Filmed in the late summer of 2021 in a field near the Gate To Southwell Folk Festival, watch John Spiers and Jon Boden performing Bailey Hill / Wittenham Clumps from their latest album, ‘Fallow Ground’ (reviewed here). These were the final tunes on the album and, as noted by Billy Rough in his review, provide a lively, energetic climax with Boden and Spiers bouncing off each other as they dip and sway.
The first tune, Bailey Hill, was written by Jon Boden and the second, by John Spiers. Both tunes are inspired by hills to which they have a personal connection, expanded on below. For this track, Spiers plays a Welsh made one-row-four-stop melodeon in D made by Rees Wesson – “an absolute doozy of an instrument!“
In our interview with them here, Boden reveals that ‘Bailey Hill’ relates to a location that holds fond childhood memories. “‘Bailey Hill’ is a fort just outside Sheffield. It’s abandoned really, covered in trees, no signage saying this is a Norman fort or whatever, but it’s lovely. It’s sort of been reclaimed. It’s covered in bracken, and it’s a place we used to go for picnics quite a lot and spend quite a lot of time up there.”
Spiers’ tune ‘Wittenham Clumps’ has a similar history, providing a valuable link to Spiers’ past and early session playing. “I wrote that a long, long time ago, before I even met Jon. I was playing that in sessions in Oxford, in fact, all the old crowd in Oxford will probably recognise that tune, I used to play it almost every session!
“It’s just one of those places I’ve always known. The clumps refer to two hills with little bunches of trees on top of them, and one of these had a poem carved in the trunk of a tree. It was legible in the 1960s. When I first saw it in the 1980s the tree had grown over the poem, and some letters were bigger than others. Now the tree’s dead, and it’s just photographs that remain.”
The duo are on tour in June 2022, including Kings Place, alongside several festival appearances across the summer, including Sidmouth, Cambridge, Derby and more. See dates below.
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Spiers & Boden Tour Dates
Wednesday, June 1 – Drill Hall, LINCOLNThursday, June 2 – The Fire Station, SUNDERLANDFriday, June 3 -Howard Assembly Room, LEEDSSaturday, June 4 – Pavilion Arts Centre, BUXTONSunday, June 5 – Oxford Playhouse, OXFORDWednesday, June 8 – Theatre Royal, WINCHESTERThursday, June 9 – The Brewhouse, TAUNTONFriday, June 10 – Ludlow Assembly Rooms, LUDLOWSaturday, June 11 – St. Neots Folk Festival, ST. NEOTSSunday, June 12 – The Y Theatre, LEICESTERFriday, June 17 – Kings Place, LONDONSaturday, June 18 – Trinity Theatre, TUNBRIDGE WELLSSunday, June 19 – Ropetackle Arts Centre, SHOREHAM-BY-SEAMonday, June 20 – Stanley Arts, CROYDONTuesday, June 21 – The Apex, BURY ST. EDMUNDSWednesday, June 22 – The Roses Theatre, TEWKESBURYThursday, June 23 – Pontardawe Arts Centre, PONTARDAWEFriday, June 24 – The Stables, MILTON KEYNESSaturday, June 25 – St. Cadoc’s Church, CAERLEONSunday, June 26 – Topsham Folk Club, EXETERSaturday, July 23 – Warwick Folk Festival, WARWICKThursday, July 28 — Friday, July 29 – Cambridge Folk Festival, CAMBRIDGEWednesday, August 3 – Sidmouth Folk Festival, SIDMOUTHSaturday, August 6 – Wickham Folk Festival, WICKHAMFriday, August 12 – Broadstairs Folk Week, BROADSTAIRSThursday, September 22 – South Downs Folk Festival, BOGNOR REGISSaturday, October 1 – Derby Folk Festival, DERBY
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