Mary Hare, Snelsmore, Newbury
Harp and a Monkey
Winners of the Folking.com Best Band award are renowned for their haunting songsmithery and their eclectic influences, which range from traditional folk songs to care in the community.
The band have had an exceptional year, continuing their work with Arts Council England to help mark the ongoing centenary of World War 1, playing at folk clubs and festivals nationwide and receiving invites to participate in some incredible project.
The band released a new single in September, titled Clean White Sheets as part of a project in Yorkshire which commemorated the work and sacrifice of nurses during WW1.
Matin Purdy, the band’s frontman and a WW1 historian, said: “Recent events to mark the centenary of the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres, or ‘Passchendaele’, have focused on the soldiers, but it would seem fitting to spare a thought for the nursing staff, many of whom – like Nellie Spindler – were never too far from danger.”
‘Clean White Sheets’ (The Nellie Spindler Song) was inspired by the work of secondary school children from Nellie’s home town, who worked with Professor Christine Hallett (from Manchester University), to remember the sacrifices of their local heroine, who was only in her mid-twenties when she died.
Martin added: “The idea of Clean White Sheets is based around the memoirs of the wounded, who would often judge how close they were to home – and safety – by how clean the sheets were. It just seemed like a very simple but evocative and powerful image.”
In October the band helped to raise awareness of World Mental Health Day, with the creation of a thought-provoking video about anxiety and social isolation.
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.”