The latest news on Folk Rock band, >Merry Hell<

News - July 2013

You join us on the latest leg of the “Crazy Angels” Tour, well and truly in the midst of the festival season and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  Last June we trudged around in ankle deep mud backstage at Willowman but so far the weather has been marvelous! We seem to be making new friends along the way and it has been encouraging to see the number of new people coming to the stall after gigs and not only enthusing about the band but buying both albums after witnessing the live >Merry Hell<  experience for the first time!

We have received some fantastic reviews for the new album "Head Full of Magic, Shoes Full of Rain" and are once again indebted to Paul Harris for another great write up.  Read Paul's review here:- Louder Than The War Review  along with another fine review  from David Kidman via the Fatea web site  - Fatea Review. 

We are always grateful when people take the time to review the albums so favourably and for any airplay we receive on the radio.  It was a bit special though to discover that Mike Harding has been saying nice things about the band and we have already featured Mike's comments about our recent set at the Beverley Folk Festival on our facebook page.  Mike first played the band on his Folk show back in May and after rushing a copy of Blink out to him he was kind enough to play "Crooked Man"  on his show of 7th July.  Still available here.  MIke Harding Folk Show No.28

After securing the services of Dave Swarbrick, to play on our new album we  have news of another exciting collaboration .  After catching the band at Skegness last year none other than legendary guitarist, Gordon Giltrap., had this to say on his web site back in January.... "One band that I really enjoyed was Merry Hell....Look out for them!".  One thing led to another and after making contact with Gordon we discovered that he was interested in collaborating on something.  Virginia had written a song with this in mind and some of us were due to go to see Gordon and Oliver Wakeman in Penrtih back in March but unbelievably the gig was cancelled when heavy snow hit the region.  The good news is that Gordon will be traveling up to the studio next week to work with the band on some new material.  At the moment this is likely to be released as a download and may be one track, possibly more, but  we are very excited to be working with someone of Gordon's reputation.  Keep an eye on facebook for the latest developments on this!

With the full band stepping out on festival stages across the country, the acoustic band, in it's many forms, from a basic four piece to a six piece without drums and every conceivable combination in between, have been delighting audiences at folk clubs and smaller local festivals. The acoustic band have enjoyed return gigs at Conwy and Wallasey and made welcome first visits to Wrexham Folk Club and the Coppull Folk Festival, while the 'full fat' band have entertained crowds at Derby, Leek, Brampton, Chester, Donnington, Glastonwick and Uttoxeter, You can read about a few of the shows below.

Those of you who caught the band in semi acoustic mode at the Coppull Folk Festi
val will have witnessed the debut appearance of John Brindley in the latter part of the set. John, a talented multi-instrumentalist in his own right has agreed to play fiddle at some shows with the acoustic band. John (Kettle), in particular has been keen to experiment with a fiddle player for some time and not many people will know that the final Tansads line up actually recorded some demos with a fiddle player, "Miss The Bus" being one of the songs.  The band are thrilled to have John on board and we are sure you will love what he brings to the sound.

Forthcoming Shows

For those of you eager for your next live fix of the band  we are returning to the "Dog and Partridge" in Bolton on Saturday 13th July.  We would be happy to see as many of you there as possible.  Be sure to get down early as the place has been packed on our previous visits, though we are hoping to be able to play outside in the more spacious rear courtyard this time - weather permitting!

There are two other opportunities to catch the band at Festivals during July before we make a 2nd visit to the wonderful Wickham Festival in August.
Manor Street, Bolton BL1 1TU - Free Entry

Details -

Much Wenlock, Shropshire
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Near Fareham, Hampshire
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New Merchandise

Those who have seen the band in recent weeks may already be attired in one of the new >Merry Hell< T-shirts which went on sale for the first time at the Glastonwick Festival in June.  Featuring the album cover on a black or grey T-shirt they are available for the usual £10.  Andrew Dawson has also had his design head on and there will be another T-shirt available soon featuring an alternative take on the album title. We also have a stylish polo shirt on the way and Merry Hell mugs featuring the caption "Head Full Of Magic, Mug Full of Tea", though we should point out that coffee drinkers are not excluded from buying one. We promise that your coffee will taste just as good from the said mugs.  All of these desirable items will go on sale at the gigs as soon as they arrive and will be also be  available through the web site.

Collectors may be interested to learn that Bob has recently appeared on an album of traditional songs and sea shanties called  “Across The Western Ocean - Songs of Liverpool & The Sea which was put together by Liverpool based academic and musician, Gerry McGowan, with all proceeds going to the Hoylake Lifeboat.  Bob opens the album with a rollicking rendition of “Go To Sea No More”. Thanks to Bob we did acquire a small number of the CDs which went on the stall but these sold out pretty quickly. It might be the case that Bob can acquire more copies but anyone wanting a copy might be best using the contact details  through the link above.

>Merry Hell< Live

Stepping Stones - Brampton 05/05/2013

The band were delighted to be asked to play this excellent festival. which we thoroughly enjoyed.  The day began early for John & Virginia who had both been booked to provide workshops in the morning.  John held a production workshop and had taken along an iMac, mixing console and speakers but so much technical talk ensued that the machinery was never actually switched on!  Virginia meanwhile held a songwriting workshop using “The Butcher & The Vegan” and “The Kiss” from her “Quiet Bridge” album as examples of how to generate writing ideas.  Those in attendance were treated to up close and personal performances of both songs. a songwriting workshop using “The Butcher & The Vegan” and “The Kiss” from her “Quiet Bridge” album as examples of how to generate writing ideas.  Those in attendance were treated to up close and personal performances of both songs.

The afternoon saw a 5 piece acoustic set (with bass) which marked the debut of the new live arrangement of “Bury Me Naked”.  An ambitious undertaking onstage featuring  Andrew Dawson on drumsticks (and bass of course), a cameo by Lee digging in a bucket of gravel and Andrew clanging a hammer on a spade to recreate the rhythm pattern from the album version.  Chaotic though it was on the first run it still worked brilliantly providing many a comic moment which the audience loved. Luckily the creases had all been ironed out in time for the full band performance in the evening.  The song went down a storm in a very uptempo set which paused for breath only a few times with a splendid “Rosanna’s Song” providing the lightest moment as the band rocked their way through the likes of "This Time",  “Blink”, “War..”, and “Iron Man” with an encore of  “Let The Music Speak”.

After the afternoon acoustic set at the Stepping Stones Festival the band and crew gathered to toast the 30th - Yes 30th! -  birthday of Andrew Dawson.  This happy occasion was, however, tinged with a little sadness.  As a 20-something Andrew had kept the average age of the band down to that of a 'mature' boy band but all of a sudden we felt the full weight of that additional decade on our weary shoulders!

Leek - Foxlowe Arts Centre
20th April 2013

The band's first gig in Leek was an interesting experiment as we had agreed to go out live via the internet on Moorlands Radio on the "Moorlands Roots" show hosted by our old friend, Simon Jones, who introduced the band on the night.  From the "Opening Decree" the band launched straight into "Drunken Serenade" and "This Time" hoping to impress the locals and those >Merry Hell< regulars who had made the journey over.  With hard hitting new album material like "Loving The Skin You're In" and "Waiting For The River"  impressing alongside established favourites like "Rosanna's Song" , "Iron Man" and "One More Day" the band certainly put their all into the performance.  The show's engineer, Tim, came up with the idea of choosing a song in the set for those in the audience to film on their phones and e-mail their clips in to the show  to be assembled at a later date into a video for youtube.  The song chosen for this experiment was "Let The Music Speak" and though we e-mailed in a full version of the song from >Merry Hell< HQ we don't know if there was enough suitable footage submitted for Tim to finish the said video, though we certainly enjoyed the night!

Chester Folk Festival 
25th May 2013

A long day for the band with not one, not two but three sets! An afternoon set in the main marquee was followed by a relaxed and informal “Meet Merry Hell” gathering where the band sat on chairs to regale the audience with an account of the band's history going back to the Tansads era.  Explaining some of the stories behind the songs the banter between the band was both amusing and informative.  There were questions from the audience and acoustic performaces of “Fear of Falling”, “Butcher & The Vegan” , the live debut of Bob’s “I’ve Never Loved Anybody (Like I Love You), “Lean On Me” and Andrew’s cover version of Jake Thackray’s “Jolly Captain”.  The session was relaxed and enjoyable with great audience participation and proved so successful that the band might even consider working on the format and taking it into their acoustic shows.  

That's all for the moment.  We look forward to seeing some of you at the forthcoming festival shows and hopefully at The Dog & Partridge this weekend!

Jonah  - For >Merry Hell<
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