Rye Arts Festival is privileged to have two folk bands playing during September who each boast an amazing pedigree! The Rails, who play on Saturday September 12, are members of the royal family of British folk – the Thompsons. And on Friday September 25 another duo, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, is part of a family dynasty that is not much behind that of the Rails!
The Rails comprise Kami Thompson and James Walbourne and they recently won the Horizon Award at the 2015 Radio 2 Folk Awards, which goes to a new band that has, in the minds of the judges, made the most waves in the previous 12 months. Fair Warning, their debut album, has also made the public sit up and notice, with a mixture of traditional songs from the folk archive at Cedric Sharp House and original tunes by the duo.
Kami Thompson’s parents, Richard and Linda Thompson, were once the UK’s premier folk couple. Kami met James Walbourne while she was working on her mother’s 2007 LP Versatile Heart. James was a teenage prodigy and has been a member of the Pogues and the Pretenders and has played with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Davies. Nick Hornby says: “Walbourne’s fluid, tasteful, beautiful solos drop the jaw, stop the heart, and smack the gob, all at the same time!”
Kami and James are now married, thus continuing the Thompson tradition of playing as married couples! As an award-winning band who cross the boundaries between folk and rock they are not to be missed and are certainly one of the Festival’s most prestigious events.
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman play the final Friday of the 2015 Rye Arts Festival with a gig at St Thomas’s Church in Winchelsea. Like Thompson and Walbourne they are married and they are also recent winners of a prestigious award, picking up the Best Duo at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Sean has two brothers, Seth and Sam, and together the three Devonian siblings formed Equation with Kathryn Roberts and Kate Rusby in 1994. However, Sean then played and toured with Seth, but Seth has recently been on tour with Full English, including Martin Simpson, promoting the completed digitisation of all the songs in the Cecil House archive (the Full English’s second to last gig was at St Mary’s in the Castle earlier this year). And Sean and Kathryn bring to Rye Arts Festival an extraordinary combination of her sublime vocals fine-honed with his guitar skills. This is another performance that shouldn’t be missed.
There is, of course, a packed programme of other events over the whole fortnight! Classical, folk, blues, Cajun, Irish and rock ‘n’ roll music, film, theatre, literature, cinema and art exhibitions fill September 11 to 27 in Rye with over 60 events.
More information is available by telephoning the Box Office on 01797 224442 or checking out www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk. The Box Office is open for personal bookings at Phillips & Stubbs in Cinque Ports St, Rye, from 9:30am to 12:30pm Monday to Saturday until the end of the Festival – otherwise you can book tickets online from the website.
Photos: courtesy of the Artists and RAF