Reg Meuross – 12 Silk Handkerchiefs tour details

Reg Meuross
Photograph by Rachel Snowdon

12 Silk Handkerchiefs, Reg Meuross’ 13th album inspired by Brian W. Lavery’s book The Headscarf Revolutionaries, opens a window on Hull’s Hessle Road fishing community in the aftermath of the Triple Trawler Disaster of 1968. After three sell-out performances in Hull that recreated and expanded upon the original song cycle, the singer-songwriter is now taking the show on a national tour this Autumn supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Joined on stage by stalwarts of the Hull folk scene, musicians Mick McGarry and Sam Martyn, Reg’s powerful songs are interwoven with narration from author Brian W. Lavery and an audio/visual show that includes rarely seen archive footage, photos and audio from the time of the disaster. Three Hull trawlers, the St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland perished and 58 men died in what became known as the Dark Winter.

Fighting fishwife Lillian Billoca’s subsequent successful campaign for improved trawler safety; sole survivor Harry Eddom who returned to sea just 11 weeks after the sinking; and the superstitions, lives and deaths of all those affected: all of these stories are contained within a fascinating and moving work of social and political history described as Meuross’s “most important work to date” by Pennyblack Music.

Reg Meuross himself says: “12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a classic tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and the mighty strength of the human spirit. For years the Hull trawlermen and their families fought for survival in the harshest of working conditions: frozen seas with very little safety or protection. It took Lillian and her fellow revolutionaries to fight the companies who were exploiting this community’s poverty and need for work. They took on the Government itself until desperately needed changes in the safety laws were made.

“If ever there was a story of survival vs. greed, honour vs. entitlement, courage and bravery vs. careless exploitation this is it. I believe such a story in living memory needs to be told now, and remembered for the future.”

Those fans of Reg’s music so accustomed to seeing his intimate solo performances at folk clubs and festivals across the land will be stunned by the power of this show, and those new to him will find it impossible not to be moved by this emotional and humbling tribute to the many, many lives lost to what was once the most dangerous industry in the world.

Artist’s website: www.regmeuross.com

Read Mike Davies’ review of 12 Silk Handkerchiefs here

Video trailer:

Tour Dates

SEPTEMBER

FRIDAY 13 – GRIMSBY FISHERMAN’S CHAPEL Grimsby DN32 7EG
DOORS 6.45PM PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £10 BOX OFFICE 01472 355025

SATURDAY 14 – WEST KIRBY ARTS, WIRRAL CH48 4EL
DOORS 7.00PM PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £12 online from westkirbyartscentre.org.uk

MONDAY 16 – GREENWICH THEATRE, LONDON SE10 8ES
DOORS 7.00PM PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £16, concessions £13.50 (inc booking fee)
www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk or BOX OFFICE 020 8858 7755

WEDNESDAY 18 – ALDEBURGH THE JUBILEE HALL, IP15 5BN
DOORS 7.00PM PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £12 online – www.aldeburghjubileehall.co.uk   BOX OFFICE 01728 454884 or in person from Aldeburgh Cinema

THURSDAY 19 – LOWESTOFT THE SEAGULL, NR3 0JH PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £7-£10 from theseagull.co.uk BOX OFFICE 01502 589726

SATURDAY 21 – BARTON-UPON-HUMBER, ROPERY HALL, THE ROPEWALK, DN18 5JT
DOORS 6.30PM PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £13 online from roperyhall.co.uk
BOX OFFICE 01652 660380

SUNDAY 22 – NEWCASTLE, THE CLUNY 2, NE1 2PQ
DOORS 7.00PM PERFORMANCE 7.30PM TICKETS £10 adv from www.thecluny.com
BOX OFFICE 0191 2304474

*NB solo fundraiser for Humber Rescue

Reg Meuross wins Arts Council support for 12 Silk Handkerchiefs Autumn Tour

12 Silk Handerchiefs
Reg Meuross, Brian W Lavery, Mick McGarry and Sam Martyn
Photograph by Rachel Snowdon

Winter 1968. Three Hull trawlers sink. 58 men die. A fishwife leads the fight to change safety laws. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs, Reg Meuross’s 13th album inspired by Brian W. Lavery’s book The Headscarf Revolutionaries, opens a window on Hull’s Hessle Road fishing community in the aftermath of the Triple Trawler Disaster of 1968. After three sellout performances in Hull that recreated and expanded upon the original song cycle, the singer-songwriter is now taking the show on a national tour this Autumn supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Joined on stage by stalwarts of the Hull folk scene, musicians Mick McGarry and Sam Martyn, Reg’s powerful songs are interwoven with narration from author Brian W. Lavery and an audio/visual show that includes rarely-seen archive footage, photos and audio from the time of the disaster. Three Hull trawlers, the St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland perished and 58 men died in what became known as the Dark Winter.

Fighting fishwife Lillian Billoca’s subsequent successful campaign for improved trawler safety; sole survivor Harry Eddom who returned to sea just eleven weeks after the sinking; and the superstitions, lives and deaths of all those affected: all of these stories are contained within a fascinating and moving work of social and political history described as Meuross’s “most important work to date” by Pennyblack Music.

Reg himself says: “12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a classic tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and the mighty strength of the human spirit. For years the Hull trawlermen and their families fought for survival in the harshest of working conditions: frozen seas with very little safety or protection. It took Lillian and her fellow revolutionaries to fight the companies who were exploiting this community’s poverty and need for work. They took on the Government itself until desperately needed changes in the safety laws were made.

“If ever there was a story of survival vs. greed, honour vs. entitlement, courage and bravery vs. careless exploitation this is it. I believe such a story in living memory needs to be told now, and remembered for the future.”

Those fans of Reg’s music so accustomed to seeing his intimate solo performances at folk clubs and festivals across the land will be stunned by the power of this show, and those new to him will find it impossible not to be moved by this emotional and humbling tribute to the many, many lives lost to what was once the most dangerous industry in the world.

“Meuross has achieved something rare and important: he has reanimated a valuable piece of history, and he has done so with great sincerity and emotional depth. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a fitting tribute not just to Lillian Bilocca, but to the power of individuals to bring about change for the better.” Thomas Blake, Folk Radio UK

“A finely spun tribute… rich in honest emotion, deep humanity, resonant lyrics and infectious melodies.” Mike Davies, Folking.com

“..further confirming Reg Meuross as one of the most eloquent and compelling singer-songwriters ever.” David Pratt, Fatea Magazine

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Artist’s website: http://www.regmeuross.com/12SH/

Read Mike Davies’ full review of 12 Silk Handkerchiefs here.

Tour Dates

SEPTEMBER 13: GRIMSBY FISHERMAN’S CHAPEL
SEPTEMBER 14: WEST KIRBY ARTS CENTRE
SEPTEMBER 16: GREENWICH THEATRE, LONDON
SEPTEMBER 18: JUBILEE HALL, ALDEBURGH
SEPTEMBER 19: THE SEAGULL, LOWESTOFT
SEPTEMBER 20: *RAISING THE RAFTERS, WATH
SEPTEMBER 21: ROPERY HALL, THE ROPEWALK, BARTON-UPON-HUMBER
SEPTEMBER 22: CLUNY 2, NEWCASTLE
OCTOBER 19: MUSICPORT FESTIVAL, WHITBY

*NB solo fundraiser for Humber Rescue

REG MEUROSS – 12 Silk Handkerchiefs (Hatsongs HAT013)

12 Silk HandkerchiefsThis is not your typical Reg Meuross album. Not that it doesn’t have his consummate songwriting with its finely crafted melodies and emotive resonance and not that it isn’t beautifully sung; it’s just that, while he features on backing, Reg only sings two tracks. It is, in fact, a concept album, a song cycle about the Hull triple trawler tragedy when, in 1968, bad weather sank three separate trawlers in less than a month, with only one survivor from the total crew of fifty-nine men.

The album is based on Brian W. Lavery’s book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, which documents the subsequent campaign of Lillian ‘Big Lil’ Bilocca, one of the trawlermen’s wives and her friends to bring about changes in the fishing industry. As such, it comprises both song and spoken word, the narration delivered by Lavery himself, while Hull folk singers Sam (as in Samantha) Martyn and Mick McGarry provide both vocal and spoken tracks.

There’s six songs, each preceded by Lavery’s scene setting, opening with the waltztime shanty ‘Wash Her Man Away, McGarry on vocals, Meuross providing harmonies and acoustic and Martyn on harmonium, a number rooted in superstitions about bringing back luck, here a meticulously tidy housewife not doing the laundry on the day before her skipper husband sets sail, the lyrics evoking such portents as the men leaving their small change behind.

The intro to ‘I Am A Fish House Woman’ conjures the fellowship of the women in the cold of the fish processing plant, detailing the work, talk of missing ships and introducing Lily, on her last shift for two years. This time, it’s Martyn on vocals, Meuross on strummed dulcimer, for a six minute, chorus-friendly anthem to the women, the conditions they work under (“my mother was a skinner ‘til the freezing took her lung”) in their nine-hour day, slicing the ‘silver darlings’ and how, while the men are away “fighting for their lives, we’re fighting for their rights”.

Sung heartbreakingly in the first person, ‘John Barry Rogers’ recounts the story of the eighteen-year-old deckhand who, when their ship went down in an Atlantic storm, saved the life of first mate Harry Eddom, the sole survivor, getting him onto the raft, before dying of exposure. Backed by harmonium and guitar, McGarry again sings lead on a classic Meuross lyric as the doomed boy talks of his mother and sweetheart, left behind in the siren call of the sea.

As you might guess, one of the two tracks sung by Meuross, ‘The Man The Sea Gave Back’, turns the focus on Eddom, a flavour of early Dylan to its brisk strum with Martyn adding flute, as he sings of Eddom watching the other two survivors eventually fall victim to the cruel sea.

Both the narrative and the lyrics to ‘Sleep You Safely’, sung by Martyn, turn the spotlight back on Bilocca, who was ejected from the campaign group she’d founded after appearing on the Eamonn Andrews show when, asked how the men spent their time on shore, talked of the single ones going to the pub “with their tarts”, a term that had a different meaning back home at Hessle Road to the one the studio audience assumed. The men she’d fought for also turned against her after a ban on fishing in bad weather meant they lost catches to Icelandic trawlers, but counterpointed by a meeting with a young galley boy on her way back from the meeting.

A melancholic, slow paced number, again featuring one of Meuross’s trademark uplifting choruses, it gives way to the lilting title track, the intro noting how, after her husband’s death, Lily moved home to a council house, weighed down by her treatment by the media and the feeling of being abandoned and her fight ignored, falling into ill health and eventually dying of cancer at 59 in 1988.

The title refers to her last request to her daughter to buy the handkerchiefs which, on the day before she died, she handed out to all those who had looked after her. Sung by Meuross with Martyn and McGarry on harmonies, the simply strummed song itself takes a more metaphorical approach, the handkerchiefs also symbolic of, as the chorus notes, the months of the year, “the twelve holy fisherman keeping her loved ones from fear” and “all the company men In their temples of greed she battled and beat in the end And for all the men and boys who are called by the sea…to bring them home safely to thee.”

It ends with ‘Times and Tides’, a reading by McGarry from Lavery’s book that, like the album, is a finely spun tribute testament to the men who risk their lives to harvest the ocean and the women “who never waved…Nor wavered” and the kids waiting for their fathers’ return “Christmas every twenty-one days.” It’s rich in honest emotion, deep humanity, resonant lyrics and infectious melodies. Typical Reg Meuross after all, then.

Mike Davies

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


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Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


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Artist’s website: www.regmeuross.com

’12 Silk Handkerchiefs’ – live: