CHURCHFITTERS – Old Friends (own label CH110917)

Old FriendsHere is Churchfitters new double album, Old Friends. There is no UK release date, but it will be available from their website shortly. The album will, however, be released in France from March 1st (don’t underestimate the internationalism of

The album is a celebration of forty years of Churchfitters, founded in the UK in 1978 before the members moved to a Brittany base from 1993 (hence the album’s release in France). The current line-up consists of Rosie Short, her brother Chris and Boris Lebret who joined in 2004 and brought with him “an array of home made scrap metal instruments” as their website puts it. This trio is the core of the group; for percussion and on tours Margaux Scherer is a more recent addition. I last saw Churchfitters about three years ago in a village hall with an audience of primarily non-folkies/non-gig attending people from the village – they loved it, Lebret’s unusual instruments gave the band an immediate interaction with the audience.

The title, Old Friends, has a double meaning: that the songs are old friends and also that there are a number of old friends who are guests on the album (Frankie Banham, Pete Jack, Thomas Lotout, Dave Pegg, Eric Richard and Ronan Robert).

The 21 songs are a mix of those composed by the band and traditional songs. There is a bouncy version of ‘Johnny Was A Shoemaker’, a moving version of ‘The House Carpenter’, a haunting ‘Black is the Crow’, a driving ‘Open the Door’ and a rather splendid ‘The Parting Glass’ to finish the album. My favourite of the traditional songs, though, is a beautifully ethereal version of ‘She Moved Through the Fair’.

Of the tracks composed by the band, I particularly like the opening track ‘He Cut Her Throat’, written by Rosie Short, which has all that you need from a murder ballad: love, marriage, leaving, jealousy, throat slitting and a lively tune. Slower and more haunting is ‘Bleeding Heart Yard’ this time a contrast between the lily white purity of the heroine and the devil who is taking her heart. Of the others, perhaps the two most powerful tracks are ‘The Turning of the Tide’ and ‘Sing (For Our Time on Earth)’ – I instantly recognised them from the concert three years ago. These are two more of Short’s songs, the former jaunty and the latter a melodic piano piece.

If you want to get a feel for the band, the video below presents four songs performed at Cropredy by the Churchfitters four-piece where you can hear their style – and see some of the home made instruments. You’ll also see that it matters not whether it’s a village hall or 20,000 people standing in a field.

As for Old Friends the album, it gets better every time I play it – a double album of folk songs and instrumentals, both self-penned and from the tradition. For me it’s also been a great reminder of just how good Churchfitters are in concert. Dates (in both countries) are on their web pages.

Mike Wistow

Artists’ website:

Churchfitters live at Cropredy:

Cropredy 2014 Photo Gallery

Bringing you right up to date with some of the 2014 photos from Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Click the photo below to view the album…

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2014

CHURCHFITTERS – Amongst The Green (Churchfitters Records CH2762)

Brittany based The Churchfitters are that rare thing on the ‘folk’ circuit…a band that consistently hit a bull’s-eye (at least in my opinion) with every successive recording they make. This is due primarily to always taking chances and making the listeners ears ring with unusual and exotic sounds. None more so than on the final track where the much covered “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” featuring guest violinist Raphael Chevalier and Chris Short’s use of musical saw is exactly that…‘musical’. Given the emotional vocal delivery it deserves by Chris’s sister Rosie I can guarantee there won’t be a dry eye in the house which is probably quite appropriate if the recent drought warnings in the UK are anything to go by. Along with fellow band members Boris Lebret and Topher Louden the term ‘multi-instrumental’ is the Churchfitters for the taking utilising enough weaponry to single-handedly supply a small army and particularly dynamic on the rip-roaring “Hammer It Flat” set. Never ones to rest on their laurels the group are just as comfortable with traditional arrangements of well established favourites including “The Little Drummer” and “The Dark-Eyed Sailor” or can just as easily turn their hands to embrace and enhance Rosie and Topher’s wonderfully evocative lyrics. If you haven’t cottoned on to the Churchfitters yet then do yourself a favour and check out this album it’ll prove a breath of fresh air. Oh, by the way, congratulations as ever to Rosie for the wonderful cover…it really is a work of art!


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CHURCHFITTERS – Sing (Own Label CH969)

The Churchfitters (who appeared recently at Fairport’s Cropredy Festival) are nothing if not inventive and from the opening track “Knee Deep” with Chris Short’s intriguing use of musical saw being used to accompany his sister Rosie’s beautiful vocal and ukulele are shining examples of artists who would have you believe they are different from the rest of the crowd. Joined by Topher Loudon on gently guitar picked chords and bass player Boris Lebret this really is a scintillating sound. Never standing still and now featuring a majority of material penned by members of the band it shows that they have that rare quality, mainly longevity on the strength of re-inventing themselves. Of course, for those that prefer the more traditional flavour of the group we have the Appalachian sounding (courtesy of Chris’s double-stopped fiddle) “House Carpenter” and the banjo fuelled “Our Captain Cried All Hands” and trust me, if you didn’t think this song could be made to sound cheerful…how wrong could you be? This album isn’t a challenge…it’s a delight and if you’re looking for that special Christmas present (or at any other time for that matter) you could certainly do no better than purchase a copy!


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