The Wodwos are the WVRF’s musical ensemble. They play their own woodland grooves, folk songs and dances and snatches of popular songs, around campfires, in the back of pubs, down the street or on a boat.
For this festival they are Stuart Henderson (on trumpet and percussion). Jo Meikle (on drums and percussion) and Tim Hill (band leader, baritone sax, clarinet and percussion).
The Wodwos are a band lost in the woods, maybe they have always been there, lurking and lingering, playing for the dances of both humans and the seasons. They always have a kettle on an open fire, and can be found grubbing around, hanging out with badgers, foxes and old hippies, summoning ghosts and singing to oak trees. Some have been there since the forests began, maybe one is a run-away from a regimental band, one left to join a circus for a bit.
Some Music by Wodwos:
1. A Spell of Time – original tune by Tim for the trio, some of their typical psychedelic jazz
2. Down in Yon Forest – an arrangement of the folk song
3. Drip Drop – another tune by Tim, inspired by hanging about in the rain
4. Spalted – a folk tune by Tim inspired by rot
5. Tock Ticking – Tim plays a few games with time
6. Like a River Glorious – the Wye Valley Hymn You can hear more of them here
Their music is a mixture of bird song, ancient melodies, folk dances, hymns, chapel songs, brass band themes, dance hall music and natural improvisations. They play instruments stolen from the back of trucks, church halls or band rooms – old Tambourines, battered trumpets, tabors, whistles, an old baritone saxophone, a metal clarinet, cow’s horns, bugles, jaw harps and old drums. They hear music everywhere, the gurgles and ringing of a stream, a blacksmiths anvil, a Jays shriek, the roar of trees in storm, the heave of a train or steam engine, a tractors chug or a threshing machine’s beat, leaf fall, crack of frost, fox cry and boar’s snuffle. They play along with a chapel’s gospel songs, church hymns, brass bands, ice cream vans, rock bands practising in the back room of a pub, kids singing and airplanes drone. Once they found a load of dance band records and found they could play them with thorns. Their scores are the everchanging sky, rivers swirl, patterns of frost, a rusting car panel, corrugated roof, lichens and moss and bark rubbings
They are obsessed with time, try to cast time spells, confuse past and present, get caught in gusts of time, dance with Father Time and sing lullabies to Mother earth, They relish both new shoots and decay, Spring growth and Autumn rot, they love chaos, they have a long perspective. Shamans and charlatans, claiming they can cure ailments with a snatch of melody and send time into a whirl, confuse the seasons and lead officialdom a merry chase, but really they are scared to leave the safety of the woods and are worried about what the future might bring.
From 1983 – 2005 Stuart was principal trumpet of The Scots Guards Band in Her Majesty’s Household Division. Since leaving the services Stuart has become a fixture on the UK jazz scene appearing with many of the countries finest jazz musicians at top London venues such as Ronnie Scotts Club, The Jazz Café Camden, The 606 club and Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho. His commercial work has included, the String of Pearls Orchestra, The Joe Loss Orchestra, The Showbiz Pops Orchestra, 80’s pop icon Nick Heyward and Paul Hazel’s Soultown Band. Stuart is head of Jazz at Leighton Park School in Reading UK
Tim Hill is a musician and artist especially involved in creating outdoor celebrations, shows and music. Tim has been musical director for three festivals now. Inspired by encountering and then working for the pioneering arts company Welfare State International, he also researches traditions of outdoor ritual and celebration, processions, street music and outdoor noise. Tim has played with samba bands around Stonehenge and on the back of trucks at Notting Hill carnival, led giants through the streets of London, created Olympic Torch events, cooked celebratory feasts, written wassail songs, and led funeral services. Tim has been musical director for many outdoor arts companies, including Cirque Bijou, Liverpool Lantern Company, Galway based Macnas and Walk the Plank. With the Mellstock Band he recreates the English rural music of the 18th and 19th centuries, appearing in many TV and film productions including the classic BBC Pride and Prejudice. Tim also plays a wide variety of music from folk to jazz and improvised noise and gives lectures and talks at Universities, colleges and conferences. His street band is Tongues of Fire.
JO is a 23-year-old Drummer from the South West of England who studied at Leeds College of Music. He is now freelance, working on a multitude of projects with styles varying from Jazz/Pop/Folk/Experimental Electronics. Jo started his career playing marching drums for ‘New Orleans Styled’ Street Brass Bands playing shows at the London Barbican, and the Hull Freedom Festival. Jo studied drums with Mark Sanders and Tim Giles at university, where he could also workshop with great musicians such as Baptiste Herbin, Gareth Lochrane, Tina May, Stan Sultzman and more. Jo Has since been involved in the Leeds Jazz scene, recently warming up for The Karen Sharp Quartet, Tony Woods and Emilia Martensson. Jo is also involved in the ‘UK New Jazz’ scene, playing support for, Steam Down, Theon Cross and Ruby Rushton. He aims to continue exploring and composing new music with the fantastic musical company he keeps.