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Simon Honywill is reunited with Shirley Collins

RG Jones were called on to supply equipment for Shirley Collins’ recent stunning performances including London’s Barbican Centre on Saturday 18th February.

  • Simon Honywill is reunited with Shirley Collins
  • Simon Honywill is reunited with Shirley Collins

FOH engineer Simon Honywill was so impressed with the reliability, quality and compact size of the RG Jones Dante based audio system chosen for the Katherine Jenkins winter tour, he decided it would be the perfect choice.  Based around a Yamaha l5 and 3 x Rio 1608’s connected together on RG’ Jones extensive stock of single mode fibre, Simon was able to mix monitors from his chosen FOH position.

“We packaged this together with the QL5 with a waves processing card and server so we could use the plugin’s”. explains Simon “All the mics are DPA, nothing else. The vocal mics are d:facto 2, and many have commented on the beautiful vocal sound.  Even Shirley has said that her confidence has been restored because it sounds so good!”.

Listening to any of the early tunes by the likes of The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin you would be forgiven for wondering where they got the inspiration from – at that time they certainly were not trawling the Mississippi Delta or dust-blown, smalltown Texas – but folk archivist Alan Lomax was, and with him was England’s own Shirley Collins, and what they captured was to fuel the British blues explosion of the 1960’s.

Shirley is a cornerstone of English folk, describing herself as a conduit for this most honest and unadorned form of traditional music.  Her activities and influence have ranged far and wide, and she was the very foundation of the English folk scene as it evolved through the likes of Steeleye Span, The Albion Dance Band and Fairport Convention.  In 1978, as a result of dysphonia she was forced to stop singing, but has remained active in the folk world for the past 40 years, never losing sight of the music she loved.  However, in 2017, at the age of 81, she has produced ‘Lodestar’, an album of austere magnificence that has made a remarkable impact on those who actually care about music and where it comes from.  This seventh studio album, Lodestar, was released to widespread acclaim and won two BBC Folk Award nominations.  On stage at London’s Barbican Centre, Collins was as elegant as ever, supported by an eight-strong band, the reviews were outstanding:

“a commanding recital of Lodestar in all its graphic, melancholy glory.  Her voice is no longer the gaily pliant instrument it once was – it has become weathered and oakier, but no less assertive. At her finest when supported by the sublime fiddle, delicate mandolin and urgent pulse of the banjo, Collins charmed her rapturous audience, and proved her talents – exiled for so long – unvanquished”.

Simon’s cousin Shirley… “In about 1967, Shirley came to our house in Plymouth prior to a performance at the long-since vanished Hoe Theatre.  Why?  Because she was married to record producer Austin John Marshall, who happened to be my mum’s nephew.  So we are related, albeit by marriage, but she was always ‘Cousin Shirley’, and a proper source of intrigue to me.   With her on that visit she had a banjo in a case .  I have a lasting memory of standing next to her, silently and patiently, praying that she would open the case and let me see the wonder within.  Eventually, she allowed me to have a look, almost certainly exasperated with the weird kid standing silently next to her for what still seems like hours whilst she chatted to Mum and Dad.  50 years later, I get the chance to stand next to her again – no banjo this time, she’s got someone else to do that – and I now know why I was so transfixed.  The sound of Lodestar live is my responsibility, and a beautiful thing it is too.  Let’s face it, I wasn’t going to let anyone else do it..”

“Collins’ reappearance is remarkable in itself; more remarkable still is that she seems to have re-emerged with her powers undimmed.” The Guardian Album of the Week

“Lodestar – a record fit to be numbered beside her very best” Uncut 8/10

“The humanity Shirley brings to these songs is extremely moving” The Times 4*

“One of the best albums of her career” Q

“Collins’ singing is rich with gravitas and experience” Evening Standard

“Shirley Collins can still inhabit a traditional song and sing it like no other” Mojo 4*

“A late-flowering triumph” The Observer 4*


Category: General News

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