BBC Folk Awards ‘Best Emerging Act’ nominees to Launch Book of ‘Musical Walks’

Dorset pair Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchadiere, walking enthusiasts when not appearing on stages throughout the UK, have pooled their talents to create Ninebarrow’s Dorset, a book of diverse ‘musical walks’ in their home county – taking readers on a magical journey through the landscape that has played such a huge part in the success of their music.

In just a few short years the duo, named after Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck hills, have carved themselves a distinctive niche on the folk roots scene with their outstanding harmonies, delicate instrumentation and engaging songs.

In 2017 they were nominated in the coveted ‘Horizon’ category for ‘Best Emerging Artist’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at the Royal Albert Hall – only a few months after Jon gave up his job as a teacher and Jay as a GP in favour of a full-time music career – a leap of faith that has clearly paid dividends.

“We’re so excited about this project.” says Jon. “The landscape of Dorset has inspired our music so much. We spend a lot of our spare time walking in some of the most stunning places and for a long time we have been wanting to share these walks with fans of our music. So many people we meet around the country have some kind of tie to Dorset – a friend living here or a family holiday they once had. They speak of its fairy-tale quality in a way that we totally understand – it’s exactly how we feel! “

Ninebarrow’s Dorset will contain ten scenic and distinctive walks for all abilities, each the inspiration for one of the duo’s songs and accompanied with detailed instructions, stories, photography and hand-drawn maps.

Says Jay: “We’ve split the tasks relating to the book quite evenly. Jon tends to do most of the writing and video editing while I’ve got more of a flare for the graphic design side. I’ve been drawing the maps and sifting through 20 years of photos to find the ones that capture these walks perfectly. It’s been a long time in the making.”

To celebrate and herald in the forthcoming book, Jon and Jay have just released a striking new music video which shows Dorset’s hills and coastline at their very best. “We’ve really tried to capture some of Dorset’s spell in this video, and we can guarantee that the book’s going to be packed with it too,” says Jon.

The video is of the song Hwome [sic], taken from their 2018 album The Waters and the Wild. Released to widespread critical acclaim in April, it received 5-star reviews in both the English Folk Dance & Song Society’s EDS Magazine and The Morning Star, while it was described by folk luminary, Mike Harding, as ‘absolutely monumental’. In June 2018, the album also reached Number 2 in Amazon’s Folk Best-Seller chart.

The words of the song are adapted from the poem Comen Hwome [sic] by Dorset dialect poet William Barnes and take the listener on an aural journey ‘hwome’ through the county’s countryside. The video complements the poetry of the song perfectly with stunning shots of the Dorset landscape combined with crisp black and white footage of the duo performing the track at the old Corn Exchange in Dorset’s county town of Dorchester.

Ninebarrows – Hwome

‘Hwome’

As clouds did ride wi’ heästy flight.

An’ woods did swäy upon the height,

An’ bleädes o’ grass did sheäke, below

The hedge-row bremble’s swingèn bow,

I come back hwome where winds did zwell,

In whirls along the woody gleädes,

On primrwose beds, in windy sheädes,

To Burnley’s dark-tree’d dell.

There hills do screen the timber’s bough,

The trees do screen the leäze’s brow,

The timber-sheäded leäze do bear

A beäten path that we do wear.

The path do stripe the leäze’s zide,

To willows at the river’s edge.

Where hufflèn winds did sheäke the zedge

An’ sparklèn weäves did glide.

An’ where the river, bend by bend,

Do dräin our meäd, an’ mark its end,

The hangèn leäze do teäke our cows,

An’ trees do sheäde em wi’ their boughs,

An’ I the quicker beät the road,

To zee a-comèn into view,

Still greener vrom the sky-line’s blue,

Wold Burnley our abode.

William Barnes

* Ninebarrow’s Dorset can be pre-ordered at the duo’s website www.ninebarrow.co.uk and meanwhile Jon and Jay will be touring until the end of the year and have announced 2019 dates through to April.

For 2019 Tour info see https://www.folkrootslist.co.uk/event/ninebarrow/