Music preview: Hebden Folk Roots Festival

Hebden Folk Roots festival returns to the town this weekend.

O Hooley and Tidow play at Hebden Folk Roots festival. Picture: Tom Ward

Now in its third year, the festival has booked artists from around the world to perform on the stages at the Trades Club, Birchcliffe Centre and in and around the town itself.

This year’s Hebden Folk Roots will showcase over 200 performers over May 12-14 and almost every venue in Hebden Bridge is involved, from Old Gate, Drink?, Shoulder of Mutton, Stubbings Wharf, The Swan, Fox and Goose, Nelsons to Mooch plus many more.

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Dave Boardman who is the festival’s musical director said: “O Hooley and Tidow were nominated for the BBC Folk Awards this year and are one of our headliners at The Birchcliffe Centre.

Jess Morgan is on the bill at Hebden Folk Roots festival. Picture: Carl Osbourn

“Celtarabia and The Baghdaddies are part of our world music strand and top of the bill for our Bluegrass and Americana part of the festival is a western swing band, Rob Heron and The Teapad Orchestra, who will have the place reeling and jiving at The Trades Club.

“Also on the bill is Murston Bapchild and the Braxton Hicks, The Kentucky Cow Tippers, Tilter Wheel, Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band plus many more.”

This year, the folk festival has a Klezmer day and evening at the Birchcliffe Centre on the Sunday May 14, curated by Opera North’s Stephen Shulman and headed by Freylich Band and Chancery Blame and the Gadjo Club. They will bring a lively mix of music and song which you won’t be able to resist getting up and dancing to.

Boardman adds: “we have some old favourites in the folk world: Plumhall will be back, as will the fantastic Jess Morgan with her band and Bradford’s Bella Gaffney. Some of the older near legends will be with us too – former Lindisfarne bass player and Jack The Lad leader, Rod Clements will be here, as will Clive Gregson, one of the country’s great songwriters.”

Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band play at Hebden Folk Roots festival. Picture: David Leyland

Eight local choirs – Three Valleys Gospel Choir, Sailah, Zarebi, Satteli – Swiss folk duo, Calder Valley Voices, Corista, Remingtons (Barber Shop Choir) and the Refugee Choir – will all come together and perform their own unique vocal masterpieces on Friday May 12. Do not miss the chance to sing with James Sills, of the famous a capella troupe The Spooky Men’s Chorale and their UK offshoot Fistful of Spookies who will be offering a singing workshop ‘just for men’.

Spoken word events this year start with Shakespeare’s King Lear re-told by Debs Newbold – ‘Tell me my daughters...which of you shall we say doth love us most?’. Dark and challenging, epic and shocking, human and uplifting story told at Stubbings Wharf on Friday May 12 at 8pm.

This year’s ghost walk is ‘Beyond the Veil of Calderdale’ by award winning storyteller Ursula Holden Gill. A spine tingling, grizzly ghost walk. Aimed at adults and older children but suitable for families, prams, wheelchairs and dog lovers alike this promises to be a magical evening of murder, mystery and mayhem. It starts at 6pm at the wavy steps opposite the Swan on Saturday May 13.

The streets will be alive with dancing, busking and street performers. Other events include children’activities in the park with Park life Cafe, Singing and Klezmer workshops, Storytelling events, Spoken word. Dance Day is happening at the Masonic Hall starting from 11am on Sunday May 14 including all types of dances. Each workshop lasts 90 minutes and are free for festival ticket holders.

Plumhall will be appearing at Hebden Folk Roots festival.

Brian Toberman one of the founders of the festival and curator of the Music events in most of the venues in town says: “The committee has created a festival, I as a musician would love to be at, we are lucky to have the amazing talent on our doorstep. The Hebden Folk Roots Festival brings people and music together and celebrates our local community, it is always good to give something back to our lovely town and bring a smile to people’s faces. We work closely with all local people, musicians and businesses to create a people’s festival.”

Hebden Folk Roots also has an official camping site at Old Chamber Farm. For details on weekend and day tickets and accommodation in the area visit

Jess Morgan is on the bill at Hebden Folk Roots festival. Picture: Carl Osbourn
Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band play at Hebden Folk Roots festival. Picture: David Leyland
Plumhall will be appearing at Hebden Folk Roots festival.