If not for Dave Thompson’s new book, Fire and Wine-An Armchair Guide to Steve Ashley, I dare say an important part of English music history might well be lost. For decades I’ve enjoyed the writing and singing of Steve--and have been honored to have him on The Electric Croude twice--most recently during last December. I’ve told Steve how I’ve long considered him to be the Charles Dickens of folk music. That’s not hyperbole. If there is a focal point of writing for the four seasons, its nowhere more evident than from his musical quill. His ability to touch the human heart while maintaining a unique British perspective is a rare gift indeed. But how many know of him in this post golden folk age of sorts--especially across the pond? My interview with Dave this week opens the door to that.
That’s where author Thompson comes in. His ultra prolific nature is staggering in its own right. Books on U2, Roger Waters, Red Hot Chili Peppers only begin to scrape the tip of the iceberg. And that’s not hyperbole either! How many can boast of over 100 books under their belt?
Considering the groups listed above, the choice of penning a history on a seemingly obscure folk genius doesn’t fit in anywhere with conventional publishing wisdom. But as they say, “there’s the rub.” I couldn’t imagine a more perfect author to document the music of Mr. Ashley. For decades I’ve wondered at the relationship of all these great folk musicians that populated the likes of Fairport Convention, the Albion Band and more. Their musical microcosm not only fueled individual efforts but left a vast history that beforehand had not been explored. Equally impressive beyond the history are the hilarious anecdotes that pepper this chronology.
It can honestly be said that Thompson’s book is a labor of love. That’s demonstrated in his genial nature and quick humour in our chat. I hope you can tune in.
The Electric Croude, Central Virginia’s longest running eclectic show since 1985, airs Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. (EST) on 88.9 WCVE and simulstreams at ideastations.org/radio.
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