The 38th Ely Folk Festival returns to showcase a wealth of local and global talent celebrating folk, roots and acoustic music over a full weekend in July.
As ever there is an eclectic range of musical styles for all tastes and ages, including folk rock, Americana, blues and roots as well as traditional folk acts. Alongside headline acts on the open air Peregrine Stage the 2024 programme includes a series of concerts across two other stages including a local music showcase, ceilidhs, instrumental and dance workshops, ‘meet and greet’ sessions with some of the festival’s leading artists, jam sessions and kids entertainment, all on one site at the beautiful Stuntney Estate.
One of the most anticipated events is a performance from Eddi Reader on Sunday evening on the main stage. Winner of a Brit Award for Best British Female, holder of a doctorate for her musical work and an MBE for services to the arts, she will play with a full band including festival patron and acclaimed songwriter Boo Hewerdine.
Other headliners include fiery Celtic fusion band Peatbog Faeries, multi-award-winning contemporary folk band Breabach, acclaimed duo O’Hooley & Tidow, whose “boundless songwriting and exquisite harmonies that truly shine” (Guardian) are guaranteed to light up the Kingfisher stage along with veteran singer-songwriter Jez Lowe. Additional highlights include performances from folk legend John Kirkpatrick, powerful and award-winning Fleetwood Mac-esque live act Morganway, The Fugitives, who will join the festival from Canada, veteran troubadour Rory McLeod and exciting folk-rockers Rusty Shackle.
On the dance front veteran outfit Kegs and vibrant ceilidh band Stumpy Oak will keep everyone’s feet moving while David Gibb and Nick Parker will provide a family folk show and a children’s ukulele workshop respectively as well as performing separately in their own right.
There’s also a distinct East Anglian flavour on display, including local favourites the Barefoot Doctors, who include former Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich and Chris Newman on guitar, promise to fire things up with their supercharged blues, rock and funk. Rising folk duo Christina Alden and Alex Patterson along with The Shackleton Trio, will both make appearances, separately as well as performing together as Kitewing. Add in Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, Guise, The Wilswood Buoys and many more and you have a line-up that truly has something for everyone!
Special mention should be made of a unique one-off Patrons Concert, curated by festival patrons Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams. Known to many through his work with Eddi Reader (which includes writing the hit single Patience of Angels) Boo is one of the country’s most feted songwriters, while Brooks, who holds a place in the Top 100 acoustic guitarists in the world, has worked and recorded with numerous folk luminaries on both sides of the Atlantic to much acclaim. The concert will see the pair invite some of their favourite performers to take the stage alongside them for never-to-be-repeated performances and collaborations.
Ely Folk Festival also offers a platform for up-and-coming performers. As well as the already mentioned local acts showcase, it holds an annual band competition, open to artists everywhere, with the prize being a slot at the festival and the ‘club tent competition’ held on the Nightingale stage. This has been running for many years and offers the opportunity for the winner to open the Sunday evening concert on the Peregrine Stage. In 2015 Rusty Shackle won and this year they’ll be closing the Peregrine stage on Sunday. Many other artists have gone on to greater things following their debut on Ely’s main stage, including Jade Rhiannon of Cambridge contemporary folk band The Willows and Iona Fyfe, the 2021 Musician of the Year at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards.
The festival also encourages anyone attending to bring their instruments and join in with the many sessions around the festival site and in the bar. Fionnuala Lennon, the festival’s Marketing Director, said “Over one glorious weekend in July, we will celebrate the best in folk& roots music as part of our 38th festival. It’s a fabulous way of catching nationally acclaimed and talented local acts up close in the relaxed surroundings of Stuntney estate and we look forward to welcoming everyone.
For further information please visit: elyfolkfestival.co.uk