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Summer Love, Great Music and Family Fun at Gate to Southwell Festival in Nottinghamshire

Kate Rusby

The eleventh Gate To Southwell Festival is expected to attract five thousand visitors to the East Midlands in early June.  With over 60 international, UK and local music acts, ceilidhs and dance displays, poets and storytellers, fantastic family entertainment, plus workshops, great food stalls, a beer and cider festival and a craft fair, this 2017 event looks certain to be the most eclectic, entertaining and exciting yet.
Running from Thursday June 8th to Sunday June 11th, in the beautiful rural setting near Southwell racecourse, the festival headliners include Kate Rusby, the much-loved leading lady of English folk (Friday 9th) and Jon Boden, charismatic frontman of the extraordinary Bellowhead (Saturday 10th).  There’s also a great array of international stars including BOC from Mallorca – who were sensational at the 2015 event – plus top quality Canadian bands Le Vent Du Nord and The East Pointers.  
Adding to this treasure chest of fine music, the legendary harmony supergroup Daphne’s Flight (first formed at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1995) are reuniting to appear at Southwell, and the Thursday night bill will feature the intoxicating Blazin’ Fiddles from Scotland and The Changing Room, an acclaimed modern folk collaboration between Sam Kelly and Tanya Brittain.  There’ll also be welcome returns for much-loved artists such as the Californian ukulele-toting Ooks Of Hazzard (their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ was one of the highlights of 2016), the Glaswegian Americana of James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band and the folk roots cerebral singer-songwriting of Jess Morgan.    
Adding to the warm atmosphere at this most family-friendly of festivals, the 2017 event will be hosting a Summer Of Love @ 50 celebration to mark fifty years since the US hippy movement in California broke through into the mainstream. Having led the house band for last year’s wonderful Dylan @ 75 tribute gig, the immensely-talented Jim Moray returns to fuel this flower-powered extravaganza.

Also on the ever-blossoming Gate To Southwell 2017 bill there’s American folk-blues guitar veteran Chris Smither, highly-acclaimed due Megson, flame-haired traditional star Megan Henwood, comedy veteran Les Barker, newly-formed double act Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Welsh singer-songwriter Jack Harris, Tyneside female vocal group She Shanties, Australia’s immensely popular harmony trio Cloudstreet, BBC Folk Award-winning Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, Celtic contemporary music from Ranagri, the all-female gothic folk troubadours Wookalily, swing-folksters The BeauBowBelles along with a rare chance to see Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley.
Bringing drama and colour to both the festival and the streets of Southwell, in procession along King Street on Saturday morning, there’s a host of dance sides confirmed to perform including Slubbing Billy’s from Huddersfield, Thrales Rapper from London, Micklebarrow and Poacher and Bishops Morris (all from Lincolnshire), Anstey from Leicestershire, the Plough Morris of Rattlejag and the Cotswold Morris of Harlequin, plus Conroy’s Irish Dance and the Koyuki Tribal Belly Dancers.  Last but not least, there are the Hells Angels of Morris Dancers, the magic menacing Witchmen.
Back on the festival site, there’ll be five venues for music over four days, including the newly-named boundary-pushing Frontier Stage will welcome diverse talents such as pioneer punk poet Atilla The Stockbroker and heiress to Billy Bragg, Leicester’s Grace Petrie.  There’s something for everyone from the western-swing-meets-country-blues of Rob Heron & the Tea Pad Orchestra, the energetic European folk of Sheelanigig and the alt-country eccentricity of Dana Immanuel & the Stolen Band through to rising Scottish stars such as Tannara, Wayward Jane and Gnoss, The Vagaband and Alden Patterson & Dashwood from Norfolk, and Nottinghamshire’s own immensely-danceable Wholesome Fish!   
With the new Robin Hood Energy Stage showcasing the best in traditional and contemporary folk music, the festival is also committed to promoting the work of East Midlands poets so there will be a Spoken Word Showcase featuring the rising stars of the Nottingham-based DIY Poets Collective, and The Southwell Slam – an open poetry and spoken word competition, for performers and writers of all ages and abilities, to find the Bard of the Gate To Southwell 2017.  For more Slam details contact Southwellslam@gmail.com.  
Gate To Southwell Festival tickets are now available from www.gtsf.uk

Jon Boden

Warthog

June is the month that is dominated by the Lowdham Book Festival and ‘Warthog’ are pleased to be asked once again to contribute to the programme.

It could be said that the very existence of Warthog Promotions is down to the Daniel Smith Blues Band. It was their performance in Lowdham Village Hall late in 2004 that produced the idea of promoting live music in the Hall on a regular basis. Daniel was also responsible for a great Warthog moment when, at a very early gig, a power cut hit during Daniel’s performance. Without hesitation, he leapt from the stage and played dazzling improvised boogie-woogie on the Village Hall piano until the power returned! Some people thought it was staged….. it most certainly wasn’t! (The Village Hall piano is always brought out into the main Hall for Daniel’s gigs). The band’s appearance on June 16th will be their 8th in Lowdham.

The harp ‘n’ banjo driven electro-folk-storytelling of Harp and a Monkey is imbued with a deep Lancashire sensibility that shines through in their beautifully crafted and sometimes spooky vignettes of northern life, love and remembrance.

The outfit, who have been friends for more than 20 years, channel the ghosts of summers spent in municipal parks and winters walking on the moors. Ask them about their influences and they are as likely to cite Ordnance Survey maps and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as they are Bert Jansch, Bjork or Bellowhead. They appear at the Old Ship Inn on Friday 23rd June.

For more information on the forthcoming programme, visit www.warthogpromotions.com

Tickets from Mike & Jacky Hoare Tel 0115 9663596

Lowdham's 18th Book Festival arrives in June and you can see all of the delights on offer by clicking HERE.