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Festival puts folk first as town hosts leading musicians

FOLK music is to the fore in Bognor Regis from today. Leading singers and songwriters will turn the town into the Sussex capital of the musical style.


The performances in the Southdowns Folk Festival start tonight and continue through two packed days until Sunday night but there is far more to the annual event than stage acts. A total of 45 different activities are taking place for all ages.


Organising committee chairman Roger Nash said: “No other town in Sussex has a folk festival like Bognor’s. “This is our fourth year and we have firmly become established as a leading venue for folk music.


“We have people coming from all over Britain to be part of it. There are nine dance groups alone – from Loughborough, the Isle of Wight and, nearer, from Brighton and Midhurst.”


The packed programme is the biggest since the festival began. It will see the town bursting with folk music entertainment.


An alphabetical masterlist of appearances and events from A-W will ensure plenty for everyone to enjoy. Folk star Martin Carthy might be a late addition to the line-up but names in the musical genre come no bigger.


Legendary, multi-award winning, inspirational and influential are just four of the titles he has earned in a career which stretches back to 1960.


Cara Dillon and Band and Oysterband are another two of the crowd-pulling names while Wild Geese will blend their Dutch influence on to the Celtic roots of the music to produce a unique sound. Steve Tilston, pictured above, is another name well-known to folk devotees. The ticketed shows take place in the Regis Centre’s Alexandra Theatre or its studio.


Plenty of other entertainment will be going on elsewhere. The High Street’s central portion will become a dance stage for those nine groups as well as both ends of the London Road precinct. Bognor Regis International Dancers will be among them along with Susfa Dancers and the Knockhundred Shuttles Clog Morris dancers.


Some open air singing performances will also take place in the town centre.


Not enough?


The Place St Maur will be covered by a giant arts and crafts marquee. S


talls will also line the precinct. The William Hardwicke pub is staging a real ale festival and the Sussex Young Folk Competition on Sunday as well as music sessions tomorrow. The Claremont in Scott Street will also host music sessions on Sunday.


For those who want to participate rather than watch, songwriting, fiddle, ukulele and dancing workshops are in store. “There’s lot of opportunities for people of all ages to join and to watch,” said Mr Nash. “Folk music appeals to a wide range of people and the festival reflects that.”

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