Preview: Folk Weekend Oxford 2015

In 2015, Folk Weekend Oxford celebrates its fourth year, returning with its usual mix of concerts, ceilidhs and sessions from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April. The festival has steadily expanded once more, adding new events, venues, and patrons to its already impressive mix. As always, the centre of the festival’s concert programme is the Old Fire Station in Gloucester Green, but this year’s headline performances will take place in the Wesley Memorial Church on New Inn Hall Street. Other venues involved include St. Barnabas Church, the OFS Gallery, the Old Museum, and the Norrington Room of Blackwell’s Bookshop.

BBC Folk Award winner Jackie Oates returns as festival patron, but is this year joined by local folk legend John Spiers, one half of Spiers & Boden, and a leading member of festival favourites Bellowhead. Spiers has also been announced as one of the festival’s three headlining artists, alongside singer-songwriter Chris Wood, and the acclaimed vocal trio Lady Maisery. Other acts appearing will include The Hut People, Boldwood (whose new EP will be released at the festival), Patsy Reid, Moore Moss Rutter, Threepenny Bit, Ninebarrow, and The Rheingans Sisters.

bellowhead

Folk Weekend Oxford prides itself on its inclusivity, and 2015’s festival accordingly sees an expansion of community events. As well as a trio of showcase concerts featuring young musicians from local schools, there will be a new ‘relaxed’ concert, organised in partnership with the Makaton Folk Song project. The project, supported by Folk Camps Society and the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, aims to improve musical accessibility for those with communication difficulties. Makaton is a charity-driven language programme that aids interaction, through the use of signs and symbols alongside speech, and the concert will feature Makaton singing, which employs these techniques within a musical context.

This year, a new venue will be the hub for family events. The Story Museum, found on Pembroke Street, will be offering craft activities, concerts, workshops, singing sessions, a family ceilidh, children’s morris dancing, and, of course, storytelling, whether the delightful local tales of The Banbury Storyteller, or Debs Newbold’s blending of the ancient and the modern, the epic and the everyday. Following its popularity in the past two years, a village fête will once more be set up in Gloucester Green, with market stalls displaying the best of local craftspeople, artists, and cakemakers. This will be accompanied, in the centre of the square, by musical performances, morris dancing, and charity-run games.

Showing no signs of slowing down following the success of previous years’ events, Folk Weekend Oxford promises to provide another year of excellent music and inclusive activities, representing the community ideal of folk at its finest.

J. Wadsworth

Folk Weekend Oxford runs from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April. Weekend season tickets cost £57 (£52 concessions, £48 youth, £40 under 12), but tickets for individual days or single events are also available. For full event listings and ticket information, please visit www.folkweekendoxford.co.uk. Tickets are available online in advance, and the festival box office will open on Friday 17th April at 6pm at the Old Fire Station. For any further questions, please contact Cat Kelly, the Festival Director, at cat@folkweekendoxford.co.uk.

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