Press Releases

Reprint from Mid-Devon Press 2005:-

 A Weekend with Slack-ma-Girdle

 

Well, I’d always wanted to join a band on tour, so when Devon band Slack-Ma-Girdle offered me the chance to accompany them to Shrewsbury last weekend for the Summer Festival I jumped at it.

 

On Friday morning the band bus powered us smoothly up to Shrewsbury to meet our first contact, artist Wren Miller. “Hi,” she greeted us, “You’re sleeping in the studio - once you’ve erected it!”

 

In amazingly short order the band had erected the “studio” – a traditional Mongolian yurt and dashed off to the single rehearsal with the other performers. I asked them about their music. “We’re mainly a Ceilidh band,” they said, “and….we do other stuff….” This weekend’s “other stuff” turned out to be a full program of tudor dances played on appropriate instruments, accompanying up to 150 dancers marshalled by internationally renowned dance director Maggie Love.

 

Then it was back to the yurt via not-particularly-Tudor Jools Holland’s concert  in The Quarry, Shrewsbury’s Severn-side park. Then up at 7 am on Saturday to don period costumes. “Bit like incontinence pants, but more comfortable than last year’s 18th century stuff,” commented the band, who seem to be used to this sort of thing.

 

Once in the town the 21st century fell away as we plunged into a colourful throng of nosegay and nostrum sellers, soldiers, courtiers and their ladies. On the stroke of 9 am, all fell eerily silent at the intimidating arrival of Good Queen Bess who led us off in reverential procession. Slack-ma-Girdle blithely struck up with a series of lively 16th century tunes, which HM graciously condescended to ignore all the way to the Market Square

 

Here the band came into their own. Joined by period musician Wyndebagge, with me on percussion (!), they accompanied a breathtakingly stately pavane of fifty dancers who inched their way across the square to make their obeisances to the virgin queen.

 

And that was just the beginning. SMG played “tudor” all morning, interspersed with a constant stream of other entertainments. Then repeated it all in the afternoon –  somehow evading execution. “Next year it’s mediaeval,” they said. “More drums. You on?”

 

You bet.

 

Esme, “The Drum”

 

ps: find me in the "gallery"