Sunday, August 24, 2008

Polly Bolton: Call of the Siren

Much Wenlock is not just the spiritual home of the Olympics. It also the venue for Festival at the Edge, which I attended a couple of times back in the 1990s.

Although it is chiefly a storytelling festival, my chief memories of it are musical. I heard a young Eliza Carthy play (with Nancy Kerr) and, best of all, I heard the Polly Bolton Band.

That year everything was running hopelessly late, and it was after midnight when the band (Polly Bolton, John Shepherd and Steve Dunachie) took the stage in the marquee. Everyone's breath was steaming in the cold air. The band played traditional folk songs and their own settings of poems by Kipling and A. E. Housman. Above all I remember Polly Bolton's wonderful folk voice.

I later found that she had recorded with a lot of people, including Ashley Hutchings. You can read more about Polly Bolton's career on her own website. As well as performing and running singing workshops, she runs a garden centre in the shadow of Brown Clee.

This video features Polly singing with Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra and is accompanied by footage from the film Ithaca.

Incidentally, the Festival at the Edge was founded by the late Richard Walker, known as "Mogsy" in storytelling circles. He was also the founder of the Malcolm Saville Society, but when I first met him at a storytelling evening at a pub in Leicester, I did not know of this shared enthusiasm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this one, another new name to me.Cutting's album with this song on it is avavailable at eMusic and no doubt elsewhere so you've generated at least one sale for Polly Bolton,and maybe others when I investigate the album further.