Af­ter­noon of songs and sto­ry­telling about the Great War

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

A UNIQUE play from an award-win­ning folk col­lec­tive is head­ing to he town for Re­mem­brance week­end.

Touch­stones, on the Es­planade, Rochdale,is to host a unique event on the eve of the cen­te­nary of the Ar­mistice of the First World War – and at­ten­dance comes with a free book on the sub­ject.

From songs and sto­ries about an oak tree that grows in mem­ory of a lo­cal teenager, to tales of Rochdale sol­diers be­ing re­u­nited in bizarre cir­cum­stances in no-man’s land, there will be no short­age of talk­ing points when the mu­sic and sto­ry­telling col­lec­tive, Harp and a Mon­key, play in their home bor­ough for the first time in years.

The trio, which in­cludes an in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected First World War his­to­rian, au­thor and broad­caster Martin Purdy – as well as fel­low mu­si­cians Si­mon Jones and Andy Smith – have been per­form­ing their First World War show around the Bri­tish Isles for the past three years.

How­ever, they have never per­formed in Rochdale be­fore – de­spite the fact that much of the ma­te­rial re­lates to men and women from their home area. The £10 en­try price to the per­for­mance, on Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 10, in­cludes a free copy of front­man Martin’s first co-au­thored book on the sub­ject, Do­ing Our Bit, which used the di­aries and let­ters of lo­cal peo­ple to tell the full story of the con­flict.

Martin, who is orig­i­nally from Mid­dle­ton, said: “This is go­ing to be a re­ally spe­cial show, and one that is long over­due, as so much of the ma­te­rial is based on lo­cal peo­ple from Mid­dle­ton, Rochdale and Hey­wood.

“It is by no means a ‘mud, blood and trenches’ show, but one that chal­lenges a lot of stereo­types. Ex­pect plenty of poignancy and laugh­ter.”

The show is tied to the band’s crit­i­cally ac­claimed third al­bum ‘War Sto­ries’, and in­cludes field record­ings and in­ter­views with vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies, new songs and re-work­ings of tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous songs.

●●Folk band Harp and a Mon­key

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