For most people Christmas 2013 will bring with it the annual round of festivities, parties and pantomimes and all the hectic preparations. For the Albion Christmas Band it also heralds a very special celebration. The band’s inaugural appearance was 17 December 1999 – the first night of a six day tour. This year, the band that forms each year for its winter tour and then disbands until the next season will visit seventeen venues celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. The well-planned tour has ensured the band will visit all parts of the country for audiences to enjoy a taste of Christmas without the commercialism. And to mark the actual fifteenth anniversary an extra special evening is planned for the band’s concert at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.
The band evolved from special Christmas shows by the last incarnation of the Albion Band. On a suggestion from Simon Care, a previous Albion band member himself, Ashley ‘The Guv’nor’ Hutchings brought together two other previous Albion Band members to create an autonomous band to present a guided tour through the Christmas customs of Britain. Performing a mixture of seasonal carols, spoken word, humorous readings and dance, the show is the antithesis of the Christmas special shows filling television screens, reminding audiences of the simpler pleasures and values of a traditional Christmas.
The Albion Christmas Band features the combined talents of Simon Nicol (founder member of Fairport Convention) on acoustic guitar and vocals, Kellie While (Albion Band), acoustic guitar, vocals and percussion, Simon Care (Edward II), melodeons, and the Guv’nor himself, Ashley Hutchings, (founder of Fairport Convention, Albion Band, and Steeleye Span) on bass guitar and vocals.
Singer songwriter Fabian Holland will be the band’s special guest at a number of shows on the tour. This young guitarist is already attracting attention for his skilful playing and his thought-provoking lyrics earning comments such as “he’s not good, he’s bloody good!” by Folk Radio UK (Album review here). Here he is performing Christmas In Jail, A’int That a Pain
A further highlight to the overall celebrations will be the band’s live appearance on BBC Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe Folk Show on Wednesday 18 December for a Christmas Party Special.
From A Sound In The Frosty Air (2011)
07-Dec Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
08-Dec Swindon Arts Centre
09-Dec Cheltenham Town Hall **
10-Dec St Mary’s Church, Wallingford **
11-Dec Key Theatre, Peterborough **
12-Dec Kings Place, London **
13-Dec Norden Farm Arts Centre
14-Dec Ebbesbourne Wake Village Hall
15-Dec Public Hall, Budleigh Salterton
16-Dec mac Arts Centre, Birmingham
17-Dec The Royal Hall, Harrogate **
18-Dec Live recording Mark Radcliffe Show
19-Dec Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
20-Dec The Atkinson, Southport
21-Dec The Sage, Gateshead **
22-Dec Hitchin Folk Club
23-Dec The Apex, Bury St Edmunds **
** support from Fabian Holland
More details here:
Photo Credit Chris Gill