All Along The Wall with Jez Lowe
Guest blogger, Jez Lowe, writes:
"As I drove across the bleak landscape of Northumberland last January, through a darkness that only true rural isolation can boast, I was thinking, not for the first time, of the people from a far-off land who had once made this part of England their home.
"They had come, seen, conquered and been gone now for almost two thousand years. But it was what that they left behind them that had brought me here on this wild and wintry night.
"So began for me a journey along the Roman Wall, a journey in words and music, with a group of companions that would become close friends before the week was out. Isolated in a remote but, I confess, somewhat luxurious converted farmhouse near the tiny village of Once Brewed - within sight of the wall itself - Julie Matthews, Rory McLeod, Ruth Notman, Boo Hewerdine and myself were charged with the task of plotting a musical path along the full length of the wall, from east to west, and to give a performance of our achievements at the week's end.
"Having been involved in a similar exercise a year before, as part of The Darwin Project, and knowing how talented my housemates were, I was arriving with keen, almost relaxed anticipation. The jokers in our pack this time however were the poets Kate Fox and Elvis McGonagall, both of whom I had heard and enjoyed on Radio 4's Saturday Live morning show, but whom none of the rest of us had met.
"Within minutes of their arrival the next day however, we were all getting on famously, lobbing ideas back and forth, cracking jokes, hiking across the hills and sharing mealtime revelry. Inspiration, given the wealth of history, scenery and musical empathy at our disposal, was never in short supply. But this was no history lesson in song. Subjects as diverse as foot and mouth disease, the Berlin Wall, the Tyneside Metro system, The Border Reivers, nineteenth century witchcraft, doomed love affairs from the middle ages, and of course a good number of Romans in the gloamin, all made it into our lyrics and poems.
"The concert at our week's end, with fiddler Kate Bramley brought in to add spice to our musical menu, was recorded for CD. Two attempts to bring our work to further live performance were thwarted by the tragic cancellations of Brampton Live Festival (our sponsors and benefactors) and the Gateshead Green Phoenix Festival soon after.
"However, the CD, entitled All Along The Wall is officially launched this Thursday and our musical liaison will live again with a series of performances early next year, including Glasgow's Celtic Connections. We can all hardly wait!"