In this special episode, Simon chats with Brian Denny, curator of the Working River collection of songs and music from those who live and work on the Thames. And what a journey it is.
Although most of the action is in London and Essex, the 21 songs take us the entire length of the river – an emotional and political roller-coaster with tales of poetry and literature, music and the arts, industry and empire. But also, of poverty and strife, struggles and strikes, insurrection and inspiration, from the Nore mutiny to SS Windrush .
A mixture of well-established and new tales from musicians of great skill and passion. But the story behind the album is just as fascinating, for folk music novices and afficionados alike.
As Brian says, folk music is not only “three chords and the truth” but “a living tradition reflecting the lives of working people which are often overlooked.”
Working River – Songs and music of the Thames is available as a CD or download from Folktree recordings. There’s a great illustrated commentary from Brian and all proceeds go to the GFTU educational trust – a good cause indeed.