A LONG-STANDING folk outfit with an impressive pedigree is to come to Ashbourne this summer as part of the town’s annual arts festival.
The Churchfitters, an electric folk group based in France, will start their UK tour on June 22 at Ashbourne Festival.
Founded in 1978 by singer and songwriter Anthony McCartan from Belfast and instrumentalist Geoff Coombs from Essex, the Churchfitters were soon joined by Rosie Short, playing traditional Irish tunes on the London circuit.
Frequent changes of line-up kept the sound fresh, with musicians from a wide variety of backgrounds bringing new influences and ideas to the group.
Popular across Europe, the group became a duo and Rosie and Anthony relocated to Brittany in 1993, where they were joined by Rosie’s brother, Chris, to become a trio, touring across the continent until Anthony’s departure in 2004.
The addition of Boris Lebret and Topher Loudon helped the group move into fresher territory, adding a contemporary twist on traditional Irish music which has remained at their core.
With a bass guitar made out of a frying pan, heart-wrenching vocals accompanied by a musical saw, foot-stompingly fast fiddle mixed with infectious funk-rock bouzouki and traditional tunes reinvigorated with mesmerising jazz sax. The four virtuoso musicians from England and France strut their stuff on a stage that bristles with instruments - adding flute, banjo, dulcimer, tin whistle, guitar, ukulele, stand up dustbin bass and a sackful of percussion to their ensemble.
And let’s not forget the unique ‘bing-bong’ machine made out of hack-saw blades.
Throw in some exquisite harmonies, a slew of startlingly original songs and a few jokes that create instant rapport and you’ve got a high energy show that always leaves audiences cheering. With a wealth of musical talent and not a little touch of humour, The Churchfitters are set to provide a truly unique performance and bring a true taste of quirky musicality to this year’s Ashbourne Festival.