Welcome to the Imagined Village.
As a group of musicians and record producers we'd like to welcome you to this site. We started this project back in 2004 as a way of exploring our musical roots and identity as English musicians and music makers. Some of our names may be familiar to you whilst some of us swim hidden in the fringes of the big village pond; some of us have backgrounds in traditional music whilst others are as far away from the folk club as you can get.
There is a lot of discussion in the media at present about what constitutes the English identity, we hope to use this web site and our first record as a contribution to this discussion. We are not trying to re-invent the wheel or for that matter re-invent the English folk tradition. What we are interested in is building an inclusive, creative community were we can engage in the debate passed down to us by the late Victorian collectors of English song, dance and stories spearheaded by Cecil Sharpe and his contemporaries and brought into contemporary resonance by Georgina Boyes in her book 'The Imagined Village', Billy Braggs recent works 'The Progressive Patriot', academics such as Paul Gilroys in 'After Empire Melancholia or Convivial Culture' and the commentaries of musicians such as Chris Wood, Eliza and Martin Carthy amongst others.
We all walk in the footsteps of our Victorian song collecting ancestors but feel it is more relevant now than ever to question who decides what it is to be authentic and English and more importantly what it is that makes us proud to be English musicians. We are not providing a manifesto or for that matter any easy answers. We also understand there are a lot of people out there who have been discussing these issues a lot longer than some of us who are relatively new to the debate. As musicians the primary focus for our communication comes through our music and we hope you feel inspired by our first CD to come and see us play live. We also hope this web site provides a vibrant and creative arena for discussion and exchange of ideas. Thanks for checking us out, keep it positive and keep it rooted.
Articles in The Financial Times and New Statesman written around the first rehearsal gathering of the Village in July immediately before our WOMAD show this summer are worth a look, they give you a real sense of the fun we had getting the show on the road.
We've got an informal filmed interview/discussion between Simon Emmerson and John Copper recorded at the end of the filming session for 'ouses 'ouses 'ouses - John tells the story of a musical family going back his 'great grandfather's grandfather. We have also had a lot of requests for the audio from the open discussion on English Identity that took place between Billy Bragg, Chris Wood, Simon Emmerson and an audience of 400+ on the afternoon of the WOMAD gig, which is now available as a download in the audio/video section.
We have some amazing live footage from the 1st ever Imagined Village performance at Real World Studios. We played to a small invited audience of friends and family as we were getting out set together for last summers Womad gig. Our 'retold' version of 'Hard Times Of Old England' is available now and we'll be adding 'John Barlycorn' soon.
Finally on the subject of having fun, no one does it better than the deep south USA re-mixer Doghouse Riley who has come up with a completely inspired and totally mad do-wop re-mix of Cold Hailey Rainey Night that can be found on the Real World Remixed site.
The Village People.