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

The Folking Awards 2019 – the results

The Folking Awards 2019

Here they are, the results of the 2019 Folking awards. Thanks to all our writers who submitted nominations and to everyone who participated – over 18,000 votes were cast. Every one of the nominees made an impression on our writers either on record or on stage during 2018 and they are all stars to us. Without further ado, here are the top choices with percentage of the votes cast.

Soloist of the year – Reg Meuross (39%)

Reg Meuross

Read Reg’s biography here.

Best Duo – Ninebarrow (36.9%)

Ninebarrow

Read Ninebarrow’s biography here.

Best Band – Merry Hell (27.5%)

Merry Hell

You know all about them but you can read about Merry Hell here.

Best Live Act – The Men They Couldn’t Hang (38.7%)

The Men They Couldn't Hang 

Read a biography of The Men They Couldn’t Hang here

Best Album – Queer As Folk by Grace Petrie (32.3%)

Queer As Folk

Read Dai Jeffries’ review of Queer As Folk here.

Best Musician – Marina Osman (43.9%)

Marina Osman

Read Marina’s biography here.

Rising Star Act – Vision Thing (32%)

Vision Thing

Read Vision Thing’s bio here.

Best International Artiste – Larkin Poe (41.5%)

Larkin Poe
Photograph by Amy Harris

Read Larkin Poe’s bio here

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Reg Meuross biography

Reg Meuross

Folking.com Soloist of the Year 2019, Reg Meuross is currently touring with his latest album, the song cycle 12 Silk Handkerchiefs which tells of fighting fishwife Lillian Bilocca, who led a battle for better trawler safety following the Triple Trawler Disaster of 1968. This album features Hull musicians Sam Martyn and Mick McGarry and narration by author Brian W Lavery whose book The Headscarf Revolutionaries inspired Reg to write the song cycle. The four artists are touring with some special 12 Silk Handkerchiefs multi-media shows in Autumn 2019 and early 2020.

Mark Radcliffe introduced Reg Meuross onto the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show as a “brilliant singer-songwriter and true troubadour with a social conscience”. And it’s not all protest, as well as story songs which bring characters from history to life and comment on life around him Reg also writes and sings some of the most heart-aching love songs ever written, performed with depth and spellbinding delivery. Reg has that rare gift of being able to touch people through his songs and performance, on a really human level, his words and music painting pictures that remain with the listener long after the song has been sung, accompanying himself masterfully on guitar and captivating audiences with his beautiful tenor voice.

“An insight into the human spirit and empathy the the plight of ordinary people.” Froots Magazine

Due to popular demand, Reg is re-issuing six of his back albums which had been out of print. The Goodbye Hat, Short Stories, Still, Dragonfly, All This Longing and Leaves & Feathers are all now available as a beautiful Reg Meuross Retrospective collection.

Reg Meuross first emerged onto the acoustic music scene in the 1980s with The Panic Brothers and has, over the years of touring and playing solo as well as with many other acclaimed artists, developed a style that as Pete Townshend says “allows the listener to embrace the whole breadth of his work over many years without distraction… he sings in the neutral accent of an Englishman who travels the entirety of the British Isles, and tastes all its flavours, influenced by all its most profound national colours. In this he reminds one of Roy Harper or Ewan MacColl, recent greats who went before him.”

Reg then went on to form The Flamingos featuring ex Graham Parker guitarist Martin Belmont, Bob Loveday from The Penguin Cafe Orchestra & Bob Geldof’s Band & Alison Jones of The Barely Works They recorded one album called Arrested.

In 1996 he released his first critically acclaimed solo album The Goodbye Hat and was nominated for several music awards. This was followed up in 2004 with Short Stories and in 2006 by the excellent Still. In 2008 he released Dragonfly, followed in 2010 by All This Longing. The Dreamed And The Drowned, released in 2011, is a collection of thirteen previously unreleased archive songs. It was commissioned and compiled by Stephen Jordan at The Bodleian Music Library, Oxford, who said, “this is Reg Meuross at his most eclectic and inspiring best.”

In 2012 Reg was invited by Abbey Road to record an album in their world famous studios and he took this opportunity to respond to the many requests for him to make a CD that reflects the warmth intimacy of his live shows.  The resulting album, Leaves & Feathers did just that, receiving 5 star reviews across the board. It’s a collection of twelve beautiful songs stripped down to the bare bones which prompted Pennyblack Music to say: “calling Meuross a singer-songwriter really doesn’t do the man justice. [He] doesn’t write lines of lyrics. He writes short stories then sets them to some of the most captivating melodies you’ll ever hear…. Meuross is one of the most talented storytellers of our generation.” Reg was awarded Best Vocalist 2013 by Fatea Magazine.

Leaves & Feathers was a hard act to follow, but his next album England Green & England Grey rose to the challenge dealing with difficult topics such as dementia, commemorated  the centenary of WW1, told the tale of the bandleader and his violin both lost in the Titanic disaster, ‘The Band Played Sweet Marie;’ and it delivered an anthem for our times: ‘England Green And England Grey’. The album was awarded Best Album of 2014 by FolkWords.

Many will know Reg for the extraordinary intimacy of his live solo performances, and it was the countless requests at these unique events for “the one that sounds just like what we’ve just heard” that inspired the production of a trilogy of distinctive and entirely solo albums, returning to the solo format which inspired him to write and sing in the first place. December is a collection of ten of the most beautiful songs which go straight to the heart. Pure Reg. The album was recorded on two days in London in 2016 with no overdubs or studio trickery as a gift to everyone who helped him bring his sweet little 1944 Martin to his hands from where he found it two years ago in San Jose and who helped lovingly restore it.  One man – who just happens to be “one of the finest songwriters this country has produced” [Mike Harding] and his guitar (and a touch of harmonica). In the second in the trilogy, Faraway People,

Reg comments courageously on the world we are living in now, from the ravages of austerity to the injustices of racism and the plight of refugees. He also delves into history, echoing warnings that resonate through the decades and are still relevant today. Stories told include people from living memory such as anti Nazi activist Sophie Scholl from WW2, and Michael Brown (victim of the fatal Missouri shooting in 2014) as well as ancient history (Cicero) and even a fictitious meeting between two of the artist’s greatest heroes. The title track was awarded Best Song of 2017 by Fatea Magazine. Amongst the protest there is beauty, love and humour. The third in this solo trilogy will be released in October 2019.

In February 2018 Reg released a second collection of previously unreleased archive songs (the first being The Dreamed and the Drowned) Songs About A Train. Fatea saidA lot of artists strive in vain to make an album of this quality, yet with these eleven previously rejected tracks Reg has once again produced something truly special. Songs About A Train is an absolute pleasure to listen to from start to finish.”

More recently Reg was invited by Stockfisch Records to re-record a number of songs to make the eponymous Reg Meuross. This was released in April 2018.

Before 2018 was out Reg released one more album, the song cycle 12 Silk Handkerchiefs marking the Hull Triple Trawler Disaster of 1968 and celebrating fish wife Lillian Bilocca’s fight for better safety on the trawlers. This album is now on tour including some special shows which feature Hull musicians Sam Martyn and Mick McGarry and narrated by author Brian W Lavery whose book The Headscarf Revolutionaries inspired Reg to write the song cycle.

When you have 2000 people singing along, you’re doing something right.” Great British Folk Festival

A mighty songwriter and an equally fine singer” Martin Carthy

One of the most talented storytellers of our generation” Pennyblack Music

Powerful and moving songwriting” Martin Chilton, The Telegraph

A deep well of compassion and insight into the human heart and spirit.” Mike Davies, Folk Radio UK

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

 

The 2019 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2019 Folking Awards and thank you again to everyone who participated this year. The nominations, were in eight categories, and came from our ever-expanding team of writers and were collated into shape by the Folkmeister and the Editor over a pint or two, which also involved, a few arm-wrestles and a spot of beer-mat aerobics, in a convenient local watering hole.

There were five nominees in each category, all of whom have impressed our writers during 2018.

As we said last year, all are winners in our eyes, as are quite a few who didn’t make the short list. However, it’s not just about what we think, so once more, it was down to you, our ever-growing readership, to make the final call.

We will now compile the results and announce the winners of each category at some point next week.

*The Public Vote for each category closed at 9.00pm on Sunday 31st March (GMT+1).


Soloist Of The Year

Keith James
Reg Meuross
Rachel Newton
John Smith
Andy White


Best Duo

Gilmore & Roberts
Daria Kulesh and Jonny Dyer
Ninebarrow
Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar
Winter Wilson


Best Band

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Merry Hell
Skipinnish
Trials Of Cato
The Young’Uns


Best Live Act

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Grace Petrie
The Salts
Martin Stephenson & The Daintees
Andy White


Best Album

A Problem Of Our Kind – Gilmore & Roberts
The Well Worn Path – Seth Lakeman
The Joy Of Living – Jackie Oates
Queer As Folk – Grace Petrie
Hide And Hair – Trials Of Cato


Best Musician

Martin Harley
Aidan O’Rourke
Marina Osman
John Smith
Richard Thompson


Rising Star

Burning Salt
Robert Lane
Kitty MacFarlane
Smith & Brewer
Vision Thing


Best International Artist(s)

3hattrio
Tyler Childers
Mary Gauthier
Kíla
Larkin Poe


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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 


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Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: www.regmeuross.com

’12 Silk Handkerchiefs’ – live: