2019 Artists – so far, so good

Richard Thompson

Leading the way will be the formidable folk legend Richard Thompson – a revered singer songwriter and jaw dropping guitarist. He will take to the main Sunset stage as the Sunday night headliner.

A co-founder of trailblazing folk rockers Fairport Convention, Thompson has carved himself a high class career bringing him iconic international status, with anthemic songs such as Persuasion, Beeswing and 1952 Vincent Black Lightning becoming classics.

Named as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, he has been honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards on both sides of the Atlantic – including the Americana Music Association in Nashville, and the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – as well as garnering an OBE (personally bestowed upon him by the Queen at Buckingham Palace).

Cara Dillon & Friends

Saturday night at FolkEast will see a very special headline event as the peerless Irish songstress Cara Dillon (“quite possibly the world’s most beautiful female voice” – Mojo) takes to the stage with ‘Cara Dillon and Friends’, celebrating the 10th anniversary of her landmark album Hill of Thieves which won the coveted Album of the Year at the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Derry-born Cara will be joined by the first class line-up of husband Sam Lakeman (piano, guitar), Jarlath Henderson (uillean pipes, whistle), Ed Boyd (guitar). James Fagan (bouzouki), Toby Shaer (fiddle, whistles) and Ben Nicholls (bass).

Karine Polwart

Karine (2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Folk Singer of the Year) is on a roll having released two hugely successful albums in quick succession – A Pocket of Wind Resistance and Laws of Motion and has also migrated into the acting world including a role in Radio 4’s drama A Faraway Back of Beyond Place, a two hander with Bill Paterson.

A songwriter with heart and soul, Stirlingshire-born Karine is a wonderful wordsmith and captivating performer sure to get the festival off to a grand start.

Sharon Shannon Band

Sharon has played for Presidents Clinton and Obama in The White House, received a Lifetime Achievement Meteor award in 2009, and was honoured for ‘outstanding contributions in music’ at the Irish Books, Arts and Music (IBAM) awards in Chicago. This is to say nothing of her 1991 self-titled debut CD being the best-selling album ever of instrumental traditional Irish music.

Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson

Keeping up the Celtic connection, the line-up will be enhanced by Scots-Irish trio Ross Ainslie (Scottish bagpipes, whistles), Jarlath Henderson (uilleann pipes, whistles) and Perthshire’s Ali Hutton whose combined talents create a sound that pushes the boundaries of what Scottish and Irish instruments normally manage to achieve. Dubbed “the new stars of Celtic music,” the music they craft bursts with fresh energy.

John Smith

FolkEast is thrilled to announce that the eloquent and exquisite English singer-songwriter/guitarist John Smith will join the 2019 line up.

His distinctive, gravelly voice has been heard by audiences all over the world in living rooms, festival tents and sold-out concert halls. Steeped in the lineage of British folk and taking his cue from Richard Thompson and John Martyn, Smith has evolved a transatlantic blend of fingerstyle and slide guitar that has led John Renbourn to call him “The future of folk music”.


Flying the flag for Wales will be the effervescent five-piece revivalist traditional band Calan, who sing in both Welsh and English.

The band formed in early 2006, when its members’ ages ranged from just 13 to 22. In 2008, they created great excitement at the Inter Celtic Festival, becoming the only Welsh band to win the coveted international folk band award. They also won best group at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany. They play accordion, harp, guitar, fiddle and Welsh bagpipes and also have their own champion step dancer.