At the beginning of March 2020, Davey Dodds released his second, come-back solo album, Toadstool Soup. The reviews were full of praise and enthusiasm – with a full-on schedule of gigs and festivals, Davey was looking forward to decent sales. Davey was on tour with Pendragon in Europe when things started to unravel. Travel restrictions meant that the tour was brought to an early close and Davey was fortunate to get back to England on the last flight from Poland, before the borders were closed.
Lockdown was imposed and subsequent government edicts resulted in gigs and festivals being cancelled. Instead of a useful income and plenty of opportunities to promote Toadstool Soup, Davey was faced with an empty diary and severe wallet damage! Rather than get frustrated and sink into a pit of depression, he has concentrated on what he could achieve.
Davey had been nurturing a fiendishly pretentious project for a concept album. The Rite of Spring was conceived as a Beltane celebration, structured like a Druid ritual. The plan had been to start assembling the musical threads this autumn and to record the album through the winter. The corona chaos wiped out the busy gig diary so Davey decided to pull the threads of the project together, complete the writing and start recording the meisterwerk!
A veritable constellation of other musicians have brought their skills and creativity to the project. Daniel Billing’s melodic, percussive bass playing meshes perfectly with Davey’s Celtic rhythms. Gillie Hotston, of Mary Jane, brings her fiery fluid electric fiddle to the party (she played with Davey in The Porbeagles) and Tree Stuart, of The Emerald Dawn adds keyboard textures and soundscapes to the piece. Colette DeGiovanni adds gorgeous harmonies and duetting vocals and Soheila Clifford, who starred in a couple of Clive Nolan’s musicals, provides seamless backing vocals. Pagan, tribal power comes from the bodhrans and frame drums of Colin Loveless.
This is an ambitious project. Davey’s previous two solo albums have featured relatively sparse arrangements and acoustic, folky sounds. This is a full on, densely layered, progressive work. Davey holds the complete piece together with his new, custom made instrument – a solid maple electric octave mandolin. It fits the same sound range as an electric guitar but produces altogether different textures and resonances.
All the tracks are now recorded. The baton is passed to Rick Conolly at Beehive Sounds to twiddle the knobs and produce a coherent whole.
A few full shows are planned around Beltane (the 1st May 2021). Everyone has fingers crossed that the corona chaos will have subsided sufficiently to allow them to go ahead. Meanwhile, we can give you a taste of what’s in store. Here are some simplified extracts from the piece played live at The 1865 in Southampton. It was Davey’s first gig since the onset of the covid restrictions.
We will keep you posted!
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