Send your news, photos and videos by texting bucksfreepress to 80360 or email
Steeleye Span join forces with Terry Pratchett
12:38pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
MADDY Prior, best known as the singer of Steeleye Span, will be showcasing her talent at Chesham’s Elgiva on Monday night.
Here she speaks to Victoria MacFarlaine about working with Terry Pratchett, and her new collaboration.
What do you have planned for the Elgiva show?
Well it’s a trio that is made up with Hannah James and Giles Lewin. It’s absolutely delightful as they are both really good singers and Hannah plays the accordion, Giles plays the fiddle, and bagpipes and lots of things, both are good musicians and Hannah is a champion clog dancer. It just makes for an absolutely lovely show.
It’s slightly different then to what you have done previously?
Oh yes, very different but still… I like to think it is a very interesting show and certainly very musically accomplished.
Do you find you get a mixed age range in the audience – children that have listened to their parent’s albums and have now become fans?
I do get a lot of that with Steeleye. But this is a really nice gig, and the audience really appreciate it and enjoy it. I think it is because it is a bit of the unknown. You have to be quite bold to try something new.
You have been in the industry for so many years – is it difficult to put together a set list when you have so many songs to choose from?
Well, interestingly, I tend to do a lot of the new material with Steeleye, and we have quite a lot of new material in this. All kinds of a mixture of material, including early English, traditional, medieval pieces, and some from Europe and America. It’s a very varied show, if you like. I like to join things thematically, if you like.
What’s your favourite song that you like to perform?
That would be too difficult to pin down really. It depends on who I am working with, and what it is. There are lots – ‘All around my hat’ is a good one with Steeleye. It’s our anthem, if you like. And I always enjoy that actually. I’ve gotten over that thing of being embarrassed by it.
Tell me more about your collaboration with Terry Pratchett? You also performed at his 60th birthday party?
We did, and this Christmas tour that we are doing in December, a lot of our material is based on one of his books, on the Tiffany Aching material – a whole album called Wintersmith. And he’s on board with it, which is really nice. We sort of know him quite well.
What’s he like to work with?
He’s still as astute as he ever was. He misses nothing. He notices everything and remembers things. We had a day with him recently doing stuff around the album.
So you’ve looked through his books and basically put music to it?
Yes – he suggested we do it, and it took us a couple of years to get round to it, because we are like that, and we have finally done it. I have to say they are great songs. It’s going to be a really nice album. It should be really powerful. It is out in the middle of our tour, hopefully. Given the normal run of things, it will be the tour plus three days, by the time it gets out. It never happens bang on time!
He’s happy with it?
Yes, he is delighted. I don’t think he’s heard all of it yet, but we haven’t heard all of it yet (laughs).
Is he your biggest fan?
Yes, when he did Desert Island Discs, we were the band he chose, and the song he chose was Thomas the Rhymer, so we are obviously up there with his favourites. And if you read the books, I can see references to material, and ideas that come out of the tradition generally. He obviously reads widely on that kind of thing. There’s a sort of connection there which has gone on over many years, but we got to know him many years ago, as it were.
What was he like to work with? There were no disagreements over the songs?
No, he just let us do the songs, it is our kind of thing. Because we’re friends he is kind of involved with it. It’s basically his material in that sense. It’s been really nice, and with Steeleye, we have always disagreed and had arguments, that’s kind of the creative devil, if you like. We have been having stand up fights for 45 years (laughs). It’s only because we care, as they say! (laughs).
It’s a good band to be in though.
Is there still more that you would like to achieve?
I think it would be nice to have a revival at this point with this album, as it is a powerful album with unusual stuff in it. It would be good to have that recognised – in what form, I don’t really know. That would be nice if that happens – for Terry as much as anything.
What is your one, main highlight over all those years?
There’s a lot of those. We played five nights at the LA forum, which is a huge place, with Jethro Tull, it was their gig. But it was just great to be playing in a place like that. It’s been a great roller coaster of a ride, and we have laughed a lot. Steeleye has laughed a lot.
Millions and none. There are always things where you wished you would have been better informed. But generally speaking, it’s been good. I couldn’t have asked for better really. I have been very blessed.
Where do you live now?
I live in north Cumbria, right up on the borders, and I run workshops and weekend courses, singing and poetry. We have a singing for the uncertain – for people who have been told they cannot sing. Honestly, the number of people who have been told they cannot sing! The thing is, you only have to say it once and they won’t sing again. Especially when you’re young – people say you cannot sing and then you go ‘oh right, I won’t sing then.’ And sometimes it takes 30 years before you re-examine that.
You should never tell someone they cannot sing. And amazingly it is quite often teachers – it’s extraordinary.
Maddy will be performing at The Elgiva in Chesham on Monday, October 7, 2013. Price £16.50.
Onstage 8pm, 01494 582900, http://www.elgiva.com/
Comments are closed on this article.