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Lady Maisery Album Launch, The Greystones

July 6, 2011

Last night, folk promotions group Bright Phoebus hosted new folk trio Lady Maisery’s debut album launch at The Greystones, and the room was packed out. A special event for me because the three women that make up Lady Maisery are all good friends who I have known for years, but also that my sister Lucy was playing support.

I’ve written before about the Greystones back room, but it is a pretty special place. While the stage looks entirely professional, the room feels cosy and homely, with fantastic images of local stars (and David Lynch…) on the walls. Add that to the wide range of Thornbridge Ales, and you’ve got a winning combination.

First up was Fay Hield, co-organiser of Bright Phoebus and also an accomplished folk singer in her own right. Fay opened with a song of her own and compered for the night, making the point that it was great to have an all-female ‘cast’ on stage tonight. And it was, and all the better for not having been advertised as such, so as avoiding ‘novelty value’.

The support act was next, and a special one for me. Lucy Huzzard (my little sister) on melodeon, and Jenny Page (oboe). Lucy, to her credit, just graduated from Newcastle University with a first in Folk and Traditional Music. We finally got to see her show her true talent as a musician, and she definitely wowed the crowd (as well as made her family a wee bit emotional) with her ease on stage and musical accomplishment. Jenny’s oboe made the performance, providing a wonderful accompaniment. The two instruments worked fantastically together and we all hope to hear more from them as a duo soon.

Lucy played a range of traditional and newer folk tunes from England, France and Scandinavia, and the arrangements showed a superb connection with the music.

After Fay’s bingo calling skills in the break, Lady Maisery took centre stage, playing through their new (and debut) album ‘Weave and Spin’ (available from RootBeat Records).

Lady Maisery comprises the not insignificant talents of Hazel Askew (The Askew Sisters), Hannah James (Kerfuffle, Hannah James and Sam Sweeney, The Demon Barbers) and Rowan Rheingans (Fidola). All three of these women are great friends of mine, and I had also been around during some of their development of the album in my sister’s flat in Newcastle, and so it was a very exciting occasion to be watching them perform together.

First up was ‘I Know My Love’, a traditional Irish song which instantly showcased the clear and bright sound of these girls’ voices together. A capella vocal harmony is not an easy thing to do, but throughout the concert Lady Maisery made it seem effortless, consistently tuneful, and powerful without sounding like anything other than their own, very different, individual styles.

Mixing traditional ballads – haunting and historical, with the usual tales of jilted love, with anti war songs such as the brilliant rendition of Portland Town. The repertoire stretches to music hall classics with questionable politics, later redeemed by a brilliant ditty regarding ‘the gender division of agricultural labour’, and ‘diddling’ – essentially, singing wordless tunes.

The first of my two favourite pieces have to be their version of Gavin Davenport and Jess Arrowsmith’s ‘The Changeling’s Lullaby’ – a haunting tale regarding the myth that fairies would come and take a human child and replace it with their own. Hazel pointed out that there had been some theories to suggest that this was one early way that people may have coped with post-natal depression. Wikipedia suggests that it may also have been a way that parents dealt with childhood genetic disability. You may know the ideas of the story from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The second, perhaps to do with the inclusion of Rowan’s banji-sitar (a unique instrument made by her dad Helmut in Grindleford) is the haunting and surreal ‘Nottamun Town’.

The event was a launch party for their debut album, and so it was full of friends and family, and a lovely atmosphere. Since buying the CD I’ve listened to it a lot, but you should do the same for yourself – go and buy it without further ado!

I look forward to seeing Lady Maisery’s progress, and wish them all the best.

Rosie @ LS


One Comment leave one →
  1. red37 permalink
    July 6, 2011 9:33 pm

    Congratulations to Lady Maisery, for a wonderful performance, and a debut album that yas yet come out of the CD player since we bought it. Lucy and Jenny were also a total joy to watch, what a fantastic night!

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