Wigan folk singer's album beyond the seas is back

Lawrence Hoy
Lawrence Hoy
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Folk fans will finally get the chance to hear a Wigan musician’s tribute to Australia’s first settlers on CD three decades after it was first released.

Lawrence Hoy, of Buckley Street, has brought out the new format of his concept album Beyond The Seas after it was only available on vinyl or cassette for 30 years.

The full-length release, tellingthe story of two Wiganers sentenced by the town’s magistrates to be transported to the colonies Down Under, initially appeared in 1988 to mark 200 years of the First Fleet’s arrival at Botany Bay.

Revisiting the mixture of self-penned songs and tradiional folk numbers on the subject, Lawrence was determined to preserve the album on CD exactly as acclaimed jazz producer Paul Adams had first mixed it.

He said: “Over the years I’ve sung the songs at various folk clubs and people have always asked if it’s on CD.

“I was determined to make it exactly the same on CD as it was on vinyl so we dug out the old master tapes. In my opinion it sounds far better than digital.

“It’s as close to the vinyl as it is possible to get. It has been getting really good reviews and I’m delighted.

“Recording it sticks in my mind. I had a great bunch of musicians and Paul’s ear for music was spot on.”

Lawrence initially started putting songs together after he was sent information about the Wigan convicts for use in the classroom while he was teaching at Sacred Heart Primary School.

The response to the tracks at folk clubs, where people always wanted to know if the stories were true and how he discovered them, inspired him to turn the project into a full-length storytelling affair.

His writing is influenced by the likes of Jez Lowe as well as groups including The Spinners and The Dubliners.

Appropriately the CD launch took place at The Old Courts, an arts hub created from the same old courtroom building the album’s subjects were originally sentenced in.

Top local talent including Pauline Blackburn, Bram Taylor, Nick Peake and Steve Higgins joined Lawrence to sing songs from the album.

The event also raised money for Doing It For Joan, a bid to get disabled washroom facilities in memory of folk singer Joan Blackburn.