Tag Archives: Roly Witherow

Folk: ‘Johnny’s Gone to Hilo’ – new single from Roly Witherow released 2nd July 2021

‘Johnny’s Gone to Hilo’ is a second single from composer and folk artist Roly Witherow ahead of a forthcoming EP set for release later this year. Roly’s rendition is a characteristically inventive yet mournful interpretation of the traditional sea shanty. The single also features guest backing vocals from celebrated East Anglian folk singer, Nick Hart.

Check out ‘Johnny’s Gone to Hilo’ on Spotify here

A prolific composer in the world of film, TV, and theatre, Roly’s credits have included Channel 4’s On The Edge, 2015 BIFA nominated film Gregor and David Hare’s The Permanent Way. His debut folk album ‘Ballads and Yarns’ attracted a slew of highly favourable reviews in the UK media and beyond.  

As a folk musician and singer, Roly’s influences include Pete Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, A.L. Lloyd, Richard Thompson, Nic Jones, Pete Bellamy, John Martyn, Shirley Collins, Dick Gaughan, Lisa O’Neill and Will Pound.

Of the new single Roly says:

“Johnny’s Gone to Hilo is a sea shanty originating from the sailors of the nitrate trade off the Pacific coast of South America in the 19th century.  Hilo likely refers to the Peruvian port of Ilo, and whilst the tone of the shanty varies a great deal in all its different versions and iterations – from drinking song to lament, I thought the melody of the song lent itself best to a sorrowful arrangement with guitar, harmonium and two voices. The backing vocals are provided by acclaimed local folk singer Nick Hart of the Nest Collective, who, raised in a family of morris dancers, is renowned for his evocative voice that is rooted in the folk tradition.”

“The recording of the harmonium with all its noisy stops, billows and pipes was a particular challenge for producer Joe Garcia, but, with some ingenious microphone placement, he managed to capture the instrument’s unique and idiosyncratic sound with tremendous accuracy and warmth.”

Speaking on his five-track EP, set to be released in Winter 2021, Roly added:

“The forthcoming album is a very new direction for me. If my first album, ‘Ballads and Yarns’ had an experimental bent, stemming from my experience as a film composer and combining traditional songs with electric instrumentation, spoken word and elements of world music, this new album has a “back to basics” approach, focussing on the song itself in its most minimal form. The vast majority of the songs are for just acoustic guitar and voice, and the recordings have a very live feel to them, realised in large part by the expert production of Joe Garcia of Joe’s Garage, in Bristol.”

“This new album also has quite a playful, innocent and childlike quality to it, influenced in part by the children’s songs of Pete Seeger, Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd, but also by my experience of recently becoming a father. One of the songs on the album ‘Ernie’s Song’ is dedicated to my son. The album is a combination of traditional songs from the British Isles and further afield, and originals, such as this first single ‘The Bird and the Frog’. There are also some collaborations on the album, including with renowned local folk singer Nick Hart. The album in general touches on themes of rural vs urban life, family and growing up, love and love lost, nature and animals, industrialisation & mechanisation, death and religion.”

What they say:

“Witherow’s resonant voice sits beautifully against a spacious guitar arrangement” – The Times

“mixes up art-rock, atmospherics and folk on his personal project” – The Guardian

“a modern yet classic celebration of the art of folk music” – Folk Radio UK

https://www.rolywitherowmusic.com/

Related post:

‘The Bird and The Frog’ a new folk fable from Roly Witherow

News: ‘The Bird and The Frog’ – a new folk fable and a brand new single from Roly Witherow

Released: 29th January 2021 by Earnest Records

Following his debut folk album last year Ballads and Yarns, Roly Witherow releases a brand new single ‘The Bird and the Frog’ the first from a forthcoming new album. A prolific composer in the world of film, TV, and theatre, Roly’s credits have included Channel 4’s On The Edge, 2015 BIFA nominated film Gregor and David Hare’s The Permanent Way. For his album debut, however, Roly sought a quite different direction and recorded a highly-acclaimed album of progressive interpretations of traditional folk. Described by Folk Radio UK as 21st century Folk Music in all its glory ‘Ballads and Yarns’ received plaudits from the Times, the Guardian and many other publications.

‘The Bird and The Frog’ a self-composed song described as a fable-esque love story sees Roly continuing to draw on folk traditions. As a folk artist, Roly takes inspiration from the likes of  Pete Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Nick Hart, Lisa O’Neill and Will Pound.

Roly Witherow:“The Bird and the Frog is a fable-esque love story, centred on the taming of a Bird by the Frog. The Frog seduces the bird, convincing her to give up her wild and free existence to live with him under a log. They live a peaceful yet humdrum life in the frog’s world and whilst the Frog is contented to have tamed the object of his love, the Bird is left with the sensation that something might be missing. I had in mind thoughts of suburban lifestyles – perhaps the home counties – and our adoption of a highly compartmentalised society, as well as being a tale of young love.”

Speaking on the forthcoming album, set to be released in Winter 2021, Roly added:

This new album is a very new direction for me. If my first album, ‘Ballads and Yarns’ had an experimental bent, stemming from my experience as a film composer and combining traditional songs with electric instrumentation, spoken word and elements of world music, this new album has a “back to basics” approach, focusing on the song itself in its most minimal form. The vast majority of the songs are for just acoustic guitar and voice, and the recordings have a very live feel to them, realised in large part by the deft production of Joe Garcia of Joe’s Garage recording studio in Bristol where I recently relocated with my wife and young son during the pandemic.”

“The album will be a combination of traditional songs from the British Isles and further afield, and originals, such as this first single ‘The Bird and the Frog’. There are also some collaborations on the album, including with renowned folk singer Nick Hart.”

The music video directed by fine artist, Beatrice Vorster is assembled from fragments of archival educational footage depicting the microbiological life of frogs and birds before they come into their own.

Beatrice Vorster: “Images of tadpoles are circuit bent, overlaying footage of contemporary countryside in life in a somewhat psychedelic reimagining of how a fable would be retold. I wanted to be playful with the use of colour channel mixing as a way of tracing the emotional arch of the love story while using videos from a variety of eras to think about the timelessness of these tales which are passed down through generations.”

https://www.rolywitherowmusic.com/