Thanks to funding from The Arts Council England, Long Division festival has been able to fund a series of interesting projects from artists in the Wakefield area.
One of these projects, entitled ‘A Romantic Destination’ see’s songwriter and producer Jamie Lockhart of Mi Mye, reimagining music from a book of songs that has been passed down by his family in Skerray in the Highlands for 166 years and then performing them at a special event in Wakefield with just his voice and a fiddle.
Jamie took some time out to share with us an insight into the project.
A Romantic Destination
A songbook from 1851 used by two brothers; one a folk songwriter, the other the 1st Piper To Queen Victoria. In its pages, the seeds for a life of music that would take a man from the Scottish Highlands to Buckingham Palace.
Six generations later, and that same book is unearthed in a house in Skerray, on the very North Coast of Scotland. Passed from father to son, it now rests in the hands of songwriter Jamie Lockhart.
After 18 years in Scotland, brought up with Ceilidh bands and choirs he, like his ancestor, left Scotland to follow a musical calling. And now, after 18 years in Wakefield, Jamie will take the music from that 166-year-old piece of history to ask some timeless questions. And using just his fiddle and his stories, he will try and answer them.
“A Romantic Destination” is a show about home, about the connecting lines that run through our lives and beyond, and the part music can play in piecing it all together.
Jamie Lockhart on A Romantic Destination
In my teens, I had fiddle lessons with one of the world’s greatest fiddle players (Alasdair Fraser). I loved hearing him speak about getting into the bones of the music, finding the ribs and playing in amongst them.
I spoke to him a lot about music and life and what I should do. He told me I had to move from the comforting surrounding of the Highlands to a city which would push me into different musical experiences.
So I moved to Wakefield and I love all the music that erupts around it. Since arriving I’ve been involved in as much as this city will let me, which has been great as it has opened its arms to me and let me be part of it.
A lot of the songs I write for my band Mi Mye are inspired by the tradition of storytelling in the north coast of Scotland where I grew up surrounded by some great storytellers.
This has stuck with me, continuing when I moved to Wakefield, and at shows, I like to tell stories, and most of my songs have a strong narrative element.
This year’s Long Division festival is helping people create new work, so I chatted with them about developing the storytelling in more detail.
There will be passed-down stories, my own stories, trad tunes, my own tunes and songs all interlaced together. The show is going to simply be me playing the fiddle and telling these stories. I will be accompanied by Morgan Evans on piano and it takes place on Wednesday the 30th of May (tickets and details here).
Once I started planning for the show amazing things started coming out of the shadows, long-lost stories, tunes I had almost forgotten forever and an amazing book. This book was just in the back of my memory as something that existed, it was my great great great great great grandfathers book which he shared with his brother, who was the head piper to Queen Victoria.
The book had been hidden away and kept for me. And when I started to read it, I realised it wasn’t just the two brothers that had written in it, it had been passed down to them from generations before but had not been added to for around 160 years. So for this show this book has become my notebook, just like they used it. I’m taking inspiration and sometimes entire tunes of their beautiful tiny melodies. I’m writing songs about family and place and love all around these tunes.
This show is taking place in a very special place for me, Theatre Royal Wakefield. Years ago when I needed a job the most they gave me one, they looked after me and supported me in every way they could, and most importantly they introduced me to my true love Emily. They said “tomorrow you will meet the most amazing person ever here” and then the next day she arrived and worked in the café with me.
Jamies 10 favourite traditional Scottish folk tunes
Tickets and details here: http://theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk/whats-on/a-romantic-destination/