Saturday 4 June 2016, 8pm
DARREN HAYMAN is a prolific singer-songwriter, intrigued by our relationships with places and armed with the idiosyncratic eye of a Shell Guide. Recently he’s stepped outside for rural jaunt through Britain’s 54 Thankful Villages and this concert sees him share the fruits of these labours in a live setting, making full use of both a band and projections. 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 has visited each of the villages and, focussing on local life, has made a piece of music and a short film for each 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. ‘Thankful Villages Volume 1’ (released by Rivertones on June 3rd) is the first album of a three volume study from this 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. ‘Thankful Villages’ is a collage of Britain’s hidden places. Rich in history and community, ‘Thankful Villages’ is a further enthralling chapter in Darren’s journey through the country’s underbelly.
JULY SKIES is a West Midlands based recording project begun by Antony Harding in 1997. In 2008 the band released their gorgeous British landscape LP from 2008 entitled ‘The Weather Clock’. A lost guitar–led, harmonic-ambient gem, it’s less a hauntological delve into the British psyche and more a bleached out mid-summer’s daydream much like Felt’s ‘Train Above The City’ – something akin to a transportational meditation on the British countryside soundtracked by Vini Reilly and viewed from a perfect horizontal hillside vantage point. This April, Rivertones (the phonographic arm of Nature and culture website Caught by the River) will be reissuing ‘The weather Clock’ for the first time on vinyl. Since the release of The Weather Clock, July Skies has regrouped as a five-piece band and have been spending time recording the fifth LP ‘A Day In The Country’. July Skies is: Orford Ness, lost youth, Henry Moore, pylons across fields, abandoned airfields, Avebury, endless childhood summers, forgotten England, the romance of the heavens well after closing time, Super8, countryside, mornings in May, ruins, faded innocence, post-war Britain, skies of all seasons, trudging coastlines, Festival of Britain 1951, memories made with a Polaroid Landcam 103, overgrown follies, East Anglia, concrete precincts and tower blocks, suburbia, old Ordnance Survey maps, lost airmen, rustic charm, John Nash, poppy day, a half remembered smile, BST, municipal parks at dusk, love, infatuation and loss.