SETH Lakeman is reflecting on a sell-out gig in Droitwich as he tours ‘A Pilgrim’s Tale’, his concept album marking the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower.
We catch up with the multi-award winning musician in Costa in Harwich, getting a caffeine fix before playing in St Nicholas Church that evening.
Harwich for the uninitiated is where the Mayflower was built, and was the home port of her skipper, Christopher Jones, whose house Lakeman has just visited.
“It’s a bit of a history tour as well as a musical one,” he says.
“And the response we’ve been getting has been amazing – I’ve been kind of blown away, it’s a concept record with a narrator (former Dr Who Paul McGann) it’s something that is quite a challenge but it has connected with people really well.”
His concert certainly went down a storm in Droitwich, which was where one of the key figures in the Mayflower story and later settlement in the New World grew up.
Former apprentice printer Edward Winslow was one of the four men who commissioned the Mayflower and his son Josiah was the first native born governor of an American colony.
Needless to say Lakeman visited the Spa town’s statue of its famous son.
“I’d never been to Droitwich before and I thought it was a lovely place with its old town and newer developments,” he said.
“The Norbury Theatre is an absolute gem – very cool – and the volunteers who run it were brilliant.”
The accepted view is that the Pilgrim Fathers, devout puritans, set off to the Americas to escape religious persecution and Lakeman acknowledges that as puritans they would hardly be the life and soul of the party.
“That’s true enough, but there are two sides – there were the pilgrims and there was the crew of the ship and they would certainly have played shanties and danced and sang, just as we have included the Native Americans, the Wampanoag tribe,” he says.
Indeed the album grew out of a meeting with the descendants of the Wampanoag while he was touring America with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant.
Two years in the making the result is a glorious re-telling of the tale with fiddle, drum and guitar and a host of musicians all recorded in one day, and that vitality shines through in a rollicking record that’s a fitting tribute to the voyage.
Seth Lakeman – A Pilgrim’s Tale is out now on BMG.
If you missed the gig don’t worry as there will be plenty of Mayflower celebrations taking place in both Droitwich in the year ahead, culminating on American Independence Day, July 4, with a major free event in Victoria Square in the Spa town.
Visit https://www.droitwichheritagecentre.org.uk/ for more information.