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The eight days of folk


You will be a folk fanatic before you know it after a day at the Broadstairs Folk Week. The festivities come from all corners, writes Doug Hudson.

Each year the normally sedate seaside town of Broadstairs transforms itself into an intense festival site of music, dance and general revelry for its Folk Week.

Residents have said that it is as though the town is put inside a bubble, which only bursts after eight days. Many businesses rely on the influx of folk aficionados and party goers to see them through the tough times of a seaside town’s winter.

This year’s line-up from Friday, August 10 to 17 should attract audiences from far afield, as headliners Eddi Reader, Oysterband and Chumbawamba look set for capacity crowds.

It will be Chumbawamba’s swansong, after announcing they are breaking up last month. They said: “That’s it then, it’s the end. With neither a whimper, a bang or a reunion.

“Thirty years of being snotty, eclectic, funny, contrary and just plain weird. What a privilege, and what a good time we’ve had.”

They perform a collaboration called No Masters alongside Coope, Boyes & Simpson and the Fraser Sisters at the Concert Marquee on Saturday, August 11. It is a three-hour concert with about four different acts, under the No Masters umbrella – an artists cooperative of respected folk scene figures.


There are plenty of award winners on the Folk Week line-up. Oysterband appear in the Concert Marquee on Tuesday, August 14 as the current Best Live Folk Act in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Broadstairs’ own Tim Edey won Musician of the Year at the same awards and plays a number of gigs across the weekend, including with headliner Eddi Reader.

Chris Wood, who has also held the Musician of the Year accolade, performs at the Concert Marquee and the Sailing Club on Wednesday, August 15.

There are also up-and-coming Kent acts like Green Diesel, Chimney Boys, Wyatt’s Cat and the Bubble Band who have enough promise and talent to fight their way to the top of the folk tree.

One of the reasons these bands are succeeding is because of Folk Week’s attention to the younger generation of folkies. From an early age they are encouraged to take part in Shooting Roots – where children take part in a week-long series of workshops ending in public performance on Friday, August 17 at the Pavilion. It covers singing, music, theatre, craft and morris dancing and is part of a comprehensive programme for young folk.

Whilst the major concerts take place in a 600-seater Concert Marquee in Pierremont Park, the Pavilion on the Sands plays host to many dance and late night events, including some of the more diverse areas of folk. Elvis Fontenot and the Sugar Bees, Arthur K and the Skamadillos and the Catfish Kings could all be classed as fringe folk acts but are guaranteed to pack the dance floors.

These late night shows are available to the public as well as season ticket holders, as long as you get your ticket in advance.

Other buildings which suddenly become Folk Week venues for the festival include the Sailing Club, Crampton’s Museum and the Baptist Centre. Needless to say, every pub, coffee house and wine bar has its own programme of folk music. The promenades and seafront will have a blaze of colour as traditional dancers strut their stuff throughout the day.

The usual craft fair will have musical instruments, clogs and essential festival designer wear on offer in Victoria Gardens, which overlooks the bandstand’s free programme of gigs.

Other notable concerts in the Marquee during the week include Breabach on Friday, August 10, Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick in the Concert marquee on Monday, August 13, Feast of Fiddles on Thursday, August 16 and Tarras on Friday, August 17.

Don’t forget the week is completely self-funded, relying on collections, ticket sales and the generosity of the general public.

Eddi Reader
Eddi Reader

Headliner in focus - Eddi Reader

Acoustic pop changed forever when short-lived band Fairground Attraction released No1 single Perfect in 1988.

Their platinum-selling debut album The First of a Million Kisses won Best Album at the 1989 Brit Awards and launched the career of frontwoman Eddi Reader.

Before then, she had been a session vocalist, famously harmonized with Annie Lennox touring with the Eurythmics, after her time with successful punk outfit Gang of Four.

After Fairground Attraction’s split in 1990, the Scottish singer-songwriter forged a solo career which would take her Brit Award tally to three.

Her emotional performances were also famously adapted for the works of Scottish national poet Robert Burns, recording an album of his works with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2003, eventually earning her an MBE for contribution to arts in 2006.

See her at the Concert Marquee on Sunday, August 12 (returns only.)

Benjamin Zephaniah
Benjamin Zephaniah

Doug's pick for folk week

Broadstairs Folk Week will always throw up some memorable experience or performance – I’m looking forward to seeing Benjamin Zephaniah, someone who has influenced a generation of rappers and performance poets.

He spends much of his time in China and continues working throughout Asia, South America and Africa. I wonder what he’ll make of Broadstairs Folk Week?

He performs at the Queen’s Road Baptist Centre on Wednesday, August 15 and with Chris Wood on the same day in the Concert Marquee.

Broadstairs Folk Week runs from Friday, August 10 to 17. Week-long tickets £186, concessions £158, youth £111, children £72. Day tickets £31, youth £21, children £14. Details on 01843 604080 orwww.broadstairsfolkweek.org.uk

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