Folk Radio UK are delighted to have a video exclusive of one of our favourite acts – the northern folk experimentalists Harp and a Monkey. The trio, whose last album (All Life Is Here) was among our records of the year, recorded this reworking of a traditional folk classic (usually performed as ‘The Flandyke Shore’) in an orchard in the grounds of Bicton College in Devon during a break between performances at the recent Sidmouth Folk Festival. It’s also our Song of the Day:
Harp and a Monkey have re-envisioned the song as ‘Flanders Shore’ as part of a unique project they are undertaking with Arts Council England and The Western Front Association – a series of performances of their acclaimed World War One show in unusual places on home shores that are related to the conflict.
On Saturday (August 22) they will perform to veterans on The Westfield War Memorial Village in Lancaster which was built for disabled WW1 servicemen and now houses men and women and their families from subsequent wars; on Sunday (August 23) they will perform a public show at 1pm in a quarry by the side of the Peel Tower on the Pennine Moors above the village of Holcombe, which was the subject of a Zeppelin attack in 1916; and they will conclude with a show in Walton Prison, Liverpool, which housed conscientious objectors during WW1.
A documentary is being made of the performances for airing later in the year, and other sites have already been identified around the UK for an extension of the project in 2016.
The band’s singer, Martin Purdy, is a First World War historian and the author of books for the likes of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? franchise. Other titles he has co-authored include ‘Doing Our Bit’ and ‘The Gallipoli Oak’.
Martin said: “We are really looking forward to these opening performances and we put the ‘Flanders Shore’ song together to highlight a particular aspect of the show about the sense of duty many fathers felt to enlist in order to protect their families. The film at Bicton looks a bit pre-raphaelite, which is perfect – that was an image of an idyllic Britain that many felt they needed to protect from the German ‘barbarians’.
“Our First World War show is very different to what most people have looked at; it deals with forgotten stories and forgotten men rather than the stereotypical narrative of mud, blood and trenches.”