Coastal visit inspires performers ahead of folk festival

Lana Williams of the Fisherman's Arms, Joan Crump, director of the Hartlepool Folk Festival and Amanda White from Cleveland College of Art and Design.
Lana Williams of the Fisherman's Arms, Joan Crump, director of the Hartlepool Folk Festival and Amanda White from Cleveland College of Art and Design.

Five nationally-significant folk songwriters have taken part in a residential visit to the East Durham Coast in preparation for a special concert at Hartlepool Folk Festival in October.

Multi-BBC Folk Award winner Jackie Oates, Chumbawamba’s Boff Whalley, County Durham’s own Ed Pickford, young Scottish powerhouse Kate Young and Findlay Napier, who works regularly with Eddi Reader, are involved in the project.

The visit, organised with the support of project partners Durham Heritage Coast, introduced the group to the amazing landscape, communities and stories that cling to the Durham coastline.

The outcome will be a series of specially-commissioned songs to be performed in Sea:Coal, a concert at Hartlepool Folk Festival in October.

Festival director Joan Crump said: “Our songwriters were blown away by the spectacular coastline and countryside.”

The visit also took in the area’s industrial history, including a reminiscence session at Easington Welfare Hall, where they met Heather Wood and her mother Myrtle Macpherson, two women with many stories of the local community and the Miners’ Strike of 1984/85.

They met Brian Scollen, of the East Durham Heritage Centre at Seaham Marina, who told them stories about Seaham’s history, its mining past and the George Elmy lifeboat disaster.

The songs will be performed on Saturday, October 17, in the Sea:Coal concert at St Hilda’s Church on the Hartlepool Headland. Tickets are £12.

Hartlepool Folk Festival brings together established names in folk, including Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, Vin Garbutt, Chris Wood, Dick Gaughan, and Alistair Anderson.

Teesside harmony singers, The Wilsons, will be performing as well as acting as the festival’s official patrons.

There are also a host of up-and-coming names, such as Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker and Talisk.  

Programmed events will take place in the Borough Hall, St Mary’s Church, St Hilda’s Church, the Duke of Cleveland, and various Headland pubs.

Reduced price tickets, until September 1, are available at £80. Full price tickets will be £90. There are also day and individual concert tickets available.

They can be purchased online at www.hartlepoolfolkfest.co.uk, or by phone or in person (without a booking fee) from the Box Office at Tourist Information in Church Square.

Hartlepool residents can purchase tickets for a special discounted rate of £65 but a proof of address is required.