Saturday 11 October 2014



Word of Mouth Tour

As if promoting an album, being involved in two bands, studio production, singing and songwriting as well as embarking on a European and UK tour weren't enough, the multi-talented, proud and recent father Seth Lakeman has two more reasons to divide his attention - his new twins.

Highly talented, Seth Lakeman
"It’s a very busy time at the moment," he says very matter of factly.
"There are other things coming in, which are great, because it’s important to keep yourself busy and keep moving and evolving but there is a lot to juggle at the moment because we have recently had twins. So that’s the big one to deal with.
"The twins were born about thirteen and half months ago and they are a boy and a girl so we feel quite blessed.
"They will stay at home during this gruelling tour but in the future I am sure we can take some trips together."

In 2012 Lakeman married Hannah Edwards a nurse at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Their wedding was attended by so many friends from the folk music world that it was likened to a mini-festival rather than a marriage ceremony. On the guest list were Tom McConville, an old family friend who helped Seth with his fiddle playing, in-laws Cara Dillon, who sang during the signing of the register and Kathryn Roberts and of course there respective husbands, his older brothers  Sam and Sean.

"Hannah went back to work about a month ago and we are trying to keep on top of things.
"I suppose for years I was very busy ploughing a professional furrow, working and that was what I loved but when life changes and you’ve got home to think about and be there for, it becomes very complex.
"I am just trying to be back as much as possible, it’s just trying to keep that balance which is important. "There are a very, very busy couple of months coming up with The Full English and the stuff I am doing of course, promoting Word of Mouth.
"The tour has sold incredibly well. It's one of our best years really. In the decade I have been doing this it seems to have connected again and we feel really happy about that."

As Lakeman talked before the beginning of the tour, which began on October 10 at Royal Tunbridge Wells, he has an upbeat tone to his voice, not unlike an excited child about to set off on holiday rather than a musician starting a 14-date nationwide journey which sees him play to a sold out show at Town Hall, Birmingham on Friday October 17 and as part of The Full English at Warwick Arts Centre later this month.

Seth Lakeman
"I have just been in Denmark for a week. I enjoyed it, the people there have a passion for music.
"The tour has sold really well and the public have responded pretty positively to Word of Mouth so it’s exciting to go out there.
"The touring is really at the heart of what we do, getting out there and playing music, nowadays it’s difficult to sell records and get songs across to people.
"But live playing has always been there and it’s not changing, it's that experience where you share the whole journey with the people.
"I still get nervous before every show, it’s just the way I'm made up, it’s just part of it.
"I think if people don’t, they are not taking things seriously enough, you have got to feel those people are watching you and it doesn’t matter how confident you are or how brilliant you think you are, things can happen and you’ve got to be on top of it and you’ve got to take it seriously.
"Word of Mouth has been received very well, much better than I could have expected. The public have got the concept behind it and there is a lot of depth to it.
"The album is about people; it’s about the south west and it’s about the preservation of music. I feel really happy in the way it’s gone."

Lakeman has also seen the album and singles from it do what traditionally folk music isn't supposed to, crossed over into the mainstream pop world.

"The songs have been a big cross over into mainstream and people who are not particularly into folk seem to get it.
"I guess it’s a way of song writing isn’t it? Obviously I come from folk music and that’s the base of what I do, but as well - exploring other areas of music; ways of writing and experimenting within that.
"It was a big experiment for me, Barrelhouse (his previous album) was more about the production side, Word of Mouth is more about people and actually going and reaching out to find a different way of writing each time."

There have been detractors who have criticised his efforts purely because his songs have become popular and even charted.

The latest album
"I think you are always going to get criticism because the thing about the folk scene is its independence. The fact is it’s such a fragile form, when you are talking about the traditional material, so you have to be so careful in the way it’s delivered, and how far you take that. People are very sensitive, but I totally understand.
"The thing is I don’t take too many traditional songs and dissect them and take them on tour. I write my own songs.
"It’s true I play all the traditional instruments and keep coming back to them but predominantly I am a songwriter and I think that’s why it’s crossed over.
"You have to understand they’re purists. You will find that in any genre. You get metal fans who wouldn’t call Metallica metal.
"There are people in the jazz circuit who probably wouldn’t call Courtney Pine or Jamie Cullum jazz and people say the same about Bellowhead, because once you cross to another area you become a target, as well as being someone who is gambling, you are always going to be stood out there."

So at the risk of getting too cryptic does Lakeman see himself as a folk musician or as a musician who plays mainly folk?
"I see myself as a songwriter; I just sit there writing folk tunes all the time on the fiddle. So I am a folk musician when I am sat in the corner of a pub, and that’s definitely what I do but as a singer I am probably more of a songwriter.
"I can cross genres because of the instruments I use it’s always centred around the folk and roots music and the way I sing and the way I write music comes from that. I think I am a progressive folk musician.

Lakeman learned to play the fiddle at a very early age, wanting to emulate his mother Joy and along with his father Geoff and his two brothers formed a family band and in later years it's his ability to seemingly play any instrument he lays his hands on which has impressed people.

"Yes I took up the fiddle because of my mom’s playing and Tom McConville has helped me through the years, we used to hang out with a lot of musoes. We were very lucky with some of the tips we had.
"I can pretty much play anything with strings and things with bellows I can have a stab at.
"I would like to get much better on the piano, I am not very good at that. I can plonk away with my left hand a bit but it’s not very good.
"There are lots of things I would like to get good at though, for instance, I would love to play gypsy swing on the guitar which has always been a dream of mine since boyhood, but it’s pretty hard."

So what was it like growing up in a house that seemed awash with music?

"There was a lot of music going on but it wasn’t just folk, the home was full of music, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Grappelli, Reinhardt, KD Lang, The Beatles and Phil Collins, it was such a strange mix.
"It was a medley of all sorts, I think that’s why we all turned out the way we did. We soaked it all up I guess."

Lakeman, aged 37, grew up in Buckland Monachorum, West Devon with his older brothers Sean and Sam who are also respected musicians so is there some kind of mystical significance in them all beginning with S?

"I guess it was just my parents, they just went through and enjoyed using the S. And it was a way of playing tricks with the postman."
Sam Lakeman
Sean Lakeman

So what is the possibility of the Lakeman brothers performing as a band again?

"I am sure at some point, certainly but we are so busy at the moment. Sean has just finished a record with Kathryn and Sam and Cara are just on the back of their record. But at some point we will have to."

Seth Lakeman and his band are at Town Hall, Birmingham on October 17 although the show is sold out but you can see Lakeman performing as part of The Full English at Warwick Arts Centre on October 31.

Other links:

The Mike Harding Folk Show

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