Right royal Rye folk


Folk royalty will be the order of the day at this year’s Rye Arts Festival in September as some of the biggest names on the UK scene roll out to entertain. And for two Saturday nights, Rye Community Centre will become the cultural centre of the South East.

On the opening night of the Festival, Saturday September 14, a real treat is being served up, as the imperious Nancy Kerr (vocals, fiddle, viola, autoharp and guitar) with the regal James Fagan (vocals, bouzouki, guitar, mandolin and piano) take the stage. For proof of their credentials and talent, they have the awards. And lots of them! Nancy and James have twice taken home the coveted “Best Duo” title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. So, their gig will be a great chance to see another of the UK’s finest duos in the folk scene.

Eliza and Martin Carthy

A week later, on Saturday September 21, Rye welcomes the majestic Carthys – Martin and Eliza. Whilst Martin Carthy has appeared at Rye Arts Festival with his wife Norma Waterson and Eliza has played there with her own band (both some years ago), this September they play the Festival as a duo for the first time. The gig promises to be one of the must-see events at this year’s Festival. The Carthys are playing at the intimate Rye Community Centre and so tickets (just £20) are already selling quickly.

Jim Hammond

And on the final weekend the Festival shifts gear and musical genre, with common-or-garden, earthy and raunchy blues at their very best! On Friday September 27 the Jim Hammond Blues Band will entertain the town. The band is fronted by Jim Hammond himself on lead vocals and who also plays guitars and piano, switching effortlessly from slide guitar to boogie-woogie piano. He is joined on stage by blues harp player Rollo Markee, with Orlando Shearer on bass and Loris Peverani on drums.

Tickets for these gigs (and some other selected events) are on sale online only – go to www.ryeartsfestival.org.uk.

Image Credits: Rye Arts Festival .

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  1. I have seen Nancy Kerr play live with the all-star band, the Full English, which also features such luminaries as Seth Lakeman, Martin Simpson and Ben Nichols. On that occasion Nancy stood out for me both vocally and due to her outstanding fiddle playing. Perhaps the worst-kept secret about Nancy is that her mum is Sandra Kerr, a former stalwart of the folk scene and the person responsible for the music on Bagpuss! James is a frighteningly fine instrumentalist as well. I feel the Carthys need no introduction, but it is worth mentioning that this is a rare opportunity to see and hear father and daughter working together. Jim Hammond may not be known to many in this parish, but if you want to experience his rocking slide guitar technique find the YouTube video entitled “Busking in Guildford. Jim Hammond” and watch it to the end. Apart from guitar and boogie-woogie piano, Jim will also include some “jump blues” in the style of the likes of Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway in his Rye set.


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