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At the heart of English folk

Exclusive Interview: The Hut People

The Hut People are joining us at Cecil Sharp House on Wednesday 12 November, bringing with them the high-octane blend of folk tunes from across the globe that forms their notoriously witty and delightfully entertaining live show. We had a chat to find out a bit more about them.


What was the initial vision behind the duo?

We met with sheets over our heads playing and teaching junk percussion to some youth groups in Goole. As most musicians do we decided to get together and jam. Sam came up with all these wonderful folk tunes from all over the world and I was gob smacked!  My musical world up to then was in the jazz and pop world.

So the initial vision was to play as many of these tunes that we could lay our hands on. Sam was my folk conduit and together we explored and continue to explore different musical cultures, textures and rhythms. We didn’t set out with a vision, it just occurred whilst following the music we loved.

You are often described using words like “entertaining” and “hilarious”; was the inclusion of humour in your shows and conscious decision or was it something that developed naturally?

It was certainly never a conscious decision to be entertaining or humorous, we have a laugh whilst travelling and it continues on stage. It is important for both of us to engage with the audience, so we can all have a great time together. We like to laugh and smile while playing and we believe this transfers to our audience. The laughter simply occurs, we never chase it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously but we are serious about our music.

Your repertoire includes pieces and influences from across the globe. With so much to choose from, what are your criteria when selecting material to play?

Our repertoire is very eclectic and our influences are many, but the bottom line is that we have to really like the tune we want to use. Of course it’s incredibly rare that a tune we like comes from another percussion / accordion duo; in fact we haven’t discovered another one!

We describe our versions of tunes as being ‘Huttified’, meaning we put our take on every piece we play using our instrumentation and expression to create a new arrangement and interpretation. Some tunes last a short time and disappear whilst others continue on the journey and end up on our CDs.

What has been your favourite moment of your musical careers thus far?

Sam: Winning the BBC Young Folk Award with the band 422 and working at Ethno in Falun Sweden, which became very influential in my playing.

Gary: Working with Nina Simone and spending nearly 13 years with The Beautiful South.

What is the best part of playing live?

Working as a duo gives us both a wonderful freedom to perform tunes we love but also to improvise within them. When we play live the tunes take on a slightly different arrangement each time and this is refreshing and exciting. To play live is to communicate and interact with an audience. When an audience is laughing, smiling, stomping, clapping or just really listening closely to everything we are doing, it gives us a real buzz.

What have you been listening to recently?

Sam: I have been listening to the first Kathryn Tickell Band album, which features Lynn Tocker on accordion. It is an absolutely amazing album.

Gary: I’m listening to Diversions Vol 2 by The Unthanks with the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. It’s a match made in heaven, I’m loving it.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Alongside our agent Phil Simpson of Regent Music we hope to continue playing folk clubs, arts centres, house concerts and festivals throughout the country. We are also looking forward to playing abroad more in Europe and North America.

We are gathering tunes for our next CD on Fellside Records and promoting the current album Cabinet of Curiosities.

We hope that our music can get to more ears!

Find out more about the show
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National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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