Hot on the heels of the release of their fourth album A Pocket Full of Acorns, Dorset duo Ninebarrow (Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere) are due to appear on BBC-1’s flagship rural affairs programme Countryfile this Sunday (March 28, 6pm)
To celebrate the March 5 release of their first album in three years and tying in with the arboreal title of the recording, Jon and Jay decided to set about redressing their touring carbon footprint by planting the Ninebarrow Woodland on three acres of land near Gillingham in north Dorset – no mean feat as it numbered 1,000 native English trees (including 500 oaks) and 200 shrubs.
Supported by a 75% grant from The Woodland Trust as part of their MOREwoods initiative and 25% from a crowdfunder, the project also ties in with the Plant Britain campaign, a two year challenge launched by BBC Countryfile, aimed at getting the nation planting in the light of climate change. www.plantbritain.co.uk/
The new album has met with significant critical acclaim including a 4* review in The Observer, airplay on BBC Radio 2 and 6 and a no 1 position in Amazon’s Folk Best Sellers.
The album’s title track was triggered by the inspirational true story of Newcastle-on-Tyne born Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, Lord Nelson’s second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar.
At the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the grand ships of the Royal Navy were built from mighty oaks and Collingwood became concerned that forests were being depleted. Fearful for the future of the Navy and the nation he took to carrying acorns in his pockets, planting them in suitable places as he went on his rambles. Says Jay: “The story really touched us. The notion of using one’s time on earth to help secure a future for those who come after us seems to have been lost in modern times.”
BBC filming took place at the tree-planting site and RSPB Arne overlooking Poole Harbour. It includes a live performance of another track from the new album – ‘Nestledown’.
Inspired by the elusive Dartford Warbler, once endangered but now found on much of the Dorset heathland, this is a ‘hunkering down for winter’ track, but one that looks forward to the longer days.
Snatches of the title track have also been used in the segment as well as their acclaimed song for spring ‘The Hour Of The Blackbird’.
Named after Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck Hills, Jon and Jay relinquished their full-time jobs as a teacher and GP back in 2012 and took a leap of faith into the music business.
Nominated for the coveted Horizon award (Best Emerging Act) at the 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards the pair have carved themselves a distinctive niche on the folk roots scene for their outstanding harmonies, high production values, and engaging original songs.
Keen walkers and authors of Ninebarrow’s Dorset – a book of walks in the landscape that has inspired many of their songs – they have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Ramblings with Clare Balding and Matthew Bannister’s popular podcast Folk On Foot.
Says Jon: “Our music will always be inspired by the incredible landscape and history of our native Dorset as well as our sense of home and belonging. But these days we can’t help but be moved by the many changes happening to our planet and society – we hope this fourth studio album reflects that.”
Artists’ website: https://www.ninebarrow.co.uk/
‘Hour Of The Blackbird’ – official video: