Ireby Festival is pleased to welcome -

Headline for Festival 2020. 

                                             Kate Rusby
Friday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

Of all the stars in Folk Music’s wondrous firmament few shine as brightly as Yorkshire’s Kate Rusby.

A remarkable interpretive singer, Kate’s soulful vocals resonate with the wistful beauty of an earthbound angel. Inhabiting a lyric with unforced conviction – no matter how old or how modern – she has that rare ability to transport her audience, of touching them emotionally and making each tune live vividly within their experience and imagination. It’s a precious gift attained not by resource to decibel blasting or histrionics but through simplicity, understatement and faith in the narrative drive of the songs she chooses to sing.

No wonder then that even as early as 1999, aged just 26, Kate was named as one of the Top Ten Folk Voices of the Century. Everything she has done since has confirmed the foresight of those who bestowed that honour. From being a nominee for 1999’s Mercury prize – almost unheard of for a folk singer both then and now – for her stunningly assured second solo album, Sleepless, to 2016’s enthralling Life In A Paper Boat, Kate has stayed true to her folk and acoustic roots. This despite the temptations such early recognition placed in her path: “Around the time of Sleepless various people waved contracts at me, all saying ‘Come with us, we’ll make you a star’. They wanted me to cut a ‘pop’ record, but I’d just reply, ‘you must be joking - why would I do another kind of music just as I am starting to succeed with I want to do?’ I’m from a strong, close family in a small village just outside Barnsley: that whole celebrity, music chart, be as famous as you can hullabaloo is so far from the things I care about in life. So, for me it was the worst idea in the world!”

Damien O'Kane - 2019

                                     Damien O’Kane 
                                                       Friday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

Originally from Ireland, Damien O’Kane is a musician of many talents. Teamed up with master guitarist Steven Byrnes (Kate Rusby/Treacherous Orchestra) and Duncan Lyall (Kate Rusby/Blue Rose Code) their sound is sublime and exhilarating. Here is a trio that take traditional Irish music and song and, in the words of the The Telegraph, turn it into ‘Folk-Pop that is Irish music for the 21st Century.’ 

O’Kane is a relaxed, assured singer. His hypnotic vocal style exudes a natural warmth and empathy with the colourful characters who occupy his songs.

He’s also an award-winning banjo player. And a superb guitarist. And an ingenious arranger. A record producer hailed by BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley as a ‘sonic architect.’ Not to mention an accomplished tunemaker, researcher, bandleader and accompanist of rich imagination and fearless vision. 

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                                       Katie O’Malley 
                                                 Saturday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

A voice that pours with emotion and fills a venue, Katie O'Malley and her hip-swaying Americana band have played across the country at a long list of shows and festivals. They have received radio airplay from BBC Introducing Manchester and country stations throughout the UK supporting top ten album selling Beth Rowley and country star Kimmie Rhodes. They describe their sound as a mix of Country, Folk, Soul and Blues 

Friday, Globe Hall
                                                     Saturday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

Multi-instrumentalist Fiona Lander (vocals, piano, whistles, clarinet, recorder, saxophones and occasional percussion) and Paul Mason (guitars, ukulele and vocals) present a fabulous and varied show which combines both traditional and contemporary folk with jazz, blues, classical and other styles. Their own self-penned material interspersed with lively jigs and striking arrangements of traditional classics provide a lovely contrast for any audience. Prepare to be energised, uplifted, soothed and entertained all in one performance!

                                   Holy Moly & The Crackers 
                                                     Saturday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

Holy Moly & The Crackers, make riotous party music for the masses. Their new album, ‘Take A Bite’ combines pop songcraft with stomping, four to the floor backing, as well as demonstrating their ability to tackle personal lyrical fare. Further adorning their naturally expressive take on British folk ‘Take A Bite’ has sizeable dollops of rock ’n’ soul, sharp indie-rock, vulnerable balladeering and festival-ready psychedelic trips towards the Middle East. 

Holy Moly & the Crackers back out on the worldstage with their brand new album, an enhanced confidence and an army of growing fans. Come along for the ride - the craziest party in town always has room for one more.

Emily Mae Winters (31)

                                                            Emily Mae Winters
                                  Saturday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

Fast rising star on the U.K. Folk/Americana scene Emily Mae Winters has that rare quality in a singer that makes critics reach for the superlatives. Described as having a voice that “stops you in your tracks” and “arresting, enthralling, tantalising” by Folk Radio UK, Emily combines straight-to-the-heart bittersweetness with her own unique passion and drama in performance. Emily Mae Winters’ exquisite songs which sit between the stormy seas of folk and country are influenced by artists including Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Sarah Jarosz. Her second album High Romance was released this July to critical acclaim receiving plays on the BBC Radio 2 Country Show with Bob Harris and reaching No.3 in the iTunes Country Music Charts.

"Outstanding... rich and expressive. Winters' songs reflect a love of poetry giving a dark edge to songs that are beautifully performed**** R2 Magazine

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                                                                           Becky Langan
                                                                  Saturday, The Old Chancel

The Rochdale-born instrumental phenomenon has tapped, plucked and hammered her way to prominence as one of the UK's leading percussive guitarists, reaching the semi-finals of Sky Arts' Guitar Star in 2016. Her astounding live performances have generated over three million views on one video alone. 

           Henry Priestman & Les Glover
                                              Friday, Globe Hall

Henry Priestman is looking forward to returning to Ireby Festival, this time with his “partner in crime” Les Glover to play songs from their current album “Six of One and Half a Dozen of the Other”. Also in the set will be songs from Henry’s 2 critically acclaimed solo albums, and maybe even a song or two from his dim & distant past as writer/ member of both Yachts (whose 3 CD Anthology Boxset was released last year), and of course his 80’s chart hits for The Christians    

“..the new Henry Priestman/Les Glover album...a thing of beauty”             Mark Kermode (BBC 5live Broadcaster)

“Priestman’s melodic and lyrical gifts remain superbly honed...Glover delivers equally corking tunes...’Six of One and Half a Dozen of the Other’: brimful with top tunes” ****                                                                                  ‘RnR Magazine’  

                                              Blackbeard’s Tea Party
                                                                              Friday, Globe Hall

Blackbeard’s Tea Party’s bold and riotous modern folk rock is built for late nights and big stages. Traditional songs and tunes are given a heavy rock edge with earth shattering riffs, playful arrangements and driving dance rhythms.

Blackbeard's Tea Party believe a live show should be a spectacle for the eyes as well as the ears. Outlandish outfits, costume changes, DIY props, unhinged stage antics and chaotic choreography all add up to an engaging, high-octane show that inevitably leaves audiences cheering for more.

‘Gloriously wild, gamely OTT and sharp. This is convincing and essential’.        fRoots

Hadrian's Union Spotify

Hadrian's Union
Saturday, Skoddaw View Main Stage

Hadrian’s Union are a five piece Contemporary Folk Rock band from the debatable lands of England and Scotland. The name originates from the locality and mindset of the band, Hadrian's Union (or HU for short) as seperate members are based along various points of Hadrian's Wall, they all come from various music genres (Folk, Punk, Rock, Blues,Celtic, Ska etc) which reflects in the music they create together. 

'Folk rock at its finest *****' EFDSS magazine  

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  Steve Wharton
Saturday, Globe Hall

Steve Wharton is a native Cumbrian, with a passion for stories, songs and poems from the area. After working across Europe and Asia, witnessing a variety of cultural and regional performances, he returned home to develop a series of solo and ensemble Cumbrian Songs & Stories performances. 

 As the English Lake District World Heritage Site Storyteller he seeks to highlight the UNESCO values for which the national park is internationally renowned, and to explore issues associated with tourism. He is regularly found hosting Lyre! Lyre! storytelling events in the Moorforge Viking Settlement longhouse, near Cockermouth and performing with folk band Herdus. 

 In May 2020, Steve will feature in Terry Abraham's film 'Life of a Mountain: Helvellyn', as a presenter and telling stories on the infamous ridge, Striding Edge.

"His versions of two pieces by romantic poet Susannah Blamire are quite remarkable... you'll be greatly entertained." **** 'RnR Magazine'

"Full of vitality and variety" 'Cumbria Life Magazine'

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Mera Royle
Saturday, St. James’s Church

Mera Royle is a 19 year old harpist from the Isle of Man. In April 2018, she was awarded the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year award and has since performed at some of the UK's biggest Folk Festivals, such as Cropredy and Cambridge and represented the Isle of Man at the nation's Celtic Congress. Mera has also been involved with several creative projects as a composer, including working on a film score for a short film and arranging her own version of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, which featured on Mark Radcliffe's Folk Show back in June. 

Oka Vanga 2019

Oka Vanga
Saturday, Globe Hall

OKA VANGA are Angela Meyer & William Cox, an award winning UK Folk & Roots duo. A hard to pigeon hold ac, with a unique cross genre sound, their line-up of  vocals, guitars, ukulele and mandolin makes their sets both interesting and memorable.

Their album Dance of the Copper Trail  has been hailed as their best work yet, described by Songlines as  “profound, concise and meticulous” with Angela’s lyrics “ displaying a talent for conveying emotion and joy.” Songs are  seamlessly woven together and showcase all the manner of musical influences. Described by fRoots as both upbeat and an album of “serious accomplishment and musicality”, it has secured Angie and Will a place in the hearts and minds of many fans with what RnR describe as its folk roots  “Celtic-deep universality”.


Anna Mieke
Friday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

aka Anna-Mieke Bishop, is a musician and songwriter from Wicklow, Ireland. She performs on guitar, bouzouki and piano, sometimes as a solo performer, sometimes collaborating with others. Often appearing on stage alongside are Brían Mac Gloinn (of Ye Vagabonds), who contributes harmonies, the Indian harmonium and fiddle, and Matthew Jacobson (of ReDivider; Insufficient Funs; Clang Sayne, to name a few), adding jazz-influenced percussion.

She has spent a lot of her life travelling and living in different corners of the world; from the west of Ireland to Spain to Bangladesh to New Zealand, all of which inform the melodies and lyrics of her compositions. Anna also performs cello in the sometimes-seen-above-ground, experimental improv group, HEX. 

After the release of three music videos in 2018 and 2019, Anna Mieke independently released her debut album Idle Mind in April 2019.

“It’s a strikingly confident collection of 10 songs, full of blue sky thinking and wide open horizons...A deliriously renewable energy source.” –Siobhán Long, The Irish Times, 4-star review ★★★★

Kim Laughing b credit Alan Graham

Kim Edgar
Saturday, Globe Hall

Edinburgh-based songwriter Kim Edgar is a warm, engaging performer with a keen observation of the small details of people’s lives and the ability to turn those details into stories that can touch the listener at a very emotional level. Her three acclaimed solo albums, and intense, intimate performances have drawn comparisons with Tori Amos, Carole King and Regina Spektor.

Kim has been described as
“an example of everything that's great about contemporary music” (Spiral Earth): 
“An inspired empathy” * * * * * Fringe Review
“Imaginatively and beautifully crafted songs” Maveric“Probably one of the best songwriters in Britain today.” * * * * *  Spiral Earth  

One eighth of the The Burns Unit collective (which also included Karine Polwart, King Creosote and Emma Pollock), Kim currently tours extensively as a member of the pan-European folk band, CARA (, Described as "strangely uplifting, despite the well-phrased, sombre lyrics" and "a comfort blanket for the disillusioned soul” (The BIG Issue), Kim's songs capture distilled emotions, which increasingly wide audiences across the UK, and beyond, are identifying with and responding to.

The Mighty Doonans
Saturday, Skiddaw View Main Stage

The Mighty Doonans have a deserved reputation for their imaginative and innovative interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs. With brass, drums, keyboards, electric guitars and amazing vocals, they have the ability to blend different genres of music and dance (and the occasional joke) into their act. This leads to thoroughly entertaining performances that delight audiences across the ‘folk world’. 

The Mighty Doonans continue to deliver their traditions and influences along with powerhouse arrangements and sensitive interpretations of a wide variety of material, while retaining their renowned rapport and relationship with all audiences

Elaine Davidson
Friday, Globe Hall

'The standard of her songwriting is very high, and she has a distinctive voice to match'                                                                                                                     Mathew Tucker, Producer, South Bank Show
'Elaine Davidson is one of the most gifted singers and songwriters I have ever worked with. Elaine has the unique ability to write a beautiful melody, an incredibly honest lyric and deliver it with true depth and passion. Listening to Elaine’s music recalls a time of mastery in songwriting and story telling and you will get lost in the uncluttered, unfiltered true beauty of it. She is a one of a kind true English Folk Singer with a beautiful voice as well as an accomplished acoustic guitarist, see her live whenever you can, it will be a truly magical experience.'

                                                                                                                Warren Huart (Aerosmith, James Blunt, The Fray) record producer, Los Angeles

Price of my Pig
Saturday, Skiddaw View main Stage

“Price Of My Pig (a great name for a band), come from North West  England in the UK... a high octane folk/funk dance band who like to bring a little more life and energy to your average ceilidh, by introducing rhythms from disco, reggae, funk, afrobeat, ska into their mix of Irish, English and European folk tunes.” Folk Roots Radio

A “high octane ceili band”, Price of My Pig performEnglish, Irish, Scottish and European folk tunes in an exciting blend with rhythms from disco, reggae, funk, afro-beat, ska and more. "Dance your trotters off" to a variety of fun and accessible dances from Ireland and beyond

Chris Fox Hi Res Photo

Chris  Fox
Friday, Globe Hall

Award winning singer songwriter Chris Fox is an independent musician and Loop station chemist who has worked his way through the Cambridge music scene the past few years, each year acclaiming greater presence at an increasing number of stages and festivals, including Cambridge Folk Festival. His music reflects thought provoking topics and humorous insights on life with deep powerful vocals and varied and eclectic guitar styles that span the roots lexicon of Americana, Folk, Country and Blues.

Chris Fox may be a new name for a lot of people but I don't think it will stay that way for long. Hard to pin down his music ranges across folk, certainly, but with blues, Americana and and rock 'n roll influences. With very accessible songs about people who never quite get the breaks in life he sparkles on stage, this was a great set. His Album 'From the Shadows' is superb” Tony Birch FATEA at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival

"One of the finest Singer Songwriters I have seen for a long time" Steve Jackson BBC Cambridge

Ireby Village Singers
Saturday, St. james’s Church 

Residents of the village of Ireby who meet and rehearse each week enjoying their singing and entertaining the village with musical interludes through the year.

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Ian Douglas - Storyteller
Saturday, Main Arena 

Ian Douglas is a Storyteller and Theatre Maker Who works extensively across the British Isles. With over 20 years of experience delivering storytelling, performance and theatre activities for schools, arts organisations, communities and festivals across Britain, he has developed a practise approach which mixes sensitivity, Commedic energy and wit leading to a style all of his own.

The origins of Ian's work are steeped in the traditions of street theatre which has helped him develop his unique storytelling style. His work has been described as 'truly inspirational' and draws upon a rich vein of British folk tales and world myths.

During his career, Ian has had the privilege to sit at the knee of renowned storytellers such as Duncan Williamson and at present is apprenticed to the Grasmere-based storyteller Taffy Thomas.

Ian hails from West Yorkshire but now lives with the love of his life on a narrow boat wherever the neighbours are nice.

Melanie Baker

Indie-folk artist Melanie Baker, hailing from the Lake District, isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. Her heartfelt and direct lyricism capture themes such as falling in and out of love, self-reflection and the anxieties of modern life. With emotive lyrics and catchy melodies, the singer-songwriter wins the hearts of the crowds during her intimate live shows. 

Her latest single ‘Broken’ has been described as “heartbreakingly beautiful”. What you think will be this soft, simple acoustic piece, moves into something moving, bigger, and full. This song has everything, and even in its simplicity, it’s telling and is a hint of what's to come from the new EP set for release in March 2020.
"Her talent is overtly evident, and her impassioned and captivating live set has been refined over years of performing." -  Atwood Magazine

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Laura James
Saturday, St.James Church

The indie-folk artist Laura James grew up in Cumbria but is now based in London. Renowned for the penetrating sensuality of her vocals and for her piercingly stripped-back style, since 2011 Laura has been acknowledged as one of the most talented singer-songwriters of her generation - winning a prestigious MBF (now Help Musicians UK) songwriting development award and being championed by the likes of Bob Harris (BBC Radio 2) and Tom Robinson (BBC Radio 6). Laura has played at The Apple Tree Sessions and everywhere from Green Note, O2 Academy Sheffield and Bush Hall to Kendal Calling, Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape and DBMC Festival in Delaware (USA). 

'This is gorgeous'. Bob Harris (BBC Radio 2)
'Sumptuous and passionate'. Stuart Forward (EQ View)
'Words that come to mind are sweet, soft and gentle but there's a powerful resonance to her tracks that makes them bold in their beauty'. Emma Walsh (Get Into This)
'Laura radiates warmth and musical sincerity when she performs...there was a resonating ghost of gratification and sensuality that came tumbling out as each word was placed, almost lovingly, before the audience.' 
Ian D Hall (Liverpool Sound & Vision)

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Charlie Louise
Saturday, St. James’ Church

Charlie Louise is a young, soulful, country-pop musician who combines acoustic pop vibes with crystal clear country vocals to create a sound like no other. She draws inspiration from the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Ellie Goulding, which can be heard in her collection of captivating backing harmonies throughout her original music.

Back in November 2018, Charlie released a limited amount of physical copies of her debut Demo EP ‘I’m Not Like You’, recorded at Abbey Road Studios.

In November 2017, only 6 months after first picking up a guitar, Charlie bagged herself a slot supporting Wildwood Kin at The Brook Inn, Plympton and from then on, spent 2018 continually gigging and writing. This lead to bigger slots on stages at BBC Introducing events around the Southwest, Boardmasters and Port Eliot Festivals, as well as supporting the legendary Julie Felix.

Prior to recording her Demo EP, September 2018 was a turning point for Charlie, after being placed on the Main Stage lineup for Looe Saves The Day (originally Looe Music Festival). From then on, Charlie quickly became an established solo artist on the Southwest Circuit leading her to support acts such as Wildwood Kin, Haunt The Woods, Sound Of The Sirens and The Kaizens, as well as performing at venues such as Plymouth Pavilions and the Cavern Club/Pub in Liverpool.’

Amy Lou Duo
Saturday, The Old Chancel

The Amy Lou Duo have been together for two years and gig around Keswick and Cockermouth. Amy is a talented singer and violinist, Jon is an experienced guitarist having previously been a member of several bands in the North East. The duo have entertained visitors to the festival in 'Emily's Black Lion', running the open mic session. This year they will be performing in The Old Chancel, you may also catch them in the pub sometime!

(c) Ireby festival  2019