THE BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS AT HARTLEPOOL FOLK FESTIVAL
2017 marks the 125th anniversary of the publication of Rudyard Kipling's The Barrack-Room Ballads; it's also the 40th anniversary of the British release of the iconic LP in which folk music legend Peter Bellamy set those poems to music. On 15 October, Hartlepool Folk Festival is delighted to present an imaginative new performance featuring an all-star cast, timely narration, and innovative musical settings that breathe new life into these much-loved songs.
Martin and Eliza Carthy, Jon Boden, Damien Barber and The Wilsons are not only some of the biggest names of the UK folk scene, they each have a close association with Peter Bellamy and his work. To have them all on one stage performing The Barrack-Room Ballads ensures a magical night in itself. "But there's another side to the story," explains Festival Director Joan Crump. "It's well known that the soldiers suffered all kinds of privations, but the presence of the British also had an enduring impact on the indigenous people of the Empire. In the year which marks the 70th anniversary of Indian and Pakistani Independence, we want to acknowledge that." The ten-piece on-stage orchestra, inspired by the concept of the 'Indian wedding band', will use new arrangements and specially-written incidental music to conjure the atmosphere of the period, from rousing martial brass to the evocative strings and percussion of Indian classical music. Broadcaster, writer and actor Hardeep Singh Kohli will counterpoint the songs with spoken-word narration drawn from a range of Kipling's writing, including his later anti-war poetry.
The Barrack-Room Ballads were a series of poems written by Kipling when he'd returned to England following his journalistic career in India. Influenced by popular culture and a strong sense of music hall, the ballads were vivid tributes to the soldiers he'd known, written in dialect to try and evoke their authentic voice. Peter Bellamy was struck by the lyricism of the poems, and had a theory that Kipling based their structure on pre-existing folk and music hall songs. His tunes and arrangements have been lauded as seamlessly capturing the essence of the ballads, and many have become folk classics: Tommy, Danny Deever, Cholera Camp and Cells can be heard regularly at folk clubs up and down the country.
Accompanying the performance will be 'Follow Me Home', a panel discussion about Peter Bellamy's passion for setting Kipling's poems to music. Special guest Heather Wood, of The Young Tradition and the Kipling Society, is travelling for the event from her home in New York, and will be among those examining the often-controversial legacy of both Kipling and Bellamy in the 21st century.
Tickets and further information can be found here or by calling 01429-299330.