The acclaimed folk experimentalists and storytelling trio Harp and a Monkey are doing their bit to help promote a subject close to their hearts today – mental health. All three of the collective have previously worked in mental health services or as specialist support for adults or children in need of additional help.
Last week, on World Mental Health Day (October 10th), they released a new video which is also our Song of the Day:
On the band’s second album, All Life Is Here, they wrote and recorded a song about care in the community called ‘Doolally Day Out’, which is the focus of a short film they have now made to help promote WMHD – a day that tries to break down the kind of social barriers that limit vital dialogue, understanding and openness about mental health issues.
The film, called ‘Hot Water Cat and the Outside’, was put together by the Lancashire outfit’s harp, guitar and viola player, Simon Jones, who is an award-winning photographic artist and animator.
Simon explained: “The film is about anxiety and isolation and hopefully provides a window into the kind of challenges that so many people face in their daily lives.
“It seemed to juxtapose itself nicely with the song Doolally Day Out, which was inspired by care in the community day trips to a site called Boggart Hole Clough, which is close to our rehearsal room in North Manchester. Ironically, boggarts are often seen in folklore as being wicked spirits or evil geniuses!
“World Mental Health Day is about raising awareness of mental health issues and we hope that this film and song will, in their own modest way, make a small but positive contribution.”
Harp and a Monkey were formed in 2008 and have built a reputation for using song and storytelling in an innovative way to challenge stereotypes. Their collaborations have seen them work with British universities and museums as well as international bodies such as the Western Front Association. The band can be found out on the road now and are presently working on their fourth album, with a view to releasing it in time to mark their tenth anniversary in late 2018.
Harp and a Monkey Live Dates 2017
12th: Ashby de la Launde Village Hall, Lincolnshire
13th: St Martin’s Church, Welton le Wold, Lincolnshire
14th: Chinley Community Centre, High Peaks, Derbyshire
20th: Blackpool, Lancs (private concert)
22nd: Riverhouse Barn, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey (tickets: https://thelittleboxoffice.com/riverhouse/event/view/67790)
4th: The Green Man Gallery, Buxton, Derbyshire.
8th: Dorking Folk Club, Dorking, Surrey
11th: Grand Theatre, Clitheroe, Lancs (with Merry Hell)
18th: Atherstone, (OSCA) Community Arts Centre, Warwickshire
25th: The Cellar Upstairs Folk Club, Calthorpe Arms, Bloomsbury, London
7th: Black Swan Folk Club, York, North Yorkshire
9th: Western Front Association, Wolverhampton Branch, West Midlands
Find out more about World Mental Health Day here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day