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Johnny Dickinson withdrawal

Jun 1, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

Sadly we have to report the news that Johnny Dickinson can no longer play the festival.

He has had a return of an illness which he had been recovering from, and we wish him and his family all the best.

Sunjay will be playing in his place.


Jun 1, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments


Over four thousand visitors are set to visit Southwell over the long, hopefully hot, weekend of the 12th Gate To Southwell Festival (June 7th to 10th).  With international-quality headline artists, great family and children’s entertainment, traditional dancing and ceilidhs, fine food beer and cider tents and a craft fair, the East Midlands’ premier acoustic roots and country music event should bring a welcome summer economic boost to the beautiful Nottinghamshire market town and its locality.

Rated as “an excellent festival” by R&R magazine and “a little gem” by Spiral Earth, the party starts on Thursday (June 7th) with a special Blues Legends Night featuring Britain’s top R&B band Nine Below Zero and one of the original surviving bluesmen, The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band from Louisiana, USA.  They’ll be supported by Canadian hillbillies Ol’ Savannah, San Franciscan rock & roller Joshua Cook, young British folk blues guitarist Sunjay, Derbyshire’s Rogue Embers and many other acts.

Friday night’s headliners are Geordie folk rock royalty Lindisfarne, of ‘Meet Me On The Corner’, ‘Fog On The Tyne’ and ‘Run For Home’ fame.  Also on the bill there’s highly-acclaimed Scottish performer Blue Rose Code, the megafolk of Birmingham’s Destroyers, the Celtic-dance-meets-jazz-funk of Dallahan, traditional American singer-storyteller Jeff Warner and much more.

Saturday (9th) sees the first visit to Southwell by the great Nashville singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters.  Having written for everyone from Neil Diamond and Etta James to Bryan Adams and Shania Twain, her new album ‘Dancing With The Beast’ has just gone straight to the top of the UK Country Music charts.  A powerful and emotional performer, Gretchen’s supported by returning Southwell favourites such as BBC award-winning folkies The Young’Uns, Danish roots stars Habadekuk and acclaimed duo Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar plus 2017 BBC Group Of The Year The Furrow Collective, celebrated Canadian fiddling and dancing family The Fitzgeralds and Hurricane Katrina-survivors Truckstop Honeymoon, bringing their blend of punk, bluegrass, jazz and soul all the way from New Orleans.

Closing the festival on Sunday night (10th) there’s one of Ireland’s best voices, Cara Dillon, with some special guests.  Also on Sunday’s bill there’s Devon guitarist and singer-songwriter John Smith, recent BBC Folk Singer Of The Year Kris Drever, former Fairport and Fotheringay singer Vikki Clayton and many more fine artists such as the Luke Jackson Trio, Mongoose and The Outside Track.

Festival director Mike Kirrage said: “in my opinion this year is the best line-up we’ve ever had.  People are realising it is not just a folk music festival, it goes much further than that.”

With over fifty artists on five stages across four days, Gate To Southwell 2018 looks set to be the best yet.  There’ll be the traditional colourful procession of twenty UK morris dance sides through Southwell, from 1100 on the morning of Saturday 9th, followed by pub sessions and family entertainment at the festival site.  Entertainers include lovable juggler and stuntman Dan The Hat, rock & rollers Johnny & The Raindrops, the storytelling of Mark Fraser and the interactive comedy songs of Keith Donnelly.  Plus Jan’s VanToddlebops, White Post Farm animals, crafts and musical workshops.

Only fifteen minutes by car or bus from the A1 near Newark, and with excellent rail connections from both Nottingham and Newark to Fiskerton and Rolleston stations (short walks to the festival), there’ll also be subsidised buses from the centre of town to the site beside Southwell Racecourse.  For full details of all artists, daily events and tickets please visit  Great value Teaser Tickets, for a taste of the festival, are available from Burleys in Southwell and The Final Whistle and Hearty Goodfellow pubs.

Discounts for Disappointed Beverley Ticket Holders

May 13, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

We are offering a 50% discount for Beverley Folk Festival ticket holders who have been sadly disappointed by its cancellation. Please spread the word.
We have had a great affinity with Beverley over the years, sometimes working together to get overseas artists to the UK,. Several of the key acts scheduled to appear this year will be appearing at GTSF. These include American singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters, Danish big band Habadekuk, BBC Folk award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, young troubadours Harbottle & Jonas and Toronto’s acclaimed The Boxcar Boys.
See our website for other great acts booked this year: Lindisfarne, Cara Dillon, Nine Below Zero, John Smith, Blue Rose Code, Kris Drever, Dallahan and many more.

Please contact us via Facebook or by emailing and we’ll send you a discount code on receiving proof of purchase of Beverley tickets.


Our biggest and best yet!

May 10, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

The Gate to Southwell Festival , starting on 7th June promises to be the biggest and best yet. “We’ve really pushed the boat out, with big names every night, so we’re hoping for a bumper crowd” Says Festival Director Mike Kirrage.
There’s something for everyone from top Nashville star Gretchen Peters, award winning British folk stars such as The Young ‘uns and Kris Drever, a very strong Celtic programme headed by Cara Dillon, and a blues legends night on Thursday featuring Britain’s number one R&B band Nine Below Zero.
Recently added to the bill, are slide guitar master, Martin Harley, modern Irish favourites, Ranagri

Also in the mix are some great songwriters such as Blue Rose Code and incredible guitarists Martin Harley, Johnny Dickinson and John Smith. “If you like something to bop to”, continued Mike “ we’ve just booked Dinamo, a Mallorcan Latin ska band from the same stable as BOC, and we’ve already got the Destroyers, Habadekuk and Seas of Mirth to get you on your feet. If you want to sing along what could be better than wallowing in the nostalgic hits of Lindisfarne on Friday night.”
There is a huge programme of entertainment and crafts for family and children too, including the return of comedian Keith Donnelly and ever-popular juggler and entertainer, Dan the Hat.
Also, after the inaugural and popular community project in 2017, look out for this year’s ‘Decorate your Gate’ competition in the run up to the festival with details available soon on the website.
Low priced Teaser tickets are now on the website and will be in local outlets in May. See or call Mike on 01636 816678 for all the details.

See who else we’ve added to the bill

Apr 19, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

You may have seen our line-up build over the last few months, so you’ll know how much we have pushed the boat out this year!  There’s something for everyone. From top Nashville star Gretchen Peters, award winning British folk stars such as The Young‘uns and Kris Drever, a very strong Celtic programme headed by Cara Dillon, a blues legends night on Thursday (June 7) featuring Britain’s number one R&B band Nine Below Zero and, on Friday night veteran Geordies Lindisfarne to get the big top singing.

Recently added to the bill, slide guitar master, Martin Harley, joins the two fantastic guitarists already booked – Johnny Dickinson and John Smith.

If you like something to bop to we’ve just booked Dinamo, a Mallorcan Latin ska band, and the party-prog-folk of Seas of Mirth, who join others already in the line-up such as The Destroyers and Habadekuk.

Also recently confirmed, Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno, who bring us old-time and country music with its heart in Appalachia, award winning multi-instrumentalist Luke Daniels, modern Irish favourites Ranagri, and the virtuoso guitar and fiddle players from Sheelanagig, Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow.

We now have over 50 artists confirmed in our strongest line-up ever, which means discounted tier 2 tickets will run out soon.

Get Your Tier 2 Tickets Now before prices rise!

We’ll have a stronger ceilidh line up this year too – more details in our next Newsletter.


Mar 18, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

There’s a perfect blend of international artists, festival favourites and music legends lined up for this year’s Gate To Southwell in June (7th to 11th).   Adding to the fine mix there are also some talented Midlands acts including the megafolk of Birmingham’s Destroyers, the stunning harmonies of Lincolnshire’s Winter Wilson, the country blues of Derbyshire’s Rogue Embers, the bluegrass Americana of North Lincolnshire’s The Life And Times Of The Brothers Hogg – one of last year’s festival highlights – plus the fantastic folk-country of the highly-rated Rye Sisters also from Lincolnshire.  Throw into this regional music stew the extraordinary land-locked pirate prog-rock-meets-world-music of Nottingham’s Seas Of Mirth and clearly there’s something for even the most eclectic and eccentric of tastes.

Derby’s Josh O’Keefe might sound like an unlikely contender for the role of the next Bob Dylan or the heir to Woody Guthrie, yet his raw politically-charged songwriting, his harmonica-playing and his powerful gravelly vocals are already attracting high praise and respectful comparisons.   One critic suggested that he sounded as if his voice had been “crafted from many decades of nicotine, hard-living and alcohol in the Deep South”.  Only in his mid-20s, Josh has moved to the Nashville skyline to inhale the ghosts of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and already has a new record deal.

One of America’s most successful and established singer-songwriters, Gretchen Peters, will be among the Gate headline acts.  Grammy-nominated and recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, her 2015 UK tour sold out and featured an acclaimed performance at Glastonbury.  She’ll be appearing in the Southwell Big Top on Saturday June 9th.

Also already booked for the East Midlands’ premier roots and acoustic event are hugely-successful veteran Geordies Lindisfarne, award-winning folkies The Young’uns, one of Ireland’s greatest singers Cara Dillon (performing with special guests), Danish roots stars Habadekuk, brilliant Devon guitarist and singer-songwriter John Smith, acclaimed Canadian fiddlers The Fitzgeralds and 2017 BBC Folk Singer of the Year Kris Drever.  There’ll also be a special Blues Night (Thursday 7th) to mark the festival’s opening and this will feature Britain’s number one R&B band Nine Below Zero, authentic Louisiana bluesmen The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band and the UK’s best slide guitarist Johnny Dickinson.

Joining the eclectic, international bill there’s Scotland’s Blue Rose Code, the Canadian jazz-meets-klezmer-meets-folk of The Boxcar Boys, acclaimed Southwell regulars Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, 2017 BBC Group of the Year The Furrow Collective, those irresistibly entertaining Canadian hillbillies Ol Savannah, the traditional Celtic dance fused with funk & jazz of Dallahan, much-loved global troubadour Rory McLeod, the Canadian roots rock of James Keelaghan & Hugh McMillan, highly-rated harmonious Celts Mongoose and the award-winning songstress Vikki Clayton (who’s performed with both Fairport Convention and Fotheringay).

While charismatic Jeff Warner, one of America’s foremost performers and interpreters of traditional music, returns following his excellent appearance in 2014, Truckstop Honeymoon – fusing bluegrass, punk rock and soul with music hall jazz and rock & roll – will be welcome newcomers to Southwell in June. They took to the road in 2005 after their New Orleans home, and their recording studio, were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  Since then, they’ve settled in Kansas but still continue to travel the world with their four kids.

Last but not least there’s the East Anglian Americana of The Shackleton Trio, promising folk duo Harbottle & Jonas, the alt-folk harp and guitar of Brighton’s Ellie Ford and her band, and the bright young box and fiddle partnership of Alex Cumming & Nicola Beazley.   These diverse acts will add to the great party atmosphere at this most family-friendly of festivals, which also features workshops, ceilidhs, dance displays, children’s entertainment, a craft fair plus great food and drink tents.

Tier Two tickets (at discounted prices while stocks last!) are available for this four-day event in beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside from Thursday June 7th to Sunday June 10th.    Follow this link to Gate To Southwell 2018 to find out more –

Tier 2 ticket prices about to be launched

Feb 28, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

It’s the end of February, traditionally the time ticket prices increase, and there are only a few Tier 1 tickets still available. Weekend ticket prices will increase by £15 when we move to Tier 2 prices. Click here for more info.

We think this year will be our best ever festival – keep reading to find out why…

Our line up is phenomenal – with a host of major names, including one of Nashville’s most beloved and respected artists, Gretchen Peters; massively popular veteran Geordies, Lindisfarne; with “one of the world’s most beautiful voices”, Cara Dillon; and heading up Thursday’s blues concert, the UK’s best rhythm ‘n’ blues band Nine Below Zero.

The main supporting acts include: one of our very favourite groups, TheYoung’uns, whose first festival appearance was Southwell in 2009; Danish roots stars Habadekuk;  acclaimed Canadian fiddlers The Fitzgeralds; 2017 BBC Folk Singer of the Year Kris Drever; Louisiana bluesmen The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band; much requested, Scotland’s Blue Rose Code who released a “masterpiece of an album” in 2017;  brilliant Devon guitarist and singer-songwriter John Smith; Canadian jazz-meets-klezmer-meets-folk of The Boxcar Boys; Southwell regulars Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar; and 2017 BBC Group of the Year The Furrow Collective.

All this, plus the depth of artists supporting, and on our three other main music stages is unsurpassed –  see below for a list of who is playing when. We have just announced a host of new acts, which you can see on our website here –

And there’s more!: 17 dance sides confirmed so far; loads of children’s and family fun, including the popular return of Dan the Hat with a new stunt show including “the ring of fire”, “London Bus Jump” and “Boxing Glove Alley” among others – probably best not to ask!

And even more!  Our ceilidh and dance programme is now on the website. We launched a new dance venue, Hoofers, in 2017, and this year it’ll be better than ever.

Across the weekend it will be led by Banter (Simon Care, Tim Walker and Nina Zella) and featuring a whole raft of dances and workshops.

The programme is being developed, but confirmed so far we have:

Friday – Banter with caller Alex Cumming
Saturday – Tautas Roks with caller Cate Haynes, Urban Folk Theory with caller Tim Walker
Sunday – English Contra Dance Band with caller Bob Morgan

And workshops confirmed so far: Bob and Dace Fisher – Cajun; Tim Walker – Medieval; English Contra Dance Band – Contra.

So make a date – 7th to 10th June 2018. Tickets are available now for the whole weekend or just individual days or evenings.


The line up so far (with more names still to come)


Nine Below Zero, Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band, Johnny Dickinson, Luke Jackson,
Winter Wilson, Ol’ Savannah, Rogue Embers, Keith Donnelly, Banter, Joshua Cook, Josh Okeefe, others TBC.

Lindisfarne, Blue Rose Code, The Destroyers, Dallahan, Luke Jackson Trio, Jeff Warner, Mongoose, The Georgia Shackleton Trio, Johnny Dickinson,
Ol’ Savannah, Banter, Joshua Cook, Alex Cumming & Nicola BeazleyRogue Embers, Keith Donnelly, Josh Okeefe, Benjamin Pike, Ellie Ford, Kit Hawes & Aaron Catlow, others TBC.
Gretchen Peters, The Young’uns, Habadekuk, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar
The Furrow Collective, The Fitzgeralds, Truckstop Honeymoon, Luke Jackson
Trio, Jeff Warner, Rory McLeod, Vikki Clayton, Winter Wilson, Mongoose,
The Georgia Shackleton Trio, Banter, Boxcar Boys, Alex Cumming & Nicola
Beazley, Luke Daniels, Tautas Roks, Joshua Cook, Urban Folk Theory, Keith Donnelly, Benjamin Pike, Josh Okeefe, Rye Sisters, Ellie Ford,
others TBC.

Cara Dillon & Special Guests, John Smith, Kris Drever, Truckstop
Honeymoon, The Fizgeralds, Vikki Clayton, Luke Jackson Trio, Martin Harley,
Outside Track, Jeff Warner, Mongoose, Boxcar Boys, James Keelaghan &
Hugh McMillan, Harbottle & Jonas, Morrissey & Marshall, Seas of Mirth,
Banter, Joshua Cook, English Contra Dance Band, Rogue Embers, Luke
Daniels, Nicola Beazley, Benjamin Pike, Keith Donnelly, Josh Okeefe,
Rye Sisters, Ellie Ford, Don Mescall, others TBC.

Announcing Gretchen Peters

Feb 2, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

One of America’s most successful singer-songwriters, Gretchen Peters, will be one of the headline acts at this year’s Gate To Southwell Festival in June.

Grammy-nominated and recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Gretchen’s songs have been recorded by diverse artists such as Etta James, George Strait, Shania Twain and Neil Diamond, and she’s co-written and duetted with Bryan Adams. Her 2015 UK tour sold out and featured an acclaimed performance at Glastonbury.

Long regarded as one of the best voices in country and roots music, her hit album ‘Blackbirds’ was described as “an Americana tour de force” by The Sun while Uncut magazine hailed her as “one of Nashville’s greatest talents of the past two decades”. Her recent collection, ‘The Essential Gretchen Peters’, features many of her classic songs including ‘Independence Day’, ‘Hello Cruel World’, ‘The Secret Of Life’ and ‘On A Bus To St Cloud’. She’ll be performing in the Southwell Big Top on Saturday June 9th.

Gretchen Peters brings further international class to Gate To Southwell 2018, joining an eclectic musical line up that already includes legendary folk rockers Lindisfarne, great Irish singer Cara Dillon, Denmark’s Habadekuk, Louisiana blues stars the Lil Jimmy Reed Band, award-winning English folk stars The Young’uns, hillbilly Canadians Ol’ Savannah and many more artists.

Another exciting USA newcomer to Southwell in June will be Truckstop Honeymoon, fusing bluegrass, punk rock and soul with music hall jazz and rock & roll. Created by Katie and Mike West, and born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Truckstop Honeymoon took to the road in 2005 after their home and their recording studio were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Since then, they’ve relocated to the Midwest music mecca of Lawrence Kansas but still continue to travel the world with their four kids.


Jan 19, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

The Greet will meet the Mississippi on Thursday June 7th when the Gate to Southwell Festival brings some of the world’s best blues stars to town.  Headliners Nine Below Zero have been one of Britain’s best blues exports for over 30 years and they’ve supported everyone from Alexis Korner, Chuck Berry, The Kinks and The Who through to recent successful tours with Squeeze and The Stranglers.  Also on the bill there’s The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band, led by one of the last original Louisiana bluesmen.  Now in his late Seventies, Lil’ Jimmy has shared the stage with blues greats such as BB King and Bobby Blue Bland; he’ll be joined by Bob Hall, one of the finest blues and boogie pianists of his generation.

“We’ve booked the best international folk, roots and acoustic artists over the years but we’ve also had some great blues performers at Southwell,” says festival director Mike Kirrage.  “So this year we’ve decided to start the festival with a top-quality blues extravaganza and we hope to attract blues fans from throughout the Midlands.”

Alongside Nine Below Zero and The Lil’ Jimmy Reed Band, there’s also Ol’ Savannah, one of Canada’s best roots bands – they put the blues into bluegrass and have been described as a cross between Tom Waits, Muddy Waters, Roscoe Holcomb, and The Pogues! – and, from closer-to-home, Northumbrian bluesman, Johnny Dickinson, who’s universally regarded as one of Britain’s finest blues and slide guitarists, and played at the first ever Gate to Southwell Festival.

Over the weekend there’s a great line-up of roots and acoustic stars for the twelfth festival (June 7th to 10th) – includingLindisfarne, Cara Dillon and the Young’uns – plus another big name to be announced soon. “Tickets are selling fast,” reports Mike, “and Gate To Southwell 2018 definitely looks set to be the best yet.”

Special priced Thursday evening tickets are on sale now from £20 and Tier One Weekend and Weekend Extra tickets can also be purchased via  the website at

Dance Sides Now Confirmed

Jan 5, 2018   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

See the website for a string of dance sides now added to the line-up for 2018. And don’t forget it’s Plough Sunday this weekend (7th Jan) which kicks off with the service at St. Denis Church, Morton-cum-Fiskerton, followed by a sword dance at the village hall, then over to Southwell for displays at The Hearty Goodfellow and The Admiral Rodney from 12.30 to 1.30 and then from 2pm to 4pm at The Final Whistle, Southwell.

See the link below for details of sides playing at the festival

Dance displays 2018

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Gate to Southwell Festival