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The Edale Bluegrass Festival

| Edale guest bands list | Organiser's Press Release |

Bluegrass acts which appeared at the Cambrige Folk Festival inspired several people in the more northerly parts of England to have their own festival. And so it was that in 1976 Steve Read, helped by Bob Deihl and a few others, inaugurated this very important North West event - the Edale Bluegrass Festival.

The festival started off as a very small affair held over the New Year weekend 1975/1976 in the picturesque village of Edale, in the Peak District of Derbyshire. In 1977 it moved to the weekend after the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May - a date it has retained ever since. Based around the 'Rambler' pub, concerts and contests were held in the Village Hall, with camping in the nearby hamlet of Barber Booth. There weren’t the number of bands then as there are now, but there were enough to make decent concerts.

In 1981 'Edale' began to book American bands and artists and rapidly outgrew the facilities, so in 1987 Steve moved the festival to a new location a few miles down the Edale valley, at Nether Ollerbrook Farm - a major change! The concerts were compered by Bev Williams - a significant point, as you will see later ...

The festival continued to grow, attracting ever larger crowds. After running it very successfully for 12 years the work became too much for Steve Read, so in 1989, after 2 years at Nether Ollerbrook Farm, he approached Tom travis, who agreed to take it over. By now major USA bands such as Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, The Lonesome River Band, Del McCoury and the Johnson Mountain Boys were being booked.

In January 1997 Tom decided to cancel 'Edale' for one year in order to re-organise the festival and put it on a firmer financial basis. That re-organisation was completed in 1997 and The New "Edale Weekend" Bluegrass Festival opened June 1998 in Nottingham, as a commercial venture. But the traditional Edale format was retained - it was a “real” Bluegrass festival.

But for reasons explained in his press release (below), Tom concluded that enough was enough and decided it was time to let it go.

In December 1998 Tom was approached by Bev Williams (the original 'MC') who said “I’m not going to let Edale die!” And so  Bev took it over, running a continuation festival near Rochdale in 1999 (qv).
Bev's comments after the event

Read a festival report... 1980 | 19981999 |

Essential content of  Tom' Press Release, 17/12/96, received at the last moment after the N/L was set up:

No Edale 1997!!
"Fundamental changes and improvements are to be made to the Edale Festival, the UK's premier bluegrass event - changing times demand new methods. I explained my thinking to former organiser Steve Read, who also came to the conclusion that if the festival is to develop, for the benefit of UK bluegrass Music and festival followers, then rigorous changes will have to be made. Please give me your support and patience during the task of restructuring, while I suspend the event for one year. I realise the gravity of there not being an Edale in 1997 but if we are going to be able to provide the facilities expected by today's festival followers, time is needed to explore all possible avenues. My aim in making these changes is to enhance Edale's existing reputation for Bluegrass excellence by placing it on a more professional footing. I see this as a positive move to benefit pickers, audiences and the future of UK Bluegrass music. More information will be made available as plans develop. I realise that Edale is 'everybody's' festival and welcome improvement suggestions from anyone."

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Edale guest American bands

1981: Tony Trishka and Skyline 1983: Bob Paisley and Southern Grass 1984: Dan Crary
1985: Hendrix, Smith and Bentley 1986: Laurie Lewis and Grant Street 1987: Johnson Mountain Boys
1988: Doyle Lawson 1989: Hot Rize 1990: Nashville Bluegrass Band
1991: Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys 1992: Alison Kraus and
Union Station
1993: Del McCoury
1994: Johnson Mountain Boys 1995: Lonesome River Band 1996: Kathy Chiavola and band with guest Tony Furtado
1997 - no festival
Moving to Nottingham
1998 Claire Lynch and the Front Porch String Band  1999: British bands only (original Edale format)

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Updated 1st Jan 2001

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