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Tim Chipping

Ranting & Reeling

Tim Chipping’s monthly column

There’s a brand new folk band in town. We don’t know their name. We’ve never even heard them play. But they’re going to appear at all the festivals and feature famous names on their debut album. It’s very exciting.

News of this fledgling group came after a highly specific want-ad appeared on a music jobs website.

“Musicians wanted for folk band in the vein of Bellohead, Sting (Last Ship), and Seeger Session band,” the listing announced (we think that’s the American spelling of Bellowhead).

You can see the advert for yourself by Googling the words “the ravens have left the tower”. But to save you from a sore mouse, I’ve picked out the most important criteria for anyone wishing to join this raggle-taggle band of troubadours and Sting fans.

“We plan working all the festival gigs and recording debut album to license worldwide.”

We’re impressed by their can-do attitude. If we learned anything from our years as an artist’s model it’s that you have to think big to be big.

“No session hired guns mentality need apply!!!”

Yeah. Screw you hired guns!!! (We have no idea what this means.)

“We will also feature established name guest artists at gigs and on debut album.” Clearly this is a band who’ve made a lot of friends on the folk scene, throughout the years they’ve not been together. Can someone check Kate Rusby’s diary to see if she’s written the words “record guest vocals with band who don’t exist”?

But is global success as easy as these young hopefuls make out? Looking at the likes of Show Of Hands one might conclude that it is. But the popular three-piece duo didn’t get where they are today without knowing how to set out the chairs in a church hall. Something these wannabes are ill-equipped to do. They’d probably expect their audience to sit on the floor of a derelict Hackney offal warehouse with no toilet, described on their Facebook event page as “a great space”.

What do they know of driving an entire day to find the venue has no PA and only six people have shown up, two of whom had simply got the wrong night for the quiz? Then afterwards, one audience member insists on telling you why your version of The Outlandish Knight is “wrong” and won’t go away even though you’re angrily crying. And as you lug your gear out of the door the organiser says, “I don’t know why so few people came. We had Lucy Ward here last week and they were queuing round the block.”

If you’re not put off yet, and you feel like joining a group already boasting of their involvement with an “established international record producer” (so that’s where Joe Boyd’s been going at nights) please be aware that the website requires you to pay a subscription fee before you can apply.

Some of you may question the motives of this ballad-toting Brian Epstein. We’ve even heard sneering suggestions that this advert is merely a ruse to persuade people to sign up to the site. That’s the kind of response we’ve come to expect from our so-called folk community. But it’s this cynicism that’s stopping you from working all the festival gigs, with your session hired gun mentality. You’ve only got yourself to blame.

Tim Chipping


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