New “Larkrise” News
The five piece band consists of Ashley, Judy Dunlop, Simon Care, Ruth Angell and Mark Hutchinson and they will be presenting the music from the much loved National Theatre plays based on the novels by Flora Thompson.
Meanwhile, the band have released a second album featuring some of the material from the play that did not get recorded the first time around as well as some new songs and tunes. Entitled “Lark Rise Revisited”, the album can now obtained direct at gigs or via Talking Elephant’s website. The original “Lark Rise to Candleford” album is also still available on CD from the same sources. If you’re interested in booking the band check out the band’s new agency website here.
“Larkrise Revisited” Review
The Lark Rise Band - Lark Rise Revisited. Talking Elephant TECD124
Ashley Hutchings first ventured into the Oxfordshire village of Lark
Rise, when he was the Musical Director on Keith Dewhurst's
production of Lark Rise to Candleford in 1978. That
production resulted in an eponymous album by the
Mark Hutchinson sings Brighton Camp as the opening number, a tune which figured in the original stage production. Simon Care's melodeon squeezes merrily, while Guy Fletcher's drumming combines rhythm, melody and a certain quirkiness which keeps him well away from the cliche and keeps you guessing. The mood changes with Judy Dunlop's lament for the Bonny Labouring Boy, a slow, sad waltz which builds to a happy climax. Alf's Tune is taken directly from the BBC series and is played by its composer Issy Emeney, who conveys something of Alf s ambivalent character. Ashley's distinctive voice slips in at the end, reading an extract from the opening of the book, while the haunting little tune sways quietly in the background.
Judy reads an extract on the musical ways of the folk of Lark Rise as an introduction to Poor Old Soldier, a real ancestor of music-hall melody to which Simon has added new verses. Queenie 's Bees was written by Ruth Angell, who sings this rocking little waltz to a flowing background of acoustic guitar and a buzzing bass from Ashley, with some occasional restrained percussive contributions from Guy and some gentle humming in the background. Two Morris Tunes follow, evoking sunny village festivals, but this bright atmosphere is then transformed as Jo Hamilton sings Bad News Is All the Wind Can Carry - her voice like a low wind keening in a minor key over the fields, bearing a message of tragedy.
The pathos in Judy's reading of an extract about the transfer of the
old Major from the village to the workhouse is underlined by a melancholy viola
line played by Jo. The traditional John Barleycorn shows the links between folk
and church music, a link which
The mood again becomes up-beat with a sweet, melodic Morris tune with a real hop in its step, leading in to Judy's reading of an extract on the garland procession. A children's chorus sing the the hymn-like May Song, and bring some authentic children's insults into the proceedings. Ashley reads before Ruth sings I Have A Bonnet. Guy adds some very loose country band percussion to highlight the rurality the music. The song segues into Ashley's In and Out the Window.
To close, Ruth and Mark play a gentle, lyrical version of the theme tune from the BBC series, and Judy reads an atmospheric excerpt from the book about the local countryside before singing Laura's Song
The extracts from the book give us a flavour of the harshness of rural life in a pre-mechanical time, but the music balances out the grey clouds to leave an impression of light and rural beauty. Cheer yourself up. Go and buy the album.
Ashley Honoured At Radio2 Folk Awards
received the prestigious Good Tradition trophy at the
Radio2 Folk Awards ceremony in
New Rainbow Chasers Reviews
Here are two new live reviews of The Rainbow Chasers.
RAINBOW CHASERS AT FARNSFIELD ACOUSTIC
has become a living legend in the world of folk music. An early member of
Fairport Convention in the late 1960s, he survived an appalling motorway crash
that left one band member dead and the others in hospital, to embark on a
journey that has taken him ever deeper into the world of music. He founded Steeleye Span and the
They are singer Mark Hutchinson, who also plays guitars, mandolin, keyboard and tambourine, Ruth Angell, on vocals, violin and guitar, and Jo Hamilton, on vocals, viola, guitar and keyboard. All four have great song-writing talents, as witnessed by the fact that they performed only one song not written by themselves, and Mark has a rich, passionate voice. The two girls created wonderful harmonies on violin and viola. Ruth is a wistful Katie Melua soundalike, while Jo’s voice has the combined richness and depth of scope of Joni Mitchell or Jennifer Rush. The capacity audience was treated to an evening of top drawer writing and performing, with the atmosphere switching effortlessly from classical string quartet to folk, and on to hard driving rock, in titles including The Gipsy Jigg, Ghosts In The Rain, and The New Blue Stockings.
Here’s to the next show in the Farnsfield Acoustic series.
Frank Chester -
RAINBOW THAT YIELDS GOLD APLENTY
Hutchings’ Rainbow Chasers – Gulbenkian Theatre,
If he is perhaps still best known as the godfather of electric folk music, then with his latest project, Rainbow Chasers, Ashley Hutchings has now gone on to blend the traditional with the contemporary in an even more seductive manner.
“Damn The Day”, for instance, updates the melody of the highwayman’s lament “Adieu Adieu” to produce a portrait of today’s criminal underclass, while the metaphorical lyrics of the self-composed “When I Jumped Ship” are themselves in the style of the seafaring ballad.
telescoping of past and present was equally evident, moreover in “Under
Surveillance” (which traces the development of photography from its age of
innocence right through to the more sinister surveillance camera),
The dazzling literacy of the quartet’s material was given even greater resonance by the subtlety of their arrangements. This is one rainbow, in short, that yields gold aplenty.”
David Parker at The Kentish Gazette
One Day On The Road
As you next watch your favourite band perform on stage, consider the following.
Our story begins in the sleepy Northamptonshire countryside. Appropriate, really, as Mark is half asleep as a result of his young daughter’s colic and a broken night. Nevertheless, he ticks off a mental list of things to pack for the day (PA equipment, personal instruments, merchandise, Ashley’s acoustic bass, case for overnight stay) and plans the day’s journey. Hit the M1, pick Ashley up in Chesterfield, meet Jo and Ruth at Chesterfield railway station, more M1, then the A1 and on to the delightful Georgian Theatre in Richmond, North Yorkshire. As gig journeys’ go it’s about as straightforward as they come. Still, best to make an early start and be sure. So we’ll pack the car and off we go.
Meanwhile, over in
With less traffic on the road than he expected, Mark makes good time on his 90 minute journey to Ashley and decides to stop at a service station for a bite to eat. As he returns to the car he realises that he’s forgotten to pack Ashley’s acoustic bass. Too far along the road to return home, he decides to call Ashley to explain.
Meanwhile, over in
Ashley has a busy morning on the phone. Electric bass will have to be substituted; not a satisfactory arrangement but it will have to do. Fingers crossed that Jo gets the next train. If she does it won’t be so bad.
Meanwhile, over in
Mark sets out from the service station, still with plenty of time in hand. He bowls along through Nottinghamshire. Only another 20 miles or so to Ashley’s and ….. there’s been an accident and he’s caught in a tailback – aargh. Nothing daunted, a quick glance at the map reveals an alternative route on the A roads of Derbyshire. Soon be there – later than planned but not too late.
Meanwhile, on the railway, Jo’s
train has mysteriously and inexplicably terminated at
Mark arrives at Ashley’s and together they load the car. Ashley gets a phone call.
Finally, the other members of
the band appear. Flustered and somewhat later than expected, the various
elements are now all together in Mark’s vehicle and they set off on the
straightforward drive to
PS – the gig was great, the
pizza and Guinness were fine and the overnight accommodation was
wonderful. Thank you
Mark Hutchinson, Rainbow Chaser and Tickled Pink guitarist and vocalist, has his own recording studio set in the rural Northamptonshire countryside. Rooksmere Studios offer the ideal location to those wishing to record in a relaxed environment with minimal distraction. Besides his band work Mark is experienced in recording all styles of music and spoken word and has also collaborated in the writing of title music for BskyB. Check out his website here.
Boxed Set & Rainbow Chasers CD
The Rainbow Chasers, Ashley’s new group, continues to gig and to pick up great plaudits and reviews from audiences and organisers alike, as well as the media who have made the effort to check out the group thus far.
As the Rainbow Chasers’ first album, “Some colours fly” on the Talking Elephant label (TECDO73), is officially released on 11th April. This will also be the day that Free Reed Records launch a magnificent 4 CD boxed set, plus book, entitled “Burning Bright”, covering Ashley’s career. Anyone who has seen their award-winning boxed sets of artists such as Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and Fairport Convention knows how extensive and well structured the set will be. Neil Wayne and Nigel Schofield have compiled a major career retrospective and celebration of Ashley’s life and music. The lavish boxed set features four full length themed and bookletted CDs, huge full colour book and rare picture archive, plus an extra 5th 'write-in' free CD. More details available by clicking here.
Special lyric and soundfile page
Lyrics for the songs on the album have not been included in the CD booklet, so over the next few weeks we’ll be featuring a lyric page for some of the songs on the album along with a soundfile of extracts from the featured song. The SECOND one in the series is “About Dawn” and you can get to it by clicking here.