Tag Archives: The Flowing

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: The Full Story

A-Z

You can blame a chap called Philip Kane for this. Back on 1 December, he posted on Facebook the social media version of the old chain letter thing that went as follows:

“So the idea is to fill facebook with music, breaking the monotony of nasty, divisive headlines and images on our news feeds.

If you ‘like’ this post, you will be assigned a letter for a musician, band, artist, song, track or dj to post to your time line with this text”.

I liked it. He came back to me with the letter R. I came up with Rodrigo y Gabriela & C.U.B.A.’s ‘Santa Domingo’ – as you do – and before you know it I’d committed myself to the idea of stealing the whole concept and coming up with some music of Medway origin (or, if you will, MOMO) for each letter of the alphabet.

26 blogs later and I can finally move on with my life.

It has actually been fun – not least because there’s been the opportunity to focus on individual songs in a way you might not otherwise. Being an alphabetical list, there’s been less need to focus on continuity and history.

One day we’ve had a song by Balance Lost (a current band), the next we’ve had a song that’s had two outings: once in the early 1990s and then just a couple of years ago. Then, the day after that, we’ve had a song from 2010 which expresses its boredom with Medway bands from the 1980s.

It’s meant there’s been a wide variety of styles and sounds which all goes to show what an amazing melting pot of ideas this small collection of towns in the north of Kent is.

If you missed any of the blogs, not to worry: here they all are listed for your convenience – in alphabetical order, obviously.

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and the Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

N – Hand of Stabs – ‘The Night Had No Terror For Us’

O – The Daggermen – ‘One More Letter’

P – The Prisoners – ‘Pop Star Party’

Q – Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire – ‘A Quick One – Pete Townsend’s Christmas’

R – The Ambience – ‘Rome’

S – Balance Lost – ‘Shield Against the World’

T – The Kravin’ “A”s/Suzi Chunk – ‘Tripwire’

U – The Love Family – ‘Up in the Air’

V – The Flowing – ‘The Voyage’

W – Lupen Crook – ‘World’s End’

X – CTMF – ‘X-Craft on Tirpitz’

Y – Bear vs. Manero – ‘YRANYRBYM’

Z – KILL RPNZL – ‘Zombie Midwife Afterbirth Squad’

Find out more about many of these bands and artists – and many, many more, in my book: Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: V is for ‘The Voyage’

‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.

The Flowing - Talk About Wonder

Very often it is, most sensibly, a band’s first album on which they will set out their stall: this is our sound; these are the views we will express in our lyrics; this is the sort of thing you can expect from us until the drugs and drink exacerbate inter-band tensions that, to be honest, have always been present in the band, everyone gets annoyed with the songwriter (and his lawyer) because he’s made more money than the lot of us – twice over – and everyone goes their own way.

Not so alternative folksters The Flowing. The band have already released an album (2010’s Garden of England) and various other recordings – not to mention appearing at many, many gigs over the years.

They have, in truth existed in various forms: from a simple one-man, singer/songwriter act where The Flowing simply was Dave Pickett through to a line-up involving musicians too many to list here.

Since Garden of England, there have been substantial changes to The Flowing’s line-up, most noticeably the arrival of French horn and accordion player, Vicky Price and violinist and oboist Hannah Ellerby, both formerly of Los Salvadores. And on the band’s new album, Talk About Wonder, released a couple of weeks ago, the pair are utilised well from the get-go.

‘The Voyage’, then, becomes a kind of mission statement or manifesto, with both the French horn and violin getting substantially sized instrumental sections.

Even before Price and Ellerby make their presence known on the song, the sound of ‘The Voyage’ indicates an evolution for The Flowing. There’s a richness there, a greater clarity and, most obviously, sound effects: the gorgeous sound of the waves lapping on the shore.

Lyrically, there’s a nervousness to ‘The Voyage’. “Travel for a foreign land,” Pickett sings in the song’s opening line. But this isn’t a power ballad about endless possibilities and new beginnings; there’s much trepidation here.

You might, after all “marry a fine sailor with wealth and misery/silver in your hair and the Devil on your wing”, “the dam [might not] hold up so well tonight” and there’s the possibility “the road don’t hold our weight”.

And yet some form of optimism – some chink of light – does sneak through, however small. Before the return to the opening verse’s lyrics, vocalist Sophie Williams sings about the importance attached to letting “them know I tried” and, most importantly leaves an instruction: “Oh boy, don’t you be afraid.”

The swelling of The Flowing’s ranks may well be travelling into foreign lands, but “The Voyage” proves to be an assured performance, despite the theme of trepidation.

Oh boy, you really don’t need to be afraid at all.

Find out more about The Flowing and other folk acts from Medway in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.

You can buy The Flowing’s Talk About Wonder from their Bandcamp page. Find out more about them on Facebook.