Steeleye Span began in late 1969, when London-born bass player Ashley Hutchings departed Fairport Convention, the band he had co-founded in 1967. Fairport had been involved in a road accident in 1969 in which the drummer, Martin Lamble, was killed and other band members injured. They convalesced in a rented house near Winchester in Hampshire.
Hutchings' new band was formed after he met established duo Tim Hart and Maddy Prior on the London folk club scene, and the initial line-up was completed by husband and wife team Terry Woods (formerly of Sweeney's Men, later of The Pogues) and Gay Woods.
With two female singers, the original line-up was unusual for the time, and indeed, never performed live, as the Woodses departed the band shortly after the release of the group's debut album.
The name Steeleye Span comes from a character in the traditional song "Horkstow Grange" The song gives an account of a fight between John "Steeleye" Span and John Bowlin, neither of whom are proven to have been real people. Carthy gave Hart the idea to name the band after the song character.
When the band discussed names, they decided to choose among the three suggestions "Middlemarch Wait", "Iyubidin's Wait", and "Steeleye Span".
Although there were only five members in the band, six ballots appeared and "Steeleye Span" won.
Only in 1978 did Hart confess that he had voted twice.
Maddy has been the centre and heart ever since.
Enough. I have ale to sort out and pumps to clean out. Tables to wipe down and lay for dinner. The restaurant walls will open to the music room and the patio and I shall hope for good weather. Meanwhile I shall listen to rehearsals. First though, for you, Maddy and the chaps can tell us of their latest offerings.
On with the music.
They are rehearsing the tale of a lass sent nearby many years ago. Tasmania was once called.... Van Diemen's Land. And yes, women were 'transported' here long before Captain Kirk showed us all his transporter.
They seem to have picked up a backing group which was banned in the UK by Political Correctness fanatics. Dark Morris men. They can show their faces here.
Maddy is not a bit reluctant to include old English hymns in her performances.
A very early song (both in their career and in provenance) next. And a favourite of mine.
Thomas the Rhymer.
I knew Thomas. Several times he appeared in my Court, back when I was a King. He sang and wooed the ladies with his poetic ballads. He made a good effort to cheer me up in my pain and I rewarded him well. Then he seemed to disappear one day. No-one saw him go. No-one knew where he'd gone. Now we do. Stolen away by a fey Elfen Queen.
For the Intermission while Maddy and the boys whet their whistles with my fine ales I have arranged for the orchestral 'Horkstow Grange' which as part of a longer piece by Percy Grainger. Performed here, in the Tavern, by the North Texas Wind Symphony. (just a bit. It is a rehearsal)
(The Miser and his Man)
""In Horkstow Grange there lives an old miser, you all do know him as I've heard tell, It was him and his man that was called John Bowlin', they fell out one market day.""
And back again for some gaity ! From an earlier time when gaity meant, well.... gaity.
And gaity was in the air when a maid married. Moistiness too !
If you want more you will have to buy a ticket for tonight's performance.
Tickets are free.