In the summer of 2015 the highly acclaimed northern folk experimentalists and Folk Radio UK favourites Harp and a Monkey toured a bespoke show about the First World War with the support of the Arts Council and the Western Front Association. Their task was to write material that would challenge the typical stereotypes of the war and then perform it in unusual venues relating to the conflict on home shores (from prisons that housed conscientious objectors to Zeppelin bomb craters on moors etc). The project was so successful it will now be expanded in the summer of 2016 – and it has also given birth to the much-anticipated recording of the popular Lancashire trio’s third album, the aptly named ‘War Stories’, as well as a 30-minute documentary of the project.
The documentary can now be viewed on the band’s own website here, or that of the Western Front Association, and we have an exclusive preview of the new trailer for it.
Meanwhile, ‘War Stories’ the album will be released on July 1, 2016 – the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. It focuses heavily on forgotten aspects of the war (from the horror of being a postman, to the role of musicians and problems of sexually transmitted diseases) and also on the forgotten men – those ex-servicemen who came home, and their families.
The themes addressed were chosen by the band’s front-man, Martin Purdy, an internationally recognised WW1 expert who has written three books on the conflict.
“We were originally asked to put together this show for the start of the centenary, but we declined as we didn’t want to get lost amid all the other stuff that we knew would be jostling for people’s attention. It was also very important to us that our show challenged some of the typical stereotypes and narratives of the war and came at it from a very different angle.”
With Martin’s knowledge, and the talents of fellow multi-instrumentalists Simon Jones and Andy Smith, Harp and a Monkeyhave put together a highly informed and thought-provoking work that remains big on the musical and stylistic trademarks that have made them favourites on the folk circuit – unusual but charming left-field music underpinned by a firm commitment to classic song-writing, wry humour and big melodies. As ever, their tales of life, love and remembrance are underpinned by a beguiling and unique mix of harp, banjo, glockenspiel, viola and subtle electronica.
For those wanting to attend the show at the museum, they need to register quickly at the following link:
More here: www.harpandamonkey.com