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Traditional Music Day


2nd September 2017

This Traditional Music Day will be one to remember! Our guests are the highly-acclaimed singer/fiddle player Jackie Oates, legendary Cork singer and writer Jimmy Crowley, singing, fiddling and clog dancing duo Jim and Lynette Eldon, wonderful Scots fiddle player Carol Anderson, performance poet extraordinaire Racker Donnelly, The Pigeon Swing, playing superb Quebecois music, plus an exhibition of Karen Cater's artwork featuring portraits of traditional singers and musicians. Also added to the roster are a number of guests from previous years, who can't resist joining us this year! Look out for singers Peta Webb and Ken Hall, Will Noble, Peter & Barbara Snape, Julie & Gavin Atkin, to name just a few. The might Baz Parkes will be calling for the ceilidh. Events include 'Sound Sisters', 'Fire up the Fiddle', 'His'n'Hers', ' A Song, A Step and A Story', stepdancing, dulcimer, jig dolls, talks, sessions etc.

If you have booked tickets and don't think you have your ticket confirmation, please check your email spam folders. Since changing our email address earlier this year, it seems to be a bigger problem than usual. We send out email confirmations within a couple of days of receiving your booking, so you may need to delve back a bit! If you can't find anything, quickest way to get it sorted is to email us - before 1st September please!


The timetable for the day is now available. A site map is also available.


Please note that the box office for advance tickets closes at 4pm on Thursday 31st August. After that, you can only buy museum entrance tickets, which allow you to see and hear the outdoor events, but not the full programme of concerts etc featuring our special guests.

If you'd like further updates and information about our other events and projects, click here to receive our email newsletter. 





'A really special, lovely festival. Quite simply, the best time I've had for ages.' - Shirley Collins, President of EFDSS, MBE.


'Great little festival! It's a beacon of what a folk festival should be.' - Ed Caines, fiddler


'Different every year - always extremely well organised and yet with a fantastic feeling of spontaneity about it. Fabulous!' - Kerry Fletcher, stepdancer


Traditional Music Day has happened every year since 2002 on the Saturday following August Bank Holiday. It takes place at the Museum

of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket, in the centre of Suffolk.


Here's a trailer for a film about Traditional Music Day, made by Ian Trouse, giving you just a quick glimpse of one or two events that took place at the 2016 day.


If you'd like to know more about previous Traditional Music Days - click here. 


Why not join our Traditional Music Day Facebook page too - there are plenty of photos on there!



Daytime Events

Evening Concert

Ticket information

Further information

Booking Form


The timetable for the day is now available. A site map is also available.


Traditional Music Day is an event with a very special flavour; so much so that as well as the main guests, many other superb singers and musicians make it a regular date in their diary, meaning that there's always a surprise guest or two at the numerous song, music and dance events that take place across the site throughout the day.


A small but superb line-up of the best traditional musicians and singers is what we endeavour to find for you each year and this year looks like being a real 'corker' with singer and writer Jimmy Crowley from ... Cork! and the highly-acclaimed singer/fiddle player Jackie Oates, singing and clog dancing from Jim and Lynette Eldon, the wonderful Scots fiddle player Carol Anderson, performance poet extraordinaire Racker Donnelly, superb Quebecois music from The Pigeon Swing, plus an exhibition of Karen Cater's artwork featuring portraits of traditional singers and musicians.


This event is about much more than the main guests though, with talks and photograph exhibitions, an afternoon ceilidh, jig dolls, themed song events, stepdancers from all over East Anglia and beyond, and lots of opportunities to sing, dance and play, always with an emphasis on our local traditions ... and all in the wonderful setting of the Museum of East Anglian Life in the centre of Stowmarket. Further details about the events are below.


If youíve never been before, youíll find a friendly welcome and a unique atmosphere with great music and plenty of other things to do around the site, apart from the thirty or TMD events taking place during the day. There's food on site, plus a range of real ales and ciders in the bar.

The Museum of East Anglian Life is right in the centre of Stowmarket, a town with good transport links including a main line rail station. The museum's range of historic buildings provide small, intimate spaces perfect for traditional music and singing. TMD tickets give you access to the whole museum including the recently restored Abbot's Hall House. We use the medieval Tithe Barn, Tudor farmhouse and other indoor spaces for daytime events which run from 11am to 5.30pm and if the weather is fine, there are 70 acres of meadows and woodlands to spread out into!


In the evening there is just the one event, the "Traditional Night Out in the Tithe Barn" featuring all the guests and many other wonderful performers. This event is ticketed separately.


You can come for the day or the evening, or both - it's up to you whether you can bear to miss anything or not!


Click here for a printable booking form.


 Guests 2017






Jimmy Crowley

Jackie Oates

Jim & Lynette Eldon

The Pigeon Swing

Carol Anderson

Racker Donnelly

Additional guests


Jimmy Crowley

Jimmy hails from the city of Cork on Ireland's southern coast and is a singer, song collector and song writer with a deep knowledge of traditional music and a wide variety of styles.

His commitment to the rich song tradition of his native city has been unwavering over the past four decades. His recordings have popularised local Cork songs such as 'Johnny Jump Up', 'Salonika' and 'The Boys of Fairhill'. In 2016 he published a comprehensive collection of songs, interspersed with his own autobiography and the story of his own long-standing romance with Cork ballads, 'Songs from the Beautiful City: the Cork Urban Ballads.'


For more information, or to order a copy of the book, see Jimmy's website.



Jackie Oates

Jackie is a young English singer and fiddle player, a former member of the Winterset, who has also performed with the Imagined Village and Morris Offspring.

She is now a renowned performer in her own right, a winner of both the BBC Folk Awards Horizon award and the best traditional track.

Jackie has a gentle informal delivery totally at home in intimate acoustic settings.

For more information, see Jackie's facebook page






Jim & Lynette Eldon

Jim Eldon sings and plays the fiddle and Lynette Eldon is a champion clog dancer.

They have learned much of their eclectic repertoire locally in East Yorkshire and have an engaging and informal stage presence.

They have been stalwart supporters of Traditional Music Day since its inception and we are pleased to have them as featured guests again this year.

More details on Jim's website / blog.





The Pigeon Swing

The Pigeon Swing play lively and distinctive traditional music from Quebec in Canada. They feature melodeon, harmonica, fiddle, banjo and bass guitar, with members drawn from the most influential of English dance bands over the past four decades: Dan Quinn (Flowers & Frolics, Gas Mark V, The Watch); Paul Burgess (Old Swan Band, Johnny Coppin Band); Martin Brinsford (Old Swan Band, Brass Monkey); Tim Normanton (Grand Union, Housewives' Choice) and Ian Kearey (Oyster Band, Shirley Collins Band).

See the band's website: Pigeon Swing


Carol Anderson

Carol is a highly regarded fiddle player from Aberdeen, in north eastern Scotland, now based in London.

She has a distinctive style combining East Coast and West Coast influences and is well-known for her stunning interpretations of slow airs and pipe tunes.

We're pleased to welcome her to Traditional Music Day for the first time!





Racker Donnelly

'Racker' is an Irish folkpoet and entertainer and a resident performer at the famed Musical Traditions Club in London.

His racks and songs, mostly comic, are about 'sheep, smoking, tennis, oysters, midsummer, politics, football, Irish proverbs, English history, folktales and whatever you're having yourself'.

Time spent in Racker's company is unpredictable, but always fun and often thought-provoking too.

More information on Racker's website



 Additional guests
John Row


Storyteller John is a much-loved figure in Suffolk, where he has lived for more than fifty years. He's originally an "Essex boy" and has told stories in even more distant parts of the world including Malaysia and Texas!


He has run the storytelling tent in the Kidz Field at Glastonbury Festival for many years and is a permanent feature of Cambridge Folk Festival.


We're very pleased to welcome him back once again to Traditional Music Day.


Click here to visit John's website.









Karen Cater

East Anglian artist and author Karen is well known for images based on folklore and mythology, often seen as greeting cards and t-shirts.

This one-woman exhibition offers the chance to meet the artist and share her fascination with pub music sessions, folk singers and traditional customs and dance. As a singer, banjo player and percussionist herself, Karen's lino-cuts, watercolours and pencil or ink drawings reveal a very personal involvement with her models' performances, and many of them will be in session and concerts at Traditional Music Day.

Framed or mounted prints, cards, books and calendars will be available to buy.

A wide selection is also available online: Hedingham Fair


Baz Parkes

Baz is a dance caller and musician who will be explaining the dances at the ceilidh and making sure you all have a terrific time.

He is known for both his excellent choice of dances and his wry West Midlands wit.

He has called with nationally known and much loved band The Ironmasters (formerly known as All Blacked Up) for many years and is just as popular with festival audiences as with village hall 'do's.








 Daytime Events


The timetable for the day is now available.


A site map is also available.


The programme includes:


Concert Spots

Enjoy extended sets from Jackie Oates, Jimmy Crowley, Jim & Lynette Eldon and Racker Donnelly & Carol Anderson in the intimate atmosphere of the centuries-old Edgar's Farmhouse.


Song spots

  • Throughout the day a variety of song spots showcase our main guests, local singers and other guests, and there are opportunities to join in or offer your own song too.

  • The museumís Story Hut provides a relaxed setting for young and old to enjoy some stories told through song. Traditional folk songs and ballads very often tell a story such as 'The Ballad of the Red Barn' which tells the (true) story of the murder of Maria Marten, from Polstead in south Suffolk. Some superb singers and storytellers will give short performances of one song or story lasting 5 minutes or so, on the hour and half-hour  - there will be a list available so you can check if the content is child-friendly or not!

Big Music Session

A jam session of traditional music rolls along in the Barn throughout the day, hosted by a changing roster of guest musicians from the cream of traditional musicians.


Talks and Exhibitions

  • Songs from the Beautiful City - Cork Urban Ballads - presented by singer, collector and author Jimmy Crowley.

  • Images of Traditional Musicians, Dancers and Customs - an exhibition of original artworks and a chance to meet the artist Karen Cater.


A great gathering of steppers from East Anglia and beyond. Informal events throughout the day and a Stepdance Special in the Barn in the late afternoon, where the prizes from this year's Stepdance Day will be awarded.


Jig Dolls

Have a go at using a dancing doll from our Big Jig set - with live music. Or bring your own jig doll along!


Play an instrument

Ever fancied having a go at a squeezebox (melodeon or concertina), mouthorgan or spoons? Now's your chance.



An afternoon barn dance for everybody - you won't be able to resist dancing to the great music provided by The Pigeon Swing. If you've never had a go before, you'll find it's great fun, very sociable and quite exhilarating! Caller Baz Parkes is there to help you keep you on the right track and provide a few wisecracks along the way.


Family entertainment

Keep an eye out for roving storyteller John Row, who will perform wherever he finds an audience!

Children can collect stickers when they take part in any of the activities, just like Finn and Rowan (right).


Have a look at Ö

While you're here, do try and squeeze in a look at some of the Museum of East Anglian Life's historic buildings and exhibits. There are animals and nature trails around the site, a walled garden, Water Mill, Gypsy wagons and trailers, steam engines, agricultural bygones, a print workshop, smithy and wheelwright. Of particular interest to those keen on folk music are some of the films on show in the Boby Building and the George Ewart Evans oral history room in the handsome setting of the early 18th century Abbot's Hall House.


Enjoy something tasty ...

... mini beer festival in the Barn, with help from CAMRA, featuring the best of local brews, plus ciders, soft drinks etc

... delicious food from the Osier Cafe at the Museum, plus hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, ice-creams etc.

... for those camping overnight, the Osier Cafe also offers breakfast from 9am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday.


and in the evening ..


 Traditional Night Out in the Tithe Barn


A good-time evening:  this concert never disappoints with a fast-moving variety of songs, music and dance, including spots from all the guests.


A quite magical evening in the atmospheric setting of the museumís wonderful medieval Tithe Barn.


You never know quite what will happen on one of these evenings, as there are always some surprise 'turns' - often of very well known performers!




NB: separate ticket required for this very popular event. 


For people attending the evening concert, the Museum's Osier Cafe will be offering a two-course, hot meal at 6.30pm. This costs £10.00 per head and must be pre-booked. The bar is open at this time too. There is indoor seating, or if it's fine, plenty of space to spread outside at picnic tables in the pretty gardens. Meals must be ordered and paid for before Friday 25th August.  


It can get cold in the Barn during the evening, so you are welcome to bring a blanket with you.


 Ticket information 

Please note:

  • For ticket prices, see the booking form (available 16th May). Prices for a TMD day season ticket start at £22.50

  • Although the site is open to museum patrons, the main programme of TMD events is open only to TMD ticket holders.

  • If you want to see the guests you will need to buy a TMD day season ticket in advance from EATMT.

  • Box office closes at 4pm on Thursday 31st August 2017.

  • TMD tickets are not available on the day unless pre-ordered & paid for in advance (see below for on-the-day alternatives).

  • Tickets give admission to all daytime events (space allowing) and free on-site parking for those coming by car.

  • Confirmation forms are emailed (or posted) out and need to be exchanged for wristbands on arrival.

  • Day tickets do not admit to the "Traditional Night Out in the Tithe Barn": evening tickets are sold separately.

Many outdoor events are accessible by buying a museum entrance ticket on the day, although this does not allow entrance to the concerts, talks and other special events, as these are what TMD ticket-holders are paying for.


Parking: A map showing the vehicle entrance for advance ticket holders is available here. Please note this is for TRADITIONAL MUSIC DAY TICKET-HOLDERS only.

The postcode you need for sat-navs is IP14 1BQ, not the museum code, which will take you up a cul-de-sac in the wrong place entirely!


There is no onsite parking for people buying ordinary museum entrance tickets on the day, or for Museum Season Ticket holders: there are several public car parks

within a few minutes walk and disabled parking spaces in the Asda car park very close to the pedestrian entrance to the museum.


Camping: On-site camping is available to TMD day ticket holders only. Facilities are basic (no showers or electric hook-up). Breakfast is available on-site at the

Osier Cafe. See below for further camping and accommodation options in the area.


Click here for a printable booking form.


If you have booked tickets and don't think you have your ticket confirmation, please check your email spam folders. Since changing our email address earlier this year, it seems to be a bigger problem than usual. We send out email confirmations within a couple of days of receiving your booking, so you may need to delve back a bit! If you can't find anything, quickest way to get it sorted is to email us - before 1st September please!


The timetable is now available here.



 Further information


For a list of accommodation in the area, click here or contact Mid Suffolk Tourist Information Centre on 01449 676800.


Printed programmes are available on the day or by post when you book your tickets.


Click here for a site map or here for a town map and directions.


For details of previous Traditional Music Days - click here. 


Click here for a short compilation video of the 2011 Traditional Music Day made by Uggy Brown.


Click here for a short trailer for a longer film about the 2016 Traditional Music Day made by Ian Trouse.


Why not have a look at our Traditional Music Day Facebook page - lots of photos etc. Like us, share the page, keep up-to-date with developments and let your friends know about this fantastic event!



Photo credits:  Carol Anderson, Racker Donnelly - Kevin McDonnell; Jim & Lynette Eldon - John Halliday; Jimmy Crowley, Jackie Oates, Pigeon Swing - supplied

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