Multi award-winning folk singer Seth Lakeman released his new album ‘A Pilgrim’s Tale’ in early 2020, a year that marks four centuries since The Mayflower ship departed the UK. Seth was raised and still lives on Dartmoor, within sight of the sea at Plymouth, from where the Puritans sailed on the Mayflower in 1620.
Speaking exclusively to Craig Maplesden, just prior to the new lockdown and the cancellation of his Bath Forum show, he chatted to me about working with some musicians from Frome, being a proud Devonian and what he has learnt from the first locked-down.
Many thanks for taking the time to chat to me, as I understand you are recording at the moment. Can I ask what you are currently working on?
I’m recording a new batch of songs with some fantastic musicians in frome. It’s a far cry from the pilgrims tale which was mostly written with viola and violin. This is a more band orientated.
Your recent album, ‘A Pilgrim’s Tale’ celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's troubled voyage to America. As a proud Devonian, how important is the story to you?
I feel very proud of all of Plymouth’s maritime history. It was a fascinating journey to be part of. I’m hoping we can do some more.
I understand you went to Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, where The Mayflower landed, to talk to descendants of the Wampanoag people. How influential were there stories in shaping the album, not just lyrically but musically?
It was vital to have a ghostly voice incorporated in a pilgrims tale, telling the side of the story from the Native American perspective . It landed on the shoulders of the wonderful Cara Dillon, she did a fabulous job.
The trip to Massachusetts was whilst you were on tour with Robert Plant, as part of his The Sensational Space Shifters band. That must have been an amazing couple of years on the road?
It was an incredible experience. I toured all over the world with some wonderful people and musicians. A real privilege
After being on the road in February this year, lockdown hit. How was this period for you? Was it a time of reflection? A time where you could focus on writing?
I have written an album over lockdown, lots of time on my hands and no gigs meant I could concentrate on another batch of song’s.
What have you learnt about yourself during lockdown and are there areas of your life you will now prioritise or cut out?
I’ve learnt not to take my local surroundings for granted and really appreaciatte the travel and experiences music can offer.
The live music industry has been crippled by the current pandemic. If you could become PM for the day, what policy would you impose to help this particular sector and the Arts in general?
I would try and force the streaming services to help the live music scene. I feel there is a huge void between the two.
Finally, as most of the Mayflower celebrations were put on hold for 2020. (Vaccine dependent) Are you planning on making 2021 an even bigger year than first planned?
I’m hoping that pilgrims tale can still be on the road, I also hope to release a new album this time next year so plenty of touring.