Sidmouth Folk Week - Lark Rise Band review

PUBLISHED: 20:28 10 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:54 18 June 2010

AS A devotee of BBC TV s adaptation of Lark Rise to Candleford, I have to confess it was the name, rather than any pre-knowledge of their music, that led me to Sidmouth s Manor Pavilion on Monday to watch Lark Rise Band in action.

AS A devotee of BBC TV's adaptation of Lark Rise to Candleford, I have to confess it was the name, rather than any pre-knowledge of their music, that led me to Sidmouth's Manor Pavilion on Monday to watch Lark Rise Band in action.

Sponsored by Paragon Books, the long queue outside the theatre should have been clue enough to the band's popularity, and I, a non-folkie, have to say the show was outstanding.

Formed by Ashley Hutchings - formerly of Fairport Convention and Albion Band - the sheer talent of this band; both musically and as entertainers, poured from the stage into the packed auditorium.

In its current guise, the band has been playing for two years, forming three months before; co-incidentally, the Beeb began its popular series.

However, some members have known each other longer, having performed in Rainbow Chasers and other groups.

The line-up under Ashley (bass guitar) was Simon Care, melodeon, Mark Hutchins, guitar, Guy Fletcher drums and fiddle, Ruth Angell, violin and Judy Dunlop, vocals.

Judy, whose singing voice is a delight to encounter, conjured up those idyllic country scenes.

She, with help from Ruth, conjured up a bygone age by interspersing traditional folk tunes, such as Brighton Camp, Speed the Plough and a wonderful version of The Holly and the Ivy, with rich passages from Flora Thompson's books, first published in 1939.

Stunning compositions from the band, including The Peddling Suffragettes by Ashley and Ruth, and Queenie's Bees complemented original songs from the Lark Rise theatre production, and it soon became obvious many in the audience could confidently join in the choruses, even singing in tune, which added to the evening's ambience.

There were fun moments too, with besom broom and clay pipe dances causing much hilarity.

In all, a wonderful performance.


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