Ashley Hutchings & Becky Mills
Described by Bob Dylan as ‘The single most important figure in English folk rock’, Ashley Hutchings, ‘The Guv’nor’ will be at Wickham on Friday 4th August accompanied by Becky Mills.
Ashley is a bassist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, band leader, writer and record producer. He was a founding member of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band. He has overseen numerous other projects, including records and live theatre, and has collaborated on film and television projects. His influence and innovation are celebrated throughout the music world.
Hutchings started his musical life as a fan of skiffle and “trad,” a British form of Dixieland jazz that had become popular in Britain at the beginning of the 1950s. He listened to a lot of early English and American rock & roll, but by the early 1960s he had developed a love for folk music. In 1967 along with Richard Thompson he formed Fairport Convention who performed a similar mix of traditional English folk, original songs, and American singer/songwriter material. After three albums he exited the lineup and began organizing Steeleye Span. Formed by Hutchings, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, and Peter Knight, with Martin Carthy coming in as the fifth member, Steeleye Span in its original form (and for several lineup changes after) was devoted to purely traditional music, adapted to the forces of a five-piece band with a growing arsenal of electric instruments. Ultimately, Steeleye shared the limelight with Fairport Convention, vying for the greater loyalty of folk-music fans, and even reaching out for a time to rock audiences — the decision to go almost fully electric and the addition of a full-time drummer toughened their sound considerably, and an association with Jethro Tull, opening for the chart-topping band on an American tour, and getting the services of Ian Anderson as producer for one album.
In 1978 Hutchings formed The Albion Band, with a lineup that included future Fairport Convention member Ric Sanders on violin. This group, with some lineup changes (including Nicol and Mattacks passing through) lasted into the 1990s, recording numerous albums, and also became the subject of a BBC documentary. Hutchings has been a major force for decades, fostering the foundation of more than his share of legendary and important bands.
“Ashley Hutchings is the single most important figure in English folk rock. Before that his group Fairport Convention recorded some of the best versions of my unreleased songs. Listen to the bass playing on Percy’s Song to hear how great he is.”
For his performance at Wickham festival 2023, Ashley will be accompanied by Becky Mills. Hailing from the wild moorlands of North Yorkshire, singer-songwriter Becky Mills brings a uniquely personal and touching slant to the modern folk genre.
With a foot in both contemporary & classic traditions, her evocative songs take the listener through topics encompassing love, loss, motherhood, emigration, the regrets of old age, the nature of heroism, grief during wartime – even the joy of running away to the circus! – a kaleidoscope of subjects, but always with wit, humour, charm and feeling.
Described by listeners as “moving”, “witty”, sometimes “heart-rending”, but always “uplifting”, her acclaimed 2013 mainstream debut “Dandelion” led to comparisons with Sandy Denny – but this was no bolt from the blue.