Show of Hands frontman Steve Knightley invites folk fans to ‘Grow Your Own Gig’

PUBLISHED: 16:42 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 16:45 12 May 2014


Steve Knightley, frontman of folk-roots duo Show of Hands, is swapping venues like the Albert Hall for village halls in 2014, and invites you to book him and Grow Your Own Gig

Frontman of folk-roots duo Show of Hands, Steve Knightley is touring village halls all around the UK this year. New dates are being added all the time, as he invites folk fans to ‘Grow Your Own Gig’.

The troubadour began his career in Sussex busking and playing venues like The Black Horse in Telham, The Monday Club in Brighton and The Copper’s Club in Peacehaven for small fees.

Now Steve, whose band has played the Royal Albert Hall and been the recipient of two Radio 2 Folk Awards, has decided to undertake a mammoth tour of tiny village venues. But what has led to this decision? “After touring for 20 years the goal is always ‘bigger’. But with folk music, that creates a divergence between what you’re doing artistically and the environment you’re doing it in. I wanted to redress that balance.” The idea of the tour is that anyone can book Steve to play in their village. The response has been astonishing: they have already extended the tour into 2015.

Steve will play in Midhurst’s Cowdray Hall in April.

There have been many advantages to this tour, which sounds like it couldn’t be further removed from the traditional view of a touring musician: “I’ve been able to get to know England better. I show up, and instead of going to the dressing room I have tea with the organisers.”

On such a long tour, often organised by amateur enthusiasts, it is useful to be flexible: “There’s no set fee and I don’t do venues with a capacity larger than 150. You don’t need a stage; in fact I don’t use the stages even when the venues have them. I’ve got a beautifully simple set designed by Anya Greenop, and prefer to get in with the audience. It’s far more nourishing and rewarding. At the end of the evening we simply split the proceeds.”

But being on the road for months on end can be arduous: “It can be a bit tiring, being sociable all the time, but it’s also very rewarding. When I go home my wife sends me off on my own for some headspace. You get used to people clucking around you, so if I ask her for a cup of tea she says, ‘make your own tea.’”

Steve is looking forward to returning to Sussex, where his musical story began. Sussex has a wonderful folk heritage, he says, including Low Down in the Broom and the Copper Family’s Pleasant and Delightful. The language of the county’s folk tradition has “this beautiful melodic sense, a reflection of the Southern English landscape; that rolling downland.”

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Steve will be playing at Cowdray Hall in Midhurst on 11 April and at Herstmonceux Castle on 19 and 20 August. 
More dates are being added all the time.

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