Wickham Festival News

The Tuneless Choir

LOVE to SING! We love your Wonky Notes!

Join us on Sunday 4th 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 at the performance. You probably won’t need them as we are sure you’ll know all the words.  They are always top tunes, this was the 2023 set (click to view on YouTube):

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!

St. Vincent College Music Dept.

St. Vincent College Music Dept. from Gosport will be performing at Wickham Festival 2023 at midday on Saturday to showcase their musical talents.

Steve Wickham & Joe Chester

Steve Wickham is recognised as Ireland’s premier rock fiddler since the mid-1980s. His distinctive playing has been a major contribution to the Waterboys groundbreaking records over the years.  He will be performing at Wickham Festival 2022 on Friday 5th August with special guest Joe Chester.  You can expect musical mischief, songs and tunes from both their repertoires.

Steve became a member of The Waterboys in 1985 shortly after playing on their seminal album “This is The Sea”. He continues to tour and record with Mike Scott and The Waterboys. Writing songs and music has always been part of his musical life. He continues to explore new musical territory composing for Film and Theatre and other eclectic projects, such as a crossover suite of music with Sligo Baroque Orchestra and Congolese soukous band ‘Tropicana Musica’.

He has recorded and performed with U2, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Connor, Bob Dylan, Sharon Shannon and many other artists in the worlds of rock and traditional folk music. He made his recording debut with U2 in 1982 on their break through album, War, playing on “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Drowning Man”.

Steve also writes and records with world music group NoCrows. The ‘Crows’ have released six albums to date and continue to tour extensively.

He composed the score for Tom Mc Intyre’s plays ‘The Midnight Court’ and ‘Caoineadh Airt O’ Laoghaire’, both performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. He also collaborated with Michael Harding on his plays ‘Bog Dances’ and ‘Sleeping a Lovesong’.

Steve scored the film ‘Witness to the Future’ (2016), and the documentary ‘Prisoners of the Moon’, both directed by Johnny Grogan.

The Saw Doctors

“Born into a repressed, catholic, conservative, small-town, agrarian, angst-ridden & showband infested society, The Saw Doctors are trying to preserve the positive elements of our Irish background and marry them to the sounds which have culturally invaded our milieu through TV, radio, social media, 45’s, fast food restaurants, 24-hour petrol stations & electric blankets”.

Leo Moran, The Saw Doctors

The Saw Doctors were discovered by Mike Scott of The Waterboys on a stormy Tuesday night in Galway city in the 1980’s, plying their trade with more gumption than virtuosity in the back room of The Quays Bar. Scott offered The Saw Doctors the support slot on The Waterboy’s Irish Tour to launch the ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ album in 1988 and before the tour was completed, Mike asked The Saw Doctors to support The Waterboys on their six-week tour of Great Britain in Spring 1989.

Mike Scott produced The Saw Doctors first single, ‘N17’, which was written by the band’s singer Davy Carton and guitarist Leo Moran. ’N17’ got a few plays on Irish radio and a second single was scheduled to be released to fulfil the band’s two-record deal with Solid Records in Dublin.

With Philip Tennant, whom they had met through Mike Scott, now on the producer’s perch, The Saw Doctors went to the haunted Loco Studios in Wales and put down three tracks – ‘It Won’t Be Tonight’, ‘I Useta Lover’ and ’Sing A Powerful Song’.

After much debate, it was eventually decided that ‘I Useta Lover’ would be the second release from The Saw Doctors. The Galway band plugged away at gigs around Ireland and scored an early afternoon slot at the coming-of-age Irish festival of its time, Féile, in Thurles, in August 1990. The Welsh ghost must have brought them luck for that Sunday evening, they learnt that ‘I Useta Lover’ had somehow entered the Irish single charts at No. 27, from where it slowly climbed, taking seven weeks to reach Number One and remaining on top for the following nine weeks, going on to become the biggest selling Irish single, outselling U2 and Sinéad O’Connor. The Saw Doctors were now known the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond.

Things got fast for The Saw Doctors. A Channel 4, film documentary, ‘Sing A Powerful Song’, was shot in Manchester and at a homecoming concert in the Football Stadium in Tuam and it aired in Britain and Ireland. The Saw Doctors made their first trip to The United States in 1991, a journey they have made almost a hundred times since.

Through the 1990’s, The Saw Doctors chalked up well-received appearances at numerous prestigious festivals including Witness, Oxegen and Slane Castle in Ireland; Glastonbury, T in the Park, the London Fleadh in Britain as well as at its Fleadh cousins across the Atlantic in New York and San Francisco, and garnered a reputation for being a powerful and exciting live band, playing gigs in Ireland, Britain and the USA, with the odd trip to Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Holland, France and Belgium.

A handful of singles went Top 20 in the British Charts through the nineties & The Saw Doctors appeared on BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’ three times with ‘Small Bit Of Love’, ‘To Win Just Once’ and ‘World Of Good’. The Saw Doctors third album ’Same Oul’ Town’ reached No. 6 in the UK Album Charts in 1996.

The end of 2011 brought another surprise hit for The Saw Doctors – having included a verse and chorus of ‘Downtown’ in the show-closing ‘Hay Wrap’, the band noticed that ‘Downtown’ captured the imagination of the audience, making it a potential contender for the Christmas single. On a long-shot, producer Phillip Tennant got in touch with Petula Clark’s manager and a recording session was arranged in London where the old 60’s classic was re-vamped and recorded – ‘The Saw Doctors featuring Petula Clark’! The lively duet made it to number 2 in the Irish singles Christmas chart.

Loved & revered by their loyal fans, many of whom have been recruited by already fan friends, The Saw Doctors continue with a resilience and an effervescent energy, looking forward to playing Summer Festivals in the UK in 2023.

“ If The Saw Doctors could bottle the sort of bonhomie that can make an entire concert hall feel better, they would have the medicine show to end them all”
Paul Sexton, The Times

Blue Rose Code

Blue Rose Code AKA Ross Wilson, appearing on Friday 5th August 2022, was formed and soon started to get rave reviews for early live performances. Through 2009 and 2010 Blue Rose Code shared the stage with many celebrated writers including Bert Jansch, Kris Drever, King Creosote, John Renbourn and James Yorkston.

The debut album, North Ten, was released by Reveal Records (home to Lau, Joan As Police Woman, Kris Drever, Roddy Woomble etc) a perfect fit for an artist’s who’s debut features legendary bassist Danny Thompson (Kate Bush, John Martyn, Talk Talk etc). The first single from the album, ‘Julie’ was released on January 28th 2013.  The ‘Julie’ E.P also features three exclusive non album recordings, including a cover of Gillian Welch’s ‘Everything Is Free’ (a song Blue Rose Code first aired live on a recent UK tour with label mates Lau).


The Mary Wallopers

The Mary Wallopers are a folk group from Dundalk, breathing new life into both well known & rare ballads. Travelling the length & breadth of the country singing & collecting songs, they exude a raw energy that could be described as the Clancy Brothers meet John Lydon.

“Isn’t there hope for the country with the mary wallopers in it”
Tommy Tiernan

“The Mary Wallopers’ trademark charm and irreverence is matched only by their staggering talent”

Chris Difford (“Squeeze”)

We are delighted to announce that Chris Difford, singer-songwriter and co-founder of Squeeze fame will be performing on Thursday 4th August 2022.   Squeeze proved extremely popular at Wickham Festival 2018 so it is a real treat to welcome his return for 2022.  He has written lyrics for over 40 years, of course most prominently in partnership with Glenn Tilbrook. The two were primary members in Squeeze and Difford & Tilbrook.

After the break-up of Squeeze in 1983 Difford continued writing songs for artists such as Elvis Costello, Helen Shapiro, Billy Bremner and Jools Holland. He has also written lyrics for music by Elton John and Wet Wet Wet amonst others.  In 2017, Chris published his autobiography Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze.

Johnny Kalsi – DJ Set

Not only will our Festival patron Johnny Kalsi be appearing with The Dhol Foundation on Saturday, he’ll also be doing a DJ Set on Friday August 5th 2022.

Back in 2019 the wonderful Johnny Kalsi of The Dhol Foundation and The Afro Celt Sound System agreed to be our first-ever Festival Patron. Johnny has performed at Wickham in several guises over the years and says he loves our Festival.

Johnny commented:
After being associated with Wickham Festival for many years, it’s an honour to become the first Patron/Ambassador of this Incredible family festival that has been voted the best Family Festival in the UK. I feel proud to wave the Wickham Festival Flag and I sincerely hope to uphold the reputation of the festival as the “Face of Wickham Festival”.

Will Varley

Will Varley is a singer-songwriter, musician and visual artist. He is one of the founding members of the arts collective Smugglers Records. In 2011 he recorded his debut album ‘Advert Soundtracks’ with Smugglers, and then set out on the road and walked a hundred and thirty miles with a guitar and tent on his back. Starting the walking tour at London Bridge he headed south east, strolling through the rolling hills of the Kent wield and singing songs to whoever would listen. He slept in barns, camped at the side of canals and played gigs in the corner of crowded pubs. By the time he strolled back to deal, despite the blisters and the aching muscles, word of his album had begun to spread and he had many a story to tell.

Since then he has toured extensively across the world as a headline act and opened for the likes of Billy Bragg, The Dead South and The Proclaimers. He has headlined venues including Union Chapel and Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

His live performances have become more and more anarchic over the years. Audience interaction, surreal improvised comedy between songs and chaotic stunts like playing two songs at the same time are now more often than not included in his shows, though he will just as quickly deliver a melancholic and heartbreaking ballad or a fiery protest song as he will a shaggy dog story or an amusing talking blues.

Will’s songs have been covered by acts as diverse as The Pretty Things and Frank Turner. In recent years Will has co-written songs with numerous artists including Skin of Skunk Anansie and Shae Dupuy. His sixth studio album The Hole Around My Head was released in 2021.

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 English Fiddle Ensemble

Four of England’s finest traditional fiddle players, Bryony Griffith, Jim Boyle, Ross Grant and Rosie Butler-Hall, have joined forces to create The English Fiddle Ensemble, bringing joyous harmonies and striking rhythms to traditional English tunes.

The Trouble Notes

The Trouble Notes’ music is an eclectic fusion of genre across the entirety of the musical spectrum, creating a sound that is truly unique to its own.
Rob Underwood, BBC Radio Lincolnshire

Sitting somewhere between world folk, modern classical, and tribal dance music, The Trouble Notes have traveled their way across continents in search of musical influences. Travel across oceans and time with the soulful melodies of Bennet’s violin and Carola’s voice as your body pulses with the explosive energy from Florian’s guitar. Worldly percussion rhythms transport the audience across genre with a uplifting spirit for which The Trouble Notes have become world renown.

Their new show “More Violins, Less Violence” is packed with songs from their 2nd Studio album “Liberty Awaits”. Their repertoire brings the traditions of Europe and the Americas together and carries a message of Unity in Diversity. The includes songs like “Grand Masquerade” and “Never Dream Alone” that have featured in Videos amassing millions of views worldwide.

Art and Music must be a force for healing in this world. Help us support children effected by Violence. 5 Pounds of every More Violins, Less Violence Shirt will be donated to SOS Children’s Villages.

Admiral Fallow

Admiral Fallow are a band from Glasgow with four beautifully diverse albums to their name: Boots Met My Face (2011), Tree Bursts In Snow (2012), Tiny Rewards (2015), and The Idea Of You (2021). In 2018 they developed an ambitious new opera, Navigate The Blood (co-written with Gareth Williams and Sian Evans).

The Idea Of You (out now on Chemikal Underground) can be Streamed / downloaded here.

Purchase from Chemikal or Bandcamp (includes T-shirts, tote bags and electric blue vinyl).

Admiral Fallow’s line-up consists of:

  • Louis Abbott – vocals, guitars
  • Kevin Brolly – clarinet, keyboards, vocals, percussion
  • Philip Hague – drums, percussion, vocals
  • Sarah Hayes – flute, piano, accordion, vocals
  • Joe Rattray – bass, vocals

Swill Odgers

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers is one half of the legendary joint vocal strike force of UK folk rebel rockers TMTCH.  Audiences around the world from Cairo to Reykjavik, Brisbane to Vancouver and Berlin to London have submitted to his effervescent and heartfelt vocal style in stadium, theatre, hall and after hours lock in.

His writing style tells life stories with a conscience and a heart and he addresses political issues of inequality, unfairness and a political system that rewards the rich and penalises the poor.

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    Were loving the new album by Ferocious Dog Kleptocracy.  Ferocious Dog are at the Wickham Festival on Sat. Aug. 3 with Levellers; Tankus The Henge; John Otway; The Wilswood Buoys & many more.  Day & Weekend tickets now onsale via www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets

    We're loving the new album by Ferocious Dog 'Kleptocracy'. Ferocious Dog are at the Wickham Festival on Sat. Aug. 3 with Levellers; Tankus The Henge; John Otway; The Wilswood Buoys & many more. Day & Weekend tickets now onsale via www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets ... See MoreSee Less

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    Good to see Katherine Priddy on 'Later with Jools Holland' on Saturday night. She'll be at Wickham on Sunday 4th August. ... See MoreSee Less

    1 day ago

    5 CommentsComment on Facebook

    Day & Weekend tickets onsale via www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/tickets

    Was lucky to have been in audience for jools and very impressed so watched her yesterday at bearded theory festival and we are all in for a treat 👍🤘

    We’ve seen her she’s great

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    Our Twitter Feed

    We're sorry to report that London Irish band Neck will no longer be appearing at Wickham following the sad death of their frontman Leeson O'Keeffe from pancreatic cancer. 😢

    Steve Harley was an audience favourite at Wickham Festival, and a delight to work with. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

    Steve Harley: Cockney Rebel singer dies at 73


    The Saw Doctors would like to say a Big Thanks to everybody who has bought or streamed ‘All We Love’ today —the new single is Number 3 in Ireland and No. 23 in the UK. Here’s the link to buy or stream ‘All We Love’   

    Wonderfully evocative and typically catchy song from our old friends @sawdoctors ready for #StPatricksDay
    Would love to hear them do this at #wickhamfesival one day. Great stuff!

    Our new line-up inc. Curtis Stigers with a few more artists inc. Jerry Douglas to add. We hope to unveil last confirmed artists inc. one more headliner soon. Day & Tier 4 Weekend tickets selling fast. Save £50 on every 4-day weekend ticket. Book now. http://www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

    We're delighted to announce that 16-times GRAMMY Award winner Jerry Douglas, one of the world's finest dobro & lap steel guitar players, will be at this year's Wickham Music Festival on Sat. 3rd Aug. Day & Weekend tickets selling fast!