Northern songs heart of folk roots festival

The Demon Barbers will open the festival
The Demon Barbers will open the festival

The line-up of this autumn’s fourth Hebden Bridge Folk Roots weekend has been unveiled.

The weekend will include The Demon Barbers, Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, Kathryn Williams and Steve Tilston.

To show the importance of its home venue to what it is, the event is now called the Trades Folk Roots weekend.

The folk roots weekend, now a part of the annual Hebden Bridge calendar, is based at the Trades Club, Holme Street, over the weekend of November 8 to 10. It will be kicked off by the Demon Barbers, one of the greatest live shows in the UK folk world. Led by Damien Barber they broaden out the folk dance experience with the addition of a wide range of instruments and dancers. BBC Folk awards best live act winners in 2009, the Demon Barbers have raised the bar in innovative folk performance showing that even with traditional songs there is nothing out of date about folk music.

Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies bring the North East cultural experience to the Trades Club on the Saturday evening and Liverpool-born but North East resident Kathryn Williams will bring the weekend to a close. Kathryn’s songwriting shows honesty and reality – she speaks directly to the audience without obscure imagery or “clever words”.

The weekend normally mixes local and internationally known performers. But there is a distinctly northern feel to this particular weekend.

“We have lots of acts who are clearly northern in their attitude and approach,” said organiser Dave Boardman.

“All the headline acts are from the north of England and we’ll also have Manchester’s Harp and a Monkey with songs from their very Lancastrian second album All Life is Here, Liverpool’s Alun Parry and Gina Le Faux and from Yorkshire there’s The Tragics, Chrystine Moon and Wilful Missing among others.

“As usual there will be a showcase of local talent on Sunday evening, featuring the best local acts, selected from the fringe events at Parcel Office cafe bar and Park Life cafe.”

The Tragics will be playing at the Real Cider Company-sponsored Late Night Cider session on Saturday night, which starts about midnight. This has become a very popular and regular part of the weekend.

However the weekend is not just a northern thing, it is designed to bring the best in songwriting and performance to the Calder Valley, said Dave. False Beards will be travelling up from London and the much praised Gren Bartley Band will also be playing on Saturday afternoon. False Beards are multi-instrumentalist Ben Mandelson and Ian Anderson who have between them been in the legendary 3 Mustaphas 3, Billy Bragg’s Blokes, English Country Blues Band and Tiger Moth among others.

Another recent BBC folk awards winner, Steve Tilston’s trio will be performing songs from their new album Happenstance. There will also be a session on Sunday afternoon dedicated to the 21st century inheritors of the Woody Guthrie mantle. From South Wales comes Tracey Curtis, recognised as one of the leading radical songwriters of the day, and Louise Distras, a folk punk poet who played at Billy Bragg’s Left Field stage at Glastonbury.

Tickets are now on sale at the Trades Club and through its website