It was a series of happy accidents that led to Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band being thrown together for a Radio 2 Christmas broadcast. Such a success was this pairing that it has become an ongoing concern, both in the festive season and beyond, resulting in numerous sell-out tours, and six albums.
A mixture of early music, hymnal settings, ribald reeling, trouser-bursting exuberance and quiet a lot of accomplished musicianship, the union has led to a clutch of albums celebrating Yuletide, the works of Methodist composers, and the Bacchanalian pleasures of life.
“I love working with the chaps,” Maddy muses, “it’s just so different and they’re so off the wall. Coming from a folk background I can relate to a lot of their dances and early music, but anything less like serious academic concerts when we tour you can’t imagine. When we go out at Christmas, it’s all streamers, balloons and lunacy. But behind it there’s a lot of talent.”
MADDY PRIOR – A hugely influential figure in British folk music, Maddy Prior has made 40 plus albums in as many years, and in 2001 was awarded an MBE in recognition of services to folk music.
Maddy came to international prominence as the voice of folk-rock pinoeers Steeleye Span. Through 45 years with Steeleye, Maddy kept up a variety of extra-curricular activities, most notably The Silly Sisters (with June Tabor), and since 1987, The Carnival Band. Maddy’s reputation as a solo artist and songwriter has gone from strength to strength, with regular tours in the UK and abroad and several highly-acclaimed albums.
THE CARNIVAL BAND – The band have been together for over twenty five years. Highly accomplished musicians, the band, and in particular leader Andy Watts have a burning desire to restore energy into the medieval and renaissance music they tackle. Dry, academic and authentic they are definitely not! Mixing ancient, modern and ethnic instruments, their emphasis on celebration, festivity, irreverence and exuberence has earned them the description “Henry VIII’s rock ‘n’ roll band”.
Between them The Carnival Band play over 25 instruments from shawms, lutes, and Flemish bagpipes to more familiar instruments such as violin, clarinet and guitar.
Appealing to folk, classical and medieval audiences alike, they have taken the spirit of carnival to venues from village halls to cathedrals, and have featured on Classic FM as well as BBC Radio 1,2,3 and 4!
The Carnival band are: Andy Watts, Steve Banks, Giles Lewin and Andrew (Jub) Davis, Guy Schlom.
“Maddy’s voice is clear as a bell. It actually sounds as if there’s a celebration going on” – THE GUARDIAN
“a truly superb pack of musicians” – DIRTY LINEN
“if you haven’t seen them before you’re in for a treat!” – OXFORD MAIL