Tag Archives: Lady Maisery

April 2018 – folk-theatre in progress in London and Bristol: ‘Travelling With Thomas’ (12th, 23rd, 24th April)

8 Apr

I can’t believe that, up until now, I’ve managed to miss news of this. A team gradually workshopping a brand-new folk musical and bringing it to the public in Bristol and London this month – a folk opera, really, based on an old, old story (in fact, one of my favourites of its kind, about a man given the twisted gift of prophecy along with the inability to lie, often with the proviso that the results will come back and hit him).

'Travelling With Thomas', 2018

“An ancient tale. A new twist. A musical journey. ‘Travelling With Thomas‘ presents an interactive gig that presents beautiful new songs, music and artwork to explore the legends and folklore of Thomas the Rhymer. Forced to travel to Fairyland, Thomas is helped and hindered as he tries to find a safe way home. It is a tale of fairness, love, truth and time. Come and join the journey!

“Composer Laurel Swift and designer Lizzie Watts invite you to share their journey with some of the finest performers on the scene as they start to create a new folk musical, and conclude their first year-long collaborative project. This fourth and final showcase is a summary of the perilous journey so far and a tantalising insight into what’s to come. It’s a unique, behind the scenes insight into the artistic development of ‘Travelling with Thomas’. Through an exhibition and concert, view Lizzie’s distinctive artwork and hear Laurel’s contagious music performed by a captivating cast of leading folk performers.”

Laurel’s already an inspiring (or intimidating) talent – the founder, leader and choreographer of the self-explanatory Morris Offspring dance troupe; ceilidh fiddler and singer in The Gloworms; double bassist in Gadarene; and clogdancer in pretty much everything she does. She’s dipped into storytelling before, telling a semi-improvised selkie tale as the instrumental/dancing half of the ‘Under Her Skin‘ team (alongside performance storyteller Debs Newbold). Lizzie is even more deeply embedded in tale-telling, probably being best known as a third of the three-woman core of Thimble Theatre who assemble physical theatre out of circus, music and traditional arts.

In addition, the ensemble putting the music together is a pretty fantastic cross-section of British folk, classical and theatrical crossover. It features singer and fiddler Ben Moss (Lauren’s partner in both Ben & Laurel and the spring-themed touring show ‘A Branch of May’), plus Lizzie’s Thimble Theatre cohort Harriet Riley (marimba and percussion, also in Spindle Ensemble and Tezeta). Other members are Hazel Askew (voice and flute, from Lady Maisery and The Askew Sisters), Nick Janaway (a.k.a. Newton Disc, voice and guitar), Deb Chalmers (fiddle and viola, from Stepling, The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra and innumerable sessions), Sarah Moody (cello and voice, from The Devil’s Violin), and finally the Bellowhead/Faustus duo of Benji Kirkpatrick (voice, bouzouki) and Paul Sartin (fiddle, oboe, voice).

Dates and places:

  • Horsefair (formerly the Alliance Boots store), 49 The Horsefair, Broadmead Shopping Centre, Bristol, BS1 3JY, England, Thursday 12th April 2018, 7.30pm – information here and here
  • Gunnersbury Park Museum @ The Small Mansion, Gunnersbury Park, Acton, London, W3 8LQ, England, Monday 23rd April 2018, 1.00pm – information here, here and here
  • Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, Camden Town, London, NW1 7AY, England, Tuesday 24th April 2018, 7.30pm – information here, here and here

Sadly, I’ve picked this up too late to bring news of opportunities for you to get involved in the early developments, but at least you now get to see the work in something close to a finished form. Here are a couple of videos to explain more of the concept…

 

March 2017 – upcoming gigs – Coven ’17 English tour, 2nd-13th March (fightin’ women’s folk from O’Hooley & Tidow, Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie)

17 Feb
Coven, 2017

Coven, 2017

Last month’s astonishing Women’s March laid bare a fairly fundamental truth – that the backbone and much of the driving force of protest movements (certainly the successful ones) are made up of women.

Historically, one of the binding factors of this has been folk music – women singing, women playing, women writing or interpreting, and women inspiring from the stage. Though this kind of music’s often had a rough ride from the fashion police who drag it in and out of style, generally the performers have treated this as little more than an incidental matter – noted, grunted at, and set aside while the serious matter of talk’n’listen is gotten on with. Similarly, there’s nothing saying that folk performers whose public image might mostly be that of making pretty sounds on the radio won’t also retain, sustain or develop deep commitments to social politics, and thereby draw in anyone who’s prepared to think of them as more than an aural accessory to go with the wallpaper. At any time there are plenty of tours and shows taking place and reinforcing this, although I, for one don’t get to hear enough about them. Here’s one which I did get to hear about – six outspoken women on tour in March with a brace of songs and collective commitment, stirring up discussion and solidarity. Past craft; present engagement.

Woven from the usual brace of press releases:

“Coven are a collective of three of the British folk scene’s finest, most formidable and forthright female acts, taking to the stage to celebrate International Women’s Day in a week of unforgettable concerts. The exquisitely harmonic songwriting duo and BBC 6 Music favourites O’Hooley & Tidow (described as “defiant, robust, political, Northern, poetical folk music for the times we live in” by the ‘Independent’) will be joined by the enchanting BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Finalists Lady Maisery (“women with ideas, purpose and urgency… powerful, enthralling work” – ‘Songlines’) and the irrepressible Leicester songwriter, activist and performer Grace Petrie (“a powerful new songwriting voice” – ‘The Guardian’).

“Three years ago, they all got together to celebrate International Women’s Day in March with a series of three concerts. Since then, the tour has extended year on year… Experience these thought-provoking, entertaining and enthralling women debuting the music from their first collective EP, ‘Unholy Choir’ (recorded at Frome’s Cooper Hall in the early part of 2017), and performing both individually and collectively on one stage.”

Here are examples of work by each of the three Coven components; followed by a clip of all of them together, performing an extended harmony-folk take on Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work. A version of the latter is on ‘Unholy Choir’ along with the Maisery’s Rowan Rheingans’ resetting of female labour anthem Bread & Roses, a cover of the late Maggie Roche’s Quitting Time, an a capella version of Pat Humphries ’ Never Turning Back, a new version of Grace’s If There’s A Fire In Your Heart and a full sextet version of Coil & Spring (O’Hooley and Tidow’s Pussy Riot tribute, co-written with former Chumbawamba mainstay Boff Whalley). So far, the plan is for the EP to only be available at the gigs. Early on, at least, you’ll need to attend one to get one.





 

Full tour dates:

Coven, 2017
 

September 2016 – upcoming London gigs – Penny Rimbaud’s musical Wilfred Owen evening at the Horse Hospital and the ‘Songs of Separation’ female folkstravaganza at King’s Place (both 9th)

31 Aug

Here’s some more upcoming September shows in London – a musical setting of First World War poems down at the Horse Hospital courtesy of parts of the Crass family, and an all-star, all-female folk meet at Kings Place to celebrate the collective indigenous folk music of Scotland and England (nice to see some fellow feeling there).

Sadly, both of these concerts are on the same night, so choices will need to be made – unless you take a good look at the timings and figure that you can make the best of both, via a gruelling sprint or rapid Tube ride between Russell Square and the upper reaches of Kings Cross…

* * * * * * * *

Penny Rimbaud recites the Works of Wilfred Owen, 9th September 2016Penny Rimbaud recites the Works of Wilfred Owen (with Kate Shortt & Liam Noble)
The Horse Hospital, The Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1JD, England
Friday 9th September 2016, 7.00pm
information

A couple of notes from the event blurb:

“As part of the exhibition ‘Under The Changing Light: The Landscapes of The Somme’ (consisting of photos by Toby Webster), Penny Rimbaud recites the works of Wilfred Owen with Kate Shortt (cello) and Liam Noble (piano).

Penny Lapsang Rimbaud was born in south-west London. He is a poet, writer, philosopher, painter, and musician. He was formally a part of the performance art groups Exit and Ceres Confusion. In 1977 he co-founded the anarchist punk band Crass with Steve Ignorant, which disbanded in 1984. From then up until 2000 he devoted himself to writing. He returned as a performance poet working with Australian saxophonist Louise Elliot, as well as a wide variety of other jazz musicians as the group L’Académie Des Vanités.”

Regarding Penny’s accompanists, both Kate Shortt and Liam Noble have previous Rimbaud form. Both have collaborated with him in L’Académie Des Vanités forebear Last Amendment – itself formerly the Crass Collective or Crass Agenda performance art group, set up as a post-split arrangement enabling former Crasseurs to work together without either over-commodifying their ex-band’s name or being restricted by its form.

Liam needs little introduction to those who’ve seen his spiky, droll playing across the British jazz scene over the last two decades (initially playing with Stan Sulzmann, John Stevens, Harry Beckett and Bobby Wellins, latterly leading his own projects or collaborating with Christine Tobin). So far, Kate is arguably less well-known; but her witty multi-instrumental singer-songwriter contributions to contemporary British cabaret have drawn comparisons to both Victoria Wood and Jim Tavares. Her Crass connections, continued membership of L’Académie Des Vanités and willingness to provide more sober aspects to events like this one demonstrate that she’s by no means cocooned in the cabaret box.

As for Penny himself – a lifelong anarcho-libertarian and punk hero who was initially inspired by an unlikely literary combination of Ernest Hemingway, Henrik Ibsen and Walt Whitman – there’s plenty to say on the varied subject of Crass and his work in and out of it. This is generally handled by better counter-culture historians than myself. If you’re new to Penny (or to Crassage in general), here’s a fairly good place to start, courtesy of ‘The Quietus’…

* * * * * * * *

Kings Place Festival 2016 presents:
‘Songs of Separation’: Eliza Carthy + Karine Polwart + Mary Macmaster + Kate Young + Hannah James/Hazel Askew/Rowan Rheingans (Lady Maisery) + Jenn Butterworth + Jenny Hill + Hannah Read
Hall One @ Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross, London, N1 9AG, England
Friday 9th September 2016 – 9:45pm
information

From the Festival promotional info:

“In June 2015, ten of Scotland and England’s leading female folk musicians joined forces to explore the rich musical, cultural and linguistic heritage of the two countries. What emerged is one of the landmark collaborative folk albums of recent years, Songs of Separation.

Various Artists: 'Songs Of Separation'

Various Artists: ‘Songs Of Separation’

“‘Songs of Separation’ is an outstanding collaboration between ten of Scotland and England’s leading female folk musicians. Devised and recorded in just six days, on the fairytale Hebridean Isle of Eigg, the musicians explored the rich musical heritage of the two countries, drawing on their respective and collective musical experiences and crafting something both new and very special.

“Celebrating the similarities and differences in our musical, linguistic and cultural heritage, and set in the context of a post-referendum world, the work aims to evoke emotional responses and prompt new thinking about the issue of separation as it occurs in all our lives. The collection of traditional and original songs aims to get to the heart of what we feel when we are faced with a separation; linking us both to previous generations who shared the same human experiences and responses to separation, and to generations that will follow. The horizons of the project are already evolving and speak as much about connection, as they do about separation.

“The album was launched in January 2016, with a sell-out tour and received exceptional reviews from the music press and musicians alike. Opportunities to experience ‘Songs of Separation’ performed live are rare… and unmissable.


 
“A richly evocative and quietly provocative collection of traditional and newly composed songs, the artists behind this album include two of the most celebrated contemporary voices on the UK folk scene, England’s Eliza Carthy (fiddle, percussion) and Scotland’s Karine Polwart (tenor guitar, Indian harmonium); two boundary-breaking Scots, Mary Macmaster of The Poozies (harp) and Kate Young (fiddle); Hannah James (accordion, percussion), Hazel Askew (flute, melodeon, harp) and Rowan Rheingans (banjo, fiddle, viola) from the award-winning English ensemble Lady Maisery; Jenn Butterworth (guitar) and Jenny Hill (double bass), brilliant backline players who have worked across both the English and Scottish trad scenes; and Hannah Read (fiddle, guitar), a New York-based musician and singer who spent much of her childhood on the Isle of Eigg.”

This is the last ‘Songs Of Separation’ concert of the year, with previous 2016 performances having occurred at assorted festivals (Celtic Connections, Dumfries and Galloway Festival of Arts, Cardiff’s Festival of Voice, the Cambridge Folk Festival) as well as shows in Edinburgh, Stroud, Didcot and Bury. The project is ongoing, with recent developments including onstage collaborations with schoolchildren and mythology-inspired plans for field recordings, among other ideas.
 

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