“Always Remembered” Teesdale First World War Project Inspires Music, Song and Dance

Press Release, 17 June 2016

Music at the Heart of Teesdale (M@HoT) project’s youth folk band Cream Tees and the Teesdale Longsword Dance team will both be supporting John Kirkpatrick’s “Tunes from the Trenches” concert at the Witham on Friday 8 July at 7.30pm.

John Kirkpatrick with his squeezeboxes.

John Kirkpatrick will perform a whole kitbag of songs, supported by Cream
Tees and the Teesdale Longsword Dance team at The Witham.

The concert will be, for Cream Tees, the culmination of their “Always Remembered” First World War project which has been led by M@HoT project researcher Mike Bettison and volunteer tutor Rupert Philbrick.  “Our young musicians have started to explore the narratives of Teesdale in the First World War,” said Rupert. “Participants have been learning tunes from the period including Redwing and Tipperary — and have even started to explore ways of using music and folk song to share the stories they are uncovering.”

Rupert Philbrick with some of the Cream Tees band members sharing stories and poems they had written in the Bowes Museum.

Rupert Philbrick with some of the Cream Tees band members sharing
stories and poems they had written in the Bowes Museum.
(Photo by Neil Diment)

“The Always Remembered project has been mainly funded by the Heart of Teesdale landscape partnership along with a very welcome contribution from Barnard Castle Town Council,” said Mike. “Rupert and I started back in January with our research and the whole project has been a kind of pictorial journey of the First World War memorials in the area. Much of the material produced will be housed on M@HoT’s own website, as well as The Bowes Museum’s WW1 Project website.”

Cream Tees band members Kirsty McLachlan and Emily Dods present their musical interpretation of the WW1 memorials.

Cream Tees band members Kirsty McLachlan and Emily Dods present their
musical interpretation of the WW1 memorials.
(Photo by Neil Diment)

“The workshop at the Bowes Museum that followed our visit to a number of Teesdale’s war memorials was not an easy one,” said Neil Diment, the M@HoT project’s co-ordinator. “As our young musicians began to create their own tunes in response to the stories and themes we had explored, it was poignant to reflect on the fact that, even in our small group, two of their great grandfathers had been killed at the Battle of the Somme a hundred years ago. That awful, bloody ‘War to End All Wars’ is still affecting families today.”

On the day of the concert, John Kirkpatrick will run a workshop in Teesdale School for Cream Tees and other invited musicians to fine tune their own performance.  Discarding their normal “tatters,” the Teesdale Longsword Dance team will also perform a new dance that evening at the concert under the guidance of tutor Patrick Langdon. “The team will look very smart in their new, ‘military-style’ costumes which have been especially made for the event by musician — and project seamstress! — Helen Bishop,” said Patrick.

Rupert Philbrick working with Cream Tees band members, Matthew Hendry, left, and Joe Sammut on their First World War tune.

Rupert Philbrick working with Cream Tees band members, Matthew Hendry,
left, and Joe Sammut on their First World War tune.
(Photo by Neil Diment)

“It will be such an amazing experience for our young musicians and dancers to work with and appear on the same stage as John, who was the 2010 Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year,” said Mike. “There will be such a variety. After Cream Tees and the Longsword dancers have performed, John will present a full kitbag of songs from both the First and Second World Wars. There will be a fair smattering of the popular hits of the day, and John will also give an airing to some of the songs sung on the Front Line by the soldiers themselves. They were written to keep the spirits high, to raise a smile, share a chorus, and provide a moment’s respite from the horrors on every side — and to find the heart to keep going.”

For more information about M@HoT’s “Always Remembered” project, contact Neil Diment on 01833 638263 or email: neil@ndiment.co.uk. Tickets for the “Tunes from the Trenches” concert, priced £10 in advance (£12 on the door), are available from The Witham box office, call: 01833 631107 or visit: www.thewitham.org.uk.