Rowan Piggott talks about the Songhive project

Rowan Piggott

Songhive is a folksong project concerned with raising awareness of the current plight of the bees, but now it’s time to raise some money as well! We are soon to release a compilation album of Beelore and Folksong in the British Isles, all the proceeds of which will go to The Bee Cause. The following questions were answered by Rowan Piggott, the project founder.

Tell us a little about the project? Why bees?

Bees are responsible for 80% of pollination in the UK, are essential to biodiversity, and ultimately the future of humanity. Despite all this, we continue to obliterate the pollenrich plants they depend on, and our governments insist on legalising pesticides that do them harm.

Folk music has long been fraught with political dissent and attended by social change; perhaps this collection will serve to highlight how the decline of bees has entered the public consciousness. Here isn’t the place to wax lyrical, but hopefully this small project can raise some money for our friends; “the little musicians of the world”… (The King & The Hermit, 10th c. Irish Verse).

How did it start?

The project began as I noticed more and more folk artists including songs and tunes in their sets which referenced the bees… it seemed to me that almost every album I bought in the last year has had some mention of them. Who’s to say whether this was a result of the stories that reached mainstream media or the fact that folkies are generally more interested in conservation, but either way, a pattern emerged! For all the ages of man, bees have been revered & respected: honey was the nectar of the gods, bees were thought to carry human souls, every culture had important bee gods and traditions… to reach a time when we care about them so little that we’re not worried about them becoming extinct is dreadful.

You were awarded a creative bursary by EFDSS for your writing on the project?

It was great to have the backing of EFDSS and really helped give us the resources to write new material! You can hear a couple of my original songs on the compilation album (Queen & Country and Soul Wake Dirge) and I actually collaborated on nine of the eleven tracks, whether writing lyrics, playing fiddle or singing harmonies. It’s been a very exciting project to be part of and I’m looking forward to debuting some of the songs live at a gig at Cecil Sharp House on 6th June.

The Songhive Album

With tracks from Nancy Kerr, The Rheingans Sisters, Rosie Hodgson, Nick Burbridge, The Georgia Lewis Trio, Ray Chandler, Duo Keryda, The Hivemind Choir (a scratch choir put together through social media for a mournful choral contribution) and of course, project founder Rowan Piggott, it looks to be a varied and musically exciting selection from all corners of the folk scene.

Project Website: www.songhive.co.uk

Preview video:

ROSIE HODGSON – Rise Aurora (own label)

rise auroraI’ll get straight to the point.  Rosie Hodgson’s Rise Aurora is an absolute gem of an album and I will probably not be the first reviewer to say you will want to listen to it over and over again.  It’s full of beautiful music with seven of the twelve tracks being written by Rosie herself and the rest being either traditional folk songs or works by Burns and Kipling.

Rosie Hodgson released an EP Somewhere North in 2012 and was a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2013 but is probably best know as the lead singer with Crossharbour who are a London based Irish band, even though she comes from West Sussex and is a Morris dancer. On this album she teams up with Rowan Piggott, an Irish fiddle player who is also classically trained and a chorister.  From that you can assume that quality is going to be core to the music and you would not be mistaken.

Rosie’s songs revolve around ordinary individuals, which is what folk music is about, and two of them relate to her own family.  The title track ‘Aurora Rising’ is based around her Grandfather’s home town of Cromer in Norfolk.  Fishing was the main industry with all the hardships and dangers that brings, not least for the families left ashore hoping the men will come back again.

On an album this good it’s difficult to pick the stand out tracks but ‘Hetty’s Waltz’ deserves mention.  This is a song for Rosie’s Grandma and Grandfather who fell in love on a bus and enjoyed dancing all their lives.  It’s beautiful and showcases both Rosie’s crystal clear voice and Rowan’s delicate accompaniment.  Both artists have good voices and are more than capable of singing a capella, as they show on a excellent arrangement  of Robbie Burn’s ‘Westlin Winds’.

The album is well produced and Rosie’s precise enunciation means there is no need for the lyrics to be written down.  Instead the background to each song is given, again following that folk tradition of explaining why a song exists.

Final mention must go to the last song, ‘Liverpool Lullaby’, written by Rosie when she was just fourteen.  What’s remarkable about that, apart from it being another beautiful song, is that is now ten years old.  Rosie is only twenty-four!  There is a very long and bright future dawning.

The album was released on December 1st and is available through the artist’s website as either a CD or download.

Tony Birch

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 Artist’s website: http://www.rosiehodgson.com/

‘Rise Aurora’ – live: