Announces Thankful Villages
Volume One (of Three) is due for release on 3 June
Via Rivertones (the audio arm of Caught by the River)
WATCH: Video for “Aisholt”
4 June – London, Cafe Oto
30 July – St Germans, Cornwall, Port Eliot festival
7 August – London, Caught by the River Thames festival
A Thankful Village is a village in Britain where every soldier returned alive from World War I. The writer, journalist and educator Arthur Mee coined the term ‘Thankful Village’ in his series of guidebooks, The King’s England in the 1930s. Darren Hayman visited each of the 54 Thankful Villages and, focussing on village life, made a piece of music and a short film for every one. Some take the form of instrumentals inspired by the location, some are interviews with village residents set to music, others are new songs with lyrics or found local traditional songs.
Darren will be making a short film to accompany each song in each village, which he will share via Caught by The River and via his Thankful Villages blog. Today he premiered the video for “Aisholt” via The Quietus.
Darren explains more about the video and song “Aisholt (Somerset)
Aisholt is hidden in the folds of the Quantock hills in North Somerset. A tiny knot of buildings clustered behind incredibly narrow lanes. Tim Whittingham reads at humanist and non-religious funerals; he is also the Chair of the Friends of Aisholt. He raises money for the maintenance of the church even though he doesn’t go to church himself. The church, as in many of these places, is the heart of the village. It has a purpose outside that of religion. It binds the community together.
We met him the day before Remembrance Sunday and he read a poem for us by Dollie Radford about the Quantock hills.
Dollie Radford was a contemporary of William Morris and Tim knew that my previous project had been based on his words. I love it when these connections throw themselves up, when the songs seem to write themselves.
Peter is a church warden of Church of All Saints who invited us to his house for soup and tea. We sat and spoke with his wife and then he took us up the clock tower. Peter showed us the clock mechanism and I recorded it slowly clicking and whirring. We stood on top of the church tower and saw the hills surround and look down on us.
Peter asked if we would return the next day to record the village singing on Remembrance Day. The next day the sun shone and the church was full. I recorded the bells ringing and choir singing. I wove them in time with the clock mechanism and Tim’s soft patience voice.
I wrapped them around themselves just like the green rolling fields envelope the village. Aisholt is all warmth.
Imogen Griffiths took the photos and did the filming.
More information about Thankful Villages:
Darren Hayman will release his enthralling and ambitious new album Thankful Villages via Rivertones on 3 June.
This is the first (of three) volume of the project and contains the first 18 villages that Darren visited during 2014/15. The pieces do not necessarily refer to the Great War, rather they portray the village and it’s communities at many points in history. In “Stocklinch” Ros tells a story of a painting of the old church changing hands through the village, whilst in “Strethall” Darren sings a story of infidelity from the parish records from 1607 and in “St Michael, South Elmham” Dolly tells the story of her melodeon playing father and his adventures in Salonika.
One of the most catchy songs on the album is the final track, “Bradbourne”. Written at a low point for Darren, the song is nonetheless an uplifting collage of vocal harmonies about how, despite not being religious, the churches in the Thankful Villages acted as a refuge from life’s troubles.
Many pieces are instrumental, with Darren sitting on a blanket in a graveyard, teasing out melodies on old wooden instruments amongst bird song and the soft braying of cattle. Lyrics also appear with Darren writing on old church organs and weaving the local congregations into his songs.
Thankful Villages is a collage of Britain’s hidden places. Rich in history and community, Thankful Villages is a further chapter in Darren’s journey through the country underbelly. Recent records include laments for lost Lidos, re-imagined 19th Century political chants and a tale of terror set in during the English Civil Wars.
Please join Darren for a beautiful walk through Britain’s Thankful Villages.
1. Knowlton (Kent)
2. Culpho (Suffolk)
3. St Michael, South Elmham (Suffolk)
4. Puttenham (Hertfordshire)
5. Stoke Hammond (Buckinghamshire)
6. Little Sodbury (South Gloucestershire)
7. Rodney Stoke (Somerset)
8. Holywell Lake (Somerset)
9. Aisholt (Somerset)
10. Stocklinch (Somerset)
11. Strethall (Essex)
12. Welbury (NorthYorkshire)
13. Scruton (North Yorkshire)
14. Chelwood (Somerset)
15. Langton Herring (Dorset)
16. Herodsfoot (Cornwall)
17. Butterton (Saffordshire)
18. Bradbourne (Derbyshire)
Rivertones is the audio arm of Caught by the River (caughtbytheriver.net).
An arts/nature/culture clash, which publishes daily at caughtbytheriver.net
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