A  L E T T E R   F R O M
 M a d d y   P r i o r

March 2001

Hi again everyone,

        Spring tour comes round again. But heavy with Foot and Mouth in our part of the world. It has spread its pall over all the farms with the threat of mass culling. No one visits, the fields are quiet and the sheep are away from the farms and ready to lamb at the beginning of April. It is a disaster too far for many.

        But we travel away to begin our tour in April in Scotland, continuing on into May and finishing in Birmingham at Jim McPhee's club. That should be a quiet and restrained night.

        The centrepiece of this tour is ARTHUR THE KING. It's another extended song-cycle, this time about the historical figure of King Arthur. As much as it can be, given that nothing concrete is known about him. I knew very little about the whole subject before I started reading up on it and I realised that my grasp of the romances, written in the 12th century, was pretty hazy, let alone the presumed source from the 5th century, a Romano-British Dux Bellum, or war-leader. I was surprised by how much is known about the Dark Ages, largely from archeology. It's all very clever.

        Mind you, having said that, there have been about half a dozen books in the last few years, all giving different theories as to the true identity of Arthur. And all are really convincing. He was a Welsh Celtic war leader fighting the Anglo-Saxons. He was a prince from the northern kingdom of Rheged, fighting the Picts (that's my local one). He was a Steppe horse-warrior, who led a troup in Brittany. They all seem to overlap and inter-weave. The root discussions of mythology apply throughout.

        The fact that this elusive story has fascinated us for so long says it all. Our modern take on it is concern for the original, as with the many programs of archeology on the TV. In the 70's it was all mystical and ethereal. More down-to-earth and real now. Our aspirations maybe. Our search for explanations. Certainly the Grail has that quality, and so we have incorporated that into the schemen on a musical level

        This effort differs from previous ones in that Nick and Troy have had a much greater part in its writing than before. We put the music together, together. it was unexpectedly exciting, as we sat in the rehearsal room teasing out the tunes. And we're so pleased with the result. It has something of all of us in it.

        So we have some back-projection, and other surprises to keep you amused. Never let it be known that I fear to take that step too far.

        See you out there.

 September 2000 Letter      October 2001 Letter