Wickham Festival News

Judy Collins looks at life from both sides

Folk legend Judy Collins has – in the words of her biggest hit – looked at life from both sides now… and has somehow come through the triumphs and the tragedy.

The Grammy-nominated singer is an iconic figure in the music industry with 56 albums, seven books, countless concerts and television shows and a voice of pure crystal which is achingly honest and heartfelt in both her music and her activism.

Judy Collins is still going as strong as ever

The American star, who headlines the opening night of the Wickham Festival on Thursday August 1 with her only UK date of the year, is going stronger than ever at the grand age of 80.

Yet the fact she is even still alive is a triumph to her indomitable spirit and steely inner core.

She has survived polio, tuberculosis, an overdose attempt on aspirin at the age of 14, depression, bulimia, alcoholism, drug abuse and, most chilling of all, the loss of her only son Clark who took his own life in 1992 at the age of 33 as he relapsed in his own battle against alcoholism.

Any one of those set-backs could have finished a weaker soul yet she has come out on top as she recalls life’s illusions: “Life presents you with what it presents you and then you have to figure out how you are going to handle it. And it is nobody’s fault and it is your responsibility.

“I have been very lucky in my life, I have had wonderful teachers. Amazing teachers, amazing good luck to get into treatment in 1978 and be free of alcoholism and on the road to recovery. In itself that is something that is priceless. You can’t buy it. I don’t care where you go for treatment you can’t buy this and the thing that works is actually free. I often remind people of that; it is a place to go where you don’t have to worry about your medical insurance.”

A renowned activist and campaigner, she uses her own experiences to try and help others through her music or her books or by talking so openly about subjects many would simply lock away.

“I have always been particularly involved in human rights and in issues of bringing some clarity about addiction, about suicide, the social evils of addiction and alcoholism.

Judy Collins is thrilled to be headlining the Wickham Festival

“I have written a lot about all of these things since I started writing books. Primarily when my first book “Trust Your Heart” came out in 1987, for the first time I talked about my own alcoholism and my struggle with it. I have been sober for 41 years now and I have a much better perspective on what is going on. We have an opioid crisis in this country, driven by greed in part and of course a misunderstanding of addiction.

“I have an answer; I know what works. And I always try to talk about it because it doesn’t make sense to keep it secret when you know where the relief comes, where the recovery comes. Everywhere in the world we find the 12-step programme.

“There are about 500 different 12-step programmes. There is even one for Mistresses Anonymous – of which I am not one before you ask!

“It is entirely possible we could get a 12-step programme for the politics.”

Without ever mentioning Donald Trump by name, Collins emphatically distances herself from the recent racist rhetoric she feels is poisoning her home land and threatening to undo the many years of campaigning for equal rights.

Judy Collins is a prolific singer, writer and activist

“I don’t talk about Mr Whoever he is. I don’t talk about him in any public way. I leave that for my family and my friends and my voting machine.

“It’s for the entire country and for everyone who has a conscience. I don’t think there is any way to influence the situation that is causing the problem. I think we always have to go to the voters and the legal system and restore our sanity.”

In the meantime the feisty activist has taken direct action in the way she does best…. through her music. She has written a typically powerful song Dreamers which addresses the fears of the young daughter of immigrants.

She writes:

But will you send her back now
To live in fear and terror
She is our only daughter
Whose dreams have been our vow
We worked to pay our way here
We gave our youth and promise
And in return you force us
To go back to the wall

This land was made by dreamers
And children of those dreamers
We came here for democracy and hope
Now all we have is hope

“I think immigration is the problem of the era and how we look at it and what we do about it is going to change our histories and bring us the justice or acknowledgement or punishment we deserve.

“I think England has a similar problem. The interesting thing however about our situation here is that we are all immigrants. Most countries like England and Scotland and so on have an indigenous population and there was none here except the American Indians and I’m not so sure about them.

Judy Collins is passionate about her music and her causes

“Everybody else is an immigrant, however you slice it. That’s who we are. Our particular issue with immigration is ferociously important to us and our history. Perhaps in the past it has had a guiding effect because we’ve done pretty well on it. We have run into what seems to be a worldwide problem. Up until three or four years ago I think we handled it pretty well but we have run into a snag. I will not dignify that by clarifying it but our snag may drag us down.”

Although well aware of the UK’s own problems, Collins won’t be talking about Brexit on stage at Wickham.

“I don’t feel confident to do that. I have my own opinions about Brexit and I think we’re having a worldwide crisis over human rights. That is something we can all speak about and say we’d like to find solutions. It has to do with talking to each other, with respect and knowledge and actual facts about what is going on.

“I use my music to talk about what I think. I like to be funny so I doubt if I will get into any political discussions from the stage. If my music addresses the audience , that may say more than a few words from me would accomplish.

“I will not do the Dreamers at Wickham. I don’t believe it is proper for me to bring anywhere else a song that was drafted in response to politics in this country. I will limit myself to the hits. I will probably do “Both Sides Now”, I might do “Send in the Clowns” and lots of other surprises and some new songs that I have written.

“My old pal Graham Nash is on the same night. I don’t know how it will be structured and whether there is a chance of doing something together but we’ll see.

Graham Nash (picture by Amy Grantham)

“For the moment this is the only UK date. I think we will be back later in the year or early next but I will never pass up the chance to come to the UK, I love it. I have English in my background, in my DNA. I have been coming to England since 1965 and I have been coming back ever since. I always try to get there when I am invited.”

After headlining the four-day Wickham Festival on August 1, Collins returns to the States for a tour as she maintains a phenomenal output at a time when most people would be enjoying a steady retirement.

She laughs: “I might be 80 but I lose the zero and keep the 8… that’s my secret. I have always toured. There were a couple of years when I was not able to work because of physical reasons but otherwise I have been out on the road for almost 60 years and it’s what I do.

“I’m trying to get better all the time. I write new songs, I make new records, I do television specials. I have done six new albums in the last five years. I am doing a new record right now with a group called the Chatham County Line, that’s coming out in November. Then I have a brand new album of all my own songs coming out in 2020.

“I am working on a new book too. I am always working to try and get better at it. It does not feel like hard work. They say if you do something you love and you have something to offer, you can do it all your life without having to work! I still feel that way.

“I have to live like an athlete which I do. I exercise just about every day, I eat well, I am constantly involved in creativity which keeps you awake and happy. I don’t think there is anything I would rather be doing and nothing that I know how to do any better.”

With remarkable energy as she enters her ninth decade, this remarkable campaigner will continue using her music and the power of her words to try and make a better world.

Judy Collins loves performing in England

“Music and art always save people from what is going on outside their lives and it propels them to have hope. We have to keep working for what we think is right.

“That’s where both my country and yours are indelibly and gracefully surrounded with good press, good writers, responsible publications that take to task what is going on in the world and evoke the truth for us. A free press is terribly important everywhere. It is essential for keeping our democracies going and we have to support a free press and hope to God they don’t get poisoned when they tell the truth. We are indebted to responsible press. There are so many extraordinary reporters who are doing their jobs and are threatened wherever they go. We have had a terrible onslaught of the murder of journalists who try to tell the truth; that’s another are we have to think about carefully because this is a disaster that these people feel threatened.

“We are always having to work for what is right and that’s been true throughout human history and we are no different. We become complacent and then it is time to rock and roll and get busy again.”

*Judy Collins headlines the Wickham Festival on Thursday August 1 along with the Proclaimers, Graham Nash and Skinny Lister. Friday sees Level 42 top the bill while Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls will draw a huge crowd on the Saturday. The festival closes on Sunday August 4 with a stellar line-up including Gilbert O’Sullivan, Ralph McTell, Lindisfarne, Alabama 3 and Hollywood star Kiefer Sutherland and his band. Weekend and day tickets are selling fast – click here to buy.


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    Great News! Van Morrison is confirmed for next year's Wickham Festival. Saturday 7th August 2021. Please 'Share' the news. If you've not already got your tickets, they're onsale now via this link (and selling fast): www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets ... See MoreSee Less

    Great News!  Van Morrison is confirmed for next years Wickham Festival.  Saturday 7th August 2021.  Please Share the news.  If youve not already got your tickets, theyre onsale now via this link (and selling fast):  www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets

    Comment on Facebook

    Well done Peter et al. If you were going to lose anyone between now and 2021 it was going to be the bigger acts that might already have had tours lined up. You're doing a wonderful job, as ever, in the face of something that must have been so disappointing and costly :-( for you x

    Good news was really looking forward to seeing him. Great work going on behind the scenes as always by Peter and the team.

    Brilliant news! And will surely lead to a sell out! 😀

    Brilliant news. Van is my all time favourite xx

    Anne Collins I know next year will be the last thing on your mind, right now, but this was the festival I was planning on this year. All of us next year?! X

    Excellent!! Well done! Was really hoping you could hang onto him.

    See you next year then. Lots of love Edward II. Xx

    It's my birthday too so great reason for a double celebration!

    On my birthday too - Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance

    Great news. Well done.😀😎😎

    Marvellous news!!!!

    A lovely Happy birthday present for me ☺

    Wonderful news. See you then.

    That’s some good news!

    So excited to finally get to see him 😎😎

    This is brilliant news. Van on the same bill as Nick Lowe was a perfect storm for me. Has nick confirmed same date?

    So pleased to hear this! 😍

    Brilliant we’ll definitely be there x

    Fantastic news - can’t wait to see Van the man !

    That's great news 😀 👍

    Fantastic ❤️

    Amazing news!

    Absolutely brilliant

    Woo hoo. Good news indeed. 👏

    He is one of my favourites

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    Thank you so much for all your love & support over the past 24 hours. We really do appreciate it. We'll see you all in 2021 to enjoy the likes of The Waterboys - they've confirmed today that they'll be at Wickham on Sunday 8th August 2021. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UrXRbMYzD8 ... See MoreSee Less

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    Saving my ticket and looking forward to seeing the wonderful Mike Scott! 😍

    No clash with Cropredy weekend, so should be good for us too. Might still take up our 2 nights at the Shedfield Country Club and explore the Meon Valley a bit more, this year.

    Whooohooo. That's a bloody good start to next year's line up. So sorry not to be there this year but we're really happy that we already have our tickets and they'll roll over <3

    Looking forward to seeing you all next year xxx

    Looking forward to kicking off 2021 festival with SAS Band!! 👍

    Saving ours for 2021 🤘👍

    Keeping ours safe for next year.😊

    I will be there to steward😊🚩

    Looking forward to 2021. Let’s hope Van is still good to be there.

    It’s going to be brilliant! X

    When can you purchase tickets for 2021??

    O yes

    Hi. I have a weekend ticket but also got my wife a day ticket to see the Waterboys. As they are now on a different day next year to I have to refund this year’s day ticket and get her a new one or is the one I have transferable to Sunday next year? Cheers

    Roll over for me, gutted to not be having the festival this year.

    Fantastic! ❤️

    Steve Kemp

    Vanessa Sherlock.

    2021 tickets now onsale at 2020 prices. If you've yet to buy, save £40 on weekend season tickets if you buy now. www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets

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    We tried everything we could to get this year's Wickham Festival on but sadly we're forced to postpone to 2021. The good news is that all this year's artists are being re-booked for next year. Please click on statement below to enlarge and read. ... See MoreSee Less

    We tried everything we could to get this years Wickham Festival on but sadly were forced to postpone to 2021.  The good news is that all this years artists are being re-booked for next year.  Please click on statement below to enlarge and read.

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    We are very sad to hear your news Peter. I know from the updates that you and your team worked hard to put on a show this year for everyone. We would have supported you had the festival gone on this year. You will come back stronger next year once things are back to normal in the world. X

    Happy to roll over to 2021, you did your best but unfortunately this virus has wrecked so much of what is good in life.

    Thank you for keeping us informed right the way through. We are disappointed, of course, but feel that the right decision has been made. We are delighted that the same line-up will be at next summer’s festival. Thank you so much for organising it and we will definitely roll over our tickets and Motorhome camping ticket and look forward to next year’s festival. Thank you all for your hard work and the way you have involved us at every stage. It is much appreciated.

    Well done to all the team for persevering with this and trying to organise a fantastic festival for us. We all appreciate the effort you all put in and appreciate this can’t have been an easy decision..However, let’s all look forward to a fantastic festival next year..I for one can’t wait!

    Saddened to hear this decision, however, I believe its the best thing to do. We were in turmoil as to whether we should attend if you did go ahead. Here's to next year, keeping my tickets safe. Thank you for the update... Now go enjoy a well deserved break, xx 😊

    Thank you. For us this was the right decision. If it had gone ahead and as someone who has been in the high risk zone it felt too early to come and mix however careful you were being. Happy to roll tickets over to 21.

    I really wanted to come this year for the first time as the lineup looked so good but I was nervous about buying tickets under the circumstances. I think it’s the right decision to postpone and will definitely buy tickets for next year.

    A tough decision to make but in the current climate feel it's the right one. Thank you for all your time and effort giving this year's festival every chance to go ahead, see you in 2021

    It’s a real shame for you all but it will be something to look forward to next year. Too soon to be safe. I am sorry that your plans have been scuppered but hopefully everyone will keep their tickets for the superb line up and we’ll all be there with bells on next summer. Best wishes. X 👏

    Thank you for keeping us informed all the way. We will most definitely be there next year. Tough decision you guys had to make, but I agree it is the right decision. Much love team Wickham xxx

    We hadn't booked for this year, but glad we didn't miss it as the lineup looks great! Going to see if my husband agrees to booking tickets for next year! 🤞🏻

    Thanks so much Peter and everyone for working so hard to try to make the festival happen this year. Would have loved it to happen but absolutely understand your decision. See you in 2021.

    This announcement, whilst disappointing is both completely understandable and more evidence (as if we needed it) as to why this is the best and most public centered festival in the UK. We will be more than happy to support you and keep our tickets for next year. Keep up the great work...

    So sad, no festival has tried harder to keep the faith....................Here's to next year!!!!! 😊😊😊😊😊😊

    Wow...for once everyone is in agreement that the correct decision has been made, there’s a first on Facebook! Well done to all the team who put so much effort in staging the festival. See you in 2021!

    So, so sorry. You tried as hard as you possibly could. Thank you for all of your efforts. Stay well & safe & we will see you next year 😢♥️

    That has to be the right decision given what (little) we now know. Have been really impressed by the communications from Wickham over the past few months, really felt we've been kept in the loop, and have some understanding of the difficult decisions you've been having to make on our behalf. The line up this year was really exciting, we look forward to our annual fix of Celtic bands, so it's great that it's just been delayed by a year and the lineup will be unchanged. We'll certainly hold onto our tickets for next year, as I'm sure will most other ticket holders.

    Clearly a difficult decision, but I think it’s the right one. Even without the Leicester lockdown, you hit the nail on the head with point 2 - there would always be the risk of legislation; things have been changing weekly and daily, so committing yourselves would be high risk.

    It would have been even more heartbreaking and costly if you'd put everything in place and had to cancel at the last minute. With the ever changing situation just now, I'm sure this is the right decision to have made. I know you'll be making sure that 2021 is even better than ever. I for one am already looking forward to it.

    Correct decision, we are so pleased that the acts we were so looking forward to seeing will be there next year. See you all next year keep safe everyone...

    Thanks for trying, but at the end of the day it's the right decision. We'd already decided not to come, being wary of being in a large crowd, albeit at a certain social distance. We will, however look forward to August 2021 and a great party. If Glasto can have a year off, so can Wickham.

    Genuinely gutted for you Peter, I know how incredibly hard you and your team have worked. We'll just have to make 2021 an even bigger party. Until then, stay safe and good luck with the preparations. Love from The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican xxx

    Well done for , holding out and diligently exploring all options to keep show on the road

    Sad, but it's the right decision, only what we've all been expecting. See you next year x

    I am sorry Peter, it would have been safer than Bournemouth Beach that's for sure. Hypocrisy of this Government is astounding and lack of clarity complete in its absence. Sorry I didn't get a chance to call you. Zoomed out! Respect to you for your investment on behalf of a huge sector of the music industry. x

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    For those missing live music at Glastonbury this weekend. Click the link for a great 'Beans on Toast' video.
    'I know there will be re-runs on the BBC. And that's all well and good but it's not my Glastonbury'

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    Thankyou. Love Beans, will miss him this year!

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