Sons of Joy + MacGillivray + The Doomed Bird of Providence

Sons of Joy + MacGillivray + The Doomed Bird of Providence

8th August 2019

Sons of Joy is Daniel Merrill and Matt Simpkins - a foot stomping, string snapping, hollering juggernaut, 100% free from commercial ambition or delusions of success. They are joined by ethereal folk / baroque of MacGillivray, and a stripped back set of folk-noir from The Doomed Bird of Providence.

Sons of Joy arrived with a couple of out-of-tune violins and a manifesto to reclaim folk music for joy. They played music to feed the spirit, music with the immediacy of an Alan Lomax field recording and the earnest intensity of the pre-war gospel pioneers. They created records of extremes, from delicate 9th century plainchant to raw gospel foot-stompers saturated by feedback, the microphone overloaded by the bestial holler of Matt Simpkins, as he channelled righteous fury like some jackleg street preacher from the 1930s.

After one EP and two albums, Simpkins retired from music to spend three years in post-graduate study in Cuddesdon, Oxford, training to become an Anglican priest. He is now Rev’d Matthew Simpkins, Priest-in-Charge at St. Leonard’s in Lexden, Colchester. Bandmate Merrill is now in Rehab*.

“It is indeed folk music. But it’s screeching, sawing, tortured folk music of the best kind. Of the kind, in fact, that would happily tear the still-beating heart from the shattered ribcage of the jelly-spined folk pop which sullies the name these days, and eat it in front of its grieving family. Awesome.” – Song by Toad blog

* Al Rehab, on the outskirts of Cairo. He continues to perform with Dead Rat Orchestra and KaddalMerrill.

MacGillivray has walked in a straight line with a dead wolf on her shoulders through the back streets of Vegas into the Nevada desert, eaten broken chandelier glass in a derelict East German shopping mall, headbanged in gold medieval stocks in Birmingham allotments, burnt on a sunbed wearing conquistador armour in Edinburgh’s underground city, breast-fed a Highland swan in Oxford and regurgitated red roses in Greenland. She remains clan chief . . .

MacGillivray is the highland name of Scottish writer, performance artist and musician Kirsten Norrie, reflecting her matrilineal highland heritage. MacGillivray has released eight albums, authored two poetry collections and provided music for the soundtracks to two major British films.

She has worked with The Fall, Thurston Moore, Arlo Guthrie, Arthur Brown, Shirley Collins, Laura Cannell, Dead Rat Orchestra, Jem Finer (The Pogues), Hauschka, Trembling Bells, Olivia Chaney, Current 93, Gallon Drunk and Vic Godard and the Subway Sect.

Her solo work had been aired on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, The Verb and Radio Wales. She has provided film soundtracks for ‘Swandown’ and for ‘By Our Selves’, in which she also appeared. alongside graphic novelist Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta ) and Toby Jones (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games).

The Doomed Bird of Providence started out in London in 2009 as a means for Mark Kluzek to write songs about early colonial times in Australia. Kluzek, who had moved from Australia and been living in the UK for some years had read The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, a history of convict Australia. His first couple of songs were loosely based on characters in the aforementioned book. Over a period of years a variety of musicians joined Kluzek to perform and record these and other songs.

Early support for the band was provided by the Ex Gratia label who released a song on the Ex Gratia compilation Specialisation is for Insects.

The first release was a four track ep on Laily Recordings. Contributors to this ep were also performing live with The Doomed Bird of Providence; Drew Barker (SOUP, Croft), Stafford Glover (ex Extreme Noise Terror) and Daniel Merrill (Dead Rat Orchestra).

It received some polite press but most importantly sparked the interest of Justin and Helen Watson of the label Front and Follow. Front and Follow offered to release the debut album by The Doomed Bird of Providence. Called Will Ever Pray, the album received high praise from reviewers as well as considerable airplay on BBC6 thanks to the support of Tom Ravenscroft. Richard Acton (ex Limn) and Rachel Laurence made significant contributions to the album and were regularly playing live with the band. Other contributors included Tom Knight and Autumn Ferment artist Flake Brown. The album was mastered by ex-Rothko and current Trace Recordings head Mark Beazley.

The Doomed Bird of Providence by this stage were a nebulous live act that performed with anything from 2 to 7 members. After the album’s release Barney Monger started playing percussion with the band.

The band released a single in December 2011 and recorded a few Christmas themed songs for Tom Ravenscroft’s BBC6 show. 2012 saw the band working on the Front & Follow project Long Division with Remainders (released early 2013), developing songs for a new album and playing live. It has also seen the addition of Katie English (Isnaj Dui) performing flute live with the band.

Katie, along with Richard, Drew, Stafford, Rachel, Mark and violinist Angela Chan all contributed to the second album entitled Blind Mouths Eat. The album was released on 11 November 2013 and received an excellent reception from Wire Magazine (with a full page review from Clive Bell), Americana-UK, Clash Magazine, Sounds-XP, Freq, ATTN:Magazine, whisperinandhollerin, Norman Records amongst others. Bryan Styles (Plantman) joined the band on percussion for a number of shows to support the album release through out 2014.

An EP was released on 13th July 2015. Called You Brought the Knife, it was a string heavy affair. Along with regular contributors, Joolie Wood (violin) and Ian Hothersall (percussion) also play on the release. More details about the release can be found here.

2016 was spent planning and recording the third album. Burrowed Into the Soft Sky was made up of two twenty minute instrumentals. Recorded in Colchester, London and Halifax it included contributions from the same musicians that worked on You Brought the Knife. The result though is a radical shift in style for the band. Released in September 2017, it received praise from The Quietus, Wire Magazine, Aural Aggravation, Narc Magazine, Echoes and Dust, Freq, Americana UK, A Closer Listen, Ears for Eyes, Norman Records, fRoots and others.

Tickets £7 / £6 concessions.
Doors open 7.30pm.

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