Southports First Americana Festival is on its Way

Southports First Americana Festival is on its Way

This weekend well known Americana artists such as Peggy Seeger, Kelly Joe Phelps and Sarah Savoy and the Francadians descend on Southport for the first Americana Festival at The Atkinson.

The From a Distance – Southport’s Americana Festival will run Friday 20 – Sunday 22 September and celebrates the very best Americana /Roots music with renowned names from the UK Americana and roots musics scene performing at the festival as well as a couple of special guests from America itself! Best of all you can be part of this amazing weekend with the ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ special offer for the Americana Festival events.

Starting the music programme is Sarah McQuaid & The Carrivick Sisters (Friday). Rising star Sarah McQuaid’s voice has been likened to malt whiskey, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine”. A captivating performer, she seduces her audience with cheeky banter and stories from the road, as well as with stunning musicianship; in her hands, the guitar becomes much more than merely an accompanying instrument. Joining her on stage are The Carrivick Sisters who are now widely considered as one of the country’s most gifted music duos and have received huge acclaim both for the quality of their astounding musicianship as well as for their beautiful harmonies and their songwriting.

Sarah Savoy & The Francanadians (Friday) are a Top Cajun dance band with one foot in the honky tonk and the other in the juke joint! Louisiana-born Sarah Savoy is the eldest daughter of the legendary Marc and Ann Savoy and sister of Wilson Savoy of the Pine Leaf Boys. Kick-ass Cajun of the highest order, this is definitely one for the dancers and lovers of Louisiana music in general.


Peggy Seeger & special guest Thea Hopkins (Saturday). Peggy Seeger is a legend, Pete Seeger’s half-sister, Ruth Crawford Seeger’s daughter and partner to Ewan MacColl, who wrote First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for her and to whom she bore three children. She has made 22 solo recordings and taken part in more than 100 more with other performers. A singer and multi-instrumentalist, she is considered to be one of North America’s finest female folksingers.

Her special guest is Thea Hopkins with her rich melodies, inventive lyrics, and a voice as tuneful as it is emotionally expressive. Her “Red Roots Americana” music weds her Native American Wampanoag ancestry with the musical genre she loves best. She is probably most famous for writing the haunting Jesus Is on the Wire, a sad indictment of homophobia, which was recorded twice by Peter, Paul and Mary but she has a special power that isn’t easily forgotten.

Chastity Brown & Annie Keating  (Saturday) are two top American women currently making waves on this side of the Atlantic share the bill in this early evening concert. From Minneapolis Chastity Brown has been attracting extraordinary notice since the launch of her most recent CD ‘Back Road Highways’ late last year.  Her first visit to these shores last summer had promoters and reviewers reaching for superlatives to describe her remarkable voice and her innate musicality.  Throw all the genres together if you want to describe her – gospel, roots & soul, jazz, blues & country – they are all right, and also not enough. Chastity channels songs that are borne deep in the American bone, the hunger, desperation and confidence that runs through our times.

Annie Keating is from New York City and touring in Europe to promote her 5th CD, For Keeps that was released in spring 2013. Annie Keating is a class act, a consummate performer with a highly engaging personality she never fails to deliver and her growing fan base will be anxious to hear what the Brooklyn girl has come up with to follow her highly acclaimed 2010 CD Water Tower View.

The Pacific Northwest based singer and songwriter, Kelly Joe Phelps (Saturday) has written and performed some of the most compelling slide guitar based music ever recorded. Though he spent his early years playing free jazz, he has never strayed too far from the roots music world that has become his passion.

On Saturday night the first full day finishes with a screening of everyone’s favourite musical, Grease. Come in fancy dress as your favourite character; whether you are a Danny Zuko, a pink lady or maybe Sandy? Let us see your best costumes and enter the fancy dress competition.  The winner will receive a pair of tickets to an event of their choice, a pre-show meal in The Bakery and a pre-show interval drink.

The final day of the festival, Sunday 22 September starts with a touch of class!  Directed by renowned Gospel musician Tyndale Thomas MBE The Liverpool Harmonic Gospel Choir sing a mixture of traditional and contemporary gospel and inspiration music, as well as some of Tyndale’s original repertoire. The Liverpool Choir has performed widely including at the Slavery Remembrance Day at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and at the opening Ceremony to celebrate Liverpool’s Capital of Culture 2008. It has also supported Nina Simone and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Today they will be joined by the fantastic Chastity Brown, guest of the festival from Minneapolis, USA.

On Sunday afternoon catch Police Dog Hogan,  a high-energy, eclectic seven-piece, combining fiddle, banjo, mandolin, drums and guitars with knockout four-part harmonies in an exuberant fusing of  country, pop, folk, and rocking urban bluegrass. The Sunday Times has described them as “wonderful”; the Telegraph named them one of it’s ‘favourite new bands”; BBC Radio 2 called them “a band to watch” and veteran DJ Johnnie Walker praises their gigs as “just a really good, fun time”. Featuring The Guardian’s star columnist Tim Dowling on lightning banjo and a host of other media celebs this is one show you really shouldn’t miss!

With a voice that has been compared to Ray LaMontagne and Paul Rodgers, brooding lyrics that dance intriguingly on the edge of ghoulish, and an intense, swampy, Mississippi Delta sound, Durham has the soul of an old bluesman. This guy is a rare talent, even more so as there are so many playing this style of music without a tenth of his quality and a hundred times less integrity – in short, Lincoln Durham is the real deal!

We end the festival on a high with Trouble in the Fields – A Tribute to Nanci Griffith featuring The Kennedys + special guests Edwina Hayes & The Carrivick Sisters. Nanci Griffith has written some of the finest and most enduring songs that have emerged from America in the last thirty years and in many ways she epitomises the very essence of Americana as a separate musical genre. Last year her close friends and producers Pete & Maura Kennedy, superb musicians in their own right, rounded up a host of top musicians to record an artists’ tribute CD ‘Trouble In The Fields’ featuring many of the very best songs in Nanci’s canon. Tonight they have flown over from New York specially to present this concert and will be joined by several guests including Edwina Hayes and The Carrivick Sisters. All profits from sales of the CD are being donated to MAG, the body devoted to ridding the world of land mines, Nanci Griffith’s chosen charity.

The weekend of music is interspersed with a wide selection of workshops run by the musicians appearing at the festival. For children aged 7 and above there is – ‘An introduction for children to Bluegrass fiddle with Laura Carrivick’ ,followed by Clawhammer Banjo Workshop with Charlotte Carrivick. On Saturday there is a special workshop taking place with the wonderful Peggy Seeger herself– ‘A Feminist View of Anglo-American Songs’. This workshop looks into the roles that women play in our folktales and songs are part of the long story of oppression of women. Finally on Sunday Lincoln Durham hosts a blues guitar and song-writing workshop. Bring along your guitar and join this masterclass in blues guitar and songwriting from one of the finest young musicians in the United States.

The music does not stop on the stages, join our partners Grateful Fred’s, the pioneering Americana and Roots club, who will be hosting a free programme of UK and local Americana and acoustic artists and bands  every evening from 6pm -9pm  in The Atkinson’s foyer. They will be joined by special friends such as the award-winning The Good Intentions, the Susie Jones Band, Peter Aldridge, the Southbound Attic Band among many others. Part of their programme will include an Open Mic section and anyone is welcome to come along and perform. Even banjo or ukulele players!

What festival would be complete without fantastic food and The Bakery at The Atkinson will certainly provide this! Come along and sample some of America’s most well-known and classic dishes in lovely surroundings. Famous dishes include New Orlean’s style Po-Boy sandwiches with slow ferment bread, specialist Burgers in floured Artisan buns, Jambalaya, Artisan Corn Bread, Southern Fried Chicken, Hot Dogs in Artisan Subs, Pecan Pie and of course Cheesecake!

A weekend ticket is just £59 for all the live performances (workshops/film not included) – events are also individually priced. For more information and to book tickets visit  or call box office on 01704 533333


Posted on 18 September 2013 under General news

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