Busking  /ˈbʌskɪŋ/ noun

: the activity of playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations.

Busking is a craft older than recorded history. The folk tradition is virtually its conjoined twin; such is the bond between the troubadour and the oral recording of local histories. The grandparents of our current folk music movement all began in one form of busking or another.

Innumerable recent well known musicians started with busking, especially in times pre-Spotify and Youtube; B.B. King, Ed Sheeran, Sheryl Crow and Tracy Chapman, to name but a few.

More recently, busking is threatened by various local council regulations, despite the fact that ‘keeping streets alive’ has very strong public support. To that end, we at Kimpton Folk Festival, wish to offer encouragement to the Ewan MacColls and the Joni Mitchells of tomorrow.

Please visit our busk stops during the festival and show support for our very talented buskers. We are incredibly fortunate to have them.

Lory Laskey


David Fisher has spent over 3 years busking his way around Europe and beyond, taking in nearly 50 countries including every country in the EU. After returning to the UK, he released a book and album about his travels, both entitled 'Busking Beyond Borders'. Fisher's songs are full of tales from camping and hitchhiking in the Arctic Circle to stories about busking in every corner of the continent. He can now be found on the streets and folk clubs of Britain, touring with his album that 'adroitly captures the beauty, magic and unpredictable thrill of life on the road' (The Fix Magazine) and 'will delight the listener' (Folk Monthly). As well as his own songs, Fisher also plays a range of traditional and contemporary folk songs, from Celtic classics and sea shanties through to Stan Rogers and Richard Thompson.


Her riveting and sometimes shocking lyrics are getting the recognition they deserve

‘Time Out Magazine’

Minnie writes dark, plaintive, beautiful music about life, love, adventures and fairy tales. Following slots supporting Joan Armatrading and a stint at Edinburgh fringe, Minnie has been wooing audiences all over the place with tours in Iceland, America, Europe and all over the U.K under her belt. Her debut album received national airplay on BBC radio 2, BBC 6 and on BBC Radio 1 as Huw Stephen’s Introducing artist of the week. Minnie is quite the wordsmith, knowing not just when to sing, but when to leave phrases hanging to concentrate on the meaning, silence can say so much and Minnie knows how to use it, almost as an instrument to contrast against not only what is being sung, but what is being played ‘Fatea Magazine’


Nick is a Bucks based musician, driven by a desire to create something lasting and beautiful, Nick Byrne showcases honesty, emotion and storytelling as he aims to carve his own place in the songwriter tradition. Delicately fingerpicked guitar and stirring vocals are further lifted by the addition of a backing band for Summer 2019, which serve to add further dynamism to the passionate highs and whispered lows which are which are such a core part of his potent live performance. Single 'Birch Tree' in particular has gathered praise from BBC Introducing, BBC Wales, BBC Oxford and BBC Ulster, and features string arrangement by Richard Melkonian. As seen supporting the likes of Declan McKenna (BBC Introducing artist of the year), Ben McKelvey, and The Lion & The Wolf (Xtra Mile Recordings).


Ellie McCann is a singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist from Bedfordshire. From an early age finding interest in folk music, she plays a range of original and traditional material with influences including Joni Mitchell, Bruce Molsky and Kate Rusby. Ellie is also a New Roots finalist for 2018 and 2019. She has played in folk clubs such as Loughton Folk Club and Watford Folk Club and has gigs lined up throughout the year.


Deb and Phil have been playing together for three years.

After initially dipping their toes in 'Open Mic water', they gravitated toward the local folk scene in Hertfordshire, joining in with the sessions. Here they met with fiddle player Neil, and the three began their journey when  they were asked to play at Redbourn's 'Folk On The Common' in June 2017, thus Flibbertigibbet were born! They continued to play at local festivals and folk clubs over the following two years. In March 2019 due to increasingly busy and conflicting diaries, the three parted ways. Now a duo, Deb and Phil play as 'Wickenwood'. They play an acoustic mix of covers with a leaning toward contemporary folk and roots music, whilst building on their own repertoire of original songs, exploring tales of local legend and folklore.' Among  various events, they have enjoyed feature spots at Bottlefolk and Chesham folk club, and Rickmansworth Folk Festival, and are lined up to play at Loughton Folk club in 2020. They are regulars at St Albans Folk Festival, and have enjoyed playing at Herts & Bucks Country Show over the last couple of years. This husband and wife team continue to work towards bringing folklore and legends of local tales with harmony, and passion.


Bernard Hoskin is a songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Cambridge whose distinctive and original sound is based upon English songwriting and world music rhythms as well as the more common folk, country and blues styles. An experienced performer, he accompanies himself on 6 and 12 string guitars and mandolin playing a mixture of original and traditional songs and covers. He has opened up for many of the big names of the folk scene and has released 12 albums. "Bernard was terrific! Great voice, great songs, superb guitarist." - Epping Folk Club


Primarily, but not exclusively, a ukulele band which aims to entertain a wide range of people to the highest possible standard. Our emphasis is, first and foremost, on having fun and spreading joy; initially amongst ourselves and, therefore, to everyone we entertain. Our main aim is to support various charities and to play for those who cannot easily get out to enjoy music. As a group, we choose to donate the majority of any money earned from private performances to local charities.


Been writing songs a long time. Lost loads over the years. Started out with unaccompanied humorous and gradually got into melodic ditties. I rarely write from experience and never really know what’s going to evolve on the page once I get an initial idea.” Dick is a regular at the Kimpton, The Boot, folk music nights. He’s like the mad offspring of Neil Young and Lionel Bart. Incredibly entertaining. Impossible to ignore. He’s large in person and in character. His songs are epics.



The finale evening concert in the Memorial Hall at  Kimpton Folk Festival 2019 is going to be a rip-roaring, get-up-and-dance extravaganza featuring two of the most entertaining bands around - Sheelanagig and the Smith & Brewer band.

However this very special concert comes with a health warning. Audience members are likely to be left breathless and exhausted…though undoubtedly screaming for more!

Headliners ar Kimpton Folk Festival 2019 are the astounding Sheelanagig, who’ve been wowing audiences all around the world with their foot-stomping blend of Balkan folk mayhem. They’ll be offering a mixture of furious dance medleys and brilliantly arranged original pieces, all performed with irresistible humour and energy.  

It has to be said that Sheelanagig are grotesque.  

That may seem a rather unfriendly way to describe these five hugely talented musicians, but they chose the name for the band…and that’s what Sheelanagig means.  It’s the old Gaelic name for an architectural ‘grotesque’…a sort of gargoyle.  So we’re fairly confident that Kimpton Folk Festival 2019 will be free of demons and evil spirits.

But back to the five musical spirits which make up the band Sheelanagig.  

Prepare to be dazzled by the rhythmic energy of guitar, fiddle, flute, drums and double bass. Influences range from gypsy jazz to Swedish folk to Nova Scotian fiddle tunes, with a touch of Klezmer for good measure. These remarkable musicians are in huge demand across Europe and further afield so we are delighted to have them appearing at this year’s Kimpton festival.

Supporting Sheelanagig at Kinpton Folk Festival 2019  are the Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer Band.  Ben and Jimmy were a huge success at Kimpton’s first festival back in 2016. They’d only just formed as a duo, having met as solo artists supporting Joan Armatrading on a nationwide tour.  Since then they’ve been delighting audiences in both the UK and the US with their gorgeous self-penned songs, brilliant guitar playing and close-harmony singing. This year they are joined by a drummer and bass player for one of their first major gigs as a four-piece band.   Expect a foot-stomping mix of blues, folk and bluegrass.

It’s fair to say that this will not be an evening for the faint-hearted.  You’ll definitely need to come wearing your dancing shoes, though seating will be available.  Popular local Farr Brewery will provide everything needed to keep the party going at full-swing.

But for those of a less energetic persuasion, Kinpton Folk Festival 2019 offers the option of an equally brilliant evening’s entertainment in Kimpton’s beautiful 13th Century church, starring the ever-popular Nancy Kerry and James Fagan, patrons of Kimpton Folk Festival.  They’ll be sharing the stage with the equally talented duo Jess and Richard Arrowsmith, before all four combine for a final set as the Melrose Quartet.

Also appearing at this year’s Kimpton Folk Festival are Edgelarks, Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts, who are returning to touring after becoming parents, Ninebarrow, Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, Kim Lowings & The Greenwood, Glymjack, The Wilderness Yet, Odette Michell and Lizzy Hardingham.


Other attractions around the village activities for kids of all ages, including story-telling and face-painting. There will be singing and instrument workshops in the Dacre Rooms, and open-mic and other sessions in The Boot.


You can buy tickets here and now on this website.

Kimpton Folk reaching out!

June Rowlands talks about the Kimpton Folk Events Outreach programme

fun at School

Our Outreach Programme is a key part of what we, as a registered charity, do grow love of and participation in, the folk arts in our local community. We kicked it off last year right in the heart of the village with the children in the Kimpton Primary School. Our Trustees approved funding to hire a professional folk musician to conduct two folk days, with the whole school teaching Hertfordshire folk tales/songs and dances as well as some national favourites - familiar to so many of us from our own childhoods!

The children then opened the Kimpton Folk Festival in July, on the main stage with renditions of their favourite folk songs with added verses creating their own style.

special needs

This year’s goal, with similar funding, is for two of our Trustees with teaching skills in music/dance and song to run short workshops in Hertfordshire schools focusing on inclusivity and children with special educational needs. The intended outcome is for these children and families to feel welcome at this year’s festival and participate in the Garden Fields program. The take-up has been positive with two schools booked and four more interested in the program.

So far two successful workshops have been conducted in Lakeside and Lonsdale Schools in Hertfordshire, with a further one scheduled for March. The students, many of whom have severe disabilities and use wheelchairs, joined the accordionist and fiddle player with percussion instruments exploring dynamics of sound and movement to traditional English/Irish/Scottish dance tunes. Similarly, sharing, moving and holding a section of the very large and colourful parachute in time to the music was a favourite activity.

A simple dance followed with all students participating in the traditional moves of a country dance, progressing along the line of dancers in a forward and back motion, moving in time to the live musical accompaniment. A gift of a CD with a selection of dance music from the Festival Artists has been given to the schools to recreate this session in their own time.

teen tune times

Slow Jam has been another successful Outreach endeavour when in November, at a local venue in Kimpton Dacre Rooms, several young (and not so young) talented musicians gathered to learn to play folk tunes by ear with no music or manuscript. The concept of the ‘slow jam’ is to break down tunes into bite-size pieces to repeat and internalise them without ‘following the dots’.

This has the effect of memorising tunes effectively and can free the musician to feel more of the spirit of the tunes. These vary from either lively dance themes or slow ballad or waltz tunes.

After this successful event another is scheduled for March 3. Returning musicians and others newly interested are welcome. Details from June Rowlands junerowlands@yahoo.co.uk.

The forthcoming Kimpton Folk Festival on July 6th would welcome any of these young buskers to perform freely at the Busk Stops around the village.

Ten Things You need to know about kimpton folk festival 2019



A tremendous day of music and dance entertainment for all the family. A folk festival described by its patrons - the multi award-winning Nancy Kerr and James Fagan - as “the musical equivalent of a gourmet picnic.



It’s on Saturday, July 6. Entertainment at multiple venues around the villages kicks off at noon and carries on until 11.30 at night.



Ticketed concerts in the Memorial Hall and in our beautiful village church feature Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Jess and Richard Arrowsmith, Edgelarks, Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, Gilmore & Roberts, Sheelanagig, Ninebarrow, Smith and Brewer Band, Kim Lowings and the Greenwood and Odette Michell.

Whats new.jpg

What’s New?

This year, for the first time, the evening concert in the Memorial Hall, featuring Sheelanagig and Smith and Brewer Band, will be an all-standing, bop-until-you-drop affair.



There will be free entertainment on the village green stage all afternoon, featuring short sets by some of the headline acts, local musicians and singers, dance troops and a rip-roaring ceilidh led by Fiddlebridge


What’s to Eat and Drink?

Also on The Green, a wide variety of food and craft stalls, real ale and lots more.


What’s For Kids?

Lots of activities for kids of all ages on Garden Fields including story-telling, face-painting and soft drinks and sweets.


What’s to Learn?

There’ll be a singing masterclass along with spoons, whistle and other instrument workshops all afternoon in the Dacre Rooms.


Anything Else?

Other events around the village include story-telling for adults, sessions / open mics in The Boot and busking.

early bird.jpg


Tickets are selling fast. Early bird tickets are available until the end of March. Get yours now!

Enjoy the music before, during and after!

We’ve just added Spotify playlists of previous festivals and 2019, so you can enjoy the music before during and after the festival.

Simply go to our playlist section on the website and select the Spotify playlist you wish to listen too.

Enjoy the music - and come and see it live.

Buy tickets to Churchfitters on 2nd of February 2019.


Buy tickets to the Kimpton Folk Festival 2019

And have a great 2019!


The music-loving village of Kimpton, still reeling from a night of musical mayhem from John Otway and Wild Willie Barrett, will be the venue for more brilliant but eccentric entertainment when the Churchfitters arrive on Saturday, February 2.

Mike Harding has described the Churchfitters as 'totally brilliant and beautiful'.  Expect high-octane and often hilarious entertainment, featuring exquisite harmonies and startlingly original songs accompanied by foot-stompingly fast fiddle, mixed with infectious funk-rock bouzouki.

Virtuoso musicians, Rosie Short, Chris Short and Boris Lebret strut their stuff on stage, regaling audiences with flutes, banjos, guitars, dulcimer, scrap-metal bass guitars, the musical saw and every percussion instrument known to humankind.

The concert is a fundraiser for next year’s Kimpton Folk Festival on Saturday, July 6.   Among the artists already booked for the village’s fourth festival are Nancy Kerr and James Fagan / Melrose Quartet, Edgelarks, Megson, Gilmore and Roberts, Alden, Patterson and Dashwood and Mishaped Pearls.  More names will be announced soon, including top bands for a new dance-till-you-drop evening concert in the Memorial Hall.



So you’ve decided. You’re going to Kimpton Folk Festival for the first time. You’ve visited kimptonfolk.uk, bought your tickets and Google-mapped ‘Kimpton’, so now you know where you are going, and who you are going to see. But what else can you expect? What’s this one-day festival actually like? Maybe it will go a bit like this.


You navigate various narrow lanes and arrive at Kimpton where you follow a ‘free parking’ sign, ending up in a large field. After a quick trip to the handily-placed port-a-loo, you’re given a free programme and then directed to the Festival Office. After pausing briefly to glance at the map on the back page of your programme, you become momentarily distracted by a load of activity in front of you. Storytellling teepee, craft stalls, children’s games and more. It looks interesting so you make a note to check it all out later.

Without knowing quite how, you find yourself on the Village Green where a crowd is gathering in front of an open stage. Delicious smells waft from from food outlets ringing the green and look - there’s a real ale bar. But no beer yet. First you’ve got to get your tickets organised. As you head along Church Path you pause at the ‘busk stop’, dropping a few coins into the hat then continuing to the Festival Office where you exchange your ticket for a wristband.

Concerts now sorted, you glance across the road to The Boot pub where a Kimpton Folk Festival flag is flying and someone’s setting up a barbecue. You head inside for a quick drink, tap your foot to the jaunty jigs and reels of the sessioners and note that there will be ‘open mics’ later. Maybe get the guitar out of the car in a bit. You stroll back up High St. to the school where an Indian Dance workshop is advertised for 3pm, and then you come to the beautiful old Dacre Rooms where you note the beginners’ workshop schedule - ukulele, harmony singing, poetry and spoons.

It will be time to check out the Hall and Church stages later, but right now you’re feeling hungry. You amble back to the Green and browse the range of tempting street food stalls. And what to drink? Ale? Lager? Coffee? Soft drink? Pimms? Prosecco? Maybe a vintage ice cream. Decisions, decisions, choices choices. Your fold-up chairs are in the car, but for now, you’re happy to sit on a hay bale, study your free programme and let your festival day begin to unfold.


It may or may not be like this for you, your family and your friends, but what I can say is that this year we will have more choices for you than ever before at this, our third Kimpton Folk Festival. We have many internationally acclaimed artists and lots more besides.


I hope you’re going to make it to Kimpton this year - we all look forward to welcoming you. Off you go then, and book your tickets.


Doug Jenner


Kimpton Folk Events



Kimpton Folk Festival is bigger and better than ever this year, with a very special extra evening concert in the village’s beautiful 12th Century church. And it’s a line-up of acts to die for.

Kicking things will be two-time Radio 2 Folk Awards winner Jackie Oates. If anyone deserves to be said to have the voice of an angel, it’s Jackie. There are many fine singers around, but Jackie has a unique ability to bring out the heart and soul of traditional songs. Once heard never forgotten. She also happens to be an exquisite fiddle player. Jackie will be accompanied by long term collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Mike Cosgrave.

Next on stage will be Kimpton Folk Festival favourites Jaywalkers. Back by popular demand. Over the ten years since they formed, this exciting trio have turned their own brand of bluegrass, country, folk and swing into a dazzling, high-octane show. Their music is innovative and exhilarating, but rooted deeply in tradition. Welcome back Mike, Lucy and Jay.

And topping the bill, the antipodean superduo The James Brothers. James Fagan was one half of the hugely popular duo who headlined the first Kimpton Folk Festival, when James raised the roof of the Memorial Hall with his wife Nancy Kerr. The other James Brother (not actually called James) Jamie McLennan, often performs with his award-winning Scottish folk singer wife, Emily Smith. James and Jamie say they are thrilled that they’ve been given permission to play together at Kimpton this year.

The James Brothers are a riot of fun, frenetic musicianship and fantastic songs. If you want to be entertained, come and see these boys.

So that’s all the “Js” – Jackie Oates, Jaywalkers and The James Brothers. Too good to be missed.

Brian King

Kimpton Folk Festival



This year’s Kimpton Folk Festival on Saturday, July 7 offers a stunning line-up of top folk acts and a few very special surprises.

The big change this year is that instead of the glorious day of folk culminating in one incredible evening concert, there will be two – in the Memorial Hall and in our beautiful village church. It presents a very tough choice for festival-goers.

The Memorial Hall evening concert is headlined by the extraordinary force of folk nature that is the Urban Folk Quartet, delivering their unique blend of high-octane fiddle, guitar, banjo and percussion magic. Such is this band’s popularity around the world, that it’s taken us three years to pin them down to take part in our festival. Supporting them will be two of the top duos on the folk scene. Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar won their Radio 2 Folk Award when they were both still at school, but are promising to wear long trousers for this performance. And Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage will deliver their magical blend of American roots and English folk music.

Topping the bill in the church evening concert will be The James Brothers. James Fagan and Jamie Mclennan’s hugely entertaining performances draw heavily on the humour and musical vivacity of their Antipodean routes. James is from Australia and Jamie from New Zealand and they are not likely to let you forget it. As they say on their website: “The James Brothers are Two Voices. Two Instruments… No Sheilas”. They are also brilliant musicians, great singers and hilariously funny. Supporting them are is the stunning Jackie Oates performing with Mike Cosgrave and returning to Kimpton by popular demand , the rising stars of the UK folk / bluegrass scene, Jaywalkers.

Earlier in the day in the Memorial Hall there will be an unmissable opportunity to see the folk supergroup While, Matthews and While. Chris While and fellow singer-songwriter Julie Matthews have been wowing audiences for ever, but no less special are Chris’ performances with daughter Kellie. For the Kimpton Folk Festival all three come together on one stage. It will be a rare treat. Also appearing in the Memorial Hall will be Hertfordshire’s own supergroup, featuring songbird Kelly Oliver and close harmony trio Said The Maiden who will perform separate sets before coming together for a glorious finale.

Completing the concert line up are Luke Jackson, Young Folk Award winners Josie Duncan and Pablo Lafuente, The London Klezmer Quartet, Will McNicol and Luke Selby and Blathnaid Lynn.

As in previous years, many of the acts will be performing extra sets on the village green as part of a full afternoon of free music and dance, culminating in a mass ceilidh. Around the village there will be busking, sessions and an open mic at The Boot pub, music workshops in the Dacre Rooms, story-telling, real ale bars and craft and food stalls galore.

Brian King. Kimpton Folk Events.

Tickets for Kimpton's footstomping Barn Dance on sale now

Tickets for Kimpton's footstomping Barn Dance on sale now


Join us for an evening of footstomping fun and the best live music at Kimpton's Annual Barn Dance.  This year our headline band is the brilliant Bootcampers who ably supported by the super talented Kimpton Folk Youth.  All dances are called, although getting it wrong is half the fun!  It's thirsty work so there's a licensed bar to keep you fully refreshed and in the swing.  This annual event sells out fast so don't miss it. Get your tickets by taking a detour to the Kimpton Corner Stores today!

Grab your clogs and grab you hat...

John Rowlands

A centuries old tradition 

By John Rowlands

Morris dancing at the Boot Pub on the afternoon of the festival is a great chance to see and hear a living tradition that dates back through the centuries. The two Morris ‘sides’ or ’teams’  (as they are known in the trade) at the Boot are two energetic and highly entertaining dancing troupes with their mass bands of melodeons, accordions, guitars, drums and the like.

Ramrugge Clog Morris perform dances from the Northwest tradition, whilst New Moon Morris focus on the Welsh Border style.

 The Northwest style is very military and structured, whilst the Border style is more freestyle and ‘wild’. You’ll spot the difference immediately in both the dancing style and the costumes and be an instant connoisseur and commentator.

A short bit of history about "The Morris”.

Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers.

The earliest known and surviving English written mention of Morris dance is dated to 1448, and records the payment of seven shillings to Morris dancers by the Goldsmiths’ Company in London. Further mentions of Morris dancing occur in the late 15th century, and there are also early records such as visiting bishops “Visitation Articles” mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities, as well as mumming plays.

While the earliest (15th-century) references place the Morris dance in a courtly setting, it appears that the dance became part of performances for the lower classes by the later 16th century; in 1600, the Shakespearean actor William Kempe, Morris danced from London to Norwich, an event chronicled in his Nine Daies Wonder (1600).

There are various regional variations of morris dances including the most popular Border Morris from the welsh borders, Cotswold Morris from the cotswolds and Northwest morris from the northwest of England. Each having its own distinctive style of music, costume and dancing.

The Cotswold and Northwest Morris dancing styles underwent a huge resurgence in the folk revival years of the1960’s and 70’s followed by some years of decline in the 1990’s. The revival of the  Border Morris style in the 1990’s resulted in a new resurgence of all forms of Morris dancing with many younger people being actively involved.

John Rowlands, Kimpton Folk Festival Trustee & Committee

Ewan McLennan

Richard Stewart, Kimpton Folk Festival Trustee, looks forward to seeing Ewan McLennan...

I first saw and heard Ewan McLennan at Watford Folk Club in 2015. Steve and I had just turned up at Watford on that Friday night, not being sure who was performing – and we were taken aback by Ewan’s skill as a guitarist and singer, and the unique (somewhat spell-binding) atmosphere he created through his songs. His distinctive freestyle guitar wove around his thoughtful lyrics and we were a bit captivated.

Ewan has written outstanding songs (my strong favourite is ‘Out on the Banks’ – a story about ‘growing up in Edinburgh’ remembered) and performs refreshingly imaginative versions of old Scottish and other songs. He’s won the prestigious Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards, two Spiral Earth awards, the Alistair Hulett Memorial Prize for Political Songwriting and has taken part in the acclaimed Transatlantic Sessions. Ewan’s songs are rooted in the tradition of folk music as social commentary.

Ewan’s most recent project, entitled Breaking the Spell of Loneliness, is a collaborative tour and album with renowned author and journalist George Monbiot, seeking to use music and word to open up the issue of loneliness and community.

We are very fortunate to have booked Ewan for the 2017 Kimpton Folk Festival – so don’t miss him! Ewan is headlining the final Concert in the Church (4.30-7.00pm).

Richard Stewart

Find out more about Ewan on his artist page

The Kimpton backstory

in the beginning...

How we started Kimpton Folk Festival - by Annie New

Kimpton is a very special village.   It’s extraordinary just how much talent there is, whether it’s gardening, water colour...or music!  The regular folk sessions at local pubs, particularly The Boot, attract folkies from across the county but the core group are all Kimptonites (or those whom we have adopted like June, John and Richard).

I am not a musician at all, but have faithfully supported, foot stamped and thoroughly enjoyed the music in Kimpton for years.  Every session has a different feel, and each offers something special and surprising.  After a particularly fabulous evening the words ‘why don’t we have our own folk festival’ slipped off the lips so easily. Crikey, who knew what would be the result?

Anyone who attended our inaugural festival in 2016 found out!  

With heroic dedication and commitment a team of enthusiasts for this first festival stepped up and met on an almost weekly basis for the next 12 months.  What started out as an idea based on a gazebo, hog roast and a few local artists leapt to a vision of a 4 stage Glastonbury-like extravaganza and then in reality was a quite spectacular village-based festival in 2016.  Only if you have organised an event like this from scratch can you truly appreciate what an enormous learning curve we all tumbled along.  Oh, we were so naive in those early days.  

Realising the dream seemed, on first appearance, to be a hop skip and a jump away. The reality was naturally very different with a plethora of policies and procedures to write and adopt, permissions and support to seek.  Each committee member undertook a specific role and slowly we began to sow the seeds, nurture the dream and finally came to realise that we could actually pull it all off.  

A festival isn’t a concert, so there are a myriad other things to consider from parking to food to adding the ‘loveliness’ to make our festival unique to our village.  For me, it was all about letting the wider world know just what a bloomin’ fantastic genre folk is and the fact that it’s not all bearded men in sandals.  Well, there are quite a few of them, but that’s not all; folk embraces young and old, tall and short, beards and bald!  A key thing was to celebrate our local talent and also introduce new acts too.  

The amazing performances by young folk musicians last year was simply wonderful and absolutely demonstrated that folk music has a huge amount of talent to grow the folk scene for years to come.

Realising the dream has been about great tenacity, great team work, great patience and persistence and above all about the awesome music that we want to share. It is testament to our first success that we are now quickly approaching our second on July 1st with the most fantastic line up and festival on offer.



Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection

The Godfather of Grunge Folk returns...

The Godfather of Grunge Folk returns...

One of the easiest decisions we made while planning this year’s Kimpton Folk Festival was to re-book the wonderful Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection, a huge hit at last year’s event. This band, if you don’t already know them, are so versatile, they are virtually a music festival on their own.

Led by the “godfather of grunge folk,” Wild Willy Barrett, they effortlessly and often hilariously straddle a huge range of musical styles - taking you from a Paris nightclub, to a backroom hoolie in Dublin to a raucous night out in New Orleans…and back again.

Best known for his outlandish and chart-topping partnership with John Otway, Willy describes himself as "an experimental multi-instrumentalist."   He’s joined by charismatic French singer Aurora Colson, cellist and keyboard player Mary Holland (aka Mrs Wild Willy) and Irish pipes, whistle player and percussionist John Devine.

We’re all very much hoping that this year Willy will treat us to a demonstration of “egg-necking”. I don’t want to give too much away, but it involves a guitar, a volunteer from the audience and a raw egg. It’s hilarious.

When Willy Barrett first brought his wonderful French Connection band to Kimpton Folk Festival, he was just wild….now he’s furious. So the audience at the afternoon concert in Kimpton’s Memorial Hall had better fasten their safety belts.


Brian King

Planning the second Kimpton Folk Festival.

"The festival equivalent of a gourmet picnic" [Nancy Kerr and James Fagan]

"The festival equivalent of a gourmet picnic" [Nancy Kerr and James Fagan]

Like the difficult second album or novel, planning the second Kimpton Folk Festival after the huge success of our inaugural event last year, was always going to be a challenge. Should we stick to a winning formula or try something difficult? Should we grow the event or keep it small but perfectly proportioned? In the event we’ve decided not to mess with a winning formula. The second festival, on Saturday July 1st this year, will be just like the first - only better.

So not exactly the same as last year obviously. It’s being organised by pretty much the same bunch of enthusiastic local folk fans as last year, but we’ve learned a few lessons. The first lesson is not to underestimate the drinking capacity of North Hertfordshire people. There will be inexhaustible supplies of local real ale this year. The second lesson is that lots of folk festival-goers have children, so there will be even entertainment for folk of all ages, spreading story-tellers, face painters and other attractions into even more corners of the village to meet the demand.

And of course we have the most fantastic line-up of singers and musicians. In the Memorial Hall, the top headline act will be Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys who are rapidly taking the folk world by storm. Among other star attractions are County Durham singer-songwriter Jez Lowe and his Bad Pennies and making a welcome return, Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection. They performed last year without St Albans piper John Devine, so it will be great to have them at full strength.

Also performing at the Memorial Hall will be the Carrivick Sisters, top Birmingham septet The Fair Rain, Vicky Swan and Jonny Dyer and also returning by popular request Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer.

Norwich trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood will be part of a stunning line-up of guests in our beautiful village church, along with Liz Simcock, Ewan McLennan, Emily Slade, the Jacquelyn Hynes Trio and a special tribute to Australian bush poet Henry Lawson, put together by Kimpton Folk Festival chairman Doug Jenner and starring Martyn Wyndham-Read.

As last year, many of the acts will be performing extra sets on the village green as part of a full afternoon of free music and dance, culminating in a mass ceilidh. This is where we hope to introduce a new generation of fans to the folk scene.

On top of all this there will be all day sessions in The Boot public house, musician workshops in the Dacre Rooms and food, drink and craft stalls galore.

Our festival headliners from last year, the wonderful Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, described us as “the festival equivalent of a gourmet picnic.” I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds good.


Brian King

Why folk is a young person's genre

Young folk-inspired  performers at this year's May festival.

By June Rowlands

It starts in the cradle

Connecting to Folk Music and Dance in any culture, starts with the ‘babe in arms’!  From soothing ballads sung as lullabies to marching rhythmically and clapping hands to traditional nursery rhymes, tradition is nurtured.

Watch the body language of a toddler when strong rhythmic music is played and indulge yourself in their smiles as they are absorbed and transfixed watching musicians sing or play.

The sensory attraction is inbuilt and its crucial to us as parents, guardians and educators in the community to build upon this.

Sowing a love of the music

In the Pre-school and nursery, we ought to provide simple percussion to accompany tunes and melodies, encourage marching, skipping and dancing both freeform in expression and formal patterns in simple country dances e.g. The Grand Old Duke of York and the introduce children to the maypole. Integrating these into Early Years Education will lay the foundation for the children’s exposure to other Folk Music and Dance traditions, so as the Festival season ‘kicks off’, our opportunity arises to share some heritage and tradition.

Finding your own style

When the seeds are sown and the teen years approach, there might just be a connection for young people to experiment with their voices, dance moves or musical instruments and instead of traditional lessons and classes in mastering these, the young people realise the social benefits of coming together in Folk Music and Dance classes, sessions and lessons.

Taking this onward and upward are many examples of young folk musicians who took their childhood legacy and made it their own. Eliza Carthy in her internet bio “ began from an early age to develop her own, unique approach to traditional music. This was at least partly because of her own vastly eclectic tastes: she is knowledgeable about and interested in musical traditions from all over the world, which continue to fuel her creativity to this day. She has moved through English folk music like a force of nature, both stirring it up and putting it back on the map through television, radio and live performance.”

Blending the new with the old to keep traditions relevant

Young and energetic Morris dancers are taking Traditional Ritual dances and making it their own with interpretations of music and dance, variations in ‘kit’ or costume and creating bands of unusual musical instruments and musicians, creating ‘fusion’ and evolving the movement to embrace current times.  Bringing the dance and music alive and relevant to today’s culture is their unique contribution to the ongoing revival. 

Be part of the next generation of Folk Culture and bring your little ones to The Green on July 1st to share the music and dance and energise the traditions with their input whilst putting a smile on all our faces.


[Photo above of Clary, Florrie and Grace, who have all been inspired by the Folky goings-on in Kimpton]