Stage in the Square

Saturday 3rd June

Download the Festival Programme for Details Here

Gaz Brookfield

West Country-based Gaz Brookfield is predominantly a solo acoustic musician. But on occasions such as the Wessex Folk Festival, you will find him on stage with long-time collaborator and fiddle player extraordinaire, Ben Wain. 

Gaz Brookfield

Gaz was the first independent musician to sell out Bristol’s, The Fleece, The Bierkeller and, more recently, the 1,000-capacity SWX. With eight studio albums (the latest, Idiomatic, hitting number 10 in The Official Download and Indie album charts) and a ninth one just around the corner, this fiercely independent musician continues to tour up and down the country. No manager, no record label, no agent – just a guitar, a van and a steadfastly belligerent refusal to give in.

Chimney Fish

Highly original and entertaining duo. Moving effortlessly between folksy ballads, rock n roll, jazz, and blues. Their original songs are funny and honest with a breathless range of chords and keys, whilst the clear chemistry between them keeps you engaged from start to finish.

Chimney Fish

David Gordon

David Gordon is a singer-songwriter from Manchester, where he was a familiar figure on the acoustic music scene until eight years ago when he moved to Weymouth in Dorset. He now plays regularly across the South West of England, winning praise from audiences for his melodic songs and their often poignant lyrics.

David got his first taste of performing in the folk clubs of Manchester. He soon took to writing his own songs and playing them on acoustic guitar and over the past 20 years has played many hundreds of gigs in numerous venues around Britain, as well as performing in France, Belgium and the United States.

In addition to playing in his own right, David has also supported top songwriter Boo Hewerdine, folk legends John Renbourn and Dick Gaughan and American banjo virtuoso Tony Furtado.

While in Manchester, David recorded two CDs of his songs in local studios. After his move to Dorset, meeting Tom Toomey, lead guitarist with legendary band, The Zombies, led to him recording again at Tom’s Blue Door Studios in Yeovil, Somerset. Tom brought his own production and engineering skills to David’s songs, adding contributions by a string of top musicians and some magic sprinkles of his own on guitar. The result was a four-track EP, Silver Thread, which was launched at the end of 2019. The title track is a song written in California some years ago but only then recorded for the first time. The EP also includes Climate Change, David’s personal take on the global heating crisis.

Photo: © Pete Millson 2019. Telephone: 07768 077353 (UK) —

Unable to play gigs to promote the EP during lockdown in early 2020, David wrote a song about the plight of those whose plans had been put on hold by the virus. Although it focused on the way the loss of live music was affecting so many people, it also looked at the wider effects on everyone whose lives had been Frozen In Time.

The temporary lifting of restrictions later in the year allowed David to play the new song to audiences and it made an immediate connection with people. “There was a feeling that I should record the song so that it could reach more people,” said David. “Elijah Wolf, singer and songwriter with The Gravity Drive, agreed and offered to produce the song at his Howl Recordings studio. With Ryan Halsey engineering, we kept things simple and managed to get the session finished the day before lockdown resumed and the music venues closed their doors again.”

Frozen In Time received radio play after it was released as a single and by the time lockdown was lifted again, David was ready to record a new song with Elijah Wolf – We Will Look After Your Star, written about his first granddaughter, who had been born a few months before the start of the pandemic.

Elijah Wolf added: “I’m a huge fan of David’s songwriting and his new song, We Will Look After Your Star, has a special place in my heart. David not only captured the feeling one has to protect and keep the dreams alive of a new family member but also captured for me a particular moment of time after leaving the EU. A beautiful song.”

When live gigs returned in 2022 David played at the Wessex Folk Festival and will be returning to play the main stage in 2023.

Emma Gale

Emma Gale cut her teeth as a cover singer in Weymouth, Dorset before falling in love with songwriting.  She is a self-proclaimed “accidental indie folk artist”, having released her debut single Let’s See What the Earth Has to Say in April 2020 and watched the video become a viral lockdown hit. Although Emma has the knack for writing catchy tunes, she claims to be a lyricist above all else, having woven beautiful storylines throughout her debut album. A truthful, observational style is at the centre of her approach to writing.

Emma Gale – Image by Mark Freegard

After completing a Masters in Songwriting at Bath Spa University in 2017, Emma went on to attend songwriting retreats hosted by Boo Hewerdine (The Bible, Eddie Reader).  In 2020 she attended accomplished record executive Judy Stakee’s Nashville songwriting retreat and has taken part in songwriting camps with the likes of Grammy-nominated folk singer Mary Gauthier and Berklee College of Music professor Pat Pattison. She has also received mentorship from LA-based songwriting coach Robin Frederick and UK based songwriter, Chris Difford (Squeeze).  

Her eponymous debut album, released in March 2022 received airplay across the UK, Europe and North America. The album was featured as Album of the Week on over 10 folk radio shows including Blues and Roots Radio and Fatea Magazine. This landed her in the BAM 22 Artists to Watch in 2022 and 2023. Emma was selected as a finalist in the Talent is Timeless competition and the Blues & Roots Female Artists Category in both 2021 and 2022, and as a semi-finalist in the UK songwriting competition. 

After being awarded DWB Best Newcomer 2022, Emma was signed to DWB Music in March 2023 and is currently working with songwriters across the UK, Europe and US to write tracks for the pop, Asian (K-pop, C-pop, J-pop) and Eurovision markets.

Jim Chorley

Jim Chorley

Jim Chorley is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Southampton in Hampshire.

His songs, lyrics and recordings are honest and from the heart, down to earth and real, telling of wild woods and Welshmen’s daughters, sing-along sea shanties on the high rolling seas, romantic meetings on the cobbled streets of a midnight city and the magical, mystical, mysteries of love and nature. One of his most beloved songs, ‘Painting Circles in the Corn’, is a paean to his late father, Dave Chorley, and his adventures inventing and making ‘crop circles’ in the Hampshire countryside. Jim was recently featured in a BBC report about his Dad’s crop circle making and was filmed playing ‘Painting Circles in the Corn’ live in a crop circle in Wiltshire.

He has supported a wealth of artists including BBC Folk Award nominees The Emily Portman Trio, Polly and the Billets Doux, Eliza Carthy, Jackie Oates, Paul Simmonds of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Ben Ottewell from Gomez and folk legends Chris Wood,  Martin Carthy and Julie Felix. Having played countless live shows and festivals, incl

Reg Meuross

Award-winning Reg Meuross was introduced onto the stage of the Albert Hall by Mike Harding as ‘one of the finest singer-songwriters this country has produced’. With 14 solo albums to his name, Reg is a true modern troubadour, representing contemporary English folk writing at its best while captivating audiences with his beautiful tenor voice and a breadth and depth of material that is unparalleled in contemporary folk.

Reg Meuross – photo by Rachel Snowdon

Accompanying himself on his ‘44 Martin six-string guitar, harmonica, tenor guitar, banjo and dulcimer, Reg produces music that has an unrivalled power to reach and move the listener. His songs tell stories that need to be told, relating struggles that need to be known, injustice that needs to be uncovered and social conscience that needs to be celebrated.

In April this year, Somerset-based Reg releases a new song cycle, Stolen From God, focusing on the transatlantic slave trade and uncovering its hidden history from a South West England perspective. Also due for release later this year is Fire & Dust, a song cycle that delves into the life story of Woody Guthrie.

Reg will be performing on the festival’s main stage on Saturday and Sunday and will also be leading a songwriting workshop.

Merry Hell

The Wessex Folk Festival is pleased to announce the popular Merry Hell as the Headliners for the 2023 Festival on Saturday 3rd June.

Headliners Merry Hell

Merry Hell are an eight-piece folk-rock band with a reputation that has spread far and wide from their base in Wigan, Lancashire. In their own words: “Merry Hell is a band founded on the ever-evolving Folk tradition – music made by the people and shared by the people. Though our hearts and souls are tuned to the songs which came before us, we bring you new words and music forged from our own experiences, from the lows and the loves of our lives. Our art is energy and our hope is unity. Our pleasure is to please: let the audience be the acid test and let the music speak for itself . . .”

The band emerged in 2011 from the remnants of ’90s folk/punk band The Tansads as brothers John, Bob and Andrew Kettle, keyboard player Lee Goulding and drummer Andy Jones were joined by John’s wife, Virginia, who was persuaded to trade in her past as a solo singer-songwriter for a future in the band. Virginia’s songs are at the heart of the band but Bob, John and Lee have also been consistent contributors of new material. With the addition of bassist Nick Davies and fiddle player Neil McCartney, Merry Hell soon became a favourite at folk festivals, as well as playing an increasing number of gigs around the folk clubs and arts centres of the North of England. As their reputation for playing energetic, crowd-pleasing sets grew, the band found themselves increasingly in demand and in 2022 they played more than 50 gigs, fanning out from Lancashire as far as Cornwall, Norfolk and London. They also developed a Dorset connection when Weymouth’s Simon Swarbrick joined to replace Neil McCartney on violin.

Merry Hell’s latest album, Emergency Lullabies, has received enthusiastic reviews and demonstrates the musical range of the band as well as their commitment to fighting against injustice and working for the future of the planet.

Sunday 4th June