This summer, with support from Sound and Music, and the Canal & Rivers Trust, the UK based experimental folk trio, Dead Rat Orchestra, will undertake a unique tour across the canals and waterways from London to Bristol and Oxford. The 273-mile odyssey will finish with a triumphant finale at the Arnolfini.
Launching from London’s Canal Museum with a set of songs inspired by the stories and the traditions of these ageing industrial arteries, the trio will travel exclusively by waterway as they cross the country via Oxford, performing as they go. The Cut is, however, much more than a series of concerts along the canal route. On a physical level it’s an adventure into a way of life as the trio will eat, sleep and live on the canal, navigating the waterways themselves (no cosy hotels on this tour), but most importantly it is a creative adventure. Meticulously researched, the project has, and continues to, unearth some truly exciting material that has been hidden away, unseen, for decades. Along the way they discovered a version of Scarborough Fair, penned in Cecil Sharp’s own hand, which has more than likely not been performed for 100 years; found an amateur song collector along the Kennet and Avon Canal route, whose private collection is unsurpassed and trawled the Lucy Broadwood Archive, housed at the Surrey History Centre, revealing material that even surprised its archivist.
Exploring the changing associations of the canal by rekindling its songs and sounds, and through the creation of new ones, Dead Rat Orchestra will seek to explore and engage with the heritage of the canals both past and present. As a trio renowned for its vivid performances and an experimental approach to folk and roots, The Cut could be described as a month long site specific performance, where the musical works performed will evolve through their interaction with the communities and surroundings encountered.
Dead Rat Orchestra have been performing internationally for over a decade, gaining a reputation as one of the most innovative ensembles on the UK music scene. Raw, elemental and poignant and with a love of adventure, their performances feature flailing axes, sweat, salt and sawdust, throbbing harmonium, grinding fiddle and 2000 shards of micro-tuned steel; cast to the floor in cascading, shimmering joy.
Special guests will be announced in due course, but Bristolian friends Rachel Dadd and Will Newsome, performing as The Hand, will join the trio for the final show at Bristol’s Arnolfini on 16 August. They will be sharing tunes penned whilst working on the city’s ferryboats.
28 -LONDON London Canal Museum / £8 /www.canalmuseum.org.uk
31 -STAINES Memorial Garden FREE
01 – MARLOW All Saint’s Church FREE
02 – READING Rising Sun Arts Centre
04 – OXFORD Holywell Music Room (OCM)
05 – IPSDEN Braziers Park FREE (evening talk & workshop)
09 – CROFTON Crofton Beam Engines
10 – PEWSEY The Crown Inn FREE
11 – DEVIZES Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, Devizes Wharf FREE
13 – BRADFORD ON AVON Holy Trinity Church
14 – AVONCLIFF The Crossed Guns (Bath Folk Festival)
15 – BATH Museum of Bath at Work (Bath Folk Festival)
16 – BRISTOL Arnolfini, Bristol / £5/ www.arnolfini.org.uk