Monday, June 15, 2015

Ashley Hutchings, MBE

This morning's mail brought the following announcement:

English traditional music is celebrated in the Queen's Birthday Honours as musician, songwriter and bandleader Ashley Hutchings is made an MBE for his services to folk music.

Born in London but now living in Derbyshire, 70-year-old Hutchings was the driving force behind several famous bands including Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band. These groups enlivened the folk scene by introducing rock instruments thereby opening up traditional music to a new and younger audience. Hutchings said: "I'm obviously very proud of this honour but it's England's musical tradition that's being recognised as much as me."

In a career spanning nearly 50 years Hutchings has worked with a host of folk and folk-rock luminaries including Richard Thompson OBE, Martin Carthy MBE, Maddy Prior MBE, Shirley Collins MBE, John Tams and the late Sandy Denny (who described him as 'one of my biggest heroes, a great man').

During the 1970s, Hutchings worked with National Theatre director Bill Bryden composing the music to 'The Mysteries', 'Lark Rise to Candleford' and 'The World Turned Upside Down'. Education has also been an important element in Hutchings’ career. EMI commissioned him to put together an LP of traditional dance tunes specifically aimed at school children and he has conducted numerous workshops to introduce young people to England's folk song and dance.

Hutchings has won numerous awards including the English Folk Dance and Song Society's Gold Badge Award, the Good Tradition Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and a Lifetime Achievement Award at Italy's Premio Ciampi. Hutchings was also the driving force behind Fairport Convention’s seminal album 'Liege & Lief' which was voted 'The Most Influential Folk Album of All Time' by BBC Radio 2 Listeners.

The picture at the top was taken at the 1997 Cropredy Festival, at a time when we both had hair. I wonder why I am wearing a 'Liverpool' baseball cap.

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