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Feedback 2015 – win a ticket for 2016

Jun 9, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

If you came to the festival, even just for a day or two, thank you, and we hope you enjoyed it!

We have set up an online survey for those who did not manage to fill in a form over the weekend.  It is much shorter than last year’s survey (we listened to comments that it was too long!!) and so should only take a few minutes to complete.

We really appreciate any feedback you can give to us – it all helps us organise better festivals in the years to come.

You can complete it anonymously if you like, we value all the feedback we can get. However if you leave your name and email address, we will add you to our mailing list and enter you into a prize draw to win a weekend ticket for 2016. .

Please click here to start the survey

Clannad, The Young uns. Friday 5th June 2015

Jun 8, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

Gate To Southwell Festival 2015

Fresh from collecting their Best Folk Group 2015 award, The Young’Uns arrive with a spring in their steps and lashings of comedic confidence. Earlier in the day they’d performed in Southwell’s magnificent Minster and also visited a local Church of England school. Branding it posh, they revealed that one pupil had asked them “what’s your favourite cheese?” They contrasted this with a recent question from a kid in a Northern school: “which one of you three is the hardest?”

In truth, Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes don’t look as if, collectively, they could knock the skin off a rice pudding. But all three do possess some of the finest voices and harmonies on the current roots and acoustic scene, combined with a rare talent for original songwriting and distinctive interpretation. Their extremely funny, yet very moving set drifted from the tragic beauty of ‘The Streets Of Lahore’ and the political comedy of ‘Lovely Cup Of Tea’ through to covers of Billy Bragg’s ‘Between The Wars’ and “our favourite folk song from Manchester” James’ ‘Sit Down’. Self-deprecating, relaxed and incredibly talented, The Young’Uns’ will prove to be a shining highlight of this and any festival.

In a lifetime of music that has seen them develop from rural Donegal to conquer the Celtic, traditional, folk and roots music world, Clannad have sold over 15 milion records and collected Grammys, BAFTAs, Ivor Novellos and Billboard awards along the way. Now forty-five years from their inception, this Southwell set was an atmospheric movement through their greatest hits including ‘Harry’s Game’, ‘I Will Find You’ (from the Last of the Mohicans), ‘Closer To Your Heart’ and ‘Newgrange’. Along the way they warmed local hearts with a beautifully-nostalgic medley from their soundtrack for the TV series ‘Robin The Hooded Man’, and they also demonstrated their extraordinary musical talents on several almost Prog Folk instrumentals.

It was great to see and hear the family chemistry at work on ‘Vellum’ and ‘Rhapsody na gCrann’ from their 2013 comeback collection ‘Nadur’; the traditional Irish harmonies of Moya Brennan and her brothers Ciaran and Pol were an intoxicating contrast to the Teesider sounds of the Young’Uns. At the heart of it all, Moya’s ethereal voice and her green-fingered harp-playing set them apart and confirmed their Celtic legend status. A warm night revealing the richness and depth of the traditional roots and acoustic music scene in 2015, and a special night for Southwell.

Len Brown

Billy Bragg 4th June 2015 Gate to Southwell Festival

Jun 5, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

Gate To Southwell Festival 2015

Solo onstage for ninety minutes with only guitars and a not-very-rock & roll mug of medical tea (“for people who think they can sing”), this is the start of Billy Bragg’s 2015 troubadour trek to help the nation shake off those post-election blues.

The old harsh punk rock voice may have become warmer and more country mellow over the years, he may have put on a few pounds and, by his own admission, his seriously trendy folky beard is designed to hide “a multitude of chins”, but at heart Billy Bragg remains a unique figure in British contemporary music.

He’s still a provocatively, political songwriter but to his credit his left-wing stances are no longer dictated by dogma, ideology or party loyalty. Like all true protest singers, minstrels and troubadours, he explores and mines an independent seam of agitation.

There’s typical bravery too, launching into ‘Whose Side Are You On?’ and ‘Power In The Union’ here in the heart of the Nottinghamshire coalfields, where rifts between striking and non-striking miners caused so much acrimony over 30 years ago under Thatcherism.

With Bragg, the personal is as powerful as the political in everything he sings. This is clear from his tributes to the Appalachian folk singer Jean Ritchie, who died earlier this week, to his late father on ‘Tank Park Salute’ and also to Woody Guthrie, who inspired him to create the ‘Mermaid Avenue’ sessions with the American band Wilco.

Above and beyond this reverential work, there’s great humour in his own songs such as ‘Handyman Blues’, urging modern man to cast off his chains, reclaim his masculinity and dignity and refuse to bow to female pressures to attempt DIY: “I know it looks like I’m just reading the paper, But these ideas I’ll turn to gold dust later, Cause I’m a writer not a decorator”.

Such is the wealth and depth of Bragg’s back catalogue , that he doesn’t even get round to performing classics such as ‘Between The Wars’ (“I’ll leave that to the Young’Uns!”), ‘Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards’ or even ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’ but, nevertheless, the packed marquee happily crows along on the choruses of ‘A New England’ and ‘Greetings To The New Brunette’, celebrating a great opening night to the Gate To Southwell Festival.
Len Brown 2015

Free bus timetable

Jun 4, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

bus times

Buses start at the festival site, left out of Crew Lane, and clockwise around town, past the Coach House, Minster, Post Office, Co-op, then back along Newark Road to Crew Lane. There are five stops: 1. Opposite the Coach House on Church Street; 2. Outside the Minster; 3. Outside the Co-op; 4. At the bottom of the Ropewalk on Newark Rd, and 5. at the bottom of the Burgage on Newark rd.

Late change: The Moonshine Serenaders to replace Maniere des Bohemiens

Jun 4, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

Due to unforeseen circumstances Maniere Des Bohemiens will be unable to play this weekend. We wish them all the best.

In their place will be The Moonshine Serenaders

Steve Wise and Helmut Rheingans are well known to many as members of the Down Trodden String Band. Together as the Moonshine Serenaders they perform a range of music from the golden age of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Tin Pan Alley songs, rags and hokum blues are mixed in with old-time country music and garnished with a selection of classical banjo pieces.
They will be performing for the first time at the Gate to Southwell Festival.

Wishing the Best to Bob Diehl of Canna’Laigh

Jun 2, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

Bob has been in a car accident and though hurt is not critical but he will be unable to play with the band this weekend. We all wish him a speedy recovery.


May 29, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

A host of star names from the global roots, folk and acoustic music scenes have joined the impressive international line-up for this month’s Gate To Southwell festival. 

Aside from catching Britain’s best-loved troubadour Billy Bragg – in concert on Thursday June 4th with The Hot Seats – there’s the only UK festival appearance by Celtic legends Clannad, on Friday June 5th, supported by BBC Folk Award 2015 winners The Young’uns plus the internationally-renowned Urban Folk Quartet.

This year’s festival, at the new site near Southwell Racecourse, has attracted some of the most exciting bands in Celtic, roots and traditional music including a string of highly-regarded American acts.  Alongside The Hot Seats (Virginia), there’s The Railsplitters from Colorado, Mark Rodgers & Mary Byrne from New York and San Francisco’s Blind Willies.

Confirming the festival’s growing reputation as the Midlands’ premier roots music event, the international flavour will be enhanced by appearances from Mallorcan stars BOC, Scotland’s Manran, Australian globetrotters Cloudstreet, Ireland’s We Banjo 3, and globally-inspired acts such as Ranagri and The Baghdaddies.  There’ll also be youthful alternative sounds from Maia, Clutching At Straws, Worry Dolls, Kings & Folk and The Rheingans Sisters, highly-regarded local acts The Rusty Suns, Swing Gitan and Maniere Des Bohemiens plus Leicestershire’s rising son Skunk Boy Project.

Alongside Billy Bragg, there are plenty of other strong singer-songwriters and original voices on show at Southwell including Anthony John Clarke, Edd Donovan, Sephty from Newcastle and Devon’s hotly tipped duo Moon Brother.

Traditional music fans will warm to the presence of reunited English vocal trio Artisan, The Tweed Project (combining Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar with the Mischa Macppherson Trio) and the hugely-influential partnership Chris Wood & Andy Cutting.  Multi-award winner Wood will also appear solo whilst Cutting performs in a new ‘super trio’ alongside Martin Simpson and Nancy Kerr.  Festival favourites CoCo & The Butterfields also join the bill plus fifty-piece extravaganza The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble.

There’ll also be great family entertainment including the puppet magic of Pickled Image, the awesome Dan The Hat, music workshops from Maia and The Young’Uns, the brilliant storytelling of Walk The Lines and children’s music and dance from Cloudstreet and Johnny & The Raindrops.

Weekend, day and single concert tickets are available – Billy Bragg plus supports on Thursday (£20), Clannad plus supports on Friday (£25) – plus Teaser Tickets can be purchased in advance (£15 adults) or for £20 on the gate.   To enhance the experience, and boost business in Southwell too, there’ll be free buses running all weekend from mid-morning til 1245am between the festival site and the town centre.

For full details of artists, family entertainment and other events visit the festival website –  It promises to be a fantastic long weekend of international music, top comedy, ceilidhs, great food and craft stalls and a beer and cider festival.






Blind Willies

May 8, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

New booking announcement: San Fransisco’s Blind Willies set to play Sunday 7th June. “Glory be, they sound like a mutant of The Holy Modal Rounders and Violent Femmes, which is just dandy.” fROOTS, UK

blind willies 1

Last day of discounted tickets!

May 7, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

Today, Thursday 7th, is the last day of discounted tickets. From tomorrow all tickets will be full price, so don’t delay! We also have availability of single day and concert tickets – Billy Bragg on Thursday (£20) and Clannad on Friday (£25). Click here for more information on tickets.




Apr 30, 2015   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

We have just made the decision to extend the availability of discounted tickets to 7th May.

So you now have until election day to get cheaper tickets for the festival – vote Gate to Southwell for the best in roots and acoustic music from across the world!



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