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You really shouldn’t miss any of these – and they’re all well supported too ...

Friday Evening

Seth LakemanImage

Yes, we’ve got the hot ticket of the year, and we booked him well before he won his two Radio 2 Folk Awards. He sprung into prominence at the 2005 Mercury Music Prize nominations, when he wowed the assembled press – most of whom had never heard of him before. His songs and playing appeal to folk fans and to those who ‘just like good music’. A great start to the Festival, and definitely a concert to see, if only so that you can say “I was there!”



Elbow JaneImage

'A New Acoustic Experience' — from their developing website comes the following review snippets:

"superb…" (BBC GMR) :: "simply brilliant.." (Autumn NW Folk Fed) :: "a touch of class" (Mike Silver) :: "Masterful purveyors of harmonic folk" (NW Enquirer) :: "Soon to be one of the most sought after bands in the country" (Biddulph Press) :: “Get them booked, they are wonderful!” (Parkgate Folk Club) :: "We’re going to hear a lot more in the future from Elbow Jane…" (Ali O’Brien BBC GMR)  



The Family MahoneImage

Mark Radcliffe and the Mahones are back again playing their energetic mix of fun-packed and lively raucous music that gets everyone on their feet. Middlewich Festival couldn’t start without them!

And watch out for members of the band as they will be busy doing Fringe things over the weekend and on the main stage as Full House on Saturday.


Saturday Afternoon

Blazin’ FiddlesImage

Take five of the hottest young contemporary fiddle players from the highlands and islands of Scotland and you've got Blazin' Fiddles. During the performance, the audience has a rare opportunity to hear solo spots featuring the regional styles of each fiddler followed by all hands jumping in for a wonderful explosion of music. Fiddles and bows blaze away with one of the most exciting and memorable ensembles ever to take the stage. With the fiddlers in the band hailing from Mallaig (Allan Henderson), Shetland (Catriona Macdonald), Glenfinnan (Iain MacFarlane), Inverness (Bruce MacGregor) and Oban (Aidan O'Rourke), it's fair to say that Blazin' Fiddles embodies the spirit of today's Highland fiddle music. Add to the mix, inventive guitar and piano (Marc Clement and Andy Thorburn) accompaniment underpinning the fiddle melodies with exhilarating drive and vigour. Since their inception in 1998, the band have thrilled audiences from Canada and the US, through Europe, to the Middle East. What you get with Blazin' Fiddles isn't just a concert, it's an experience you'll never forget.



Rainbow ChasersImage

If he is perhaps still best known as the godfather of electric folk music, then with his latest project, Rainbow Chasers, Ashley Hutchings has now gone on to blend the traditional with the contemporary in an even more seductive manner!

"The Guv'nor", as he is affectionately called, has gathered round him three highly talented musicians, Mark Hutchinson (guitar and vocals), Jo Hamilton (Viola, guitar and vocals) and Ruth Angell (Fiddle, guitar and vocals).

Together they perform a repertoire of self-penned songs of the highest quality and sophistication, drawing from a broad range of ideas and influences. Skilful and sensitive musical arrangements are neatly counterbalanced with tremendous harmony singing and shared lead vocals.


Saturday Evening

The Demon Barber RoadshowImage

Over the last five years The Demon Barbers have gained major recognition for their original and imaginative approach to traditional music and song. With Damien, Bryony and Will retaining a solid traditional English base the band's unique sound is compounded by the driving rhythm section of Griffith & Sykes. For the Roadshow they team up with some of England’s most exciting young traditional dancers to create a high energy music and dance spectacular.



Breeze & WilsonImage

There is an intensity about Graham Breeze and Toby Wilson, an inner energy, something purposeful, something driven; they may want to play good music and entertain an audience, but they are serious about it. Graham plays guitar, sometimes with a slide, Toby plays guitar and Dobro and they sing in harmony with a sublime sense of taste and discrimination. They are an acoustic duo that favours the roots end of American country music. They are real players; they have touch; they have judgement; they have talent. (Extracts from Maverick article, March 2007)



Full HouseImage

Full House are five musicians from Cheshire who play an exciting mix of songs and tunes drawn from many sources, including their own compositions, the Folk Tradition and a wide variety of contemporary writers from several musical genres. The origins of the band lie in the folk-club scene but Full House have always played to audiences other than the strictly ‘folkie’ and over the years have played at festivals and many different types of venue up and down the country. Members are: Ian Jones (Melodeon, Flute, Whistle); Chris Lee (Acoustic and Electric Mandolins, Bass, Guitar, Vocals); Nick Mitchell (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Octave Mandola); Dave Russell (Vocals, Fiddle, Bouzouki, Guitar, Bass) and Mark Woolley (Percussion, Whistles).



Nick HarperImage

Son of the legendary Roy Harper, to call Nick a superlative singer/songwriter could put his highly lauded guitar talent in the shade, and to call him a guitarist's guitarist might slight his distinctive, soulful voice and passionate songs. Not forgetting the wild ride that is one of his live shows - from personal introspection to biting political satire via a charmingly caustic wit that would make Groucho Marx proud. He often segues from his own compositions to well-loved covers he makes his own - he takes on Presley, Zappa, Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin, Monty Python and Public Enemy (yes, on an acoustic guitar). He also has the alarming ability to break guitar strings almost by sheer force of will… and then change them without dropping a beat. For over a decade, he has been dazzling audiences and reviewers alike with this heady mix of virtuosity, boyish charm, showmanship and sheer bravado.


Sunday Afternoon

The New Rope String BandImage

The Old Rope String Band (what is left of them: Pete Challoner and Tim Dalling) have joined forces with two amazing musicians (Jock Tyldesley and Vera van Heeringen) and as a four piece they are taking off from where the Old Ropes sadly stopped. They play a big assortment of things and all sorts of hoedown pan-celtic old-timey up-beat down-home music. All this is combined with bizarre physical nonsense and clowning about. And singing. And dancing. The sheer visualosity and laughableness of the New Rope String Band, plus the amount of interesting things will bring pleasure to absolutely almost everyone. Boundless energy, exuberant spectacles and beautiful music executed with kindness. What could possibly go wrong?



Richard DiganceImage

Richard is an evergreen performer and writer who remains unaffected by cool trends. He sings, writes songs, plays the guitar and enjoys himself. He doesn't go in jungles or get locked in houses to get on TV. He is most at home on the theatre stage and he boasts one of the most loyal followings in the entertainment industry. Through his website he remains accessible to his public in a personal way that is hopefully appreciated by those who appreciate him. And that's just the way he likes it. Check out the pages on his site for all tour dates and information on other projects Richard has been working on recently. Richard also has a new website www.yourrhymes.com — click on the link and have a look...


Sunday Evening

Show of HandsImage

England's most successful acoustic roots duo - Steve Knightley and Phil Beer. Their widespread appeal is based on the combined power of Steve's original songs, the quality of their vocals and harmonies, and their multi-instrumental virtuosity. Their performances feature a vast array of instruments including guitars, mandocello, fiddles, cuatro, mandolin and concertina. They have been nominated for 'Best Group' and 'Best Live Act' at the Radio 2 Folk Awards winning the latter in 2004 and then in 2005 the ‘Best Group’ award as part of the Big Session collaboration with Oysterband. Tonight they are complemented by Miranda Sykes.



PJ WrightImage

PJ Wright was born in Leicester. His musical roots are in R&B and American country-rock although his career has spanned everything from 1960s underground cult band Family to backing big-name acts such Del Shannon and the Coasters: he even did a stint in the pit band for Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. PJ has worked extensively as a session musician: his credits include recordings with Chris While and Julie Matthews, David Hughes, Julie Felix, and Christine Collister. He was a leading light with Coventry country outfit The Flying Tortellinis. During the 1980s and 90s, PJ regularly recorded and toured as lead guitarist with the Steve Gibbons Band. Since 1999, he has been lead vocalist and guitarist with his own five-piece folkrock band Little Johnny England. As well as acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars, PJ plays harmonica, mandolin, saxophone, and organ. He is a talented songwriter, too, and has a small studio. On top of all that, he also teaches guitar.
Tonight he is complemented by the addition of MFAB favourite, Thom Kirkpatrick.



The Boat BandImage

The Boat Band acquired their name in 1988, playing for a boat rally lobbying for the reopening of the Anderton Lift on the Trent and Mersey canal. Nineteen years later they are still going strong, and they've been stalwarts of the Middlewich Festival regularly since the first year. The Boat Band were until recently "renowned mainly for their chiefly Cajun material and for their particularly wild live shows and sessions" (Rock'n'Reel magazine); but last year saw their new CD "A Trip to the Lakes" receive huge publicity as it became the most acclaimed English traditional tune album of 2006 and brought northern tunes to an international audience. "Hypnotic..terrific...rugged as the Cumbrian hills” said fRoots, while Musical Traditions found it "superb...strange and imaginative...absolutely delightful".



Tom BlissImage

Some of Tom's finest songs (and traditional interpretations) work most powerfully with just one voice, (with or without an accompanying instrument). And the freedom to develop phrasing and dynamics within the mood of the material often permits a more intense, intimate delivery than can be achieved even with musicians as sympathetic as his regular partners Tom Napper, Tony Taffinder and Chris Parkinson. Therefore you'll be delighted to witness his sympathy and enthusiasm for ancient musical forms and language, and his understanding of the craft of songwriting from show tunes to hymns to pop, coupled with diligent research and attention to detail, that has made him one of the handful of performers on the folk circuit today whose work is admired by modernist and traditionalist alike.

Additionally, Tom is an experienced workshop leader and uses his experience as a scriptwriting lecturer in his narrative songwriting, traditional song and tune arranging workshops. He also offers festival workshops on guitar (various tunings plus classical, punk folk, folk rock and fingerstyle techniques) and accompanying songs (any instrument). Check out Fringe and Workshop schedules for his appearances.