British folk royalty front and centre at ​Folk By The Sea festival

Music fans heading to Kiama in September will find mad kelpies, dead magpies, gypsy jazz and some of Australia and Britain’s finest folk acts as the seaside town prepares for its annual celebration of folk music.

Kiama’s “folk fortnight” organised by the Illawarra Folk Club starts on Friday, September 14 when British folk singer Richard Grainger plays at the Joyce Wheatley Centre in Hindmarsh Park.

His many acclaimed works include a folk-opera, Eye of the Wind, about 18th century navigator Captain James Cook.

Grainger’s concert doubles as a launch for the annual Folk By The Sea festival, which will be held at The Pavilion Kiama on September 21-23.

With 45 acts and 100 performances over three days, this year’s Folk By The Sea line-up includes Tasmanian “convict-inspired” punk-folk band The Dead Maggies, NSW Celtic band Mad Kelpie Playdate and Melbourne gypsy jazz quartet The Royal High Jinx.

Festival-goers looking for more traditional folk acts will be treated to some of Britain’s finest folk artists, including British folk royalty Ken Nicol and Alan Reid.

Nicol spent 15 years with acclaimed British folk band Albion from 1997 to 2002, and then eight years playing and touring the world with the legendary Steeleye Span. He will be collaborating with Melbourne-based Scottish singer Fiona Ross at Folk By The Sea with three performances throughout the festival, as well as doing a solo show.

Alan Reid and Dutchman Rob van Sante were long-time collaborators in Scotland’s Battlefield Band, and will team up at the festival for performances on Friday and Saturday night.

Six-times Golden Guitar winner Luke O’Shea is currently touring Australia promoting his latest album, Caught Up In The Dreaming, and is also one of the festival’s headline acts with shows on both Friday and Saturday night.

Festival coordinator Rod Cork said this year’s festival line-up was right up there with the best in the five years that Folk By The Sea has been staged.

“We’re really excited by this year’s line-up,” Cork said.

“We try very hard to have acts that appeal to a wide range of musical tastes, while staying true to the festival’s folk music roots.

”Having a performer of Richard Grainger’s stature playing in Kiama a week before the festival is a great way to whet people’s appetites for the main event.”

The 2018 Folk By The Sea festival will again be based at the Kiama Showground, with additional venues nearby at the Anglican Church and the Uniting Church.

The event is a combination of ticket only entry (Friday and Saturday) featuring the artists from overseas and all around Australia and a free day of local folk artists on the Sunday in the The Pavilion.

On Sunday evening the festival will wrap up at Kiama Bowling Club, with six acts between 5-10pm, culminating in the popular Kiama band The Water Runners at 9pm.

Early Bird two-day tickets are on sale now for $60 on the festival website or by calling 1300 887034.

Tickets for the Richard Grainger concert on September 14 are available on the Illawarra Folk Club website or by calling 1300 887034.

The festival is presented by the Illawarra Folk Club, with support from Kiama Municipal Council, Destination Kiama and Kiama Bowling Club.