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

News - November 2013

We are back much earlier than expected with some exciting developments and some news that we just had to share with you!

Thanks to everyone who came along to Merry Helloween II and helped make the night a roaring success once again.  We enjoyed it so much that we are going to do it all again next year and the date is already booked - 1st November, 2014.  We also have an early bird offer of £9 if you book tickets in advance, they are now on sale and already selling well.  If you aren’t a local and you haven’t experienced the band at their very best on home turf then you need to be at Merry Helloween III -
The Return of Merry Helloween.  Why not plan ahead, take advantage of the early bird offer and make a weekend of it?

Forthcoming Shows

There are only a few more opportunities to catch the band live this year, starting with Crewe this weekend!

Pedley Street, Crewe CW2 6AG

Canal Basin, Tower Wharf, Chester CH1 4EZ
Free before 9pm, £4 thereafter

High Street, Congleton CW12 1BN
(Acoustic Band - Supporting the

43 High Street, Market Warsop,
Nottinghamshire NG20 0AB

Loving the Scenes You're In


Last weekend the band, supported by a cast of carefully chosen extras, spent a couple of days shooting a new video.  The video will be put together by Steve Edwards who also did our "Drunken Serenade" video, though this is an altogether more ambitious undertaking.  We’d like to say a big thanks to Steve who remained 100% focused despite the chaos going on around him and never once raised a quizzical eyebrow at some of the more outlandish ideas of the director...who looks kind of familiar?  Thanks as well to all our extras for remaining patient as they waited to do their bit and for the enthusiasm and energy everyone brought to the project.  It was great to see everyone throwing off their inhibitions to do some very daft things and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed having you all involved.  We spent a fun filled day filming in one of our favourite local venues with a smaller ‘unit’ also visiting a secret location the following day.  We'd love to reveal more but we don’t want to give too much away at the moment, hence the absence of witness accounts and photographic evidence on facebook - everyone who appeared in the video has been sworn to secrecy!  However, we can reveal that Andrew has been relishing the lead role and you will certainly see plenty of him in action.  The hard work is just beginning for Steve with weeks of editing ahead but we can't wait to see the finished article.  We will of course let you know when the video is released.  I will also attempt to put together a considerably less professional companion video with a glimpse of the madness and the mirth behind the scenes.

All I Want For Christmas Is...

Apologies for the shameless plug but did we mention that our new >Merry Hell< mugs have been flying off the stall at recent shows -  even Mike Harding has one - and by the time you read this you will be able to order your own from the online web shop.  They have proved to be so popular that more have been ordered ahead of the festive season. They make ideal Christmas gifts, as indeed do both >Merry Hell< CDs and don't forget that the Tansads CDs and Reunion Concerts DVD will all be moving to the Tansads site, though this may take a little longer. If you need Tansads items for Christmas please contact Damian via the web site. 

For the ultimate >Merry Hell collectible though, you could treat yourself, or a loved one, to one of these promotional umbrellas.  Specially made in association with there are just 20 of them so they are rare and cost £25 which includes postage.  They are large, robust, long handled umbrella's - can we describe them as golfing umbrellas? Also very difficult to photograph indoors! Again do contact Damian via the web site if you desire one.

>Merry Hell< Live

Settle - Victoria Hall

As previously stated it was an honour to be chosen to play the first of what will be a regular monthly folk night at the Victoria Hall with the acts chosen by Mike Harding himself. Mike and his team, most of whom are volunteers,  made us really welcome and are obviously dedicated to making these evenings a success. Things couldn’t have gone more smoothly and we were happy to see the hall packed for the show.  The band performed a semi-acoustic set before being joined after the interval by Andy Jones, transforming into the “full fat” band for the second half.  If the first set was more restrained with the intention of not offending any folk purists we need not have worried.  One gent approached Mike at the interval and wasn’t complaining that the band were too rowdy but said he was loving the songs and wanted to know if the lyrics were available in a book? (a product development opportunity there?) The first set certainly benefited from the splendid acoustics in the hall with the band’s collective stomping on the Opening Decree and the spade driven percussion on “Bury Me Naked” ringing out loud and clear.  Nice to have such an attentive audience for the likes of "Rosanna's Song" and "Lean on Me" which came across superbly.  The second set was equally well appreciated as the band upped the tempo with the likes of "Morning After", "Finest Hour", "War" and Blink" as well as taking the tempo down with interludes for "Emerald Green" and "I've Never Loved Anybody (Like I Love You)", the latter only performed occasionally so far but always a welcome addition.  A great way to kick off the monthly folk nights at the Victoria Hall, a venue we would love to visit again!

>Merry Helloween< II

With this special evening set to become an annual event on the gig calendar we have to say that the second Merry Helloween show was every bit as enjoyable as the first.  Degsy opened the night with a short set, accompanied by John on guitar, both entering into the spirit of the evening by donning fancy dress.  The set included two welcome Tansads oldies in “Separate Souls” and “Drag Down The Moon”.  As they did last year the band turned the set list on it’s head and included a few surprises.  Storming onstage with “Blink”, the crowd were every bit as energised as the band and belting out the songs with them from the off. Whether we can still call “Head Full...” a new album is debatable as most of the songs are virtually old favourites...”Loving The Skin You’re In”, “Hope You Don’t Mind”, “Bury Me Naked”, “Morning After” and “Finest Hour” all seem to have been around for ages.  The crowd singing on “Lean On Me” was certainly magical on the night even if the audience did lose their place slightly and had to be brought back into line by Andrew for the last verse.  Nice to hear Lee’s “Lay Your Head Down” again before a poetic Halloween tale from Virginia about the ghost of Citadel cleaner, Valerie , who had fallen from the balcony.  Andrew continued his tradition of performing a Jake Thackray song, this time an unaccompanied version of the classic “Sister Josephine” for which he donned a wimple.  There was of course the obligatory Tansads section.  A little shorter than last year but just as enthusiastically celebrated by the diehards with “Fear of Falling”, “G Man”, “English Rover” and finally, the evergreen “Horses” with John joined by a full throated audience.  This solo spot had given Virginia the chance to change into a dress of “Emerald Green” for the song of the same name, probably the first time many locals had witnessed it live but a song many have requested ever since the album was released. “Iron Man” and “One More Day ended the set leaving the crowd hungry for more.  Time then for an epic encore, “Pendle Hill”, “Waiting For the River” and the now traditional balloon drop that greeted “Let The Music Speak”, the band’s football skills severely tested as they tried in vain keep the balloons off the stage, Andrew Dawson topping the stats with a series of solid defensive clearances. Check out some clips here.  Roll on next year!

Tour Dates 2014

We also wanted to give you plenty of notice regarding the band’s tour plans for next April.  We will be doing two intensive bursts on the road that month, hopefully to promote the 3rd >Merry Hell< opus, and will be living the rock & roll lifestyle, staying in (luxury?) hotels and possibly drinking a beer or two along the way.  We hope to cover some new territory as we head to the deep south for one leg with the second leg being further north than we have ventured previously.  Be sure to look out for the dates. If you haven’t been able to catch the band because they haven’t played near you then all that may be about to change.

Festival dates are already being planned (Wychwood at Cheltenham is already confirmed!) and we have shows early next year in Liverpool (Acoustic), Clitheroe and Widnes
.  The Widnes gig is the annual charity benefit for PAPYRUS - Prevention of Young Suicide  at Widnes Rugby Union Club and organised by Ged and Ste Flynn.  A great cause, well worth supporting and tickets are already on sale, the date is Saturday 1st March. Meanwhile why not head for Crewe this Sunday and end the weekend with a bang!  Hope to see some of you there!
Britannia Waves the Rules

Not forgetting Virginia's occasional forays in the world of film and TV,  serious theatre  is not something you would normally associate with the members of  >Merry Hell< but there will be a stage performance of a favourite old song next year.  I'm assuming that not many of you will know of Leigh born actor, Gareth Farr, yet he can boast quite an impressive CV having performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, starred alongside Orlando Bloom in London’s West End and appeared in TV series such as The Bill, Heartbeat, Skins and more recently, Vera. Gareth, a Tansads fan of old, has written his first full length play called “Britannia Waves The Rules” , which he entered for the prestigious Bruntwood prize for play writing 2013 and it was a winner! The play will be performed in Manchester, at the Royal Exchange no less, next April. The Tansads flavoured title aside, the lead character will actually sing the short but sweet “As I Did Go” during the play. Although it was performed throughout the Tansads era by both Andrew and Janet and still features occasionally in the >Merry Hell< set, the song (penned by John & Bob) has never had an official release.  Gareth loves the song and was keen to get permission to include it in the performance , luckily John was happy to oblige. For anyone who may be intrigued Gareth explains a little about the play here

can I  mention  a splendid new song by Degsy.  Degs has been recording again with John and will be posting the song online in the near future.  "Take The Bus" is very classy , building from mellow beginnings to a spline tingling guitar break from John (more of this sort of thing please Mr. Kettle)  - air guitars at the ready for those who still have them!  More before Christmas!

Jonah (For Merry Hell)

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