The Leigh Folk Festival’s ‘Estuary Songwriting Project’ kicked off earlier this month with a residential week involving a crack team of song-writers, all of whom have a previous association with the Festival – Alasdair Roberts, Lucy Farrell, M.G. Boulter, Roshi Nasehi, Piers Haslam, Hazel Askew, Nick Pynn and Kate Waterfield. Their brief was to come up with a 45 minute performance piece broadly themed around the Thames Estuary – in the end it amounted to something like twice that length, which is a hint as to how productive it all was. And the quality of the work is quite extraordinary. It was a truly collaborative and harmonious time, and a privilege to be a ‘fly on the wall’ for all those lucky enough to have witnessed it.
The project was dedicated to the late Jack Forbes, a local legend, and stalwart of the folk scene in Southend. Jack was a prolific composer of songs themed around the estuary, and was particularly known for his ‘folk theatre’ productions of shows such as ‘Down the Hill to the Old Town’ and ‘Rolling Down the River’, which took its name from his most famous song, which has passed into popular tradition and travelled right around the world. When the idea for a songwriting residency was first conceived, Jack seemed like a natural choice, and in fact the Festival’s Artistic Director, Paul Collier, did contact him early this year, unaware of his fragile state of health, inviting him to take part. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, and Jack passed away a few days later. From the outset the team was eager to include some of Jack’s words in their work, and so his presence can be keenly felt in the compositions, with everyone feeling that the piece should form a fitting tribute to his memory.
The debut performance of the work will take place on Saturday October 1 in the Royal Pavilion at the ‘wet’ end of Southend Pier. This starts at 7.30pm, and will be one of the great highlights of the ‘Sounds of the Thames Delta’ event taking place there that weekend.
Tickets are available on the door (space permitting) or in advance from:
Please download, print and display the A4 Poster – Estuary Songwriting Project thank you.