Shares video for “Woodend, Northamptonshire”
Taken from Thankful Villages Volume 2
Due out on Rivertones on 26 May
Watch “Woodend, Northamptonshire” here
Friday 26 May – The Horse Hospital, London – tickets
Friday 2 June – Centrespace, Bristol – tickets
English songwriter and former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman continues his journey around the United Kingdom’s 54 Thankful Villages. A Thankful Village is a village where every soldier returned alive from World War One. An ongoing and hugely ambitious folk project, Thankful Villages is only partially concerned with the war itself, moreover it is a celebration of British rural life. Darren pulls together first person interviews, folk tales and songs, field recordings and his own personal experiences to create a vast patchwork depicting community, history and legend.
The first single is “Woodend”, where Darren uncovers a World War II airfield. It is one of the poppiest tracks on the album and whilst it was written on location in the village, the arrangement was fleshed out with a full band in the studio, with Ian Button (Papernut Cambridge) on drums, Dan Mayfield (Enderby’s Room) on violin and Rob Halcrow (Papernut Cambridge and Picturebox) on bass.
Hayman discusses the song further:
Three planes crashed above Woodend in World War 2. Two came down but one still flew. I’m trying to imagine how three planes can crash in the air. In 2010 archaeologists found one of the pilots’ bracelets. A simple shrine and information panel over looks an empty field.
Woodend is all gables and gravel drives. The Methodist Chapel is a now a house as they so often are. There is a neat row of green recycle bins outside a line of post war houses. One has a huge ‘Help for Heroes’ flag in its garden.
Spring has just come to Woodend and Snowdrops, Daffodils and Hyacinths decorate the grass verges. I hide in a concrete bus shelter and collected together all the notes I had for Woodend. I strung them together and a made a list song.
Thankful Villages Volume 2 is less an album but something akin to an arcane musical radio documentary. The success of the first volume of Thankful Villages has encouraged Hayman to go deeper into his subject. Themes of “the river” and “death” weave their way through these eighteen villages.
Thankful Villages Volume 1 garnered a great deal of media attention, with features in broadsheets including The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent and The i Paper. Darren also appeared on The Verb with Ian Mcmillan, Loose Ends and interviewed for a feature on Radio 4’s PM programme.
Darren played special concerts around the release, doing a rendition of his Thankful Villages set with accompanying visuals and films, headlining with a full band as well as solo supporting British Sea Power. A collage of Britain’s hidden places, rich in history and community, Thankful Villages is a further chapter in Darren’s journey and a testament to his remarkable work ethic.
In 2016 Darren was awarded the title of ‘Hardest Working Artist’ at the AIM Awards for the Thankful Villages project and his prolific career.
Thankful Villages Volume 3, which will appear in 2018, has been given funding by the Arts Council.
Praise for Thankful Villages Volume 1
“An intoxicating collection of folk songs, dreamy instrumentals and poignant interviews set to music, layered with sounds harvested from his visits.” The Financial Times
“Listening to Thankful Villages is to hear a range of stories stretching across history.” The Independent i
“The project resembles a fascinating, occult history of the British countryside, filled with largely forgotten rural stories.” The Guardian
“He has managed a real lightness of touch here that lifts the project form the depths that it might have charted.” Record Collector 4*s
Rivertones is the audio arm of Caught by the River (caughtbytheriver.net).
An arts/nature/culture clash, which publishes daily at caughtbytheriver.net