Ball. His discography includes contributions to over 700 official releases.

His compositions often feature unusual asymmetric rhythms, influenced by classical and folk traditions. His innovations include a tape delay system known as Frippertronics and new standard tuning.

Swan Samba

Swan Samba are a drumming and movement group open to ages 11+ and all abilities, run via Roynon Performing Arts, a school established for 40 years. Workshops are held for all ages and abilities to learn new and exciting drum and performance skills every Tuesday term time. The drumming band plays a fusion of samba styles and have gigged at local carnivals such as Romsey and Hedge End, as well as exciting events such as Winchester’s Hatfair and Wickham Festival.

Swan Samba at Wickham Festival 2021

They have also been featured in the media, including The Portsmouth News, Voice FM and South Today. Swan Samba can be found on all relevant social media streams and all enquiries are very welcome, whether it’s to try out in the band, set workshops in schools, or to pencil in future performance opportunities. If you’re in the Southampton / Winchester areas, why not get in contact and try three taster sessions for £15?

Peat and Diesel

The story began when three Stornoway Cove’s (Innes, Uilly and Boydie) met up in the house to have the craic on a Saturday nights playing music with just the Dog and the Cat watching. After a few tunes getting thrown across the room Boydie stated muttering a few sentences. As he is a man of few words not attention was really given to him until he shouted ‘Quick, line me out!’ Not a second to spare a set of old broken headphones were cable tied to a guitar amp and out came a few cobwebs followed shortly after with a sound nobody had ever heard before. What came next was five gallons of lyrics, Verse after verse, Song after song – PEAT & DIESEL WAS BORN! The songs won’t make much sense to the average person, but the person behind the lyrics isn’t your average man so if you have a listen and you can relate to it you are a special breed! Peat & Diesel – Light my Byre takes you on a journey to the heart of the Western Isles, where #peatlemania was born. You might have time for a brandy in the ‘Airidh’ but don’t miss your ride in Calum Dan’s Transit Van, we ain’t stopping till we lose the water!

Selling out Glasgow’s iconic Barrowlands in one day as well as over 7,000 tickets across their debut tour happening in Jan 2020 has seen the band turn a corner in the public eye and with the band’s second album “Light My Byre” out on Jan 24th 2020 things just keep going from strength to strength!!

Jim Cregan ‘Cregan & Co’

The Faces broke up in 1975 and Rod Stewart started his own band.​ ​One of the most influential guitarists in this line-up was Jim Cregan. Now, more than 40 years on, Jim, together with four outstanding musicians, performs that well-loved heritage music under the name ‘Cregan & Co’.  Forming this band gave him the opportunity to play live the songs he had written, recorded and co-produced with Rod Stewart. In January 2013, Roger Chapman agreed to reform Family for two concerts in London at the Empire Shepherd’s Bush. This coincided with Family winning Classic Rock magazine’s “Spirit of Progressive Rock” Award. He also joined a reformed Family for the group’s final shows in late 2016, part of a line up that only included Chapman, Poli Palmer and Cregan from the band’s 60s and 70s output.

On 13 September 2015, Cregan joined Rod Stewart on stage at the BBC Radio 2 ‘Live in Hyde Park London’ Festival.

“If you can’t afford my ticket go see these guys…they’re just as good and half the price!” Rod Stewart

Afro Celt Sound System

It will be a very welcome return for Afro Celt Sound System featuring our Festival Patron, Johnny Kalsi, on Sunday 6th August 2023 who last appeared at Wickham in 2019.

Afro Celt Sound System are among the pioneers of the contemporary world music scene. Their ground-breaking fusion of African, Gaelic and Bhangra influenced sounds has won the hearts and minds of audiences since the group’s beginnings over 25 years ago. With album sales now topping more than one and a half million, two Grammy nominations to date and tours all around the world, they are the legendary afro-celtic band bringing spirits and music from different cultures together to a breath-taking show.

In 1995, The first Afro Celt Sound System album was released to great critical acclaim. To quote Real World Records:

“The world’s press waxed superlative: “a hurricane let loose” declared Q Magazine. “Hearing is believing,” announced Mojo. “Heady, heartfelt music,” proclaimed the Wall Street Journal. Word of mouth spread. A host of imitators soon began crossing cultural boundaries, bent on embracing the future without losing sight of the past. None of them, of course, caught the essence of Afro Celts. Much copied, they were never surpassed. “ The group went on to release 8 studio albums in total, becoming one of Real World Records top selling artistes of all time.” 

In March 2023, ACSS founder Simon Emmerson sadly passed away after prolonged illness. Simon founded the ground breaking group and was the driving force in it’s innovative genre defying recordings and live shows. His loss will be felt for many years by both the band and their fans alike. Simon was steadfast in his belief that the band should continue after his passing, and had been working on the next album for some time. The New Album OVA (short for Ovate, and the Afro Celt Symbol) will be released in Simon’s memory at the end of 2023.

The Electric Swing Circus

The Electric Swing Circus is a live 6-piece fusion of classy 20’s swing and stomping electro beats. Drawing influence from 1920’s swing and jazz, the explosive sound of the Electric Swing Circus reverberates back through time, re-inventing the genre of electro-swing for an ever expanding, multi-generational audience.

The ESC’s sound is an exciting combination of vintage samples, gypsy-jazz guitar, electric double bass, keys, live drums, dirty synths and electro beats. Fronted by a powerful female double-act, with extensive variety of vocal styles, the ESC delivers a consistently dazzling show.

The band are active in the electro-swing scene, running their own annual festival, Swingamajig, and regular club night, Hot Club de Swing, as well as curating acts for events and stages across Europe.

The band first formed in 2011, and have since toured 4 continents, playing major festivals and headline shows all over the world. They’ve released two genre defining albums on Ragtime Records: ‘Electric Swing Circus’ and ‘It Flew By’ and have recently dropped their brand new EP ‘Connected/Invisible Man’.

Ladies and Gentlemen, hold onto your hats. The circus is coming to town!

With well over 2M views on YouTube we’re sure hoping they perform Valentine…

The band members are:

  • Laura O – Vocals
  • Vicki Olivia – Vocals
  • Chandra Walker – Drums/Keys
  • Tom Hyland – Guitar & Vocals
  • Rashad Gregory – Samples, MPC & Synths
  • Patrick Wreford – Bass Guitar/Double Bass & Bass Synth
  • Bridge Williams – Sound

The Electric Swing Circus are also the team behind The Swingamajig Festival in Birmingham, which they headline each year.  It is regarded as one of the main Vintage Remix / Electro Swing events in the world … so be sure to check it out for something very different.

The Electric Swing Circus’s sound is a powerful combination of vintage samples, electro beats, gypsy-jazz guitar, electric double bass, keys, live drums and dirty synths. Fronted by an engaging female double-act, who perform an extensive variety of vocal styles, the Electric Swing Circus delivers a consistently dazzling show.

“Sure-fire festival favourites, the ESC excel in the live arena. Their energy and infectious enthusiasm can win over the toughest of crowds. As close to a guaranteed good time as you’re ever likely to find.”
Nick Hollywood – Founder White Mink Black Cotton

“The ESC pulled one of the largest crowds we’ve ever seen at the Shambala main stage and they surely hold the record for the most audience members jumping in unison! Their sound is huge, their energy is infectious and the show unique – a real no brainer for bookers and festivals across the world.”
John Walsh – Director Shambala Festival

“The Electric Swing Circus have become an annual fixture at the Twinwood Festival. They deliver an exciting and vibrant sound that hits the spot every time. The arena is always packed with an adoring crowd who would definitely lynch me if I didn’t have them back every year !”
David Wooding – Director of Twinwood Events Limited

Merry Hell

Merry Hell have firmly become a Wickham favourite, last performing in 2021.  We’re not sure we could manage 3 years without pleading them to return.  They’re fantastic musicians that always get the crowd dancing! What’s more, for a 2023 Virginia Kettle will be performing a solo set at 13.15 – 14.00 before taking to the stage with the band at 15.15 – 16.15.

Merry Hell are a band founded on the ever evolving Folk tradition – music made by the people and shared by the people. Though their hearts and souls are tuned to the songs which came before them, they bring you new words and music forged from their own experiences, from the lows and the loves of theirs lives. Their art is energy and their hope is unity. Their pleasure is to please, let the audience be the acid test and let the music speak for itself!

During 2014, Merry Hell played over twenty festivals, including a highlight support slot to Richard Thompson at Towersey, undertook its first national tour in Spring, a further tour in October, plus a ten date acoustic jaunt around the folk clubs and arts centres of Northern Britain.  In March, 2015 they released their third album, The Ghost In Our House and Other Stories.


In 2017 they proposed an alternative National Anthem – Come On, England!  The single was released on 1st August 2017 and taken from their album Bloodlines. Words and music by Bob Kettle.


What are Skerryvore? They’re like no one else. Epic of melody, intimate of feeling and plugged into the roots of Scotland but blasting out to the world.

Three time winners of Scotland’s ‘Live Act of the Year’ award, Skerryvore have evolved from their humble beginnings to become one of the country’s leading forces in a thriving live music scene. At the forefront of a movement that has reinvented and reignited a traditional Scottish scene for a modern, multicultural audience, the band have brought their high energy performances to audiences across the globe. From their early days in Scottish West Coast halls and bars, to festival crowds in the USA, Canada, Australia and throughout the UK and Europe, Skerryvore’s wide range of influences and talent produce a musically expansive, immersive yet intimate set that excites and captivates audiences.

With a mix of bagpipes, fiddles, accordions, and whistles, alongside guitar and vocals, underpinned by driving bass, drums and keys, Skerryvore represent the best in contemporary Scottish traditional music. Their 6 studio albums demonstrate the wide range of influences the individual musicians bring to the mix – a unique fusion of folk, trad, pop and rock.

Their latest studio album ‘tempus’, due for release on April 28, is already making waves in the UK music scene, with the first three single releases – You & I, Together Again & Everything You Need – all having been consecutively chosen to feature on the BBC Radio 2 new music playlist.

To celebrate the release of the new album, Skerryvore will be bringing the Tempus Tour to audiences across the UK, Europe and USA.

“Skerryvore have crafted a world beating fusion, which takes pride in their heritage and above all else is a pure joy to listen to.”
Folk Radio UK

“A spectacular mix of traditional Scottish folk music and the most diverse rock elements.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung, GERMANY

“The highest rated show we have ever had on our post-concert surveys… people LOVED the show.”
Anchorage Concert Association, ALASKA

“Such a fresh, real, new sound… I love it”
Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2 UK

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    Newly confirmed. Traditional & original music from Orkney. Saltfishforty will be at Wickham 2024. ... See MoreSee Less

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    they sound brilliant! Another good addition would be Mad Ferret if you are still looking for bands

    Another great live band confirmed. London-Irish Psycho-Ceilidh punk rockers NECK will be at next year's Wickham Music Festival. Last few earlybird season tickets now onsale via www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets www.youtube.com/watch?v=KssCPEELtCw&list=PL0CA629221839025B&index=12 ... See MoreSee Less

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    Please tell me you're going after Ferocious Dog and the Undertones!

    Just listened to a few on you tube. Sound good! One for my list!

    they look brilliant! Any chance of Shamus O'Blivion and the Megadeath Morrismen this year too?

    Sound brilliant

    Any chance of the Mary Wallopers too?

    These look great!

    Oh hell yes!!

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