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Fabulous 10th Anniversary Line-Up For One Of UK’s Best Small Festivals

 Seasick Steve photo – Copyright: Simon Redley



Madness, Seasick Steve, Skunk Anansie, The Fall, The Alarm, Vintage Trouble, current Radio 1 and UK music press darlings Slaves, Sugar Hill Gang, The Selecter, Cast, Glasvegas, Foy Vance, Don Letts and New Model Army are among the uber eclectic and impressive bill for this year’s Bearded Theory Spring Gathering.

Once again punching above its weight for a festival of its size, this year’s bookings adequately celebrate the Derbyshire event’s 10th anniversary in fine style – held in the grounds of Catton Hall between Thursday 24th and Sunday 28th May on six stages.

Following on from the likes of John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd and The Levellers at last year’s sold out festival, the multi award-winning spring bash was on the verge of selling out at the beginning of April – with less than 500 tickets left.

Legendary hip-hop act Sugar Hill Gang & Furious Five

Seminal British rock act Skunk Anansie, and punk duo Slaves headline the main Pallet stage on the Friday, Veteran bluesman and festival favourite Seasick Steve will headline on the Saturday night, and Sunday night will reverberate with the sounds of classic hits including ‘Our House’, ‘Baggy Trousers’ and ‘One Step Beyond’, as North London’s finest nutty boys Madness close the festival in style.

Platinum selling Scottish indie outfit Glasvegas grace the Pallet Stage on Sunday, bringing their animated and renowned live show to the fields of Catton Hall. Their chart successes stem back to 2008 with their debut album going into the UK charts at number 2.   

The beautiful solid oak Woodland stage have bagged a coup in securing post-punk legends The Fall to perform on Saturday night. Led by notorious king-pin front man Mark E. Smith, The Fall’s back catalogue is legendary with nine Top 40 albums and a chart topping single in Totales`s Turns. One of the late John Peel’s favourite Bands.  

BBC Folk Award winners Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman replace the previously announced Nova Twins who had to cancel due to touring commitments elsewhere. Also performing on the Pallet (main) Stage are alt rock/punk band The Alarm, Bearded Theory legends New Model Army, Ska survivors The Selecter, seminal hip-hop act Sugar Hill Gang & Furious Five, Californian Rockers Vintage Trouble, Punk stalwarts Goldblade, Alabama 3, Ferocious Dog, Flight Brigade, Anti-Pasti, The Mocking Jays, Jaya the Cat, and many more.


Wilko Johnson and his band smash the main stage at Bearded Theory 2016. Photo copyright: Simon Redley


As a massive thank you to loyal festivalgoers, Thursday’s “bonus” line-up will feature virtually the entire 2008 Saturday Main Stage bill! Bearded favourites Dreadzone (LIVE), 3 Daft Monkeys, Tarantism, True Deceivers, Hobo Jones & The Junkyards Dogs and more to kick off the 10th anniversary year.

Fronted by the legendary Skin, Skunk Anansie will be the first female fronted band to headline Bearded Theory. Speaking ahead of their appearance the band said “Stoked to be headlining Friday at Bearded Theory. This festival is crazy good and we are looking forward to smashing it”.  Radio 1 favourites Slaves have just secured their second top 10 album with “Take Control” going to number 6 in October last year. Their debut album ‘Are You Satisfied’ charted at Number 8 and the festival has tried to book them for a few years and this time they bagged ’em.



Since rising to prominence as a solo artist a decade ago, Seasick Steve has frequently appeared in the album charts, with his current album “Keepin’ the Horse Between Me and the Ground” charting at #8. Steve’s albums have featured many guest appearances including Jack White (White Stripes) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). Following on from his amazing Wembley Arena performance, he will hit the main stage at Bearded Theory and take the blues to Derbyshire.

Madness are one of the UK’s best loved bands, achieving more than twenty chart hit singles, many of them instantly recognisable classics. Since performing at both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert and London Olympic Games closing ceremony in 2012, Madness have ascended into true ’national treasure’ status and Bearded Theory are delighted to be welcoming them to Catton Hall, hot off the back of a major arena tour this winter.

Friday night on the Woodland Stage will be headlined by multi-million selling Britpop survivors, Cast. Northern Irish singer songwriter Foy Vance tops the bill on Saturday, preceded by Mark E Smith fronted The Fall. Sunday will be closed by Sheffield’s finest, Reverend & The Makers. Jon from Reverend & the Makers says, “If festivals were judged on vibe alone then Bearded Theory is the best in the world. We can’t wait to close the 10th anniversary”. Joining these headliners on the Woodland are heavy rockers Tess Of The Circle, dub punk band Smiley & The Underclass, folk act Roving Crows, Bhangra rockers Kissmet, Ska punkers Defekters, modern folk band MAIA, cow punk legends Pronghorn (celebrating their 25th year anniversary).

Reverend & The Makers @ Bearded Theory 2016. Photo copyright: Simon Redley

Bearded Theory Festival started in the field behind a pub in 2008, and has been held at Catton Hall, an independently owned, 250-acre estate near Burton-on-Trent, Lichfield and Derby, for the last three years. It attracts around 10,000 people each of the four days and is run by volunteers, and there is a wonderful and distinct lack of advertising and corporate presence on the site or connected to the event.

Food and drink prices are not the usual festival p*** take prices, and there’s even a special Bearded Theory ale brewed for the event by Thornbridge Brewery. Last year it ran dry – more than 1,000 pints of the stuff were pulled in the backstage bar alone. 

The whole event has a really chilled vibe. So much so, there is always an OFSTED approved school held on the Friday on site, to allow parents to rock up for the entire four days and bring the kids without them missing school. More than 200 bands, artists and acts over the four days on the “Pallet,” main stage, “The Woodland” second outdoor stage, “Magical Sounds” and “Maui Waui” marquees, plus “The Something Else Tea Tent” and the “Convoy Cabaret” marquee, plus a couple more stages.

Final day at the main stage, there is a tradition; the World Record attempt at the most false beards in one place! Thousands of ‘em! A group of bearded Minions chosen as the very best effort of the lot last year. The festival has won several awards, including: AIM Music Awards Winner – Best UK Independent Festival,UK Festival Awards Winner – Best Small Festival, Best Promoter, Best Family Festival.

Bearded Theory’s Official and Exclusive Coach Travel Partner, National Express, will be running dedicated coaches to an on-site coach park from 16 locations around the UK. Ticket and Travel packages are available, along with travel tickets only directly from

Tickets are priced at £105 (Adults), £55 (Under 16’s), £25 (Under 12’s). Under 6`s are free (ticket is still required). £35 (Campervans) £12.50 (Parking). Booking fees apply. Tickets are on sale via, or by calling the box office on: 0871 220 0260.




By Simon Redley




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