Mawkin; A scruffy, un-kempt person.
3 years ago, Dave (guitar), Jamie (fiddle) and Danny (bass guitar) thought that sentence described us in perfect fashion. When Alex (melodeons) joined in 2003, we made a conscious effort to be healthy living teenagers, but it didn’t work out.
We never set out to be a band, we started as just a duo, Dave and Jamie had just split up with their former band, and had an invitation to perform at Dartmoor Folk Festival 2002 at the age of 15 and 17 yrs old respectively. However, the direction of the music changed as soon as they realized the potential of Danny Crump. Danny had been playing in an Iron Maiden tribute band with Dave for a few months, and had only been playing bass for that long as well. At Moreton Folk Festival; a local festival organized by Dave and his mum, Danny was asked to play bass for the festival’s resident ceilidh band, although he had no experience of playing on stage, playing bass or even playing folk, Danny said yes. The night went well, even though Dave spent the whole night shouting out notes to play, with Danny replying ‘Where’s that?!’.
However, Dave and Jamie liked Danny and thought he would be a great laugh to bring along to a folk festival, soon enough Danny learnt where the notes were, and Mawkin were in business.
It wasn’t really a band, more a bunch of lads who really enjoyed each others company that happened to play folk tunes with each other (and occasionally an Iron Maiden cover) its hard to pin us down!
However, once we were getting asked to play at a few more folk festivals, we realized we were a band. So we drafted in Alex Goldsmith, a good friend of everyone’s, and a great
melodeon player. The idea behind this was that it would boost the melody side of things and create opportunities for arrangements. So Alex was given 2 weeks to learn our repertoire before going on stage at Dartmoor 2003 to perform. We’d love to say he learnt it, but he didn’t. We just mixed his tunes up with our tunes and survived the set (somehow), we then realized we were definitely a band so we had better start doing band practices.
Since then the music has grown and grown, and we regularly gig every weekend, have played at over 28 folk festivals and have been on national radio several times.
Our music has a lot of influences, Jamie’s fiddle is very much in a English style, but still has aspects of Johnny Cunningham in his work, Alex play’s melodeon like he’s trying to
tame a beast, a big punchy sound influenced by Andy Cutting, John Kirkpatrick and session players from his home county of Suffolk. Dave’s guitar work is influenced by
jazz and rock, although he also has a classical guitar upbringing and Danny has taken influences of funk rock artists in his bass playing. I told you it’s hard to pin down.
The result is a unique sound, its punchy, energetic, passionate and good fun.
Oxford Folk Festival 2004
Folk On the Pier 2004
Moreton Folk Festival 2004
Leigh on Sea Folk Festival 2004
Music by the Lake Festival 2004
Broadstairs Folk Festival 2004
Towersey Folk Festival 2004
Wallingford Folk Festival 2004
Folk on the Pier 2005
Oxford Folk Festival 2005
Chippenham Folk Festival 2005
New Roots Competition Finalists 2003
MAWKIN IN THE PRESS
The following article was printed in the March Edition of Europe’s largest folk magazine – fROOTS-
Those fast-rising Essex boys confess all to Helen Bell.
Everything surrounding young Essex-based quartet Mawkin radiates a chaotic energy. There's their name, for one - an old Essex dialect word meaning 'scruffy, unkempt person', or in this case 'scruffy, unkempt band'. As for their evolution: "We've never started a band, we didn't mean for any of this to happen, it just grew organicallyŠ"
The organic growth of Mawkin began in the rubble of two recently-collapsed ensembles. One was the curiously named 'Crunchy Pig' featuring brothers Dave and James Delarre, who have been playing guitar and fiddle together "since they were twinkles in their dad's eyes". Both were exposed to music very early on through their parents' involvement in the local folk scene: "I've been told that when I wasn't in the pram I was in the pub with the Blackmore Morris Men," says Dave. "This has probably influenced me more than I realiseŠ"
James began his fiddling career at the age of five on a plastic toy violin which played Baa Baa Black Sheep when a bow was dragged across the strings. He did eventually graduate to a real violin, taking lessons from All-Ireland Fiddle Champion Carlene Anglim and concurrently doing his best to emulate morris fiddlers in local pub sessions. The result is a fiddle style full of the power and rhythm of English morris, combined with the agility and speed of Irish music.
Dave began taking classical guitar lessons when he was 10, and later as a teenager he got into Jimi Hendrix, whereupon he "discovered the ancient art of bedroom guitar playing with a 65 watt Marshall amp and an incredible-sized ego". In complete contrast to a background in traditional music, Dave formed 'Brian Maiden', an Iron Maiden tribute band destined to become a one-gig-wonder. It was in this short-lived teen-rock outfit that he met bass guitarist Danny Crump. Danny had started out playing one string along to songs on the radio when he was 16, before suddenly discovering there was much more to the bass guitar when he heard the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. "I suddenly saw a bass player
plucking many more strings with many more fingers at the same time, very fast." This became Danny's main inspiration, and his playing developed into what guitarist Dave describes as "his own mix of folky and funk groove".
The fusion of these two elements came in 2002 when Dave and James were asked to play as a duo at Dartmoor Folk Festival. Danny had been recently introduced to folk music after playing for a local festival ceilidh, "although I'd never actually been to a folk festival and didn't have a clue how to play folk music". The Delarres' main reasons for asking him to join them were "Danny's a good laugh" and "he could drink us all under the table". However, their wise choice of drinking partner also brought a new dimension to the band, as well as a new musical direction.
Meanwhile, in the distant and remote county of Suffolk, a new melodeon talent was being honed on the streets of Southwold. Alex Goldsmith learnt the box from his grandfather, who was the Southwold town crier, and spent several years busking to pay for his new melodeon habit. Dave met Alex while on holiday in Southwold, and the two formed a busking partnership. A year after Danny's debut at Dartmoor, Mawkin decided to continue the tradition of adding band members annually, and Alex appeared with them in 2003. "Alex was given two weeks to learn the tunes," says Dave. "We'd love to say that he learnt them and we kicked ass - but we didn't."
Nevertheless, Mawkin subsequently went on to kick some serious ass, with Alex's punchy and dexterous melodeon playing complementing an already eclectic sound. Their live performances are "sweaty, loud, raucous, relaxed and enjoyable" and, according to James, "hopefully a bloody good laugh, as I believe the folk industry can sometimes take itself too seriously. Surely it's about good music, not about how many people you can make wish they brought a noose to your performance" The spark created in their live performances is partly down to loosely arranged sets, through which Dave and Danny have developed a musical connection: "Me and Danny seem to know exactly when one of us is going to do something - it gets really exciting, although sometimes it goes tits up!" They make it sound as if the whole thing's a big joke, but beneath this self-effacing, only-doing-it-for-a-laugh humour, there is a serious commitment to musical development, as each member continually seeks to extend their list of musical influences: Dave has started playing jazz, Alex and James have been exploring the works of Chris Wood & Andy Cutting, and Danny, after only three years playing the bass, has recently taken up the piano. Added to this is their considerable achievement: Mawkin picked up a New Roots Award in 2003 and are becoming an increasingly popular act at festivals. Highlights of their career so far have included a main stage spot at Towersey Festival: "We started playing and it was pretty empty," Dave explains, "but it soon filled up, and although we all had hangovers we played well. Walking off that stage, I realised we could actually try to be a folk band." But trying to be a folk band is not necessarily Mawkin's main aim. Alex cites his favourite performance as a gig at the Dolphin in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. "I think it would be fair to say that the majority of the audience were non-folkies and with a change of audience it hit me that people were not listening to us because they liked folk music in particular, but because they enjoyed what they heard in a broader musical sense." Danny encapsulates the Mawkin philosophy simply: "We take folk music and put alloys, Burberry caps and spoilers on it."
The band's latest development is the release of an EP, Extended Procrastination, which features six tracks ranging from danceable, morris-infused funk to some moodier, more
dissonant sounds towards the end. They mix their own takes on traditional material with some more recent compositions, notably tunes by Alex and James.
On top of this - as if he wasn't busy enough managing Mawkin - Dave has set up Stepping On The Eel's Foot, a step dancing festival to be held in Eastbridge, Suffolk on 8th-9th July this year. "I want to provide a platform for everyone to see this great tradition, unless you know where to look, people hardly ever get to see it." Dave, who began stepping when he was five and took first place in the Moreton Festival Step Dancing Competition in 2003, decided to organise the weekend as a replacement for the discontinued Moreton Festival, and also to house the Steve Monk Memorial Step Dancing Competition, founded by his father. The long term aims of the festival are to "promote, develop and sustain the traditional English dance form that is step-dancing". The short term? "To have everyone go home with a sore head from the beer" Sounds in keeping with Mawkin.
MAWKIN IN THE PRESS FOR THE E.P:
“If you have seen them in concert or playing for a dance I won‟t have to tell you Mawkin are young and Mawkin are excellent.” – John New - Essex Folk News
“The whole thing starts with real punch with „St Anne‟s Reel‟. They are all excellent musicians and their arrangements are superb. The overall impression is of oneness and completeness. There is passion and pathos on this CD and two of my favorites are „Jump at the sun‟ and the beautiful and nostalgic sounding „Envikon‟s Waltz‟. There is true excitement in their playing, as anyone who has seen them live will be only too glad to tell. I can‟t recommend this recording highly enough and if you get
the chance to see them live, don‟t miss it!” – Lynne Heraud – Puddingstone Folk