It has been many years in the making and on Sunday “Doin Different - New Ballads from the East of England” is finally launched.
The lyrics are by Norfolk-based poet and actor Gareth Calway who points out that “Doin different” is the motto of Norfolk and UEA!
True to ballad tradition, they are on the side of the commons and the underdog, ringing with praise for the unsung, under-sung or misrepresented who have done so much to make England what it is.
Calway said: “The idea is that the published book will provide an attractive resource for any folk musicians seeking lyrics for their music.”
Among the many names featured are Boudicca, Robert Kett, Robert Walpole, Turnip Townshend, Fanny Burney, Margery Kempe, William Sawtrey, Freeborn John of Putney, Oliver Cromwell, Bad King John, Robin Hood, Edith Cavell, Julian of Norwich, Susan Nobes, Tom Paine and all, not forgetting Great British workers like the Cod Fishers, Nelson’s crews and the 1816 bread or blood rioters at Ely.
The book has already generated an entire album by one collaborator – Boudicca’s Country, by Anto Morra. In it, the multi-talented punk folker turns 12 of Calway’s lyrics about Norfolk’s greats into a rainbow of homage to his own pop, folk and rock heroes.
Like Calway, Morra is one of the 50 per cent who live and work in Norfolk but came from outside, though as Calway jokes “we both attended our finishing schools here” (Calway at UEA; Morra at NUA).
The book is at the heart of a multi-media package and features scores, pictures, films and audio links to accompanying music and performances by an astonishing variety of talented composers from Norfolk’s folk clubs like Morra, Andy Wall (director of Ely Folk Festival), Tim Chipping, Warwick Jones, Tom Conway, Vanessa Wood-Davies (harp), Gillian Sims McClennan (soprano), Bob and Julie Bones, Adrian Tebbutt, Vince Matthews and Henry VIII (!) along with the lyrics of 39 new ballads themselves.
In all, the book represents a 2,000 year history of Norfolk and beyond from Boudicca to the Vicar of Stiffkey and Boudicca’s contemporary Norfolk ‘daughter’ Vicky Briton.
Several of the new ballads have already been performed at Cecil Sharp House, at Nelson Days, Edith Cavell memorials and on BBC radio and one will be part of Calway’s Ely Folk Festival-commissioned ‘Bread or Blood’ one man theatre show commemorating the Ely and Littleport Riots of 1816.
‘Doin Different’ is also the name of an ongoing combined creative arts and heritage project. Calway’s vibrant collaborations with Norfolk-based artists have produced a string of musical plays in heritage settings with a Norfolk slant – Tom and Harry (about Anne Boleyn’s haunting of Blickling Hall), A Nice Guy: The Burning of William Sawtrey of Lynn (England’s first pre-Protestant martyr), The Wife of Lynn’s Tale (Margery Kempe, who wrote the first autobiography in English).
There are also intriguing combinations of ballad lyric, music, art and film Yarmouth Visited by Anto Morra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eTJG8xMjZg&feature=youtu.be – and of the new Calway-Morrissey Ballad of Edith Cavell with paintings by Brian Whelan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsri9TjQdRQ
There will be a double launch of Doin Different and Boudicca’s Country in the Gallery of Lynn’s Hanse House on Sunday at 2pm, which features a 50-minute showcase by Gareth Calway and Anto Morra of their combined entertainments for your enjoyment and edification. The showcase will end with a carol inspired by Margery Kempe, the visionary of Lynn.
Calway said: “I have ordered a cassock for the occasion; Morra will model a seasonal range of bowler hats!”
Tickets are £5 and a glass of wine is included and there is a bar downstairs afterwards; books and CDs will be on sale – with Calway and Morra on hand to sign them if required.
Call 01485 571828 for further info.
Doin Different: New Ballads from the East of England is a new publication from Poppyland Publishing (RRP £10.95 paperback).