We have left the 2023 "Who's on?" in place until we start posting our 2024 acts. A sort of online souvenir.
Here's a preview of the running order from the centre pages of the printed programme. Click the image for a bigger (printable) version, and view and/or download the entire programme if you like by clicking the button below.
We have three ticketed concerts in Theatr Gwaun - everything else is free. In chronological order, the ticketed concerts are as follows.
- CONCERT 1 -
Saturday May 27th 2023 2.30
Nominated four times, and winner in 2015, of Musician Of The Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Sam has been at the forefront of the revival in English music for the last fifteen years. He is a veteran of the mighty Bellowhead, former and inaugural Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble, a founder member of ground-breaking trio Leveret as well as a passionate and experienced educator. He has collaborated, recorded and performed with The Full English, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings, Fay Hield and Emily Portman as well as creating his own theatre production Made In The Great War. Sam’s previous releases, The Unfinished Violin (Island Records) and Unearth Repeat (Hudson Records) were received with international acclaim.
- CONCERT 2 -
Saturday May 27th 2023 7.30
Janice Burns & Jon Doran
With exceptional musicianship and boundless energy, Granny’s Attic are going from strength to strength. Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (melodeon, anglo concertina, vocals), George Sansome (guitar, vocals) and Lewis Wood (violin, vocals) have honed their skills touring the UK and Europe since 2009. They are much loved by audiences up and down the country, with bookings everywhere from Cambridge Folk Festival to Cecil Sharp House.
The trio have been heralded for their lively performances and skilled delivery of traditional material, playing with verve, energy and their own inimitable style. Though grounded in tradition, they are keen to push new boundaries by exploring fresh approaches and writing their own compositions.
Janice Burns & Jon Doran
are an Anglo-Scottish duo who came together after discovering a shared love of traditional music. They find their songs in archives that span the depths of our history – songs that tell vivid stories about the nature of life and our place in the world.
Janice & Jon’s compelling storytelling comes alive through tight vocal harmonies and sensitive interplay between mandolin, bouzouki, and guitar. Their arrangements have a spellbinding presence and an understated energy that transports their songs from the pages of books and manuscripts into the imagination of the listener.
Don't miss this exciting new young duo - they're going to be very big names indeed.
- CONCERT 3 -
Sunday May 28th 7.30
Emily Portman & Rob Harbron
Emily Portman & Rob Harbron
both have award-winning reputations as performers, composers and recording artists. Now they have formed an inspired new collaboration in which they delve into English folk traditions, creating a boldly exposed and intricately woven contemporary folk sound.
Emily (voice, banjo & piano) is best known as an original songwriter and for her work with the acclaimed folk band The Furrow Collective. Rob (concertina, guitar, voice) tours with Leveret, Fay Hield, Jon Boden and many more, being in great demand as one the finest multi-instrumentalists in the UK.
Together they take a fresh approach to exploring the traditional music they are both steeped in, drawing out the contemporary relevance in their repertoire with master craftsmanship. Emily’s spellbinding storytelling and unaffected voice combines with Rob’s sympathetic musicality to create an unforgettable and intimate live experience, brimming with a focused subtlety, depth and a shared love of the music.
Broadoak is a Pembrokeshire-based folk trio with Chris Kay, Peter Kay and Wendy Lewis, all experienced musicians with backgrounds and interests in many sorts of music from gamelan to rock. Chris sings and plays piano and whistle, Wendy plays fiddle and sings, Peter plays various fretted instruments and sings.
Broadoak is their way of exploring traditional and contemporary folk, as well as creating their own new work in a folk tradition. It's hard to pin down their 'sound' in a single word: maybe 'eclectic' comes closest, and of course they always aim for 'entertaining'.
The above concerts are ticketed. From here down, it's all free!
Acorns Ceilidh/Twmpath band
are drawn from the Royal Oak Tuesday night session. They know hundreds of tunes, and even know how to play some of them. Come along to their FREE twmpath/ceilidh on the Friday night and amaze yourself at how well you dance! Their excellent caller will talk you through the steps, no experience needed.
We haven't got a photo of the band, so instead, here is a photo of some people amazing themselves at a previous festival.
It is an ancient Mariner*,
And he stoppeth one of three.
"By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?"
To tell you about the Friday night song session in the Ship Inn, Lower Town, obviously. Also Sunday night Songs of the Sea, mastly! Alan, remembering songs from fifty years ago whilst forgetting words to ones learned last week! Singers, come on down to Lower Town!
* for 'Mariner' read 'helicopter pilot'. Sorry.
are Bunja and Liz Conteh. Playing music based on the traditional griot kora tunes and songs of West Africa from Bunja and heartfelt self-penned folk songs from Liz. The kora is a traditional West African griot instrument with 21 strings and a beautiful harp-like sound.
Andrew McKay and Carole Etherton
live on the Gower Peninsula outside Swansea, South Wales. Both are accomplished singers and instrumentalists, Andrew having played the obscure Crane Duet concertina for more years than he cares to, or possibly can, remember. Carole, who plays a range of early woodwind instruments, was also a resident singer at several folk clubs in her native Sussex. Before joining forces, they performed solo and with different shanty groups at folk clubs and festivals in Britain, Continental Europe and the United States.
Their name brings together their two main instruments, the bouzouki and the concertina.
Val has been singing in public since she was a teenager when she performed solo in folk clubs around London, Middlesex and Surrey. She was a resident musician at The Phoenix Folk Club, Staines and it was at this time Val took up the concertina and her love of Irish music and dance blossomed.
Keith was born of an Irish mother and was inspired by the Irish music revival of the mid 1970s with bands like Planxty and the Bothy Band. He picked up the mandolin whilst at University in North London when he frequented music venues and sessions in Kilburn, Archway and the Holloway Road.
Val and Keith have played music together since 1989 when they met in Sussex. Together they founded the traditional Irish band The Flying Toads performing regularly at folk festivals and clubs in England, Ireland and France.
Three quarters of former Fishy faves the Stoned Cherries, Aly, Dave and Matt bring you a mix of original and traditional songs and tunes. From thoughtful, well-crafted songs to infectious Irish whistle tunes, The Cherrystones will warm your heart and stir your souls and soles!
is a singer songwriter from West Wales, performing both traditional and original songs in Welsh. Her songs are a reflection of not only the Welsh landscape but the people, stories and culture of Wales.
are a four-piece folk band playing an eclectic mix of traditional Welsh folk tunes. Their set features the Pibau cyrn, melodeon and iwcalili. Foot stomping and dancing in the aisles is encouraged!
Facing the Ocean
are Jane Harwood (guitar) and Russ Stanley (mandolin). Their performance for us will be very special. This is what they say about it:
"We live in Somerset but have a great fondness for North Pembrokeshire. We have a group of tunes that are directly inspired by the landscape of Pen Caer, written whilst staying there over the years. We'd like to propose an informal, outdoor performance to link in with your festival. This would be ... in daylight hours (afternoon), and site-specific. The Rounds of Pen Caer would be an unticketed picnic with live, unamplified, site-specific music. The location would be Garn Fawr, with free parking in the NT car park - bring your own blanket / chairs and picnic. Obviously, it would be weather-dependent!"
This sounds like a great idea to us. The weather will be absolutely splendid, we've booked.
Finbar Magee and Breige Quinn
Finbar is an award winning bard and songwriter whose songs have been played world wide including at Glastonbury. His unique range of ballads (My Belfast Love), satire (TK Maxx), social comment (The Eyes of a Stranger) and recitations (The Ginger Gene) ensure quality entertainment. He is accompanied by Breige - one of the finest fiddlers in Ulster.
Imagine sitting down in a session with players like Finbar and Breige. Well, now you can!
Fishguard Folk Singers
are a group of friends who started out as shanty singers but have now added all sorts of other material. They have a bias towards sea songs, but their main criteria are: do they like it and enjoy singing it?
FFS have gone through a lot of changes recently, so we haven't got a current photo. Instead, here's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra with their mighty organ in 2018. Nice.
Border Morris side Heb Enw Morris - the name literally translates as `No Name Morris’ - formed in 2008 and draws its members from across Pembrokeshire and beyond. Meeting weekly near Narberth, and regularly performing in public throughout the region and occasionally across the border, dancers and musicians range in age from 8 to 70+. New members are always welcome.
Discussion/workshop: Healing folk
Want to know more about why listening to and playing folk music feels so good? Pembrokeshire-based music therapist and fiddle player Holly Robinson will be leading an interactive discussion and workshop on music and wellbeing. Find out more about how she uses folk music in her therapy practice and take a look at how you can use music to give your physical, emotional and mental health a helping hand.
The ImprompTUNES are Jonny and Joanne, based in Ramsbottom in the north west of England. They are known for their quirky takes on popular songs and their mix of instruments, guitars, ukulele, mandolin and glockenspiel. Their eclectic playlist is sure to have something you'll enjoy and some comedy songs to make you laugh too.
Jess and Michael
Jessica and Michael are a dose of nostalgia. Whilst their music covers a diverse range of traditional and modern songs, Jessica's hauntingly beautiful voice and Michael's skillful guitar accompaniment will transport you to a bygone era.
The duo have been playing together for just over a year, and have only recently begun to share their music more widely.
Pembrokeshire's own singer songwriter, Jess Ward began her love affair with the Celtic harp back in 2012, journeying through many folk traditions in both dance and music, and writing and recording two albums of original songs, 'The Mermaid's Lament' and 'Stronger Than You Think', both available on Bandcamp. A multi instrumentalist, Jess is currently enjoying a return to guitar and fiddle as well as indulging a new passion for the medieval drum. For Fishguard Folk Festival Jess will be sharing some of her favourite traditional songs alongside her own and there may even be a sneak preview from her forthcoming new album, 'In Spiritum Sanctum,' released at the end of June.
The John Ward Trio
John Ward turned to folk and acoustic music in the mid 1980s and, by 1988, had become a full-time songwriter and musician on the folk and roots music scene. Since then, he has performed in countless venues all over England as well as overseas. John has guested on numerous radio shows and has appeared on British television a number of times.
The new trio for 2022/23 of Wynford Jones, Laurence Eddy and Geoff Cripps has musical connections and roots which stretch back into the last century and, in particular, their involvement with the folk/rock band The Chartists.
The Chartists disbanded in 1991 and Wynford, Laurence and Geoff went on their own musical journeys – including Wynford & Laurence running The Platform Folk Club in the Ynysddu Hotel and performing together as Lauford. Geoff was one of the founder members of Allan Yn Y Fan in 1996, with whom he toured extensively in the UK and internationally, whilst releasing six acclaimed albums between 2003 and December 2018.
At the start of 2022 they rekindled their friendship and their mutual respect for each other’s music making skills. Thirty-one years on from when they last performed together, they are delighting in giving a new focus to the many fine original songs composed by Wynford, and the response to these songs from audiences in folk clubs across South Wales and beyond.
Mice in a Matchbox
are Sally Stamford, well known vocalist, featured in many bands such as the Loxley Trio, and Jim Rolt, a musician with a more rock n roll background. Together they produce an exciting sound which has been described as indie folk. Suffice it to say, it’s upbeat and exciting rather than glum and monotonous!
We are doubly grateful to the mighty Mice this year, as they are also providing the sound system in Ffwrn. What lovely people!
Their website is fun on a PC, with a mouse for a cursor (can't speak for Android/Apple). If Fishguard's Gary Jones ever hears what they do to "We'll all hang down behind", he'll have a fit.
Mike has been playing D/G melodeon for over thirty years, specialising in the dance music of England and Wales. He is also a skilled exponent of the English concertina. Welsh dance music tends to be at the heart of any session, although you can also expect a heavy blast of English country music with a flavouring of French and Scandinavian melodies.
Can't find anything Internetty to link Mike's photo to - if you've got anything for us, Mike (or anyone else), get in touch and we'll be happy to add it.
Milton Hide (AKA Jim and Josie Tipler) come from East Sussex and live at the foot of the famous Long Man of Wilmington hill figure. The duo weave eloquent, well-crafted songs and stories – Jim’s guitar and Josie’s pure vocal delivery blending perfectly. Arrangements also include percussion, with the clarinet providing a third voice. Their music has been described as “reminiscent of the Moody Blues” (Living Tradition), “a touch of Fleetwood Mac” and “vintage Steeleye” (Spiral Earth).
Pat Smith and Ned Clamp
Born in the rolling foothills of the Welsh Alps, raised in the wind-brushed cornfields of the lower Rhondda; distilled in the murky waters of the mighty E-ly-e River, blended in the rich man’s playground of Splott, and dumped on an unsuspecting public in the cunning guise of an energetic mixture of songs and tunes from Wales and beyond, skilfully played on concertina, guitar, spoons and harmonicas.
Manchester born award winning singer/songwriter Paul Hayes, now living in the beautiful Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire, plays a mixture of traditional and self-penned ‘folk’ songs, all sung and played with Paul’s individual style.
‘Paul captivated his audience with a variety of traditional and original tunes ranging from the hauntingly beautiful to laugh out loud hilarity! Folk lovers will love Paul Hayes’ – Lampeter Folk
Razor Bill is the popular Pembrokeshire folk band who love to play and sing traditional and modern folk.
They bring you a generous hint of Poguetry and other Celtic influences, and the occasional touch of country, plus a few songs and tunes you might never expect!
Rob Lear Band
Nominated for this years Welsh Music Award, and with RnR Magazine describing Rob Lear as one of this countries finest songwriters, the Rob Lear Band blends elements of beautiful vocal harmonies and a wide range of talented instrumentalists, which include accordion, mandolin, violin and djembe. The songs draw on Rob’s memories, experiences and coming-of-age tales of growing up in a small mining village tucked away in the Welsh valleys. Rob’s music blends folk, Americana, pop and a touch of rockabilly.
Simon & Holly: the slow sessions
If full-throttle fast folk sessions are not your speed, why not join Pembrokeshire fiddlers Holly Robinson and Simon Jones at our “Slow and Easy” sessions on Saturday and Sunday?
The sessions will be based around the popular Tuneworks festival tune book (available in free download format from tuneworks.co.uk) alongside one or two other favourite tunes, with all instruments and abilities welcome.
Holly, a dance musician and music therapist, and luthier Simon, a Fishguard Royal Oak session regular who makes and repairs violins, violas and cellos, run a monthly slow session ‘Hwb-Session’ on the second Monday of the month at Hwb in Narberth.
Teifi Ukulele Group
Teifi Ukulele Group are a group of local enthusiasts who come together to share their enthusiasm for their quirky little instruments. Now they're coming to Fishguard Folk Festival to share the love with you! There are rumours of spare instruments... No photo or website, sorry, so we've taken the liberty of showing you the middles of three ukuleles.
For more information, please re-read. (© Scarfolk)
plays his own self-penned songs in a heartfelt acoustic folk Americana or Celticana style. His music has featured numerous times on BBC Radio Wales Celtic Heartbeat, Welsh Connections and amongst other independent stations such as Acoustic Routes and Daz in the Hat. This has led to prestigious support slots with established folk icons like Martin Carthy and John Boden (Bellowhead) along with rising talent Merry Hell.
Through his lyrics and tales he continues to map a sonic history and version of events to pass on to other generations. Normal life in extraordinary times makes his music age like a fine wine.