performers 2021

Martin Carthy

For more than 50 years Martin Carthy has been one of folk music’s greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. His skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers, not only from within the folk scene, but also far beyond it.

Trailblazing musical partnerships with, amongst others, Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick and his award-winning wife (Norma Waterson) and daughter Eliza Carthy have resulted in more than 40 albums, but Martin has only recorded 10 solo albums, of which the much anticipated Waiting for Angels (Topic TSCD527) was the latest. Whether in the folk clubs (which he continues to champion), on the concert stage or making TV appearances (he was the subject of the acclaimed `Originals’ music documentary strand on BBC 2) – there are few roles that Martin Carthy hasn’t played.

He’s a ballad singer, a ground-breaking acoustic and electric-guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material. He always prefers to follow an insatiable musical curiosity rather than cash in on his unrivalled position. Perhaps, most significant of all, are his settings of traditional songs with guitar, which have influenced a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, on both sides of the Atlantic.

`Arguably the greatest English folk song performer, writer, collector and editor of them all’ Q Magazine

‘Carthy is a master of the ballad of substance, songs that tell stories, whether they are traditional, his own or from contemporary writers.’ The Telegraph


Janice Burns & Jon Doran

Janice Burns & Jon Doran are an Anglo-Scottish duo who formed in 2017, after discovering a shared love of traditional music. They find their songs in archives that span the depths of our history; songs that, regardless of age, tell vivid stories about the nature of life, from the ethereal landscapes of ancient ballads to the urban rhythms of work songs. Their compelling storytelling comes alive through tight vocal harmonies and sensitive interplay between mandolin and bouzouki, with arrangements that balance intricacy with energy. Their dynamic performances are a celebration of their own musical and geographic backgrounds, embracing the differences that connect them.

After 3 years of working together and performing in notable venues such as Sage Gateshead and Folklub Newcastle, they decided to record their debut EP. It was released in September 2020 to overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“The clarity and blend in their voices and their beautifully honed playing captivated the sell-out audience at Folklub Newcastle to the point that you could hear a pin drop. They have invested fully in their craft and their sound as a duo and the results are breathtaking.” -Katie Doherty (Katie Doherty and the Navigators)


Graham Pirt

Long-time stalwart of the festival, we are delighted to welcome Graham Pirt back to sing his wonderful North East songs. As a founder member of the famous Cockersdale vocal harmony group, he is a well respected and fine exponent of traditional song.


Newcastle Kingsmen rapper dancers

One of the most exciting and dynamic young rapper dance teams on the planet, this forward looking traditional dance team performs the world famous rapper sword dancing, with the new Kingsmen Clog adding North East Clog dancing into the mix.  Catch them performing around the town on, Clog workshop and at the Mart on Saturday.