A couple of years ago there was a small folk music festival in the grounds of Bradgate House. The house is a ruin now but it was once the home of a former queen of England. Lady Jane Grey was queen for just nine days but she spent her early childhood in that house surrounded by the rugged natural beauty of Bradgate Park. The estate is now a public park and a Site of Special Scientific Interest where herds of red and fallow deer still browse the coarse grass and bracken. It’s the perfect setting for a folk festival.
The Crotchety Couple had taken a picnic, drawn by well-known local artists such as Sally Barker (a finalist on the BBC TV programme The Voice) and Govannen (modern folk in the Celtic style). But the act that impressed this Old Man the most was a duo calling themselves The Way Out. They described their style as “progressive folk(ish)” and, although I wouldn’t use that phrase myself, I could see what they meant. Their songs are firmly in the folk tradition but the instrumentation and arrangements lean in the soft prog direction.
There was no Way Out music for sale on the merchandise table that day. The collaboration was less than a year old and they hadn’t recorded any of their material. So the Crotchety wallet remained undepleted and I had to be content to look them up on the Internet and follow their Facebook page. Some nine months later following The Way Out led to a name change announcement. There were too many ‘Way Out‘s on social media making it difficult for fans to find the Autumn Dawn Leader + Chris Chambers outfit, so they became The Secret Magpies.
Those Magpies have collected nine sparkling pieces of music on bandcamp and Spotify. They also produced a limited-edition EP which was available only at their gigs. But there is still no album as far as I can see. The latest single by The Secret Magpies is a lament for Europe with some harsh words for those who want to dismantle the institutions that brought together the European nations after the divisions and conflicts of the two World Wars. It is called Europa’s Fall.
In our Brexit-riven country this song sends a pointed and powerful message. Of course, our inward-looking prime minister won’t hear it no matter how often this track is played on the radio. But, perhaps, a few more rational individuals will heed the call, stretch out their arms and try to catch Europa if she falls.
For a little while it was easy
We pulled down the dividing walls
. . .
And now the end is upon us
We go back to where we were
Led by small-minded fools and liars
Who watch Europa fall.