Wickham Festival News

The Dhol Foundation (DJ Set)

With The Proclaimers having to cancel their Wickham appearance on Saturday due to ill health Eric Bibb will now headline Main Stage 1 on Saturday night instead of Main Stage 2. And we’re delighted to have secured The Dhol Foundation for a DJ Set to close Main Stage 2 on Saturday night.

Established in 1989, The Dhol Foundation began as a small class in slough with only a few friends asking Johnny Kalsi for Dhol drumming lessons. A couple of weeks went by, and those friends bought friends of friends and so on… One class turned into several! Before we knew it we became the first-ever dhol class/academy in the UK, creating a new breed of modern dhol players that became quickly in demand!

Back in 2019 the wonderful Johnny Kalsi (also of 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”.

Fleetwood Collective

Fleetwood Collective is a collaboration between some of Southampton’s finest musicians who have taken on the joyous task of meticulously recreating the Fleetwood Mac live shows, from their glorious peak in the 1970s and 80s.

Songs featured in the set include all the classic fan favourites such as Rhiannon, The Chain and Go Your Own Way, as well as hidden gems, solo hits and album tracks, along with one or two surprises from the early years.

The band really put their focus on the music. The guitar tones, the intriguing song structures and the 3-part harmonies that helped elevate Fleetwood Mac to worldwide adoration are lovingly and painstakingly recreated here.

Fleetwood Collective’s mission is to deliver the music of Fleetwood Mac with the same passion and dedication to performance that the real band did in their heyday.

Click here to purchase tickets to watch Fleetwood Collective at Wickham Festival from 7pm Thursday 3rd August.

Rory McLeod

Rory McLeod, an ex-circus clown and fire eater, is a one-man-soul-band, and poet. He has a natural troubadour’s talent for weaving magical, musical, storytelling spells accompanied by his own bizarre solo orchestra of distinctive instruments. The spoons, finger-cymbals, bandorea, Djembe-drum, harmonica, guitar, trombone and-tap-dancing shoes accompany the “rich, raw, deep and resonant” voice of this “singular and liberating performer.”

Rory is a generous, hardworking, lyrical performer, whose mission is to carve new roads, to “keep memory alive”, and to take his audience on a journey, emotionally, physically and musically on large and small stages, living rooms, tents, and streets.

Apart from performing his own songs, Rory is also well known for taking part in workshops and round-robin set-ups with other musicians, crossing many cultural and musical borders. Rory is always up for both participating and or leading improvised sessions.

As a ‘community artist’ for some 30 years, musician, poet and storyteller Rory has toured and performed for community groups in all kinds of venues from village halls, schools, care homes, tents, art centres, community gardens, arts festivals, literature and poetry festivals, libraries and in the middle of fields. As of January 30th 2017, He has become a new associate member of The National Rural Touring Forum and also a registered performing artist on the Night Out Scheme.

Rory has travelled the globe for different reasons at different times, from Asia to the Middle East from Gambia to Cuba, Afghanistan, China, Zimbabwe, Central America, Australia, North America, Canada, Europe and other nooks and crannies of the earth.

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

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!)

Steve Wickham & Ray Coen

The mighty Steve Wickham (Waterboys/No Crows) will appear with special guest Ray Coen (No Crows) on Friday 4th August 2023.  Steve is recognised as Ireland’s premier rock fiddler since the mid-1980s. His distinctive playing has been a major contribution to the Waterboys ground-breaking records over the years. Ray has played alongside Steve over many years as part of the band No Crows. Between them we’re sure Steve and Ray will offer an eclectic mix of music and songs.

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”.

Ray hails from Sligo and has many years experience as both a guitar and fiddle player. Over the years, Ray has increasingly moved from backing other musicians, to performing his own material. His debut album ‘Out of Sight’ was released in May 2009 and was described by Hotpress as both; ‘beautifully recorded and arranged’ and ‘music that is happy in its own skin’.

Ray has been a regular collaborator with No Crows since 2007 and was welcomed on board as a full blown band member in 2014. Ray has contributed greatly to the No Crows’ CD “Waiting for the Tide”, penning one tune “Good Times” and making a beautiful arrangement of the English trad song “Solvay”.

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.

Ashley Hutchings & Becky Mills

Described by Bob Dylan as ‘The single most important figure in English folk rock’, Ashley Hutchings, ‘The Guv’nor’ will be at Wickham on Friday 4th August accompanied by Becky Mills.

Ashley is a bassist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, band leader, writer and record producer.  He was a founding member of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band. He has overseen numerous other projects, including records and live theatre, and has collaborated on film and television projects. His influence and innovation are celebrated throughout the music world.

Hutchings started his musical life as a fan of skiffle and “trad,” a British form of Dixieland jazz that had become popular in Britain at the beginning of the 1950s. He listened to a lot of early English and American rock & roll, but by the early 1960s he had developed a love for folk music. In 1967 along with Richard Thompson he formed Fairport Convention who performed a similar mix of traditional English folk, original songs, and American singer/songwriter material. After three albums he exited the lineup and began organizing Steeleye Span. Formed by Hutchings, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, and Peter Knight, with Martin Carthy coming in as the fifth member, Steeleye Span in its original form (and for several lineup changes after) was devoted to purely traditional music, adapted to the forces of a five-piece band with a growing arsenal of electric instruments. Ultimately, Steeleye shared the limelight with Fairport Convention, vying for the greater loyalty of folk-music fans, and even reaching out for a time to rock audiences — the decision to go almost fully electric and the addition of a full-time drummer toughened their sound considerably, and an association with Jethro Tull, opening for the chart-topping band on an American tour, and getting the services of Ian Anderson as producer for one album.

In 1978 Hutchings formed The Albion Band, with a lineup that included future Fairport Convention member Ric Sanders on violin. This group, with some lineup changes (including Nicol and Mattacks passing through) lasted into the 1990s, recording numerous albums, and also became the subject of a BBC documentary. Hutchings has been a major force for decades, fostering the foundation of more than his share of legendary and important bands.

“Ashley Hutchings is the single most important figure in English folk rock. Before that his group Fairport Convention recorded some of the best versions of my unreleased songs. Listen to the bass playing on Percy’s Song to hear how great he is.”
Bob Dylan

For his performance at Wickham festival 2023, Ashley will be accompanied by Becky Mills. Hailing from the wild moorlands of North Yorkshire, singer-songwriter Becky Mills brings a uniquely personal and touching slant to the modern folk genre.

Becky Mills will be joining Ashley Hutchings

​With a foot in both contemporary & classic traditions, her evocative songs take the listener through topics encompassing love, loss, motherhood, emigration, the regrets of old age, the nature of heroism, grief during wartime – even the joy of running away to the circus! – a kaleidoscope of subjects, but always with wit, humour, charm and feeling.

Described by listeners as “moving”, “witty”, sometimes “heart-rending”, but always “uplifting”, her acclaimed 2013 mainstream debut “Dandelion” led to comparisons with Sandy Denny – but this was no bolt from the blue.

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.”

Edwina Hayes

One of the finest female singer/songwriters this country has produced in years. Edwina brings together English folk, Americana and the rich Northern singer/songwriter tradition to create a sound that’s truly her own.

Highly accomplished she’s toured with such notable performers as Jools Holland, Van Morrison, Nanci Griffith and Loudon Wainwright III to name just a few.

Edwina numbers Michael Parkinson and Mike Harding among her fans and the title track of her album Pour Me A Drink was covered by Nanci Griffith who calls her ‘the sweetest voice in England’.

Her cover of the Randy Newman song Feels Like Home was featured in the Cameron Diaz film My Sister’s Keeper and has since had over ten million plays on Spotify and over thirty million plays on YouTube.

Edwina’s 4th album Ruby Rose was released in 2022.  Click here to purchase.

‘The sweetest voice in England. A wonderful young woman, so gifted and full of song.’
Nanci Griffith

Haunting, honeyed, solo songwriter.’
The Guardian

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 Deborah Bonham Band

Over the course of an impressive career, Deborah Bonham has established herself as one of the finest blues, rock and soul singers the UK has produced. A string of critically acclaimed original album releases, captivating standing ovation concert performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London Palladium and on the USA Stars Align Tour with Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck and Heart’s Ann Wilson, have continually followed her while also garnering rave reviews. “Strong voiced, personable and quite the rock & roll singer. This woman, Deborah Bonham (the sister of the late Led Zeppelin drummer) earned a standing ovation at the end of her set, clearly a welcome addition to the tour.”  (Stars Align Tour, Holmdel, New Jersey) – Elmore Magazine 

Belfast born guitarist Peter Bullick, lauded by the press for his passionate and exceptional playing, paid his dues playing clubs and theatres across the UK and Europe for many years. The constant touring allowed Peter to develop his own style while holding dear guitarist Rory Gallagher and others who were a big influence on his playing. Of all the guitarists that influenced Peter it was Paul Kossoff with whom he connected with the most. Years later Pete’s playing would not go unnoticed by none other than Paul Rodgers who selected Pete and the rest of Deborah’s band to back him on his Free Spirit concerts and tours of the UK and USA. “Guitarist Peter Bullick constantly showed why Paul Rodgers touted him as a replacement for Kossoff should Free ever reform. His bluesy but always economic fills and solos lit up the stage.” – Tight But Loose

Deborah and Peter along with their powerful soul infused band (featuring players who have themselves played and recorded with Paul Rodgers, Robert Plant, Steve Marriott, Freddie Mercury, Rory Gallagher) and special guests have recorded a new blues/rock inspired album named BONHAM-BULLICK. The Bonham-Bullick album is a departure for Deborah and Peter as the album is a song book of interpretations of some great and obscure songs spanning 7 decades. The Bonham-Bullick album takes you on a journey with songs from O.V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor, Ann Peebles, Bernard Fowler, Mark Lanegan and others. Deborah and Peter throughout the recording process of the album have shown a deep respect for the original songs while reaching deep into their hearts and souls to make each song an exciting new adventure for the listener. The Bonham-Bullick album is scheduled for release Spring 2022 on USA label Quarto Valley Records (QVR).

Barbara Dickson

As a multi-million selling recording artist with an equally impressive Olivier Award winning acting career, Barbara Dickson OBE has firmly established herself as one of the most enduring and popular artistes in Britain today.

Her first hit single, ‘Answer Me’, was released early in 1976 and a guest residency on the BBC’s hugely successful ‘The Two Ronnies’ show later that year brought Barbara into the homes of more than 15 million viewers on Saturday evenings.

By 1982, regular TV appearances and sold-out tours had cemented her status as one of the UK’s most popular female vocalists. Her ‘All for a Song’ album that year was certified platinum and went on to spend almost a year on the album chart.

A return to the theatre in Willy Russell’s new musical, ‘Blood Brothers,’ in 1983 was to mark Barbara’s debut as a stage actress. As with ‘John Paul George Ringo… and Bert’ nine years previously, the show transferred from Liverpool to London and in the process earned her the ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ award from the Society of West End Theatres.

In 1985 Barbara’s single ‘I Know Him So Well,’ recorded with Elaine Paige and taken from the musical ‘Chess’, was released. It reached Number One in the UK and went on to become a Top Ten hit around the world, eventually selling over 900,000 copies.

Further hits followed, but in the early 1990’s Barbara began to move away from pop and back towards her roots in folk and acoustic music.

She was awarded an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen in 2002 for Services to Music and Drama.

She continues to tour the UK with her full band as well as playing more intimate acoustic shows and festivals alongside her long-time keyboard player, Nick Holland with whom she has also undertaken several tours of Ireland in recent years.

21st Century ABBA

ABBA, the supergroup formed in 1972 in Sweden will forever live on in their incredible music.  Their recently launched ABBA Voyage virtual concert residency is testament to their popularity.  Well if you want to boogie to some ABBA this year there’s no need to travel to London.  Just head to Wickham and enjoy 21st Century ABBAthe ULTIMATE ABBA TRIBUTE!

Click here to purchase tickets to watch 21st Century ABBA at Wickham Festival from 7pm Thursday 3rd August.

21st Century ABBA consists of…

AGNETHA (NINA)
Nina has been a fan of ABBA’s music since a small child; after all, she was even named after the ABBA song ‘Nina, Pretty Ballerina’ and fondly remembers her uncle singing it to her. When she found her Nanny’s Super Trouper album, she literally couldn’t stop playing it; dancing and singing around the house. It therefore seems natural that, with naturally long blonde hair and a crystal clear soprano voice, she has ended up emulating her pop idol, Agnetha, all over the world. Before she took to the stage with Abba, Nina sang with top UK gospel choirs, performed on tour as a backing vocalist for several famous rock bands in the UK, and has even sung duets with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Nina is an award-winning musician and song-writer and her original music, full of ABBA inspired vocals, is used on TV and online in adverts all over the world. ”I love Abba”, Nina says, “it is such an honour and a privilege to be on stage singing these songs. Thank you, so much, for the music, Abba”.

BJORN (MARCUS)
Marcus’s love for playing the guitar surfaced as early as seven; he always had a burning desire for mind-bending pop music and soaring electric guitar solos. His innovative style and technique are a sensory delight. He is a consummate performer and knows how to get the crowd going, just like his alter-ego, Bjorn. Marcus was always fascinated by Abba’s music, which to him comprises an excellently crafted, very original energy and appeal. After playing the guitar for years, Marcus joined 21st Century Abba to replicate and enhance the euphoric disco and awe-inspiring music that ABBA was so famous for. Marcus is an award-winning musician, and like Nina, has been awarded the ‘UK’s Top Abba Tribute’ award several years in a row over the last decade. When he is not touring the world with 21st Century Abba, you might catch him playing his favourite, but lesser-known Abba song “Hasta Manana”.

BENNY (GREG)
Greg is an outstanding musician who started playing the piano at a very young age completing his piano grades before most of us even picked up an instrument. He is something of a musical genius. His greatest influence for choosing the piano was ABBA and in particular the legendary Abba pianist Benny. Greg is something of an Abba connoisseur and his attention to detail has allowed 21 Century Abba to really perfect that Abba sound, taking care of all the small but important details that might be missed by someone with a lesser ear. As a professional musician for many years now, fans describe him as a great pianist with a rare touch, a gift, and the ability to surprise and “wow” the audience with his playing. Greg, like the real Benny, is the cool character of the group. Where Bjorn was the showman, Benny was leading from the side, making sure that the production worked. Greg’s favourite song to perform is “The Winner Takes It All”. “The emotion of the vocals in that song, combined with the simplicity of pure piano at first, building to that crescendo, is just phenomenal.”

ANNI-FRID (INDRIJA)
A gifted and captivating vocalist, Indrija has been turning heads and winning thousands of hearts since a very early age. With her naturally striking long auburn hair, and her warm mezzo-soprano vocal, she really is Frida for a new generation! From performing at festivals to intimate parties, and concerts, Indrija has won countless fans performing the best ABBA songs over the years. She is also the adventurer of the group, and is continually on a quest for new adventure, from fire breathing to modelling to motor biking. Her style and energy adds a touch of joy and lightness to the band, while her rich vocals and harmonies really create that unique Abba sound.

MIKE – BASS
Mike, as well as being a world-class bass player, is also one of the chief writers for Bass Guitar Magazine, having interviewed some of the most prolific bass players of our time. Not only does he sound good, but his light-up fret board on his bass is his signature look – very nice! Mike has been on the Abba scene for many years, travelling the world, and we are very proud to have him on the 21 Century Abba team. Favourite Abba song? “The Winner Takes it all….lyrically heartbreaking, musically wonderful. An Abba Masterpiece”!

MAGIC – DRUMS
Martin is an incredible drummer whose adaptable style and dedication to drums make him the perfect choice for 21 Century Abba, and this is clear when you see him play. He acts as Musical Director for the band when booked as a five/six-piece band or more. and has also been musical director for Pop Starlets Bewitched as well as working with many other famous names. He is so highly regarded because of his love for working in various musical contexts, from hard rock to jazz fusion and everything in between. Martin is a lecturer at BIMM (British Institute for Modern Music) and has artist endorsements from top brands like Sonor and Paiste. He also has his own brand of drumsticks! Martin’s unshakeable commitment and talent have earned him a wealth of opportunities and we are very lucky to have him in 21 Century Abba; he believes that we are one of the few live Abba tribute bands truly committed to giving an outstanding live replica of Abba in their prime.

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    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

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-68590846

    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’   
    https://orcd.co/allwelove

    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!

    After announcing the great American singer Curtis Stigers for the Wickham Music Festival yesterday we'll be announcing another great American musician this evening (Tuesday). A clue. He's a 14-times Grammy Award winner. Any guesses?