All details of our 2019 programme are now available here

Or you can grab a copy at most of the bars, cafes, restaurants and shops in Todmorden.

Martin Simpson

There is no doubt that after 45 years as a professional musician Martin is, right now, better than ever. Widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, his interpretations of traditional songs are masterpieces of storytelling. His solo shows are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving.

There is no-one who has more successfully combined the diverse elements of British, Afro-American and old-timey music than Simpson. His 15 years living in the US were well spent. In addition his own songwriting has produced some real gems, from the truck-stop epic, “Love Never Dies” to the profoundly moving “Never Any Good” and “One Day”.

We couldn’t be more excited about having Martin join us for our 5th anniversary festival!


Sheelanagig for over a decade have brought their array of foot – stomping folk tunes to audiences across the globe. A quintet with a well – stocked armoury of stringed instruments – guitar, fiddle, double bass – added with the rhythmic energy of flute and drums and a bagful of joint – jumping tunes, these boys from the South – West England create a real dynamic which is inherent in both their furious dance medleys as well as their interestingly arranged original pieces.

They will have the Unitarian Church really jumping on Saturday night!

Kate & Raphael

Kate Young and Raphaël Decoster together form an exciting blend of original and folk-influenced music. The French accordion dialogs with the Scottish fiddle and Kate’s voice with an intimate spontaneity, which invites us to discover their hidden stories and landscapes. They create melodies and songs through their interest for visual arts as well as traditional music, and this combination is the base of their fresh and poetical music.

Kate and Raphael will be in the Unitarian on Saturday night.

Janet Russell

Janet first made a name for herself on the folk circuit in the ‘80’s as a young singer songwriter writing with hard-edged humour about issues affecting women. Her “Secretary’s Song” was the most requested song on “Folk on 2” in 1987/8, and “Breastfeeding Baby in the Park” has been taken up by the pro-breastfeeding lobby nationally and internationally.

She has worked with other musicians, such as Sisters Unlimited and Scottish singing partner Christine Kydd, and also toured with the show Take These Chains from My Heart, written by partner Jim Woodland with storyteller Taffy Thomas. Janet currently leads community choirs in Silsden, Settle and Burnley and is bringing the Silsden Singers to our Saturday afternoon concert as well as headlining our Friday night concert in St Mary’s Church.

Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar

Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar joined forces in 2011. Combining Russell’s powerful vocals and driving guitar style with Algar’s All-Ireland winning fiddle playing, the duo have become one of the most sought after acts on the British folk scene. In 2013 the pair won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award before going on to win the Horizon Award for best breakthrough act from the same source in 2014. In 2015, they were nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Best Duo category.

Having toured extensively in the UK for five years, as well as in Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar have released 3 studio albums.

Lucy Farrell

2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Lucy Farrell is at last embarking on the solo career so many have been hoping for, since first hearing her exquisite renditions of traditional ballads and quietly moving original songs.

As one fourth of The Furrow Collective, Lucy is the current recipient of the Best Group prize following the release of their widely acclaimed Wild Hog LP, earned during an immensely busy and creative time in which she contributed to the raved about return to form that was the Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band’s Big Machine album and tour, and also saw her final shows with the Emily Portman Trio with whom she’d sung, sawed and played viola for many years.

Lucy will be in the Central Methodist Church Concert on Saturday afternoon.

Bryony Griffith

Bryony  Griffith is a highly accomplished English fiddle player and distinctive singer with a broad repertoire of traditional English dance tunes and songs and a passion for delving through the tune and song manuscripts of her native Yorkshire. Her skills and enthusiasm encompass solo performance, duo work with her husband, Will Hampson and extensive experience of playing for folk dancing, including her role in the BBC Folk Award-winning Demon Barbers. She was also a member of the much missed A cappella quartet The witches of Elswick.

Her 2018 album of traditional fiddle tunes ‘Hover’ received 5 star reviews and award nominations including ‘fROOTS Editor’s album of the year’ and Fatea Magazine Instrumentalist of the Year’.

“an affirmation of the time-honoured value of folk music…sublime!” – Colin Irwin – Mojo Magazine

Alice Jones

Alice Jones is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer from Ripponden in West Yorkshire. Her background is deeply rooted in the English folk tradition and the music that she makes instantly reflects this strong influence. Alice sings mostly traditional songs accompanying herself on the piano or harmonium and sometimes only with foot percussion. The sensitive and intuitive arrangements of each song allow the stories to take centre stage and, inspired by her beginnings as a percussive dancer, they are loaded with a rhythm and energy that portrays her dancer’s heartbeat. Her distinctive voice and innovative style lends a fresh, modern perspective to traditional material and brings new life to old songs.

“Alice Jones is a seriously impressive singer of traditional songs” fRoots (270)

Cath & Phil Tyler

Cath & Phil Tyler play Anglo-American folk music using guitar, banjo, voice and fiddle. Coming together musically through a shared love of traditional narrative song, full voiced sacred harp singing and sparse mountain banjo, they have performed on stages as diverse as the Royal Opera House in London and a dank tower in the old city walls of Newcastle.

Cath & Phil were with us in 2016 and make a welcome return in 2019. They will also be leading a sacred harp workshop on Saturday morning.

She Shanties

This twelve piece women’s shanty crew not only make it obvious that they enjoy a good sing, but they do it ever so well with verve and enterprise. And that joy is conveyed to the audience in buckets!

She Shanties will be singing up a storm in St Mary’s Church in our Sunday afternoon concert.

Andy May Trio

Three award-winning musicians from Newcastle – Northumbrian piper Andy May (Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies, Baltic Crossing), guitarist Ian Stephenson (Kan, Baltic Crossing) and fiddler Sophy Ball (422, Bottle Bank Band) – come together as the Andy May Trio to play high energy instrumental folk, inspired by the music of their native North East.

A typical performance might include traditional tunes from Northumberland, newly-composed material by all members of the band and an introduction to the pipes, all delivered with a warmth and humour which is sure to draw in both folk aficionados and newcomers alike for a dazzling show filled with virtuosity and energy.

St Marys on Sunday afternoon is where you’ll find this fantastic group.

Red Hippo

Red Hippo is Peadar Long, Daz Jones and Simon Chantler. They play saxophones, sousaphone, fiddle, whistles, bass clarinet, stompbox, flute, and even the highland bagpipes.

Red Hippo are a truly unique trio, who combine Jazz, Folk and World music to create compositions which are accessible yet challenging. Red Hippo take the listener on instrumental journeys influenced as much by Swedish traditional folk music as by New Orleans Second Line Jazz, Reggae and Dub. They respectfully nod towards The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Bellowhead, Filafolket and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and yet don’t sound like any of them.

Red Hippo finish our Saturday afternoon concert.

Shamus O’Blivion and the Megadeth Morris Men

Shamus O`Blivion and the Megadeath Morrismen have been punching above their weight and serving up their unique brand of irreverent humour, powerful folk rooted songs and super fast jigs at venues and music festivals since 1989.

Shamus and crew will be ready and waiting in the Golden Lion straight after the concert at the Unitarian Church.

Frog on a Bike Ceilidh Band

Frog on a Bike are an experienced, energetic, dance floor-packing Ceilidh and Barn Dance band.

Their enthusiastic playing, big sound and driving rhythm is guaranteed to have you up and dancing. Whether you are complete beginners or experienced dancers, our musicians and caller will make it a really special night.

Colbalt Tales

Originally from Wigan and Sheffield Pat and Nuala are experienced singer songwriters, described as the U.K.’s Indigo Girls. Pat and Nuala first combined their musical talents in the highlands of Scotland, organising and performing at music events, festivals and gatherings. Pat and Nuala tour extensively throughout the U.K. often playing sell out gigs to their home crowds in Yorkshire, Lancashire and beyond.

Songs from the heart that stir the soul.

We’ll see Colbalt Tales in our Sunday evening concert.

Nicola Beazley & Brass

Combing her love of research into traditional music, and her upbringing in the brass band world, Nicola’s latest project features her own newly written work, looking at dance tunes influenced by other traditional instrumental English music forms. Nicola will be performing alongside her brass trio. Expect newly written dance tunes, and some old favourites and some unexpected cross-overs as we examine the past of our folk and non-folk traditional music.

Nicola Beazley, best known for her work with award winning and internationally renowned duo Alex Cumming and Nicola Beazley (Towersey, Broadstairs, Bromyard Folk Festivals, folk clubs across the U.K, Canada and America) and the Rosie Hood Trio (Cambridge Folk Festival, Cecil Sharp House, The Greystones) has started on her first solo venture, with the support of EFDSS.

‘A sensitive accompanist and accomplished player, Nicola is an outstanding musician with a deep understanding of tradition,’ Rosie Hood
‘Displaying all the confidence of youth, the musicianship is masterful, accomplished and skilful.’ Living Tradition


The band Soma brings together four colourful musicians from very different backgrounds. Between them, they have experience in many traditions. East European song, jazz, English folk, Afro-Cuban rhythm, psychedelic rock, blues, shamanism, paganism, middle Eastern frame drumming… they have done it all.

They formed Soma in 2016 with a passion to explore and celebrate connection: between individuals… traditions… mind and body… people and earth. This is fusion at its best: the bringing together of disparate elements to create something fresh, magical, without preconceptions. Music which is more than the sum of its parts. Music to gladden the spirit.

Silsden Singers

Silsden Singers is a mixed community choir with around 40 members. We are open to all adults who want to have fun, singing in harmony with others. Most of their songs come from Folk Traditions around the world, including the British Isles. They also sing songs by singer songwriters, and some light-hearted popular songs from the last 50 or 60 years.

Orladh and Leo

Orladh and Leo are winners of our Young Musician Award in 2019 and their prize is to open our Saturday night concert at the Unitarian. They are both only 13 years old and give us great hope for the future of folk music!

Both Orladh and Leo have wide-ranging musical tastes across all genres. Following success in a larger folk-based group led by Rochdale Music Service, they formed a duo playing traditional and contemporary folk, acoustic, country and Americana. Their current repertoire includes songs and tunes by John Hiatt, Kate Rusby and Sara Watkins, alongside well-known traditional sets.

Orladh sings and plays violin/fiddle, Leo plays guitar and mandolin.


Heather enjoy performing folk songs, singing in harmony and playing fiddle and guitar, and also whistle and ukulele.  Their main musical influence is Kate Rusby as her music fits their personalities and voices very well. Although mainly folk, they sometimes perform ‘pop’ music in a folk style. Heather are not to be missed and won their spot in the festival as runners up in the 2019 Young Musicians Award.


New Venues

This year our Friday night concert has moved to a bigger venue. We’ll be in the fantastic acoustics of St Mary’s Church just two minutes walk from the previous venue and from the Town Hall where the ceilidh and box office is held. Our new venue will also be serving Little Valley beers on cask.

We have a new venue for our Sunday evening concert. The beautiful Fielden Centre has served us so well over the last few years, but in 2018 we had to admit we outgrew it. We couldn’t be happier with the new venue though – Todmorden Hippodrome Theatre!

Thanks to our stage sponsors for 2019!






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