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The Longest Johns

Friday 4 May – Bristol Folk House

The Longest Johns are a Bristol-based a capella folk music band, born out of a mutual love of traditional folk songs and shanties.

Renowned for stirring live performances The Longest Johns have also gathered a huge online following. Expect a rollicking opening to the Bristol Folk House stage.

The Longest Johns open the festival on Friday night.

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The Drystones

Sunday 5 May – St George’s Bristol

The Drystones combine fiddle and guitar with technical mastery, a ‘brave experimental bent’ and an unexpectedly large live sound. They’ve been described as ‘indecently talented’ by Mike Harding, and earned themselves a 2018 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award nomination.

Since forming in 2011 to play at their local folk festival in Priddy, The Drystones have played festivals across the country, including Glastonbury and Sidmouth Folk Week. The duo have supported Seth Lakeman and Steeleye Span, produced two albums and, somehow, squeezed in their music degrees.

The Drystones headline Sunday Afternoon in the glorious St George’s Bristol.

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Kim Lowings

Friday, St Stephen’s

Kim Lowings is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is perhaps most well known for her crystal clear voice and trademark sound of the dulcimer. Nominated for FATEA Female Artist of the Year 2017, Kim has received rave reviews for her work with The Greenwood and collaborative work with folk project The Company Of Players. Currently based in Gloucester but born and raised in the Black Country, she has built up a loyal fan base across the UK. Kim’s songs reflect how the everyday collides with folklore, tradition, hard truths and fantasy. Her live shows are engaging and sparkling with energy.

“It’s a hard heart who wouldn’t be smitten with Lowings’ engaging and often breezy disposition.” Folking

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Bristol Folk Singers

Sunday, St George’s

The Bristol Folk Singers were formed in 2014 by Matt Norman. They sing for the joy of singing, and perform formally at concerts and festivals and informally in pubs. The group’s repertoire is Matt’s arrangements of traditional English folk songs. Expect to be uplifted and moved by the glorious four-part harmonies and fuguing entries. This is English folk song as you’ve never heard it before.

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Jimmy and Sid

Saturday 4 May – St Stephen’s Church

Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith are one of the finest duos to have emerged onto the British folk and acoustic scene in recent years. Their combination of outstanding vocal work, sensitive instrumentation, and a powerful social conscience has brought them widespread critical acclaim.

“To be a great folk singer, you have to be a great storyteller. The duo are both fine singers and multi-instrumentalists.” The Guardian

Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith headline Saturday afternoon at St Stephen’s Church.

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Nick Hart

Sunday, St George’s

Nick Hart is a folk singer deeply rooted in the English tradition. Raised in a family of morris dancers, Nick played instrumental music for many years before discovering his passion for traditional song. Whilst studying for an ethnomusicology degree, he began to explore the large body of recordings of traditional singers from the second half of the 20th century, and this led to several years of fevered study and many nights spent at folk clubs and festivals, honing his skills as an unaccompanied singer.

2017 saw the release of his first solo album, Nick Hart Sings Eight English Folk Songs. Recorded by long-time collaborator Tom Moore, the album has been well received, being described as “One of the most rewarding and accomplished albums we’ve heard this year,” fRoots, “A cult classic in waiting,” Grizzly Folk

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Grace Petrie

Saturday 5 May – Bristol Folk House

Grace Petrie is a folk singer, songwriter, and activist. She first exploded on to the national protest scene in 2010 with the emotive anthem Farewell to Welfare, which captured perfectly the spirit of the new wave of dissent in austerity Britain.

Since then, she has written, recorded and toured relentlessly. Her unique takes on life, love and politics, and the warmth and wit with which they are delivered have won over audiences everywhere, and she has quietly become one of the most respected and prolific songwriters in the UK.

‘A powerful new songwriting voice.’ The Guardian

Grace Petrie headlines Saturday afternoon at Bristol Folk House.

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Kris Drever

Sunday 5 May – St George’s Bristol

Kris Drever’s voice and guitar form the backbone of today’s contemporary folk scene. Hugely admired as a solo artist, collaborator, and member of folk superstars Lau, Kris is both phenomenal and prolific.

Drever has played alongside Tinariwen, Joan As Police Woman, Shawn Colvin, Rosanne Cash, Roddy Woomble, Eddi Reader, Kate Rusby, Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart and many more. In 2017 Kris was named BBC Folk Singer of the Year.

Kris Drever headlines Bristol Folk Festival on Sunday 5 May, playing with Cara Dillon for the final concert of the May Day weekend in the beautiful surrounds of St George’s Bristol.

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Friday 3 May –  St Stephen’s Church

Bristol’s own Spiro present an exhilarating take on the swirling, dark side of folk. Mixing traditional tunes charged with the ecstatic influence of the clubbing scene.

“Dazzling instrumental quartet Spiro’s gyroscopic sounds swirl guitar, mandolin, violin and accordion lines… inspired by minimalist classical music and punk as well as folk music.” – Time Out

Hugely popular and critically acclaimed, the band began life in 1993 at the instigation of violinist and composer Jane Harbour. An accomplished quartet of mandolinist Alex Vann, guitarist Jon Hunt, accordion savant Jason Sparkes, Spiro live are a must-see experience.

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Lady Maisery

Saturday 4 May – Saint Stephen’s Church

Lady Maisery is the multi-instrumental trio of Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans. Layered over the dazzling muscianship Lady Maisery take a unique approach to harmony singing.   Expect modern twists on traditional tales, poignant ballads, and original compositions. These women are skilful explorers of the power, beauty and vitality of song.

Bursting with individual talent, when the three performers unite, magic happens. Lady Maisery take the baton from The Unthanks, and run. Over the last five years, the trio have toured widely, performing sell-out shows across the UK and Europe.

Lady Maisery headline Saturday Night at Saint Stephen’s Church.