FolkWorld #73 11/2020
© Stevie Horton (Iconic Music & Media)

A Midwinter Miscellany

A Midwinter Miscellany
Ashley Hutchings (Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, The Albion Band) heads this special Midwinter release with collegue Beck Mills and son Blair Dunlop. Along with all the worries of this year, Ashley has brought together a collection of songs and poems of the traditional winter months. This is a selection of mainly new songs written by the three and suitable poems and prose. Subjects include ancient midwinter customs, snow, hibernation, the nativity and wildflowers.

Releax and lose yourselves in the past traditions of Mother Earth at this time of the year.

Tracks: Crocus Poem (Christopher Smart) | Raggle Taggle Lad (Hutchings/Nicol) | Her Name Was Mary (Hutchings/Dunlop) | The Mill on The Floss (George Eliot) | Animals’ Carol (Kenneth Grahame) | Hibernation (Hutchings) | Three Angels (trad.) | Sweet November (Mills) | Mahogany Tree (William Makepeace Thackeray) | Silence of Snow (Hutchings/Angell) | Ancient Midwinter Customs | The Christ Child Lay on Mary’s Lap (G. K. Chesterton) | Christmas Wreath (Hutchings/Dunlop)

Ashley Hutchings with special friends Becky Mills & Blair Dunlop "A Midwinter Miscellany", Talking Elephant Records, 2020

A seasonal gem to banish the approaching winter blues.

Talking Elephant Records is delighted to announce a very special release with a seasonal flavour. Titled ‘’A Midwinter Miscellany’ the album is a collection of spoken word, poems, stories and songs that celebrate the many aspects of the festive season. The album features Ashley Hutchings with special friends Becky Mills and Blair Dunlop and was recorded by Blair at Ashley’s home in the early autumn. The album will be released on Friday 20 November 2020.

Ashley Hutchings

Artist Video Ashley Hutchings @ FROG

Hutchings and Mills teamed up several years ago to tour ‘The Beginnings of Fairport’ a spoken word and song presentation to tell the story of Fairport Convention. ‘A Midwinter Miscellany’ follows that theme of combining words and song to create an album that is a patchwork of sights, sounds and flavours of short winter days, long dark evenings and the Christmas celebration itself. Ashley has taken excerpts from a variety of literary sources including George Eliot, and Kenneth Grahame, to inspire songs with an ageless quality. Other writings and poems by Smart and Chesterton are given a completely new treatment with music composed by Blair and Becky. And Becky also contributes several brand new songs specifically commissioned by Hutchings for this album.

Ashley is highly complimentary about Becky – “When I have a new project nearly always the first person I go to is Becky. (She is) a wonderful singer, guitarist, songwriter, - it was a totally natural decision to invite her to contribute to this album. And working with my son Blair is a real pleasure. We have frequently performed together and toured Italy several times. Being part of this album gave him the opportunity of setting to music some of the words I chose as well as recording and producing the album. A particular highlight is the duo performance by him and his mother Judy Dunlop on the ‘Mahogany Tree’.”

Since the early 80s Ashley has gathered to him a small group of renowned folk musicians to tour each December as the Albion Christmas Band. Although the line-ups have changed each decade, the core concept of seasonal words and songs has remained... Sadly due to the Covid crisis audiences will not be able to enjoy what has become a traditional part of the live folk scene. The timely release of ‘A Midwinter Miscellany’ offers a welcome opportunity to enjoy the flavours of an Albion Christmas Band live show.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Ashley Hutchings, (3) Judy Dunlop, (4) Blair Dunlop, (5) Becky Mills (unknown/website).

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