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Chorley Folk Festival

July Wakes .

Charnock Richard .


23-25th July 1976.

15-17th July 1977.

Ticket courtesy Nigel Cross

Fairport Convention at the July Wakes Festival 1977 © Chris Hewitt Ozit Records


Poster courtesy Chris Hewitt Ozit Records

Heavily retouched by GW Shark


I attended both the 1976 and 1977 editions of this short-lived folk festival with Jo White (where are you now?)

Friday 23rd July
Mike Harding; 5 HAND REEL (can’t remember who else as we didn’t get there till 8pm)

Saturday 24th

Poynton Lady Jemmers (Morris dancing troupe); Almanac; Dave Burland; Krysia Kocjan; Dave Cousins; Bernard Wrigley; Magna Carta; Bill Barclay; Ross McFarlane; 5 Hand Reel; Alan Hull; Kate & Anna MacGarrigle; Hedgehog Pie; John Prine; Alan Stivell; Jack the Lad

Sunday 25th

Pete Farrow; New Celeste; Dransfield; Bob Pegg; Pete Atkin; Bert Jansch (with Rod Clements & Pick Withers); Richard Digance; The Chieftains; John Martyn & Danny Thompson

Five Hand Reel July Wakes Festival 1977 © Chris Hewitt Ozit Records

5 Hand Reel closed down proceedings on the Friday night and were superb.

The MacGarrigle Sisters were a late addition to the bill and played late afternoon Saturday – they had just released their debut LP and again were magnificent.

John Prine played either before or after them – I had heard a few things by him but he was another gem on this great Festival bill – at the end Steve Goodman got up and they played ‘City of New Orleans’ together.

I remember lots of people getting up and dancing to Jack the Lad and the Chieftains on the Sunday and John Martyn and Danny Thompson closed proceedings on the Sunday night with a magical set – lots of his fabulous improvising echo-plex guitar work. But he ruined the weekend by scribbling an autograph in my girlfriend’s programme that said ‘f*** off John Martyn’!

Yorkshire singer Dave Burland was on early on Saturday and also I think Dave Cousins solo – and I think it was just Bob Pegg rather than Mr Fox (it wasn’t the great line up from 71 with Carolanne Pegg and the rhythm section had gone on to Five Hand Reel by 1976).

What is interesting is that they held another one almost on the same dates (Wakes fortnight was traditionally when Preston factory workers went on holiday)in 1977 – they tried to broaden the appeal by putting Gallagher & Lyle (I think) and Barbara Dickinson on as Saturday night headliners.

Fairport Convention played a real fun set on the Saturday afternoon (Swarbrick/Pegg/Nicol & Rowlands) – Gay & Terry Woods were on the Friday – Hedgehog Pie (acoustic version now including Dave Burland) played early Saturday. Also on Saturday I think - Otway & Barrett!

It rained on the Sunday but the Michael Chapman band were real troopers – Michael was backed up by Keef Hartley (local lad) on drums and Rod Clements on bass – a steamin set.

Later on it stopped raining but was cold – Leo Kottke and then Country Joe MacDonald closed the Fest and both were great in their own way – Kottke was then at the height of his career – a master guitarist – MacDonald rallied the crowd, playing his trombone and doing old favourites like the Fish cheer, ‘’Save the Whale’ and ‘the man from Athabaska’.

Friday 15th July

Gay & Terry Woods; 5 Hand Reel (again didn’t get there till late)

Saturday 16th

Mary Asquith; Noel Murphy; Hedgehog Pie; Almanac; Bothy Band; Tim Rose; Ross McFarlane; Fairport Convention; Otway & Barrett; Barbara Dickson; Gallagher & Lyle

Sunday 17th

Tannahill Weavers; Paul King Band; Keith Christmas; Michael Chapman; June Tabor; Alan Hull’s Radiator; Rab Noakes; Leo Kottke; Country Joe MacDonald

Highlights of 1976 were 5 Hand Reel on the Friday with the whole site dancing or so it seemed! The MacGarrigles were totally enchanting – their debut LP had just come out and they must have played most of it including ‘the swimming song’ and ‘Talk to me of Mendocino’; John Prine was excellent and at the end of the set he asked Steve Goodman to get up and they sang ‘City of New Orleans’ which was fabulous. On Sunday Bert Jansch was pretty good I seem to remember but the real highlight was the closing set from John Martyn and Danny Thompson – me and my girlfriend were already huge fans and even though JM scribbled ‘fuck off’ in my girlfriend’s programme when he signed it, it was a terrific way to end any festival with all those echo-plex notes reverberating around the arena.


Gay & Terry played beautifully on the Friday – on Saturday the organisers obviously hoped to attract more people by billing MOR giants Gallagher & Lyle and Barbara Dickson to play but it didn’t work out; this was no chicken and chips in the basket kind of audience! Fairport in their Bonny Bunch of Roses incarnation played a splendid and highly entertaining set at the end of the afternoon; ditto John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett with their folk punk; Sunday the weather was appalling it rained till about 8 in the evening – however Sunday had some of the best music of both Wakes festivals – Michael Chapman with Rod Clements on bass and local boy Keef Hartley on drums turned out some tough fiery rock’n’roll including a fine version of Booker T’s ‘Soul Limbo’; but it was the two yanks who stole the show – it was cold but Leo Kottke of ‘6 & 12 String Guitar’ and ‘Mudlark’ fame played a stunning set that kept people fascinated even in the freezing cold – and Country Joe was the perfect closer for 77 – Joe knows how to work a crowd (remember him at Woodstock?) and he had us up on our feet with ‘The Fish’ cheer, ‘Fixing To Die Rag’, the great ‘Man from Athabaska’, played his trombone and did the rousing ‘Save the Whale’. Nothing like an old Berkeley radical to shake things up


Nigel Cross

Barbara Dickson July Wakes Festival 1977 © Chris Hewitt Ozit Records



Not a free festival but a folk festival. Held at sight of what is now Camelot them park. Bands included: Oldham Tinkers, Mike Harding, Hedgehog Pie, 5 Hand Reel, Alan Stivell, Jack the Lad, Mr Fox, Alan Hull, Kate and Anna Mcgarrigle,Chieftans, John Martyn, Bert Jansch, Compares Bill Barclay and The Guy who did Pussy Cat Willum. Who got all larry when people asked him to sing it. John Martyn best performance of festival .  

Clare Broderick

There was a festival in 1977 as well, which I was lucky enough to attend. I best remember Fairport Convention with Swarb playing half the concert in his underpants, while Simon Nicol played without his t-shirt. Both Swarb's jeans and Nicol's t-shirt were given as a reward to the first person bathing in a little pond below the stage. My mate have some pictures of this, I'll try to get hold of them and mail them to you.
Other artists were Mandy Morton and Spriguns (who was rather popular in the bar after the main stage closing time), Gordon Giltrap (who had to play 'Belzebubs retreat' 4-5 times on audience request), 5 Hand Reel, Martin Carty (I think) and loads of other artists that I cannot remember right now. I do however remember that Richard & Linda Thompson was cancelled.
I will do some more thinking and talk to my mates, perhaps we can think of some more.
Yours sincerely
Dag Jakobsen

I played the festival with my band 'Tom Tiddlers Ground'.
Myself - Brian Preston - Hugh O'Donnell & Chris Parkinson.
We were on the main outdoor stage when a helecoptor hovered
then landed, scattering the audience and out got John Prine and
Steve Goodman - very much the worse for ware.
It was a great weekend, weather hot, beer cold, lots to smoke.
We were young, girls were pretty and the music great.
The start of my professional career as a folk musician that has
lasted - to date - over 40 years.
Very happy memories.

Lots of Luv,
Brian Preston

1977 site plan courtesy Steve Austin

Pretty sure Tom Yeats opened the festival and thanked the early arrivals for ‘being the ‘true fans’.A group of us came up from Stockport, particularly to see Leo Kottke. We were all fans since hearing his albums Six and twelve string guitar and Mudlark.Other highlights were Country Joe McDonald and Gallagher Lyle.I thought it was agreat little festival despite the conditions on the last day.Made it to Woodstock in 94 for my own personal pilgrimage.Best wishes Ken Manuel. Edgeley Stockport.

Hi whoever, Chorley Wakes… I thought I was the only one who remembered it! The north’s answer to Cambridge it was. I’ve got the programme and would love to write something about the festival which as I recall was cancelled the second or third year after the newly reformed Lindisfarne pulled out as headliners so scaring away the financial backers. Let me know if any of this is interesting.
Simon Jones (fRoots)   

I read the list of artists at Chorley July Wakes Festival 1976 - I remember being there and recall most of the acts you mention. In addition, I think a very young Martin Simpson performed there (I remember buying his first album The Golden Vanity soon afterwards). Also I vaguely recall Rab Noakes doing a set.        

Regards,   Dave Walker

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