We are delighted to have two outstanding local folk artists as our festival patrons; Jackie Oates has been with us since 2013, and she was joined in 2016 by John Spiers, of Bellowhead and Spiers and Boden.
Jackie is a singer and fiddle player hailing from Staffordshire and now living in Oxford. Her unique treatment of English ballads and songs, and pure, haunting singing style has attracted increasing attention. Since appearing as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2003, she has performed extensively at festivals and folk clubs across the country, in a solo capacity and with a number of bands. Her second album 'The Violet Hour' was one of the Top 10 on the Mojo folk album of the year chart in 2008, followed by 'Hyperboreans' reaching number five in the chart the following year. Also in 2009 Jackie won two BBC Folk Awards - The Horizon Award for best new comer, and the Best Traditional Track Award. She is currently singing with her own band, and touring as a member of The Imagined Village alongside Eliza Carthy. When not busy with all this Jackie dances with Summertown Morris and knits a lot!
John Spiers, known better in folk circles as Squeezy, has made a name for himself as one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation. Well known for his long-standing duo partnership with Jon Boden in the formidable Spiers & Boden as well as his contribution to the massively popular Bellowhead, John has also played with Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers and a number of local folk-dance bands.
John was born in Birmingham, but moved to Abingdon in Oxfordshire at an early age where his association with the traditional folk music and dance of the region began. His road to success all started when he met Jon Boden at a folk session in the Fir Tree pub on Iffley Road in the late 90s; by 1999 they started performing together as Spiers & Boden and were quickly signed to Fellside records. 2004 saw the duo join 9 other friends to create the explosive ‘Bellowhead’ who have cooked up a storm on festival stages UK wide ever since. Bellowhead went on to win several BBC Radio 2 folk awards for Best Live Act and Best Group, and their album 'Revival' entered the UK album charts at number 12, before they sadly parted ways in 2016.