Ashley Hutchings to launch his first book

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In folk music circles bass player and producer Ashley Hutchings is known as The Guv’nor, having clocked up more than 40 years in the business.

This month sees the founder of luminaries Fairport Convention and Steelye Span add another string to his bow - published author.

His debut book, Words, Words, Words, is a selection of song lyrics, poems and
album sleevenotes which he has written during his career.

Ashley said: “This is the first book of any kind that I have put together.

“I’ve been asked by many people for a good number of years to put my writings into a book and had resisted this. Last autumn I was quite ill and to a degree housebound and not gigging so I decided to put this book together. I had great support from Judy Dunlop.

“There are all manner of themes in the book - humorous, tragic, social commentary - anything really, from romantic love and dancing to animals, football and philosophical questions.

“The timespan it covers is early 1970s to the present day. Fairport material doesn’t figure in the book but there are songs and poems that hark back to those early days.”

Ashley, 69, of Cutthorpe, has been writing verse since the early 1980s, treating poetry and song writing as separate entities.

He said: “I am gigging a lot less than in the past but this has enabled me to work on putting out three albums. There are three planned releases - a compilation of ten years of the best tracks by my group the Rainbow Chasers; a compilation of dramatic historical songs from my back catalogue to which is added a new song around the Great War - a real epic; and the release of an Anglo-Italian album made a few years ago, with more tracks added.

“Generally speaking, 2014 has been quiet so far. I did a few gigs with my son Blair in January. The standout event was at the BBC Radio Folk Awards, held at the Royal Albert Hall, when the great folk-song and dance collector Cecil Sharp (who died nearly 100 years ago) was the first inductee into the new Hall of Fame. I played the part of Sharp and spoke his words onstage. I also directed the music and dance segment that was used as an onstage tribute to his work.”

Ashley has been the recipient of two BBC Radio folk awards. In 2006 he received the Good Tradition trophy in recognition of his contribution to the genre and a year later he shared the special award for Most Influential Folk Album of all time for Liege and Lief.

Ashley will launch his new book at the Java Coffee Company, Stephenson Place, Chesterfield, on Sunday, May 18, between 11am and 4pm. Admission is free.

Ashley is pictured on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in his role as Cecil Sharp. Photo by Bryan Ledgard