Heeley Institute was packed to see what might have been the final performance of Ashley Hutchings and Blair Dunlop on stage together. Fresh from a brief trip to Italy, where Blair had received a prestigious Premio Ciampi music award, the two gave us a really warm and friendly evening of music, poetry and stories. Ashley Hutchings was introduced as a founder of not just one, not two, but three iconic groups from British folk-rock ... Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band ... a bona fide folk legend.
Blair’s intricate guitar playing and singing were as good as ever – treating us to a selection of old and new songs – and Ashley reminded us of just how good his singing is. He played and read material from across his career – right up to the recently released Riot of Spring. Ashley was wearing (a joke he assured us!) a Denny-Swarbrick-Thompson-Nicols-Hutchings-Mattacks "classic Fairport line-up t-shirt" - and of course the evening spent some time re-living the achievements and magic of that group. Richard Thompson remains one of the all-time greats that Ashley felt that he had played with.
As well as the musical treats, the two answered a range of questions from the audience including Ashley’s views on the which parts of his long career he was most proud of (unsurprisingly including “Liege and Lief” and “Gloucester Docks”) and whether Blair was always destined to become a musician (briefly and entertainingly “no”).
Also, Ashley revisited a Desert Island Discs-esque episode in Italy where he had to nominate his 5 favourite/most influential albums … answers on a postcard! Anyway, thanks to both for a great session.
Photographs by Joanna Ritchie
Ashley Hutchings (with Blair Dunlop)
"A really warm and friendly evening of music, poetry and stories - from a bona-fide folk legend."
Friday 14th November 2014
Heeley Institute, Sheffield