Rychard Carrington reports on Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party - The Junction, Cambridge, 28 October 2012

Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party
Junction 2, The

It was good to hear another night of thoroughly traditional English folk music at The Junction, following impressive shows by Faustus and Carthy & Swarbrick. Fay Hield, formerly of the a cappella quartet The Witches of Elswick, has completed a Ph.D. entitled 'English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community' , and now lectures in ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield. She is also involved in running two folk clubs, Royal Traditions in Dungworth, South Yorkshire, and Bright Phoebus in Sheffield. She has been signed to the distinguished folk label Topic Records for her solo career. Her first album, Looking Glass, was released tewo years agom, and the second, Orfeo, this May. She was a hit at this year's Cambridge Folk Festival.  


So, I hear you ask, was she any good? Happily, the answer is 'yes'. Her voice carries a song well, and each number was properly introduced with some account of its origins, as is right and proper, especially from an ethnomusicologist. Fay was wearing what is evidently her favourite dress, a fetching orange number, somewhat like a nightie. Her shoes rather resembled slippers, curiously enough. Perhaps more crucially, she was well accompanied by what she described as her 'fantasy folk band' - she selected an ideal band, and lo and behold they became her actual band. The four musicians constituting 'The Hurricane Party' (a slightly misleading name, making them sound a tad wilder than they actually are) produce a thoroughly traditional and thoroughly pleasing sound. It's not often one hears two accordoion-type instruments in one band, but here we had Andy Cutting on melodeon and Rob Harbron on English concertina. Sam Sweeney from Bellowhead played fiddle, cello and nyckelharpa (yes, a new one on me too). Fay's 'partner' Jon Boden was looking after their children, so his place was taken by the equally talented Roger Wilson, on fiddle and guitars. Thus a double-fiddle sound frequently accompanied the squeezeboxes. This is hardcore folk, indeed. I reckon Great Britain could do with a good deal more of such.


Nearly all of Sir Orfeo featured. Wicked Serpent, The Old 'Arris Mill and Henry were highlights. A good turnout applauded generously, as they certainly ought to have done. Thumbs up for Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party.


Writer: Rychard Carrington