Flower Power inspires songs of love and loss…

Auricula Gig Band

Flower Power inspires songs of love and loss, but all in a good cause.

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From the top of the Indie charts and a place in John Peel’s Festive 50 through twin careers playing world dance music, acoustic sets and “thrash folk”, Rich and Lou Duffy-Howard are planning their most ambitious – and unusual – work to date.
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As Loudhailer, the pair have devised a musical show, The Auricula Suite, in tribute to the Huguenot refugees of the 16th century and the much-loved flowers they brought with them as they escaped religious persecution in mainland Europe.
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They are working in partnership with Robin and Annabel Graham of Drointon Nurseries, internationally-renowned Primula auricula specialists based near Ripon
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But events at the premiere in Swanland Village Hall, near Hull will not entirely reflect the fragrant, delicate qualities of the much-loved bloom.
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“We’re known for acoustic work, spoken word and what some people have called ‘thrash folk’ tunes about love and loss, obsession and murder, and a few road movie songs,” said Rich.
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The Swanland evening on 5 May will include contributions by East Yorkshire musicians Amanda Lowe, the UK’s foremost player of hammer dulcimer, and Quentin Budworth, one of only a handful of professional hurdy gurdy players in the country.”
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The proceeds from ticket sales and other fund-raising events on the night will go to the Matthew Good Foundation, which was set up in memory of the former joint managing director of Hull-based John Good & Sons, specialists in international freight management and logistics.
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Matthew, who was 32, died last summer while running the Humber Half Marathon for charity. The Foundation was set up to help fund research and education surrounding sport-induced heat stroke.
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“Matthew’s death came as a great shock and when we started planning The Auricula Suite we knew straight away which charity we would support,” said Rich.
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“The fund-raising element is very much in keeping with the themes of love and loss which will be explored in the music.”
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Among the displays from Drointon Nurseries will be an Auricula Theatre, with the flowers displayed on small stages, in tiered rows – the traditional presentation style used by the company at such events as the Harrogate Spring Show and the Malvern Spring Show.
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“They only grow Primula auricula and are known internationally for their work,” said Rich, whose own passion from the plant came from growing them and then researching them.
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“I re-discovered these flowers and the sight and scent brought back vivid childhood memories.  We now have a garden full of over fifty different varieties; once you’re hooked it’s difficult to stop.
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“I found that the flower was brought to England by the Huguenot refugees in the 16th century as they fled from mainland Europe. They were weavers, silk workers, and the world’s first florists and their experiences inspired Lou to put some songs together.”
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Lou added: “The songs are about faith, stories of love and loss and about the quest to make a new life in a new land.  They are about the history and the present and they also project into the future.”
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So some similarity with the work of the Red Guitars, whose futuristic single, “Good Technology”, opening with Lou’s thumping bass line, joined the likes of The Smiths, Billy Bragg and New Order in the higher echelons of John Peel’s Festive 50 back in 1983.
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TV appearances included the Old Grey Whistle Test, Oxford Road Show and The Tube. A critically-acclaimed debut album, “Slow To Fade”, coupled with the success of “Good Technology” and “Marimba Jive”, another single, brought a deal with Virgin Records.
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After the Red Guitars split, Lou and fellow band member Hallam Lewis formed The Planet Wilson with Lou subsequently forming new bands, delivering workshops and organising music festivals including Sankofa Sunsplash, a celebration of African music at the Wilberforce 2007 events.
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Rich played bass in other Hull bands and still has a magazine review which brands his playing style as reminiscent of Lou’s –  years before they met.
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More recently his credits have included a support slot Nick Harper in Hebden Bridge, and Loudhailer are helping to nurture a growing community of performers with regular music nights at Atkinson’s Cafe Bar in Willerby, an intimate venue near their home in Kirk Ella, Hull.
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“Hebden Bridge Trades Club is just the best place for a musician to play,” Rich maintains.
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“Maybe we’ll take The Auricula Suite there, or maybe we’ll perform it at some horticultural shows next spring,” said Lou.
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“It all depends on the reaction to the premiere. It promises to be a real mixture with songs to think about and music to dance to, from high-tech to hurdy gurdy. We’re not sure what to expect and I can’t imagine what John Peel would have made of it.”
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The Auricula Suite will be performed at Swanland Village Hall at 7.30pm on Saturday 5 May. Tickets from outlets in Swanland, from Atkinson’s Cafe Bar in Willerby and from http://www.auriculasuite.net priced £8 and £3 for under 16s. All proceeds to the Matthew Good Foundation.
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Reminiscing the Red Guitars
Lou Duffy-Howard on some of the stand-out tracks from the back catalogue of one of the finest early Indie bands.
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Good Technology
We lost a few good lines in search of the three-minute pop song. I missed: “We got chemicals make you believe in God, we got politics that are very odd.”
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Steeltown
We played this on the Old Grey Whistle Test. The band was suppose to be picking me up at Woodall Services but something went wrong and I had to hitch a lift. A hippy in a Morris Minor used the sun instead of an A-Z to get me to the BBC. We drove all round London. I got there in the nick of time.
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Crocodile Tears
Someone left the studio door open while Hal (Hallam Lewis) was recording the acoustic guitar part and you could hear the telly on the track. We liked it and kept it in.
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Feature by Phil Ascough XD Network  phil@xdnetwork.co.uk
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