Musicians’ poignant war tribute

The Armistice Pals CD cover
The Armistice Pals CD cover

FOLK musicians from around Britain have joined forces to produce a poignant tribute to the millions of lives lost in World War One in an ambitious project created by a Wigan group.

Folk-rockers Merry Hell put together the Armistice Pals project based around a new version of Pete Seeger’s classic anti-war song Where Have All The Flowers Gone to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict.

A total of 39 acts from the world of folk music recorded their contributions to the project which record producer and Merry Hell guitarist John Kettle then wove together to create the Armistice Pals song at his Old Court Studio in Wigan town centre.

The band also put out an open invitation for people to form a Pals Chorus for the track, with local contributors including ukulele-led trio Chonkinfeckle and musicians from the Wigan and Crooke Hall Inn folk clubs as well as regulars from the open mic nights at The Crown in New Springs.

Merry Hell manager Damian Liptrot said: “It’s about a community of musicians coming together to remember the devastation it brought to towns and villages. The name refers to the bringing of peace and also the Pals Battalions who fought and died together.

“We got a huge response with some great names, recorded a backing track and sent it out for everyone to add their own vocal and occasionally musical contributions.”

The band originally came up with the idea for the project as Where Have All The Flowers Gone was covered by The Tansads, with Merry Hell performing it again in Clitheroe shortly after the iconic US folk singer died.

As well as a star-studded list of current folk performers the new version also features Pete Seeger’s voice, while the CD planned for release next month also includes his sister Peggy reciting a poem written by her uncle, US war poet Alan Seeger who died in the Somme in 1916.

Damian says he hopes the new release’s collaborative nature will pay fitting tribute to the shared loss experienced by so many communities during the war and also reflect a pacifist, anti-war message.

He said: “We are just humbled to be working alongside a huge number of very respected folk artists, and being on a recording with both Peggy and Pete Seeger is the icing on the cake.

“We can celebrate the sacrifice and the heroism of the people, but it’s also about working to prevent this sort of thing from occurring in the future.”

The Armistice Pals CD will be released on November 9. For more information or to buy a download visit