New festival – Black Deer – Kent, June 2018 ‘A celebration of Americana & Country’

Categories: Festivals | News

After the blistering first announcement for the UK’s newest favourite Americana & Country festival, Black Deer Festival are proud to reveal yet another wave of stunning acts. Joining Iron & Wine, Passenger, Ward Thomas and double Grammy and AMA UK award winner Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit in a UK festival exclusive, we can announce the additions of Kiefer Sutherland, Ashley Campbell, Sam Palladio, The Webb Sisters and Bob Harris’ Emerging Artist winners Wandering Hearts to the phenomenal line-up.

Set over three days in the stunning natural outdoor location of Eridge Park, Britain’s oldest deer park located on the Kent/East Sussex border near Tunbridge Wells and just a mere 50 minutes outside of London, the Black Deer Festival is set to bring Americana and Country music and the way of life to the UK. Authentic good times coupled with a family friendly vibe aim to make this new festival one not to be missed.

It’s safe to say the line-up has been met with industry wide approval and with the newly announced acts added to the bill, visitors are guaranteed to be treated to a genuine display of Americana and Country music set over 5 stages, exquisite smokehouse cooking and Southern hospitality, as well as a curated marketplace of artisans and makers, custom motorcycle culture and outdoor adventures for the kids and families to be spirited away for a very enjoyable long weekend.

Appealing to an eclectic mix of people of all ages, Black Deer is not only a music lover’s festival but also a place where people can come to meet, make new acquaintances and immerse themselves in a variety of counter cultures that are inclusive, not exclusive. It’s about bringing people together, being part of a community, sharing stories and leave feeling like something really special has just happened.

Acts announced today:

Kiefer Sutherland
Ashley Campbell
Sam Palladio
The Webb Sisters
Stu Larsen
The Sheepdogs
The Wandering Hearts
Rev Sekou
Wildwood Kin
Sonia Leigh
Wade Bowen
Broken Witt Rebels
Jarrod Dickenson
Whiskey Shivers
Ben Danaher
Alexander McKay
Steve Young

With country royalty in her blood, Ashley Campbell continues her legendary fathers country singing legacy. the talented keyboardist and harmony vocalist will bring a mixture of contemporary Americana, rootsy folk and country pop to the Black Deer stage. She said of her recently released album; The Lonely One, which she co-wrote with her brother, how it “explores different types of being alone, which I don’t necessarily see as a bad thing, more of a sign of independence”. Ashley embraces the melodic similarities between her and her father but still distinguishes herself as a talented frontwoman in her own right.

Golden Globe award winner and two-time award winner Kiefer Sutherland’s journey in the music industry started after a collaboration with a friend ended in the release of his 2016 album Down In A Hole. The album tracks come from his personal experiences and are said to be “the closest thing I’ve ever had to a journal or diary”. He’s made impressive moves in his acting career so it will be no surprise to see him excel on the music stage.

Encompassing all things country, Cornish born Sam Palladio of award winning musical drama, Nashville fame joins the Black Deer line-up. Loved for his Nashville role as Gunnar Scott and for last year’s hit duet with Una Healy; ‘Stay My Love’, Sam is set to bring his romantic ballads packed with emotion to Kent this summer.

For nearly two decades Wade Bowen continues to make himself known on the international stage. Born and raised in Waco, Texas, Bowen started his career in the band West 84. He once toyed with the idea of leaving the music industry altogether, instead he decided to step out on his own, self-releasing his 2002 debut album Try Not To Listen. Hailed as the next Chris Stapleton, the New York Times have described his effortless songwriting style as graceful, lauding his ability to bring “feeling from his small vocal gestures”. His new album Solid Ground, released earlier this year, features fellow Texans Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall – as he approaches his 20th anniversary as a musician, Black Deer can’t wait to welcome him to the festival this June.

Three-time JUNO award-winning group The Sheepdogs are also set to join the line-up. Their commitment to traditional rock’n’roll has helped them perfect their vintage rock sound. Influenced by the likes of Allman Brothers, Kinks, Stones and Neil Young, it’s clear that their goal to make “killer albums that people want to listen to” has been fulfilled, with Kid Rock saying “they’re exactly where rock’n’roll should be”.

London Folk-American group The Wandering Hearts have moved off with ease from their first online demo. The group who immediately sparked interest for their songs ‘Today is Ours’ and ‘Sunshine’ were signed to Decca within a month of their demo release. The group debuted their single last year, have recently released their first ever album Wild Silence and picked up the coveted ‘Bob Harris Emerging Artist’ award at the UK Americana Awards 2018.

Bluegrassed Americanas, Whiskey Shivers are not only ready for their role in Pitch Perfect 3 but they are set to perform at Black Deer Festival. Known for their cheerful essence and infectious sound have been praised by the Washington post, L.A Weekly and The Rolling Stone, and have been pushing the boundaries of traditional bluegrass music. Their sound has been called “frenetic bluegrass” with a “punk spirit”. You won’t want to miss their stringed instruments at rapid speed.

Birmingham band Broken Witt Rebels will be bringing their blend of soul, blues and rock to Black Deer this year. The band who were influenced by Fleetwood Mac debuted their self-named first album last year and have re-mastered their old album to sit desirably alongside their recent recordings.

Bedfordshire born Danni Nicholls has been largely influenced by American folk, rock and country from a young age, which paid off for her following taking home the ‘Album Of The Year’ award from The Americana Association in 2017 and performing a string of sold out headline shows. Black Deer can’t wait to see what she brings to the fields this year.

The ordained Rev Sekou is not only an author, theologian and filmmaker but can now add musician to his already impressive resume. The noted activist had his album Deep Bone-Marrow-Level Conviction celebrated by AFROPUNK, with single ‘We Comin’ which combines a beautiful mix of Arkansas Blues and gospel with Memphis soul labelled as the anthem for the modern civil rights movement.

Kent-based international award winners The Webb Sisters are set to make an impact with their expressive voices and mesmerising harmonies. The multi-instrumentalists drew inspiration from the traditional folk and pop roots of Britain and the United States, and will be charming the Black Deer audience with their string instruments.

Hailed for having a voice like a young Tom Waits, Jarrod Dickenson has the incredible talent of telling a story through his music. The Waco born singer-songwriter has taken to the Glastonbury and Larmer Green festival stages supporting legendary artists such as Don Mclean, The Waterboys and Bonnie Raitt. The Smokey-toned Texan’s album The Lonesome Traveller and his EP Songs From Willow St., has earned himself a formidable following with the likes of BBC radio hosts Dermot O’Leary, Cerys Matthews and Huey Morgan.

Australian singer-songwriter Stu Larsen also joins the Black Deer line-up with his breezy, folk-pop agenda and a great element of wanderlust. Larson’s LP, produced by Rosenberg, launched him on an unending tour with shows in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. This included hit ‘Thirteen Sad Farewells’ which generated eleven and a half million streams.

With his new album Still Feel Lucky set to be released this year, native Texan Ben Danaher is one not to miss. His raw lyrics and delicate instrumentation will delight the Black Deer crowd as he elegantly mixes elements of country, blues and Americana.

If all that musical talent is not enough to persuade you along,  the Festival have also announced there will be …


Alongside the emotive line-up will be the introduction of LIVE FIRE – a concept area developed especially for Black Deer by the pioneers of the American BBQ scene in the UK since 2010 and creators of the original BBQ and music festival drawing 20,000 revellers in all things meat, music and mayhem, here’s introducing best-selling cookbook authors, food writers and founders of Grillstock, Jon Finch and Ben Merrington. Their expertise and collaboration for Black Deer will be bringing authentic American roadside smokehouse cooking and southern hospitality to keep visitors excited, entertained and most of all wholly satisfied.  Focused on outdoor cooking and lifestyle, LIVE FIRE will offer the finest selection of southern style street food traders in the UK. With interactive demos from:

• Neil Rankin – Chef Owner, Temper Restaurants
• Matt Burgess – Chef Director, Caravan Restaurants
• Romy Gill MBE – British/Indian chef and cookery teacher
• Steve West – Master Butcher
• Nick Weston – Hunter Gatherer Cook
• Mark Parr – ‘Lord Logs’ of the London Log Co
• Jon Finch & Ben Merrington – Grillstock Founders & cookbook authors
• Ray ‘Dr.BBQ’ Lampe – BBQ Hall of Famer, Godfather of BBQ

The not-to-be-missed Black Deer Cookout Competition will be hosted by none other than professional pit-master DR. BBQ, flying in from the USA especially for this event !!


As an advocate of Americana, the music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, it is important to Black Deer and the people behind it to be genuine and bring together the great and the good to compliment the sounds.

One such person to add their personality to this project has been Andrew Almond of Bolt London. Founded in 2013, Bolt is a premium brand motivated by motorcycles and the counterculture around them; it’s Andrew’s taste and focus that has seen him become a key protagonist within the scene. Alongside the brand apparel and accessories, it is the hardware at the centre of what he does, building custom motorcycles, specialising in the classics and offering mechanics workshops to keep the love affair ongoing.

It is collaborating with like-minded people that will make this festival stand apart and with Andrew Almond bringing his own creative and ambitions to Eridge Park for Black Deer, the motorcyclist community can be rest assured it is solely with them in mind.

“As I do with all things Bolt – it’ll be done right, with those people that are committed to the scene. Bringing together the culture of motorcycling in all its forms – the music, machines, style, craft and art in one encompassing immersive experience.”

Another dedicated area will be The Marketplace, where they’ll be championing artisans and makers.  ” We’re excited to announce that heading up this handmade part of our land will be Deverells Co ” ( A husband and wife duo purveying a carefully curated selection of one-off, rare and authentic pieces, with a focus on American vintage and handcrafted items )


The dedication to the music, culture and community means that every detail of the festival is carefully considered and curated to ensure its success.   One such aspect is the collaboration with  Supajam Education in Music and Media (SEMM), a multi-award winning educational provider set up by David Court and Nick Stilwell. The college supports young people aged 16 and over with an interest in music. It supports some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young adults with over 50% of the students attending having received an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP).

The school plans a life journey like no other supporting young people, many of whom have never achieved a qualification, who want to forge a career in the music industry. They gain English and Maths Functional Skills and  G.C.S.E. qualifications and music diplomas alongside life skills in subjects within the industry via experienced tutors. With a long-term goal to secure future employment in the music industry, they currently have a 93% music diploma pass rate which is testament to the dedication and ambition of these students.

Black Deer co-founder Gill Tee is a Trustee of SupaJam and has been working with the students as a mentor for the last four years. With an extensive portfolio in the music industry, she along with her team, share their experiences working closely to support the students and the school by offering employment opportunities beyond the classroom on many of their events.  The Black Deer Festival has provided a unique platform for a customised programme of sessions working with the festival event team and forming their 2017/18 curriculum.  The team are mentoring the kids in all the necessary disciplines leading up to the festival with a programme of lectures, workshops and talks from some of the most respected and experienced people in the business.  This programme will educate the Supajam students and provide the relevant experience enabling them to curate, budget, stage manage, book artists (Black Deer have provided a budget), run a technical production schedule including sound and lighting and manage the artist accreditation.  Many of the students possess their own incredible talent so expect to see performances from the students along with Q&A’s with artists hosted by the kids.

This is an unbelievable and potentially life changing opportunity for these talented students to put their skills to the test and show the Black Deer community what I know they’re capable of.” – Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd), Supajam Mentor

After a trip to Nashville last year, Gill and her business partner Debs were introduced to American singer songwriter Sonia Leigh.  Having introduced their plans for Black Deer and working with SupaJam, Sonia attended the school of her own accord and held a workshop for the students on the back of her recent UK tour. Prior to the festival in June she has decided to visit the school again, flying out a week early to support the students in the run up to the festival in a special programme of workshops.


Black Deer are very excited to have the wonderful world of Woodland Tribe keeping our Young Folk busy at this year’s debut festival. Alongside the music, the culture and the Live Fire smokehouse cooking we want the kids to feel just as important and encouraged to take in the sense of adventure and community that surrounds them.

As the name suggests Woodland Tribe, a not-for-profit CIC (Community Interest Company), promote the best kind of adventure play, allowing children of all ages to safely use hammers, saws, drills, nails, screws, rope, netting and a huge quantity of wood to build the playground of their dreams, under adult supervision.  Over the three days of the festival, the kids will become architects, builders and collaborators as they assemble their own natural wood fort or den. It will bring together a sense of community as the kids work together and their efforts take shape over the whole of the Black Deer Festival. Not only will this be a large-scale piece of original artwork by the end, it will be a functional outdoor play area during the festival, one that will keep the kids coming back for more with a great sense of achievement at learning new, practical life skills.


The entire experience will bring together a passionate set of subcultures, create a community of like-minded people, spanning generations who follow the music but who also subscribe to an authentic way of life.  The driving force behind Black Deer are no strangers to the festival world – having produced and directed some of the most loved shows in the UK including the Hop Farm Festival and Hyde Park’s Party In The Park. Entertee have produced festivals featuring some of the world’s greatest Americana artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eagles, Van Morrison, Patti Smith and Mumford and Sons .

Black Deer will be using a cashless RFID system on site for ease, security and convenience of festival goers. You will be able to upload money directly to your wristband at either the booths on site or online and any money left over will be refunded to you. You will receive your wristband when you arrive on site and exchange your ticket.

“Having been in the music industry for many years, producing events for other people, I am proud to  finally take a giant step to having a festival of my own. Set in  a beautiful part of the world, that I know and love, with a genre of music that holds so many memories for me, is really exciting as well as extremely challenging.

“I hope that Black Deer can bring to a wider audience, all the love and warmth that I feel about about our festival.  All the characters who make up our wider team,  have the same ethos. We are all working together to ensure that,  anyone who steps foot into the world of Black Deer, will want to come back for many years in the future.” Gill Tee – Promoter

“Black Deer is the coming together of all the things I love and value in life. Things that all have one thing in common – authenticity.From real Americana & Country music, honest wholesome food & drink, to the raw beauty of the great outdoors – where the experience of being a mum to two young boys has allowed me to be part of designing a natural playground full of family fun and adventure.But more so, I love that feeling of being part of a community. And that’s what Black Deer is all about for me – bringing passionate like-minded people together, through authentic good times.” Deborah Shilling – Promoter

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