Wickham Festival News

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.

Swan Samba

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

Swan Samba at Wickham Festival 2021

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

Jonny Moody

Jonny Moody is a singer, songwriter and producer from the UK. A must see live act!

The Marching SKAletons

The Marching SKAletons are a horn led Day of the Dead group that can perform either as a street or electric band, being equally at home on stage or weaving through a festival crowd. They can play a set of traditional ska instrumentals for diehard ska fans or mix it up with surprising ska versions of hits from Depeche Mode, Taylor Swift, Kraftwerk and even Europe. The line up features a powerhouse horn section, guitars, marching drums and bass. The music is a celebratory energetic fusion of ska, Latin, electro, pop & mariachi that guarantees audiences will be dancing.

The band have performed at a varied selection of events and head a regular ska night at The Pelirocco in Brighton. They have entertained crowds at festivals and council events throughout the UK. Past performances include Glastonbury Festival, Together the People festival, Elderflower Fields festival as well as supporting Madness at the Brighton centre. They perform annually at Hove County Cricket grounds bonfire night and have entertained at the National Trust carnival at Montacute House as well as arts council funded Basingstoke’s Day of the Dead. Media appearances include Channel 4 News & BBC Hampshire.

Eliza Carthy & The Restitution

If there is one musician who embodies the dynamism and vitality of the current English folk revival, it’s Eliza Carthy. Beloved of staunch traditionalists and iconoclasts alike, Eliza’s music effortlessly crosses boundaries of genre and style. Whether performing a centuries-old ballad or a self-written song, her powerful, nuanced voice, fiercely beautiful fiddle playing and mesmerizing live performances have influenced a whole generation of young musicians.

Describing herself simply as a “modern English musician”, Eliza Carthy is one of the most recognisable faces in British folk. Launching head-on into the scene in the early 90s, she quickly became one of its great innovators. She has spearheaded the re-emergence of English traditional music as a vibrant, exciting genre that could stand proud next to other world musics. With a wealth of experience under her belt, Eliza’s talent has matured and is flourishing. She continues to bring new audiences to English folk through well-judged collaborations, recordings and performances.

Peat and Diesel

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

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

Jim Cregan ‘Cregan & Co’

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

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

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

Alan Burke

Alan Burke is widely regarded as one of the finest ballad singers of his generation. Well-known as a member of Rambling Boys of Pleasure, Alan possesses an almost inexhaustible repertoire of traditional, contemporary and self-penned songs in both the English and Irish languages. Accompanied by his unique driving guitar style, Alan’s powerful presence and technique have featured on two highly acclaimed solo albums, On The Other Hand (1998) and Tip Of The Tongue (2000) alongside numerous recordings and collaborations with the bands and projects that have formed the core of a great life in music. A commanding stage presence, with a voice that is powerful, sensitive and crystal clear, Alan’s gigs are always truly memorable.

He began his musical career as a drummer, before making his name in traditional music circles in the 1980’s and 90’s as the lead singer, guitarist, and bodhrán player with the tremendous band Afterhours, with whom he made three albums – Afterhours in 1988, Hung Up And Dry in 1990 and Up To Here in 1992 – and toured extensively worldwide. Since then Alan has appeared as a member of bands including At First Light, Airla and Tulsk.

More recently Alan has been heavily involved in collaborative projects, including the Afterhours Bothy Band Tribute, and he was the cornerstone of the four acclaimed annual Irish Sea Sessions concerts and albums produced in Liverpool, Ireland and London that saw him combine with Declan O’Rourke, Damien Dempsey, Pauline Scanlon, Emily Portman and many more, and from which Rambling Boys of Pleasure evolved. Alan has worked extensively both as a record producer and as an actor, including the play This Is What We Sang that won Production of the Year at the First Irish Theatre Festival in New York 2010. He has also presented TV programmes in the Irish language for the BBC and TG4.

Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening

Kathryn first took up the smallpipes at the age of 9. She learnt tunes from hill-shepherd friends and family, recording them on her trusty cassette player. Since then she has taken the musical spirit of ancient Northumbria to stages all over the world.

As well as her own acclaimed concerts and recordings, she has recorded and played with Sting, The Chieftains, Penguin Café, Eveyln Glennie, Jacob Collier, Royal Northern Sinfonia and many more. She was awarded the OBE for services to folk music. Kathryn also presents ‘Music Planet’ for BBC Radio 3.

“…the best living advertisement for English folk music.”
The Daily Telegraph.

Afro Celt Sound System

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Edey & Friends

Tim will be entertaining us in two slots on Friday 4th August, one of which will be with Meabh Begley at 15.45 – 16.45 of the renowned musical Begley family.   The other slot is with Ross Ainslie at 13.15 – 14.15.

Tim Edey (BBC Radio Two’s Musician of the year 2012 (BBC R2 FOLK AWARDS) multi-instrumentalist and singer, has toured the world and recorded with most of the major names in Celtic/Contemporary roots music.  Tim, now a name on the world stage in his own right after seventeen years of hard work, is rated by many to be one of the world’s finest ever Melodoen and Guitar players in the folk & contemporary scene today!

Tim’s most recent tours and gigs have taken him over the Atlantic from Scotland to Canada & the U.S! Appearing Solo at Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton, previously with Brendan Power and his own Tim Edey Collective. He has freshly stepped off the tour bus from Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy’s show “Masters of the Fiddle!”.

Meabh Begley

Meabh Begley is a native Irish speaker. Her family has influenced and helped in shaping her energetic instrumental playing, emotive and sensitive singing style as well as inspired her development of, and transition into her passion for composing and songwriting.

Meabh Begley is a singer, songwriter and musician whose musical expression and stylings are deeply rooted within Irish music.

Méabh has enjoyed a full time career in traditional Irish music thus far and has performed both nationally and internationally in countries such as Japan, Taiwan, America, Canada, Russia and across Europe with groups such as acclaimed Irish band Téada, The Pure Irish Drops (The Women of Ireland- The Next Generation), Cuas, Catherine Young Dance, Irish Christmas in America and “Aisling? – An Ród Romhainn” directed by Darach Mac an Iomaire.

She has also performed and given workshops in accordion and song at various international festivals including the Brittany Winter School in France, the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend, the Timmy McCarthy set dancing festival in Tonder, Denmark, as well as at Féile Séamus Creagh in Newfoundland, to name but a few.

She is a member of the 9 piece group, The Síbín Orchestra and often performed alongside her father Séamus Begley. They were invited to perform in Áras an Uachtaráin for the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins as part of a special welcoming reception for the King and Queen of Holland in June 2019.

She has made many radio and television appearances including on RTÉ’s “ The Late Late Show”, BBC Alba’s “Port”, “Sruth na Maoile celebrating 25 years” and more recently on TG4’s “Fleadh 2020″ and “Slán le 2020” on New Year’s Eve.

Ross Ainslie

Ross Ainslie is one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers, playing pipes, whistles and cittern. He is renowned for his highly acclaimed solo material, and as a skilled performer and prolific collaborator who performs regularly with bands Treacherous Orchestra, Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Ali Hutton, Jarlath Henderson, Charlie Mckerron, Tim Edey, Hamish Napier, Brighde Chaimbeul, Duncan Chisholm, India Alba and has performed with Kate Rusby, Blue Rose Code, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Capercaillie, Shooglenifty, Carl Barat, Papon, Karsh Kale, Flook, Breabach, Soumik Datta and Patsy Reid.

Mary Coughlan

A lot has been written and a lot has been said, whispered, recounted, alleged, supposed and presumed. It’s all quite forgotten now and the songs remain the same, they remain a testament to Mary Coughlan’s seemingly timeless and endless talent. Her smoky, bluesy, boozy drawl has always been a seduction, no matter what the subject. The vocal marrying of sardonic wit, visceral rage, orgiastic between the sheets passion, the tenderest of sorrowful regrets; this is Mary’s talent. Regardless of the elements she chooses to manipulate with flawless ease, Mary’s voice has always been an unforeseen, sudden seduction. This is why she is so loved.

Throughout over 25 years of her quite extraordinary recording career Mary has drawn heavily from her legendary heroes; Billie Holiday’s grievous, teary outpourings, the husky flirtations of Peggy Lee, Van Morrison’s soulful wails, the defiant chanteusery of Edith Piaf. All are present and correct in her delivery. Even so, Mary, with her naked honesty makes every song her own; they belong to her and nobody else. Who else could possibly present “The Double Cross” or “Magdalen Laundry” or “The Ice Cream Man” with such dedication and effortless zeal?

Martyn Joseph

Martyn Joseph is a powerful singer and songwriter gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics. With a career spanning 30 years, 32 albums, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances, the versatility of his music touches genres of folk, rock, soul, folk funk and Americana, yet somehow all these labels cannot define the spirit of his music.

Compared to Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews, he has created his own style and reputation as a mesmerising live performer and stands in his own right, built on a reputation for giving what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives. A unique talent driven by passion, social awareness and love for his trade, his music manages to empower and speak for the many. He’s a jaw dropping guitar player who has developed a unique percussive style, teamed up with a powerful show stopping voice, and has been called “The Welsh Springsteen”.

“One of the most charismatic and electrifying performers in Britain today…tough and passionate”
Tom Robinson BBC 6 music

Martyn Joseph. A unique talent driven by passion and love for his trade, continues to write, sing and play from the heart. It’s a road he’s been travelling for most of his life and, as he often tells his audience, ‘you keep turning up and so will I.’

Fake Thackray

John Watterson (A.K.A Fake Thackray), the UK’s foremost interpreter of the wonderful wordsmithery of the late, great Jake Thackray, will be at Wickham on Friday 4th August. Expect not only the comic genius of Jake’s songs but also a poem or two from the late Les Barker, another comic genius who sadly passed a few months ago.

Fake Thackray, an adopted Yorkshireman, was born and grew up on the Isle of Man, which is where he first saw and met Jake Thackray in 1975. He recalls a performance at the local folk club, which had the audience in stitches and also a chat with a very modest and self-deprecating Jake at the interval – ‘a big man and a huge talent, clearly embarrassed by the standing ovation, Jake preferred to have a pint at the bar with the punters and didn’t really see what the fuss was about’.

John took a business degree at Loughborough (‘my mum was stationed at Bletchley Park in WW2 and said Loughborough was quite nice’) and this was followed by a 30 year ‘accidental’ career in the laundry industry (‘I went to an interview in 1979 just for the travel expenses, and the buggers gave me a job!’).

On learning of Jake’s passing in 2002, John decided that the songs were too good not to be kept alive, so he set about learning more of them. ‘Before I had decided what to do when I grew up, it was time for my mid-life crisis. I told my wife, Carol that I wanted to give up the day job and sing Jake’s songs and she said – OK then – so I did!’

Brìghde Chaimbeul

Brìghde Chaimbeul and Ross Ainslie, established and award-winning musicians in their own right, started working on music together around 4 years ago focusing on double C smallpipes. Recently they’ve been working alongside Steven Byrnes on bouzouki and guitar, performing and recording as a trio. Together they play a lot of material from all around the world and music that is not conventionally heard or played on the Scottish smallpipes. They have released their new album LAS, a collaboration featuring tunes from France, Scotland, Bulgaria, Ireland and some self-penned compositions.

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    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