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.


Archives by year

  • 2020 (1)
  • 2019 (25)
  • 2018 (25)
  • 2017 (27)
  • 2016 (23)
  • 2015 (19)
  • 2014 (2)
  • Facebook Posts

    Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

    If you live in Dorset or Hampshire and/or are looking for something to do over the Easter weekend, there's a great little Festival at the Forest Arts Centre in New Milton with some top-class bands inc. 3 Daft Monkeys; The Men They Couldn't Hang; and Merry Hell. www.folkrattleandroll.co.uk ... See MoreSee Less

    If you live in Dorset or Hampshire and/or are looking for something to do over the Easter weekend, theres a great little Festival at the Forest Arts Centre in New Milton with some top-class bands inc. 3 Daft Monkeys; The Men They Couldnt Hang; and Merry Hell.  www.folkrattleandroll.co.uk

    Comment on Facebook

    Martin Steeden Karina Steeden

    The SAS Band (Spike's All-Stars) will be at Wickham on Thurs., 6 Aug. led by Queen's touring keyboard player since 1984 Spike Edney, and featuring a host of well-known vocalists performing their greatest hits and more. Vocalists will include Wickham favourites Graham Gouldman (10cc); Steve Harley (Cockney Rebel); Tom Robinson; Toyah & Madeline Bell (Blue Mink). Day & Weekend tickets now onsale via: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets ... See MoreSee Less

    The SAS Band (Spikes All-Stars) will be at Wickham on Thurs., 6 Aug. led by Queens touring  keyboard player since 1984 Spike Edney, and featuring a host of well-known vocalists performing their greatest hits and more.  Vocalists will include Wickham favourites Graham Gouldman (10cc); Steve Harley (Cockney Rebel); Tom Robinson; Toyah & Madeline Bell (Blue Mink).  Day & Weekend tickets now onsale via: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets

    Comment on Facebook

    The ultimate party band to celebrate our 15th Wickham Festival (inc. two at Stokes Bay) supported by Nine Below Zero and John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett. Should be a great opening night party! www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

    2006 - Steeleye Span, Osibisa!! My claim to fame is that I had a corkscrew... so that Maddy Prior could open her 'lubricating' bottle of red wine!! :-)

    Ridiculously good!!- Peter, you keep giving!!! Annie- all stars indeed 😎😎

    This year's lineup just gets better and better. Thank you to the Wickham team. I'm so glad I booked again this year.

    Wow love them so much , missed them the last time they played Southampton,so this is great news.

    Sounds awesome. What a line up. Another great festival weekend.ooking forward to it.

    Wow! Really delighted. We see these guys each in Guildford and they are brilliant!

    Can't wait..................….Spike and Jamie here we come. Would be a bonus if Tony was there too but I doubt Roger will be with us!!

    Another crowd pleaser. Going to be a great year yet again. A chance to nip to the bar to top up the beer while Toyah is singing as well 😁 (sorry, not a fan) 😎

    I don't think we have even missed one.

    Fabulous to see the SAS band coming back to Wickham!

    Local lad Spike and his knockout band - never disappointing. This just gets better and better :-)

    Oh it’s our 15th too then, we sort of lost count. 😂

    Really excited, it can’t come soon enough.🎉🥳

    Already booked. I am very happy about this!!

    What a way to kick off the festival! :-D

    oh great news.. quite the bag of goodies..

    What a Great Booking 👏🎉

    Unbelievably, it gets even better! Excellent news.

    Brilliant, what a fab start to my Friday

    Well done Pete!

    Michelle Dower great way to start our festival.. soooo excited..

    Brill we will be there 🍺

    Christine Martin you wanted to see them next time they appeared locally. Shall we get tickets?

    Omg! Best news ever! 🎉🎉

    View more comments

    1 week ago

    Wickham Music Festival

    Another band just confirmed. Gadarene will be at Wickham on Friday 7th August. Click on pic to view video. www.facebook.com/gadarenemusic/videos/1021730457889726/ ... See MoreSee Less

    Comment on Facebook

    Love this- another band to look forward to!!- 168 days!! 😂😂 Annie 👀👀

    We've always said that one of the great things about Wickham is not necessarily the band's that you know it's the discoveries that you make when you are there. Hattie Hatstar you can take a bow now...

    They sound amazing!


    Looks like they will certainly entertain.

    Yay! Looking forward to catching up Jon Dyer ❤️


    Kim Haddock

    View more comments

    2020 will be our 15th Wickham Festival (inc. two held at Stokes Bay). Who or what have you enjoyed most in that time? ... See MoreSee Less

    2020 will be our 15th Wickham Festival (inc. two held at Stokes Bay).  Who or what have you enjoyed most in that time?

    Comment on Facebook

    Music wise: the Waterboys (great to see them back), Gilbert O'Sullivan, Wilko, Tom Robinson, Boo Hewerdine, Eddi Reader, Trevor Horn Band, Spike's AllStars, Undertones, Hattie Hatstar, Tankus the Henge and so many more. Other wise: Real ale, great food, friendly atmosphere, brief escapes into Wickham, Hand to Mouth puppets, great campsite and so much more. This year will be our 7th Wickham and it's the highlight of our year. May there be many more.

    Treacherous Orchestra last summer: I had high expectations and they delivered in spades :-)

    Show of Hands, Stanley Jordan, Lindisfarne and Seth Lakeman

    Having discovered Wickham Music Festival 6 years ago we have been back ever since (having ditched Cropredy after 25 years of attendance) and Wickham is truly superb. The atmosphere, the countryside, the village, the beer, the stalls and of course the music make it a fabulous event !! Best bands ? 10cc, The Men They Couldn't Hang, Tom Robinson Music, Merry Hell, Holy Moly and the Crackers,Lindisfarne Live,John Otway, Skinny Lister, Show of Hands, the list goes on and on. Keep on doing what you do !!

    Last year was my first time at wickham. For me skinny lister , dreadzone and the proclaimers. The friendly people and the free shuttle bus . Hope to come this year

    The Blockheads - such a tight band still, great musicians

    10cc Graham Nash The men they couldn’t hang Tom Robinson Fisherman’s Friends Seth Lakemen and many more 🌹

    So far, Tankus The Henge stand out as having been awesome. Lots of great artists and too many to name but TTH give great entertainment.

    A first and a last for me. My introduction to John Cooper Clarke was at Wickham, loved him ever since. And a last chance to see the legend that was Roy Bailey, obviously not well but determined to carry on. Forever in my memory. Wickham I only wish you lasted a week, then I could see all the wonderful artists you book.

    Just discovering the festival in 2015, which introduced me to incredible musicians and folk music and encouraged me to seek out live music and other brilliant artists. I will be forever grateful :). (attended 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2019) (In particular, Seth Lakeman, Kadia, Skerryvore, Show of Hands, Electric Eden, Devin-Jade, Alice Milburn, Tom Millichamp, Richard Morris, John Adams & Megson)

    1. Atmosphere amazing. 2. Venue amazing. 3. People amazing. 7 years ago I popped my festival cherry by coming to Wickham with my wonderful, soon to be wife, Becca Knight and the great man that is Skyline Drifter. We’ve been back as soon to be parent times ....... new parent times ...... and now we have an amazing son who’s shared his first few years as a Wickham-ite. One of our favourite times of year when it comes around. Love and respect. We’re all glad to see Tankus back this year. Callum’s their number 1 fan and he’s hoping for another hay fight with Jaz .........

    Without doubt Chris and Thomas at the first ever festival held in Wickham. Sensational.

    10CC, Show of Hands (never tire of seeing them), Kate Rusby, Frank Turner, KT Tunstall, Treacherous Orchestra, The South, Vent du Nord, Spooky Men, Barsteward Sons, Les Barker....could go on. The beer tent, the stalls, the atmosphere - and Bunny Chow!

    Tankus the Henge, Big Brother Soul, Holy Moly and the Crackers, Toyah, Jools Holland, Fisherman's Friends, Dhol Foundation and many more. Had a blast last summer, cracking line up every time I go. Always good entertainment between acts with the Morris dancing, puppet shows and comedy acts as well

    The South,Dhol Foundation, Barsteward Sons, Holy Moly, Skinny Lister, Otway.....ooooo too many 🥰

    Too many great bands to name but highlights include - Steve Earl, the val doonicans, tankus the henge, the dohl foundation, the proclaimers grace petrie, billy bragg and the stranglers

    I'm guessing you have probably never heard of Lindisfarne , the group, not the Island. Try Winters Song on YouTube.

    The atmosphere, the campsites, the atmosphere on the campsites, the laid-back approach, the commitment and dedication of the organisers.......oh, and the music!! Steve Harley (and finding out what his son is up to each year!), The Levellers, Show of Hands, Bellowhead, Eliza Carthy, Caravan of Thieves and that awesome version of Bohemian Rhapsody, Tankus, trying to guess which band Sam Sweeney will be playing in each year.......I could go on virtually indefinitely!

    Tankus the Henge, Gilmore & Roberts, Tom Robinson, the Spooky Men, Merry Hell, the Young 'Uns, Oysterband, Edward II, Roger Chapman. Much more besides. Plus great beer and (usually) great weather. Just wish there was a shuttle bus from Fareham.

    Just being there. Book my ticket for the year after while I am there because I know it will be a great lineup. First and second time seeing Jools was at Wickham though so that was a bit special

    One for the road on one of the smaller stages, they were brilliant! Such an intimate festival and it would be great to see them on a larger stage. 😁👍

    So much that is good about the festival, not least that it’s local to me! Still bring the motorhome though and have had varying experiences as you’ve tried to accommodate us all! Every year there is something different to experience and each year you try to better the previous years experience! Last year was a venture into a different campsite area. Took some getting used to but got to experience the farm shop more for goodies. The under cover arena facilities have pluses and minuses. Chairs are a pain but also a need if in controlled areas. The music is always great with some bands that show the festival punches above its weight. No downside to the festival from me (except the occasional weather issue! 😉).

    Expected The South, unexpected The Goat Roper Rodeo Band. Special mention to Otway I knew I would like but chuffed that Wickys loved it to.

    First time Last year, enjoyed everything I saw/ heard, got to say Graham Nash was awesome, the Sound was amazing.

    Family and Friends and Graham Nash were both outstanding. Hats off to Andy Fairweather-Lowe too for his selfless performance post the mudfest. Lil Jimmy Read last year was terrific too. The festival never disappoints

    View more comments

    Back by popular request. The Marching SKAletons will be leading a merry dance around our Festival site as well as performing onstage Saturday lunchtime www.youtube.com/watch?v=fILLCdsUEXQ ... See MoreSee Less

    Video image

    Comment on Facebook

    Great! Will you be able to sort out the wasp problem! Last year they were everywhere, especially the vip areas. Many thanks Wickham😊

    Looks intriguing 💖 we must have missed them before ... so good to have another chance 🎶

    This years line up just gets better and better. Roll on August !



    Daniel Fell! 😁😁😁

    View more comments

    Load more

    Our Twitter Feed