A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Merry Hell's manager, Damian Liptrot, who asked me if I was free, on Sunday 13th July, to attend a recording session at the band's studio in Wigan. Intrigued, I asked Damian what sort of session this would be. He informed me that the purpose of it was to record a chorus, to be known as "The Pals' Chorus", for a charity single version of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" by folk super-band "The Armistice Pals" to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and to celebrate the life of the late Pete Seeger. "Who are The Armistice Pals?", I asked Damian, not having heard of them before. Damian then proceeded to reel off a veritable Who's Who of British Folk music including Christine Collister, Sally Barker, Blair Dunlop, Luke Jackson, Peter Knight, Judy Dyble, Dave Swarbrick, Chris and Kellie While, Julie Matthews, Ken Nicol, Lucy Ward, Ninebarrow and, of course, Merry Hell, to name but a very few [for a full list see www.armisticepals.com/contributors.html].
The name "Armistice Pals" refers to both the agreement that ended the First World War and the "Pals' Battalions" which were groups of friends, usually from the same town or village who enlisted in the army at the same time and who fought and often died together in the Great War.
I felt honoured to be asked to enlist in the "Pals' Chorus" and, on the due date, hotfooted it back from a wedding in deepest rural Shropshire to Wigan's Jaraf House Studio for the session under the direction of " Choirmaster" John Kettle of Merry Hell, who has the daunting task of assembling the contributions of over 30 leading lights of the folk scene, as well as the Pals Chorus. Good luck with that John ! The wine will help, no doubt.
The single is due to be released on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014 in various formats, namely, CD single, Download and, best of all, good old 7" 45 rpm vinyl single. The good news, Damian told us, is that, because it is being released on vinyl, there will also be a B-Side to "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", namely, a version of Virginia Kettle's hauntingly beautiful ballad "Emerald Green" [from Merry Hell's superb 2013 album "Head Full Of Magic, Shoes Full of Rain"]. This B-Side also features The Pals' Chorus and it was a great privilege to be able to make a contribution [however small] to this wonderful song, as well as to Pete Seeger's classic "Where Have All The Flowers Gone".
Damian's aim is to get as many folk clubs and other music venues across the country to hold an Armistice Pals event on or around 9th November to coincide with the release of the single. Such an event can take any form but Damian would like there to be a collective singing of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" at some point in the evening, followed by a collection for the Armistice Pals' charities [The British Red Cross;The Malala Fund;The Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball Foundation For Peace and Peace Through Folk].
If you are a folk club organiser [or similar] and you want to support this admirable project by holding an Armistice Pals event, please contact Damian and his co-organiser Helen Meissner of Folkstock at email@example.com for further information or go to www.armisticepals.com.
Fatea Magazine is proud to be a supporter of the Armistice Pals Project