FOLK FESTIVAL AGM
The AGM of the ‘Wessex Folk Festival Committee’ was held with an air of disappointment that for the first time in 20 years the Festival had had to be cancelled due to Covid 19, but with optimism that it would be revived for 2021.
After eight years of conscientious duty, first as Treasurer and then as Chair, Mike Donovan retired from post, as did his wife Tricia who had acted as Secretary. Tributes were paid to their considerable contributions to the growth and success of the Festival over the years of their service. In their place, Eileen Bramley was elected as Chair, and Greg Schofield as Secretary. Other retirees from the Committee were Jan Muntz and Bob Ford, grateful thanks being expressed for their years of devoted service.
Preparations were now being made for the 2021 ‘Wessex Folk Festival’, to be held on the weekend of 5th, 6th, & 7th June. All interested will be able to follow developments on the ‘Wessex Folk Festival’ facebook site.
Greg Schofield (Secretary) July 2020
30 April 2019
Star line-up for folk festival
The final line-up of music acts for this Summer’s Wessex Folk Festival has been confirmed – and the organisers believe it’s the best ever.
The two stages on Weymouth quayside on the first weekend in June will feature established artists, such as the award-winning Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, as well as new artists and returning old favourites.
“It is the largest collection of award winners, award nominees and critically acclaimed acts that we have ever assembled,” said Bob Ford, who is the festival’s musical director.
One eagerly awaited new act is Harbottle & Jonas, a young husband and wife duo from Totnes in Devon, who have recently released their second album. They have a reputation for their intertwined vocal harmonies and authentic musical arrangements on a wide variety of instruments.
Another highlight of the first full day of the festival is expected to be The BeauBowBelles, whose music is a compelling mix of contemporary English folk with the dance rhythms of gypsy swing, topped off with three-part vocal harmonies.
As well as Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, the main stage on Sunday will also feature Gadarene, who impressed at last year’s festival, and Mad Magdalen, who are always crowd pleasers with their brand of “traditional English folk music with attitude”.
12 February 2019
Volunteers are vital for folk festival success
The popular Wessex Folk Festival is looking for volunteers to help make this year’s event another success.
The festival brings performances of the best in British folk music and dance to the Weymouth quayside from May 31 to June 2. But as there are no admission charges the event relies on volunteer stewards to help raise money and ensure everything runs smoothly.
Janice Munz, who organises the festival volunteers, says the event gives volunteer stewards the chance to be the welcoming face of the festival to locals and visitors alike. She adds: “One of the most important roles of the stewards is to be out and about with the collection buckets selling programmes and badges. There’s also a need for stewards to give information and directions around the streets and by the music and dance stages.”
This year, the festival has also set up a Friends of the Festival group for supporters who would like to help with publicity and other work that needs doing before the festival weekend itself. Details of how to become a volunteer can be found at the Wessex Folk Festival website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com
Artists already confirmed to play at this year’s festival include the award-winning duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, and one of last year’s favourites, Gadarene.
17th October 2018
Award winning duo to star at folk festival
The award-winning folk duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have been announced as the first star names booked for the 2019 Wessex Folk Festival.
Mixing traditional songs with their own material, the husband and wife duo from Dartmoor have established their reputation over two decades and won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for the best duo in 2016 and 2013. They will play on the main stage at the festival, which takes place around Weymouth Harbour from May 31 to June 2.
Kathryn Roberts is originally from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, where her musical parents introduced her to a wealth of music, including regular visits to folk festivals. She has been praised as one of the finest singers of her generation and her flute playing adds a distinctive touch to the duo’s sound.
Sean Lakeman is the eldest of the three Lakeman brothers and was brought up on Dartmoor, where he began playing the guitar at the age of six. He and his brothers Seth and Sam teamed up with Kate Rusby and Sean’s wife-to-be, Kathryn Roberts, to form the folk pop band Equation, who earned comparisons with folk rock greats such as Fairport Convention during their decade performing together.
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman recently released their fifth album, Personae. Its mix if self-penned songs and traditional ballads has drawn widespread acclaim.
“We’re really pleased that Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have agreed to play at next year’s Wessex Folk Festival,” said Mike Donovan, chair of the festival’s organising committee. “The fact that top national folk performers want to come to Weymouth confirms the event’s reputation as one of the best free folk festivals in the country.”
2 May 2018
Everyone gets a chance to play at folk festival
Weymouth’s upcoming Wessex Folk Festival isn’t just for the star musicians of the folk music scene. Hands-on workshops will give everyone a chance to join in. Whether you want to learn to play the spoons, discover some new guitar techniques or try your hand at the concertina, there’s a free workshop to help you discover your talents.
“People really enjoy them,” said Rick Potter, the festival’s workshop organiser. “The aim is to get people involved and encourage them to start playing and get playing with other people.”
Beginners can try a range of instruments and play with the popular Folk Orc or get to grips with a concertina under the guidance of West Country performers Mike and Gwenda Selley. June Rowlands will also share the secrets of accompanying folk songs on the spoons. More experienced players can learn about playing slide guitar from John Forsdyke or pick up tips on guitar tuning and fingerpicking from Paul Openshaw and Terry Hellyar. Singers can find out how to make a song their own with the help of Pauline Anscombe.
There are more opportunities to take part in the festival at open sessions in The Chapelhay Tavern, The Sailor’s Return, The Boot and The King’s Arms throughout the weekend.
The Wessex Folk Festival takes place around Weymouth quayside from June 1 to 3 with music performances on two outdoor stages as well as dancing across the site. Full details can be found on the festival website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com
6 April 2018
Volunteers will help folk festival run smoothly
With this Summer’s Wessex Folk Festival approaching fast, the organisers are looking for volunteers to join the team that helps the event on the Weymouth quayside run smoothly.
The festival, which takes place from June 1 to 3, is completely free, but visitors can contribute towards the costs by buying a programme or putting a donation into a collection bucket. Volunteers play a vital part by selling programmes and collecting donations all around the festival site, as well as offering help and information and a friendly welcome to visitors. There’s also a need for stewards to help at sessions and workshops and for early-bird volunteers to monitor the barriers at the vehicle entrances to the quayside.
John and Shirley Myers are looking forward to volunteering for the eighth time this year and love being at the heart of the festival. “It’s nice to meet people and see all the entertainment at the same time,” said John. “Come and join us, you’ll have a great time.”
Janice Munz, who organises the festival volunteers, added: “As the festival is a free, non-ticketed event, we depend on the funds from collections and the sales of festival programmes and badges to keep the festival afloat. The event depends on our valued volunteer stewards to help it run smoothly over the actual weekend and be the welcoming face of the festival to locals and visitors alike.”
Would-be volunteers should visit the Wessex Folk Festival website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com and use the contact page to send a message indicating what times they would be available to help.
9 March 2018
Dancers make date for folk festival
Hundreds of morris dancers from around the country will be entertaining visitors to the Wessex Folk Festival around Weymouth quayside over the first weekend in June.
The historic Eynsham Morris is making its first appearance in Weymouth and is expected to be one of the highlights with its energetic, flamboyant dancing style and colourful, unique kit.
“We're very much looking forward to dancing in your lovely town and hope to sample the local ale and have a good sing!”, said its secretary, Toby Goss. Based in an old market town five miles west of Oxford, the current group has been dancing since 1980, but Eynsham Morris is known to have been in existence since at least 1856.
In contrast, another of the 23 dance sides booked so far was formed little more than two years ago. After a successful appearance at last year’s festival, Enigma Morris, from South Petherton in Somerset, will be returning this year with their attention-grabbing black and turquoise outfits and masks.
The free festival takes place around Weymouth quayside from June 1 to 3 with music performances on two outdoor stages as well as dancing across the site. Full details can be found on the Wessex Folk Festival website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com
Enigma Morris (Picture credit, Dorsetbays)
31 January 2018
Songwriter Reg Meuross to star at folk festival
Accomplished singer songwriter Reg Meuross is to star at the Wessex Folk Festival in June. The Somerset-based musician will close the programme on the Harbourside stage on the Saturday night of the free festival, which takes place around Weymouth quayside from June 1 to 3.
Reg is renowned for writing poignant songs that tell heartfelt stories about life, love and injustice. Equipped with his acoustic guitar, he sees himself as a modern troubadour, as comfortable gigging in village halls and folk clubs as he is playing the Royal Albert Hall or huge festival stages. His appearance in Weymouth on June 2 will be part of a national tour to promote his two latest albums, Faraway People and Songs About A Train.
It has also been confirmed that Wild Willy Barrett and his band will be making a return to the festival after making a big impression last year with their unique mixture of musical styles and instruments.
Also in the line-up will be Gadarene, the band who draw on everything from pop and reggae to trance on their mission to take little-known dance tunes of the 18th and 19th centuries and get audiences dancing to them again.
More performers will be announced soon and full details can be found on the Wessex Folk Festival website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com
12 January 2018
Barn dance gives a taste of folk festival
There’s a chance to warm up a winter’s night with a barn dance organised by the Wessex Folk Festival in Weymouth on Saturday February 10.
The dance takes place at Hope Square Church in Trinity Street and music will be provided by The Tree Fellahs Band. Doors open at 7.30 pm and a chilli supper (meat or veggie) is included in the ticket price.
Tickets cost £10 on the night or £9 in advance from the festival website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com
The Wessex Folk Festival takes place around Weymouth Harbour from June 1 to June 3.
4 December 2017
Folk festival dates confirmed for next June
Dates have been confirmed for the 2018 Wessex Folk Festival, which will take place around Weymouth Harbour on the first weekend in June.
The popular, free event attracts thousands of visitors every year with its vibrant celebration of folk music and dance. Once again there will be two outdoor stages hosting more than 30 music performances, while the streets will be brought to life by a mass of morris dancing sides.
Curtain-raiser sessions in pubs around Weymouth will start the event off on the evening of Friday June 1 with the festival proper running throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday June 2 and 3.
“We had a great festival this year, with large crowds enjoying the music and dance along the harbourside,” said Festival Committee Chair, Mike Donovan. “We're already well advanced with our planning for the 2018 festival and are talking to some very exciting acts about appearing.”
Musicians interested in playing at the festival still have a few days left to put in an application by visiting the website at www.wessexfolkfestival.com
The website features information about all aspects of the festival, including details of how to apply for a trade stall at the festival and how to become an event volunteer.