Dear people out there,
This was meant to start with great fanfare reminding you that The Fruitful Fells is officially released in exactly one week, but time passes at a worrying rate, and it’s actually released in five days, on Friday the 16th. I’m trying to finalise the details of how to get back into the UK to play some concerts, but the rules seem to change every couple of days, so it’s a work in progress.
Since I last wrote, the seemingly impossible seems to be becoming possible all over the place. Canada is not only on fire, but might finally be starting to realise how dreadfully they treat First Nations people, the English football team have made it into a major final for the first time in many people’s lives and Boris Johnson is consequently having to pretend he didn’t just endorse racists booing the players, the erstwhile occupying forces in Afghanistan have upped and R.U.N.N.O.F.T in the night, plunging their local proteges into mortal danger yet still claim it was a worthwhile endeavour, and Matt Hancock, helmsman of Britain’s Coronavirus “response” has finally been fired; interestingly enough, not for widely acknowledged incompetence or the wilful sacrifice of a nation’s elders, not even for corruptly employing his lover, hoodwinking his family or awarding millions in public funds to his mates at the pub, but for hugging during the hugging ban.
You couldn’t make it up. If I’d have read this a couple of years ago, I’d be totally baffled by the idea of a ban on hugging. The rest, bar the football thing, has sadly been all too inevitable for some time. I wrote the bulk of We Have The Time, which was finally released on Heavy Wood years later, in 2003, in response to a quote from an Afghan herdsman, asked what he thought of the Americans in his country. He responded “They may have the watches, but we have the time”, betraying the innate poetry of his people, and chilling this listener to the bone.
For students of history, it’s clear that invading Afghanistan (however pure ones motives) never works out well. Those are some tough cookies in some pretty hostile terrain, who’ve been practicing harassing interlopers for millennia, and in the past century or so, almost constantly. I always thought it seemed strange to attempt to avenge the atrocities of September 11th 2001, perpetrated by 19 Saudis, by bombing weddings in Afghanistan, and surprisingly enough, a full twenty years later, very little seems to have been achieved other than another few rounds of arms/concrete contracts and the attendant bribes. Of course it is deeply sad for all those who fought and died and their bereaved families on all sides. Plus ça change…
As for news of music, we will be playing on August 12th at Broadstairs Folk Week, and August 29th amongst a truly stellar line-up at Towersey Festival. I’d thoroughly recommend getting tickets for whichever is more local to you, or both, if you like a bit of travel. We’ll also be playing an outdoor concert in King’s Cliffe on August 21st if that suits better. If I can negotiate the multifarious and ever-changing rules, we will also be playing at Bedfringe in Bedford on July 31st. Other than that we are at a loose end and in need of gigs… garden concerts, house-concerts, parties, whatever you have. It’s been so hard to plan events this summer that it’s been pretty much impossible to put a tour together, but I would love to see you all, and sing to you, so if you can get twenty or so friends together, we’ll play anywhere.
As I mentioned, the new album is released, officially on Friday, August 16th, and is available in various formats at www.jezhellard.net
Here’s a few things people have said about it so far.
“A standout; vocally, instrumentally, taken in a literary context, making sense of human existence…it places them towards the top in the folk music genre” - Irish Music Magazine
“Mad the world may be, but it’s immeasurably improved by having music such as this brought into it, imaginative, thought-provoking and, above all, entertaining.” Folk Radio UK
“A wonderful album, one of great depth and insight, musically intelligent and lyrically inspiring; an absolute delight.” - Liverpool Sound & Vision
“An album well worth the buying.” - Living Tradition
We’ve been getting a lot of local, internet and specialist radio play, but if you have a moment to email/tweet/bother any of the programs on BBC Radio 2, 3, or 4; In Tune, Loose Ends, Folk Show, or anyone who plays a bit of music, it would be lovely to get some national airplay.
As always, tell your friends, buy an album, come to a show. I’m really looking forward to playing music for people again.
With much love from the back of the van, perched on a mountainside, straining for internet.