Harp and a monkey

Electro-Folk Storytellers

The Great War: New Songs & Stories

(A Long Way From The War Poets and Tipperary…)

Getting the most out of a booking/schools and festivals: What’s it about?
War Show Workshop 2To mark the ongoing centenary of the First World War, we have created a show that is suitable for all ages that challenges stereotypes of the conflict. The   Great War: New Songs & Stories is an exciting performance that includes both original songs and re-workings of traditional songs, field recordings of people who lived through the war and the poignant, tragic and humorous anecdotes of a bona-fide First World War expert. It has been supported by Arts  Council England and The Western Front Association.

We are in a unique position to deliver this as our singer, Martin Purdy, is a historian who has acted as a WW1 researcher and advisor for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine for many years, wrote a pocket-book guide for them in 2008 (republished in 2013) and is the co-author of the critically acclaimed WW1 books Doing Our Bit and The Gallipoli Oak. In high demand as a speaker who expertly blends the poignant and the informative with the humorous and entertaining, Martin regularly appears in the national media and on BBC radio documentaries. He is as comfortable dealing with Key Stage 2 children as academics.

The Great War: New Songs & Stories show is around 60 minutes in length, but can also be broken up into shorter workshops for schools and festivals. If being programmed for children, it works best for those of Key Stage 2 age and above and is curriculum friendly. The workshops can be tailored to specific themes – for example, at the national event to mark the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme in July 2016, Harp and a Monkey did 25-minute school workshops on the role of music in war. Some venues have also incorporated additional features: a talk at the start by band singer, raconteur and WW1 expert Martin Purdy or an invitation for people to bring in memorabilia to display before the shows or to ask Martin to help provide answers about.

War Show Workshop Some endorsements…

Lynda Robinson, St Thomas Primary School: “I’ve never seen the children so quiet as when they were listening to your brilliant songs!”

Geraldine Woodward, St Mary’s Primary School: “The highlight of our WW1 Hawkshaw at War project launch was the performance by Harp and a Monkey. They sang songs with appropriate language and content for primary-aged pupils. Martin introduced each song providing the context and background information clearly to the children. The whole audience was mesmerized by the range of instruments played and the lyrics. I would recommend Harp and a Monkey without reservation. My children still enjoy listening to the songs and reminiscing about when ‘the real band’ came to play for us.”

Keith Stockman, St Edith Hall, Kent: “Not to put too fine a point on it, Harp and a Monkey were bloody marvellous. After an interesting and thought-provoking talk about WW1 by Martin Purdy, the trio played a wonderful set of poignant songs based on the conflict, followed by a lighter set of their own material. With their unusual instrument line-up and electro-backing tracks it was a unique sound – as one satisfied spectator put it, ‘different but really good different’. I can only agree and definitely want to have them back again in the future.”

The Artworks, Halifax: “A brilliant event enjoyed by all, offering a very different perspective on the war and delivered in a unique way through music as well as a talk.”

arts council western front association