Spiers & Boden play Shoreham date as they tour their new album

Spiers & Boden offer a date at Shoreham’s Ropetackle on Sunday, June 19 on the back of their new album.

Spiers & Boden - Credit Elly Lucas
Spiers & Boden - Credit Elly Lucas

By the time John Spiers and Jon Boden had hung up their hats as the Spiers & Boden duo in 2014 they had earned a place in the hearts of the folk audience that few could rival. Spiers & Boden first rocketed onto the music scene in 2001, quickly winning a clutch of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and went on to become one of the best loved duos on the English folk scene and beyond.

John and Jon also founded and fronted the pioneering folk big band Bellowhead. But now, after exploring solo projects, the duo are back as Spiers & Boden with the album Fallow Ground (Hudson Records).

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The title Fallow Ground is not only a reference to the duo’s choice to put Spiers & Boden to one side for a time, but also, to the huge impact that the pandemic has had on live music.

The decision to return with an album in 2021 was made pre-pandemic and as a result ended up being recorded between lockdowns.

As Jon says: “I guess we were looking for songs during lockdown with a sense of fun and light relief. I realise that there are zero songs about death on this album, which is probably a first and may get us expelled from the English Folk Dance & Song Society. Yes, traditional songs with a joyous edge.”

John add s: “So it had been seven years, but it has been considerably longer than that since we last recorded new material together. It wasn’t a difficult decision to start again, really. When we knocked it on the head, there was always the plan to come back again.

" The reason we stopped doing it was entirely down to the timing, to time with families, to Bellowhead. There are always pressures when you are working with different bands.

" I had the two things and Jon had the two things plus solo projects. Between us, the kids were primary-school age and it was a fairly sensible decision to let something go.

“But then Jon gave me a ring about two years ago and said ‘What do you reckon? Is it about time?’ The album (came out) on September 17. We finally got around to being able to be in the studio in May (last) year. We were hoping we were going to be able to do it a lot earlier than that, but we couldn’t get together.

" We di d quite a lot of prep work on emails, and it was good preliminary stuff to do, but obviously that could never replace doing proper rehearsals. It doesn’t work in the same way, but it is a good way of just knocking ideas about. But then we found time to get together and we were able to work through the things we had discussed.

" I really like the new material that we have come up with, which is obviously the only way I have got of judging it! And the recording process was so easy.

“We have played together for so long. We first played together in 1999 and we worked together until 2016. He knows where I am going and I know where he is going.”