If you love country and Americana, then at Maverick you’ll feel like your music has come home. These days we are blessed with a number of great festivals but there is something particularly special about the sense of community and kinship at the Maverick Festival. The music is pretty special too. Since the first event back in 2008, Maverick has been celebrating the very best of country, folk and Americana, laying claim to be the UK’s original and best festival of Americana and with organiser Paul Spencer’s credentials as a founder member of the Americana Music Association UK, who’s to disagree? The 2023 edition, with another excellent line-up, is almost upon us and we heartily recommend a weekend in the countryside from 30th June to 2nd July.
There’s something magical about the setting in rural Suffolk, far from anywhere and yet only a couple of hours from London. The old Victorian buildings of Easton Farm Park have a particular charm and The Barn Stage, open at one side, allowing the sun and festival atmosphere to filter in, is one of the best small venues you’ll experience. All the stages allow you to get up close to your favourite artists and The Moonshine Stage is especially intimate and atmospheric. The whole thing is meticulously organised and the feel is certain and safe, making this a genuinely family-friendly festival if the children are tagging along. As people mill amongst the food kiosks and head between stages, there a real sense of warmth and camaraderie that is difficult to create or imitate. Some of the best moments will be those intimate exchanges with performing artists at the bar, as they’re enjoying the festival atmosphere just like their audiences. One of my favourite Maverick memories was the late-night busking and singalongs by the bar after the Saturday headliner, Jerry Joseph, in 2021. Led by the likes of The Sam Chase Trio and The Folly Brothers, it was an impromptu, unexpected and uplifting coming together, with folks singing along to rousing renditions of ‘Country Roads’, ‘Jolene’ and Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ amongst other favourites.
Various food vendors will keep your energy up; there’s something for everyone, including Greek, Mexican, Italian and Nepalese. At the outdoor Saloon Bar, there’s a range of ales and locally-produced cider and it’s a busy area for chat and people-watching. By Sunday morning, a full English breakfast from the cafe is very welcome indeed.
From the evening entertainment on Friday night to the chilled, relaxed vibe on Sunday, over fifty artists from both sides of the Atlantic will perform. This year, we’ll see country-star Laura Cantrell, whose pure, clear voice has been captivating audiences for the last twenty years. The rugged Tom Russell, whose 2019 album ‘October in the Railroad Earth’ was one of the finest records that year, will also perform. Rich Hall is due to appear again and fans can expect great amusement from the talented comedian-come-singer. Other artists set to play include the hugely-gifted fiddle player Chris Murphy, timeless country star Ags Connolly and Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers. Americana fans will be particularly delighted to see Liverpool’s Robert Vincent on the bill. Vincent’s acclaimed, award-winning studio albums have lit up the scene in recent years and he’s regularly performed outstanding festival sets at the likes of Black Deer and The Ramblin’ Roots Revue. He’s come a long way since his Maverick debut in 2016. His show promises to be one of Maverick’s highlights this year. Another returning artist is Scottish-Canadian singer-songwriter Evangeline Gentle, who played last year and is bringing along a 5-piece band this time around. Her emotive lyrics and lovely folk-pop melodies captivated the audience in 2022 and no doubt will do again. Many of the artists at Maverick have featured in our pages over the years – check out a small selection below.
Paul Spencer, the Festival Director, told AUK about his aims and plans for Maverick 2023: “As we approach our sixteenth year, and with other Americana events jostling for attention, our challenge is to maintain our reputation as taste-makers and keep stretching the boundaries of the genre. We are proud to have championed the likes of Larkin Poe, Yola, Ward Thomas and even for our sins, Ed Sheeran and this year we hope to unveil more more worthy contenders. Look out for the queen of Oklahoma, Carter Sampson, The Hello Darlins from Canada, New Mexicana outfit The Hoth Brothers, and Nashville duo Lone Hollow. Our musical tribute this year is to the wonderful Miss Loretta Lynn and I am pleased to say that an amazing seventeen of our artists will be contributing! We also like to keep it fresh, so with the help of our partners in Lafayette, Louisiana for the first time we will be bringing a programme of Cajun music, dance and food to the festival. As they say in Cajun country, Laissez les bontemps rouler!”
For a taste of what to expect from Maverick, check out our reviews of the festivals in 2021 and 2022. In 2022, I wrote: “Maverick Festival was, once again, joyful and communal. It was a memorable experience for an extended family of music-lovers. Here, in the Suffolk sunshine, there was love and laughter, dynamic songs and anthems, moments of quieter introspection and bonds forged from fine music. When tickets go on sale for next year, don’t hesitate.” So, if you haven’t sampled the delights of Maverick before, follow my advice and don’t hesitate.
More information and tickets can be found here.
2023 Maverick artists on AUK: