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Band members David, Emma, Rosi and Simon
Celebrating the Bride Valley
A West Dorset band inspired by the poetry of Douglas Northover has interpreted his works in a new music CD, and with it they are celebrating the traditions and legends of the local area.
It's West Dorset's landscape, people and history that are the inspirations for the music group Exit Smiling, who showcased their new CD Turn Towards Me at a concert at Bridport Town Hall.
Much of the band's music has its roots in the work of Dorset poet Douglas Northover, born in Burton Bradstock in 1917 and who spent most of his life in the Bride Valley, growing up among people earning a living from farming, fishing and net making - once the three biggest industries in West Dorset. He died in 1991.
Band member David Powell, who lives in Burton Bradstock today, says: "Those things forged the shape of the area, and literally made Bridport what it is.
"Northover's poems take you back to the people of that time, and how those industries gave us a sense of security - there's a power in what he wrote."
'I love locally sourced material'
David, who now works as a Primary School inspector, first discovered the poems in his role as a head teacher.
He says: "It goes back 15 years when Douglas Northover's widow, Georgie, presented me with a book of his poems.
They are inspired by Douglas Northover
"I've always used the words of poems to inspire children at school and in particular I love locally sourced material to help represent our local culture."
David put some of Northover's poems to music, and they were sung by his school children for many years, helping to keep traditional music alive for new generations.
But it was David's role in the Bride Valley Ceilidh Band that led to the creation of a whole album's worth of songs.
He says: "I presented some of the songs to the band, and then I updated and reinterpreted them with one of my musicians, Rosi, who is a Bride Valley cellist, for the piano and guitar.
Joining David Powell and Rosi Brewster in Exit Smiling is fellow Bride Valley Dance Band member Simon Douglas and Rosi's friend Emma Batchelor.
David says: "We really enjoyed updating the songs, so we put on a concert and had about 80 people there. From that, there was interest in getting them recorded."
The result is the album and concert, which had an added poignancy for David as Douglas Northover's widow Georgie died recently, and David was invited to perform a song at the funeral.
He chose The Vale of the Bride, and he said it was an emotional experience as its lyrics, based on Douglas Northover's original poem, describe the writer's attachment and love he felt towards the area in which he grew up:
On land or on sea, wherever I've been,
More information about the band on their website.
last updated: 21/05/2009 at 11:50
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