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On The Road with Attila the Stockbroker Music to any revolutionary's ears

I’m in the studio at the moment with my band Barnstormer, recording our new album Restoration Tragedy, which you can check out here

We aim to bring not just ancient instruments to life but also a number of characters from that tumultuous period in our history when “the world turned upside down” after the execution of Charles I in January 1649 and, for a time, real fundamental social change looked on the cards until Cromwell’s Grandees, who had taken power for their own ends, suppressed the radical elements in the New Model Army.

Instrument-wise, we have a fine selection — crumhorn, cornamuse, bombarde, shawm, rauschpfeife (a really loud bastard) mandocello and a host of more modern stuff like fiddle, viola, mandola, and, of course, a rock n roll backline.

Old instruments really don’t like staying in tune. Fortunately there are some very modern studio solutions to sort out that problem!

And stories there are many. Charles II had a lucky escape to France in a coal boat from Shoreham Port — 300 yards from our front door — after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The posh Cavaliers at Shoreham Yacht Club describe it as “a brig,” but it was a coal boat.

The route he took is now a walking route from Worcester to Shoreham called “The Monarch’s Way,” as is our song.  

Mandatory deselection of MPs is currently being debated in some quarters. It certainly happened in 1648 with “Pride’s Purge.” And I’ve been a ranting poet for nearly 40 years now, but the original Ranter Abeizer Coppe caused far more trouble and drank even more beer in 1649 than our ranting poet crew managed when we took to the stage in the ‘80s.

I started writing this album late last year and, as it progressed and I researched various topics to supplement my knowledge of the period, I kept finding more and more parallels between the divisions in society back then and those around today.

Urban, radical Roundheads, rural, conservative Cavaliers. It’s worth pointing out that “Tory” — originally an abusive name for a horse thief — replaced “Cavalier” as a political term around the end of the 17th century. 

None more so than in this song — the sequel to Leon Rosselson’s fabulous song about the Diggers, The World Turned Upside Down.  
I’d like to dedicate it to the good folk of these two towns and to the organisers of the Diggers’ Festivals there.

Wellingborough & Wigan

The King had been beheaded, the world turned upside down
Winstanley and the Diggers cried ‘The poor shall wear the crown!’
They made their stand in Surrey upon St George’s Hill
But Winstanley was Wigan born, folk there will tell you still
The poverty around him bit deep into his soul
He grew up watching local folk dig common land for coal
That’s where he got his digging from, his modern comrades say
And there’s a Diggers’ Festival in Wigan to this today

It wasn’t just in Surrey they were diggin’
This song goes out to Wellingborough and Wigan

The Wellingborough Diggers were inspired to have a go
They said ‘all things in common’ and on common land did sow
The field there was called Bareshank but it soon was bearing fruit
Till thugs hired by the rich arrived to trample and uproot
The Diggers’ manifesto came from teachings by the Church
But priests just served the propertied and left them in the lurch
Although it was so long ago their statement still rings true —
And there’s a Diggers’ Festival in Wellingborough too

It wasn’t just in Surrey they were diggin’
This song goes out to Wellingborough and Wigan

Across the South and Midlands on bits of common land
Thirty-four communities in total took a stand
They made appeals to Cromwell but all fell on deaf ears
Their cries for justice drowned out by the cruel landowners’ jeers
They echo down the centuries as we campaign today
Against the men of property who hold us in their sway
So many empty houses, so many folk in need
Extremes of wealth and poverty, and profiteers, and greed

It wasn’t just in Surrey they were diggin’
This song goes out to Wellingborough and Wigan

Hope to see you at the gigs,


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