Folk by the Oak 2017 first line-up announcement made for Hatfield music festival

PUBLISHED: 14:44 28 October 2016 | UPDATED: 14:54 28 October 2016

The view from the main stage at Folk by the Oak 2016 during the Sweet Liberties set, tweeted by Martyn Joseph

The view from the main stage at Folk by the Oak 2016 during the Sweet Liberties set, tweeted by Martyn Joseph

Martyn Joseph

The first act playing next year's Folk by the Oak music festival in Hatfield has been confirmed.

The folk and acoustic festival returns to the grounds of Hatfield House on Sunday, July 16, 2017 – the day after the annual Battle Proms picnic concert at the Hertfordshire stately home.

And FBTO organisers have announced the first group playing the event’s 10th showcase next summer.

New Folk by the Oak commission Shake the Chains – featuring the talents of Findlay Napier, Hannah Martin, Greg Russell, Tim Yates and FBTO regular Nancy Kerr – will play the festival next year.

A FBTO statement said: “Following the success of the Elizabethan Session and Sweet Liberties, it seemed a natural progression for Folk by the Oak to commission Shake the Chains – an exciting new touring commission, put together by Greg Russell, that explores the role songs have played in social change, resistance and protest.

“Supported by Arts Council England, Help Musicians, and Folk Alliance, Shake the Chains features five of the UK’s most celebrated singer-songwriters, including Nancy Kerr, who has been so integral to the success of our previous projects.”

The commission will play a series of gigs in February, and each of the five gigs will feature a very special guest, including Martin Simpson, Peggy Seeger and Show of Hands’ Steve Knightley.

The musicians will then reunite on the Folk by the Oak main stage in Hatfield on Sunday, July 16, much like Sweet Liberties did this summer.

Next year’s festival will by Folk by the Oak’s 10th in Hatfield.

The view from the main stage at Folk by the Oak 2016 during the Sweet Liberties set, tweeted by Martyn JosephThe view from the main stage at Folk by the Oak 2016 during the Sweet Liberties set, tweeted by Martyn Joseph

Speaking backstage to the Welwyn Hatfield Times at this summer’s folk spectacular, Caroline Slough, one of the festival’s directors, revealed: “There’s probably going to be an international feel to the festival, as well as local.

“We like to keep the Acorn Stage definitely local and for new artists.

“I’m not going to reveal much more, but it is going to be a fantastic line-up next year.”

Caroline and Adam Slough are the brains behind both FBTO and the Battle Proms concerts.

They were looking to start a folk festival a decade ago – and Hatfield House fitted the bill perfectly.

“The setting is a beautiful, leafy parkland, which is such a stunning backdrop for our folk festival,” said Caroline.

“We have other Battle Proms venues, such as Highclere Castle and Blenheim Palace, which are also beautiful venues.

“But there’s something about Hatfield and the history that it is steeped in that inspires us and inspires everyone else.

2017 Shake the Chains gig dates

• Thursday, February 23: St George’s Hall, Bristol, with Steve Knightley

• Friday, February 24: Firth Hall, Sheffield, with Martin Simpson

• Saturday, February 25: Snape Maltings, Snape, guest TBC

• Sunday, February 26: The Guildhall, Derby, with Boff Whalley

• Monday, February 27: St Johns, Bethnal Green, with Peggy Seeger

• Sunday, July 16: Folk by the Oak at Hatfield House

“It just felt absolutely the right place to do it.”

The first FBTO took place in the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field at Hatfield House in 2008, with folk stars Seth Lakeman and Cara Dillon both on the bill.

The festival has grown in size and stature since then to include a second arena, the Acorn Stage, for emerging artists.

“We started off with about 2,000 people and it has gradually grown through word of mouth, and people started to come in their droves,” said Caroline at FBTO 2016.

Tickets for Folk by the Oak 2017 will go on sale early December.

For more on the festival, visit www.folkbytheoak.com

• For more on Shake the Chains and to book your gig tickets, visit shakethechains.com

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