What's on




With a career in Irish music spanning 35 years, Altan has achieved legendary status in a genre that has equally been shaped by the band’s influence and genius. Audiences from Ireland to Japan to Australia to Europe have embraced their heartwarming, dynamic live performances and their exquisitely produced, award-winning recordings.



Urban Folk Quartet

Fiddle-led music that draws heavily on Celtic dance forms and traditional song, but from there UFQ is unlike any folk band you have ever heard. Their approach is to embrace any and every influence, from funk grooves to middle-eastern melodies, afrobeat to north Indian rhythms. Featuring Joe Broughton, Paloma Trigás, Tom Chapman and Dan Walsh, UFQ are one of the most popular and sophisticated bands on the festival scene.



The North Sea Suite

Our special commission for 2020 is a revival of The North Sea Suite. First staged in 1986, it blended folk and brass instruments, original and traditional music, and numerous well-loved songs to explore the impact of the sea on the lives of the people who live here on the North East coast. Originally conceived by Johnny Handle and performed by some of the region's finest musicians and singers, we are delighted to present the Suite at Hartlepool with some of the original participants, plus a few new faces, all of whom will be announced very soon.





Cohen has been a musician since the age of 6, took to squeezeboxes in his teens, and has since developed into a fine player of both the melodeon and anglo concertina. Cohen is also a well-regarded singer, and in 2014 won Bromyard Folk Festival's Future of Young Folk Award. He's been to the festival previously with his band Granny's Attic, and we're pleased to welcome him back in his own right.

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Rachel Hamer

Rachel is a powerful and emotive singer from Whitley Bay who steeped in the traditional music of the North East of England. A former winner of the English Folk Dance & Song Society's Graeme Miles Bursary, she also graduated from the Newcastle University Folk Music degree.



Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson is one of the world's premier acoustic guitarists and a powerful songwriter with a rich, characterful voice. His playing, which has helped define the English acoustic guitar sound, is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable, and revered among guitar fans. His body of work is diverse, encompassing all types of traditional and acoustic music, and he has toured with everyone from June Tabor to Steve Miller.

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Jim Moray &

Tom Moore

A fantastic new duo. Jim Moray is amongst England’s finest interpreters of traditional song. A five-time BBC Folk Award winner, his music has been featured in Grey’s Anatomy, Dr Who spin-off Class, and he has presented documentaries on traditional music for BBC Radio 3. Tom Moore has lent his blistering fiddle-playing to acts including Moore Moss Rutter, Nick Hart, John Dipper, False Lights and Maz O’Connor.


Saturday, Sunday

Rattle on the Stovepipe

Rattle on the Stovepipe are Dave Arthur (banjo, guitar, melodeon), Pete Cooper (fiddle) and Dan Stewart (banjo, guitar, fiddle), who play Anglo-Appalachian songs, ballads, and dance tunes. Pete Cooper is one of the leading fiddle teachers in the UK, and is Director of the London Fiddle School. Dan Stewart is a banjo, guitar and fiddle teacher from Sussex, widely recognised as one of the top Old Time banjo players in the UK. Dave Arthur is a musician, writer and storyteller, who was a prolific presenter for BBC radio and television on folksong and folklore.




With a career in Irish music spanning 35 years, Altan has achieved legendary status in a genre that has equally been shaped by the band’s influence and genius. Audiences from Ireland to Japan to Australia to Europe have embraced their heartwarming, dynamic live performances and their exquisitely produced, award-winning recordings.

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Saturday, Sunday

Sara Grey & Kieron Means

Sara Grey and her son, Kieron Means, play authentic American traditional music. Old-time ballads, cowboy songs and Primitive Methodist hymns are all delivered with warmth and understated passion. Sara's unique frailing banjo style and Kieron's blues-inflected guitar are in perfect harmony, and this instinctive family symbiosis is what sets them apart.


Saturday, Sunday

Rioghnach Connolly

We are delighted to present the glorious force of nature that is Rioghnach Connolly, the BBC's Folk Singer of the Year. Rioghnach has one of the most remarkable voices you will ever hear, whether tackling a big, bluesy stomper with her band Honeyfeet or delivering a delicate, flawless ballad with her duo The Breath. Her family features numerous accomplished musicians, and as a unique offering for Hartlepool they will join her on Sunday for a concert of musical traditions from their native Armagh.



Martin Stephenson

Sounds magazine marked out Martin Stephenson as “one of the finest and grossly underrated singer-songwriters this country has given birth to”. Few who bought his 80s albums with The Daintees – especially Boat To Bolivia and Gladsome Humour & Blue – would disagree with that bold assertion. Durham native Stephenson broke up the band in 1992, since recording a series of well-received solo and collaborative albums. We're delighted to welcome him to Hartlepool for what we expect to be one of his trademark sets full of warmth, hilarity and gorgeous songs.



Widely regarded as two of the best players and innovators in traditional folk amongst a precociously gifted generation, Moore & Moss’ finely-crafted arrangements wield a rare potency.  The distinct pulse and intuition of trad-music haunts their playing as they continue to quietly reconsider English instrumental music, listening and responding to the world around them as much as their musical ancestors.




Holden Gill

Smart, sassy former Emmerdale star Ursula last joined us in 2018 for the Bishoprick Garland, and you absolutely loved her imaginative retelling of the lore and legends of County Durham. One of the country's finest storytellers, she'll bring new tales to delight audiences young and old.

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Saturday, Sunday

Sam Baxter

Sam Baxter is a folk-singer and multi-instrumentalist working with both traditional material and his own compositions. Although drawing inspirations from all over Europe, Sam’s main focus is on the traditional music and stories of England and Ireland. Folk singing for Sam is ultimately an act of story telling, his main interest revolving around how old stories can be used to explore modern narratives, using the tales of the past as a lens with which to view modern society. 

© 2020 Small Brown Dog CIC

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