Gigspanner Big Band and Raynor Winn

Gigspanner Big Band and Raynor Winn

One of folk ‘s most inventive line-ups is to join forces with best-selling author Raynor Winn this summer for a tour which mines traditional songs and tunes from the West Country and new words inspired by the region.

Gigspanner Big Band is a sensational sextet led by Peter Knight whose singular and emotive fiddle playing has enriched the British music scene for more than four decades. He is joined by stand-out acoustic and electric guitarist Roger Flack, effervescent percussionist Sacha Trochet, award-winning duo Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin (Edgelarks) and John Spiers, founder member of Bellowhead, described as “one of the best melodeon players of his generation”.

Between July 8-17, the band will tour Saltlines, a brand new show described as ‘a portrait of the South West Coast Path’. Raynor Winn , an Ambassador for the Path will write brand new words to stir into the experience.

The Salt Path is Raynor Winn’s Sunday Times best-selling memoir of walking the entire 630-mile South West Coast Path. Her walk was an impulsive response to unexpected circumstances which left her and her husband, Moth, homeless.

The Salt Path and its sequel The Wild Silence have sold over a million copies worldwide. They have won global praise for their ‘against all odds’ uplifting message and their frank exploration of the reality of homelessness.

It is the way of words, be they songs or stories, to be handed down from person to person. In our story, a copy of The Salt Path was given by FolkEast Director, Rebecca Marshall-Potter, to Deborah Knight, agent and manager of a collective of some of the most high-profile names on the folk-roots scene, The Gigspanner Big Band.

Whilst walking a stretch of the South West Coast Path (SWCP), thinking of Raynor and Moth’s story, it occurred to Deborah that such a well-trodden trail must hold many more stories of loss, love and the natural world. Perhaps these stories could be found in the form of traditional songs and tunes that have been left behind, saved for us by song collectors such as Cecil Sharp (1859 – 1924), co-founder of the English Folk Dance & Song Society.

Her hunch was correct, and research has thrown up a multitude of songs from this beautiful geographical location. It has proved to be a rich seam of songs to mine.

This seed of an idea has developed into an exciting collaboration between Raynor Winn and The Gigspanner Big Band, and work is underway to develop a show based on those traditional songs, and Raynor’s words – words which, in her role as an Ambassador of the SWCP, she is writing especially for this project. Together, Raynor and the Gigspanner Big Band will celebrate this “630 uninterrupted miles of coastline, crossing wild headlands with the calls of oystercatchers and the smell of salt laden air ever present”. (Raynor Winn)

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