Thursday, 17 December 2009

Poll, Interview & Stuff

I've developed a new compulsion which is obsessively to check the results of the Spiral Earth poll (what? you mean you haven't voted for us yet?) every five minutes - and the close is not till February. That's a long time to bite my nails. Seriously though, as the least known of all the bands, and the only band without any PR, management or distribution deals behind us, we are, realistically, the underdogs. Still, last time I checked - ooh, a few minutes ago - we weren't coming last, and I consider that an achievement!

Apologies to anyone who has ordered the CD lately and not yet received it. Our warehouse operatives are working night and day to process your orders - that's Josie, in other words, and the poor woman has not only got a babba to contend with but has also just moved house too. So we'll get them in the post just as soon as we can but please be patient. We're (literally now) a cottage industry, not Amazon.

And finally you can read an interview with me, Andy, here. Enjoy!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Vote for the Bees!

Dear Bee-friends,

We're delighted to announce that the new Telling the Bees album, An English Arcanum, has been nominated for Best Folk Album of the Year 2010 in the prestigious Spiral Earth Awards!

The winner will be decided by public vote and as we're up against the likes of Jon Boden and Show of Hands we're urging, you, our fans to take a minute to vote for us here:

Vote for Telling the Bees!

The deadline is 12th February 2010.

You can help in other ways too, by:

*telling your friends
*spreading the word on email lists, forums and blogs
*using facebook, twitter and myspace to create a buzz

We're naturally chuffed to bits to have been nominated and very grateful to you, our fans, for your help and support. Thanking you muchly in advance!!

Telling the Bees xxx

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Isis Gig this Saturday!

Details just in for our gig, this coming Saturday 5th, down at the Isis Tavern.

Xmas at the Isis

Teliing the Bees + Blakes III

7.30-1.30pm £8 advance, £10 on the door. Tickets from wegottickets or the Isis.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Launch & Isis

A big thank you to everyone who came to our CD launch last night. Always a treat to play in the Holywell, to see so many friendly faces and to hear people singing along. Thanks for making it a special event.

I'm currently suffering myspace issues (my ratchety old mac can't access it anymore) so haven't been able to update our gig list.

But we're playing at the Isis pub this coming Saturday 5th December. I think tickets are £7/6 but that's pretty much all the info I have (don't even know who else is playing). But do come down. It'll be a corker.

Andy xxx

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

4 Star Review from Spiral Earth

This review just in from Spiral Earth. We is happy!

Kit Williams documentary

The Kit Williams documentary, The Man Behind the Masquerade, will be shown on BBC4 on Dec 2nd at 9.00pm. I don't think I made the final cut, though you get to see (ahem!) lots of Nomi, who guests on backing vocals on 'An English Arcanum'. Not to be missed.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Album launch!

Tickets are selling fast for our album launch, this coming friday 27th November, at the Queen of Clubs cabaret, Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford. Get yours quick from Wegottickets.

Excited? You bet.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Glastonbury tonight

We're getting excited about playing Glastonbury again tonight - always a great vibe. Do come down if you're in the hood.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Nightshift Review

Got the following review in Oxford's long-running music zine, Nightshift.

Last time Telling the Bees sent us an album to
review, they were thoughtful enough to enclose a
false beard for us to wear while listening, worried
that they might be too beardy for us. Not that
they should have been overly concerned. We’ve
long been enthralled by Oxfordshire’s rich folk
music scene, particularly those acts, like Telling
The Bees and Sharron Kraus, who come steeped
in the earthy pagan traditions of English folk
with its gothic storytelling and darkly
psychedelic edge.
Telling The Bees are made up of four local folk
scene stalwarts: singer and multi-instrumentalist
Andy Letcher, bassist and guitarist Colin
Fletcher and string players Jane Griffiths and
Josie Webber. They take their band name from
the ancient custom of telling the family beehive
of any notable goings-on lest they get upset and
fly away and, as you’d expect, they’re in that
solid tradition of native folk that has passed
from minstrels into the modern age via Fairport
Convention and more recently singers such as
Seth Lakeman and Kris Drever. In fact one of
‘An English Arcanum”s highlights, the rousing
‘Otmoor Forever’, echoes Drever’s
interpretation of Boo Herwerdine’s ‘Harvest
Gypsies’, with its tale of displaced working men.
Equally, there is a tendency to romanticise a
transient lifestyle, as on the sorrowful love
ballad that is ‘Playing At Gypsies’, but while
some might balk at the rustic storytelling style,
Letcher’s warm, rich voice is as welcoming and
captivating as a roaring hearth in a country inn.
Here he’s superbly backed up by Griffiths’ and
Webber’s sumptuous string arrangements which,
while playing safer than they did on the band’s
debut, ‘Untie The Wind’, add texture and
atmosphere to the songs. Never more so than on
this album’s high point, the closing ‘Apple’,
where they circle ominously round an haunting
lament that would sit well on the best of
Fairport’s catalogue.
Amid the songs there are a handful of
instrumental tracks here to fill out the album,
played on border pipes or fiddle and guitar and
given weight by Webber’s harsh cello thrum, and
it’s an album that rewards repeated visits, much
like a favoured country inn. Sup long and
heartily, good friends.

Dale Kattack

Website update


Rima has been busy updating the Telling the Bees website. The new album is being released on November 26th and we're hoping that it will be available from CDBaby by then - if it ain't, please be patient and keep trying!

A x

Monday, 2 November 2009

Common Dance

Here's a couple of links to the show, Common Dance, I was involved with last week. It was as beautiful and as inspiring as it looks:


Guardian podcast

Andy xxx

Sideways through Sound

Hello Peeps,

The new album is going to featured on the ever wonderful Sideways Through Sound radio show, broadcast in Australia. Here's the details:

"You will be on the Sideways Through Sound radio show next week, that’s Wednesday 4th November, so shout it from the rooftops!! Tell your friends, post it on your website or MySpace site, Facebook, Twitter, blog it, text it... etc etc etc...

You can listen at 107.3FM (in Sydney) or stream at:, at 9PM (21:00) hours, Sydney, Australia time.

The show will also be available as a free download to you after transmission only from the Sideways Through Sound website."

Monday, 26 October 2009

Common Dance

Andy is appearing this weekend in Common Dance, a piece by choreographer Rosemary Lee, at Greenwich Dance Agency. He plays the part of a piper, mysteriously calling in the different parts of the piece (so no change there). Tickets are selling fast, so act swiftly if you're interested.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The New Album!

We're happy to announce that the new album is finished and will be released on November 26th (available from our website, CD Baby, and the usual download outlets). It's called An English Arcanum and contains eleven original track of darkly crafted folk. We're pretty chuffed with it, I have to say.

It comes packaged with some stunning artwork by the wonderful Rima Staines, and to whet your appetite, here's the front cover. We'll keep you posted about gigs etc, though as you know, we're lying low while Josie adjusts to being a mother!

More soon,

Andy xxx

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Shindig Magazine

Lovers of all things psych, prog, esoteric, wyrrd and folky could do worse than check out Shindig Magazine, available in all good shops etc etc. I love their dedication to a musical cause that I thought had long been crushed beneath the wheels of a bland, coke-driven, narcissistic music-industry juggernaut. There's a fantastic cover-mount CD of current groovster bands and and article about medieval psych-pixies, Circulus (with the band photo to end all band photos) plus lots lots more.

Check it out - join the Shindig revolution!

Andy xxx

Spank Review

This review of Untie the Wind just in from the good folk at Heathen Harvest - not sure about the Beatles comparison, but we're happy someone really gets it.

BTW, we're in the studio today, mastering the new album. Expect an announcement soon. Excited? Damn right we are.

Andy xxx

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Rima and Tui

Like many people out there, I think I suffer from a kind of temporal disphoria, the feeling that I belong in another time. Well, there are a few delights to being in the modern world, one of which is the interweb, without which we would never have found Rima Staines, the wonderful artist who designed the cover for Untie the Wind. Believe it or not, during that entire collaboration we never physically met. I found Rima, by accident, on myspace, and we did everything by phone and email. Such is the modern world.

But just this week, while on my summer holiday ramblings through the SW, I caught up with Rima, and her fella, Tui, in a sheep field not far from Chagford. Tui is an artist in his own right, making exquisitely crafted music on his laptop, under the name Orla Wren. They live in a beautifully converted, magic truck, all filled with puppets and clocks and feathers and stones and things. It's like sitting in a fairy tale. We drank tea, ate copious biscuits and chatted for hours about art and music and lifestyles and, you know, this and that. Very hard to leave and come back to the city (how DO we put up with street lights that turn the sky the colour of Mars?).

Both Rima and Tui, being the peripatetic hermits that they are, are notoriously camera-shy, but I managed to catch a shot of them in their delightful home, which manages to solve the dilemma of how to belong in the here and now, when all the while you'd rather be back then...

Oh, and did we say? Rima is currently working on the artwork for the new Bees album...

Andy xxx

Friday, 21 August 2009

Kit Williams and the Golden Hare

Like many people of my generation, I've been a long-term fan of the artist Kit Williams, ever since his treasure hunt, Masquerade. I've spent many happy hours gazing at his pictures (published in The Bee on the Comb, Out of One Eye and Engines of Ingenuity). His work is delightfully English, pastoral but with a dark puckish streak running through it. Always there is the sense of a riddle or a secret, just out of reach, that, if only one had the key, would unravel marvellously.

Well, last summer I was lucky enough to meet Kit Williams and to view his current collection. To cut a long story short, my partner ended up modelling for him, and we were both invited to take part in the forthcoming BBC 4 documentary, The Man Behind Masquerade. Here are some photos to give you an idea of what to expect!

We were also lucky enough to have been invited to the preview of his retrospective in London, which, in true Kit Williams style, lasted just one day. I must confess that it was rather full of London arty types - not grubby folkies at all - and we were just on the point of leaving when, lo and behold, a plinth was wheeled in, on top of which was a perspex box, covered in a cloth.

Surely, no? We looked at each other in amazement, hardly daring to speak.

And then, yes! There it was! The Masquerade Golden Hare! It's whereabouts have been unknown for the last twenty years since it was bought by an anomymous buyer. Quite quite extraordinary to see it, something I've dreamed about since I was a child. And, quite possibly, the only time it will be put on public view. I feel very blessed.

And, here's a conincidence, the opening track of the forthcoming Bees album is called, Saddle the Hare, which is partly inspired by one of the pictures in Masquerade. Nice how things turn out.

Andy xxx

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Bees News

Dear Bee Friends, here's the latest news from Hive central:

1) New album to be released in mid-November
As you probably know by now we are taking some time off from gigging so that Josie can have her baby (who is due to put in an appearance sometime soon!). However, when they've all had time to land we'll be back in November with a new album! We've just been mixing it and are very pleased with the results - eleven tracks of darkly crafted folk, continuing from where 'Untie the Wind' left off. Watch this space for details of the title and track listing, and a sneak preview of the album cover.

2) Your help needed in viral marketing
(No - nothing to do with swine flu...) We're currently taking bookings for 2010 and we're asking our fans for help in promoting us! We have a wish list of festivals we'd like to play next year (including Bearded Theory, Moseley, Green Man, Glastonbury, Secret Garden, Beautiful Days, Shrewsbury etc etc). Many of them have internet forums or places where fans can suggest bands they ought to book. So what we're asking is, if there's somewhere you'd like us play, maybe you could set up a thread on just such a forum, or drop the organiser an email, or even just blog a review of our album or our live gig - anything really to generate a 'buzz' (aaarrgghh - dreadful word, dreadful pun, but you know what we mean). The more chatter there is, the less likely we are to have our promos chucked in the bin with a 'Telling the who?'. Any help is very appreciated (it's the fans what duzz it) so thank you in advance.

Catch you in the autumn!

Telling the Bees xxx

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Big Green Gathering Cancelled

As you probably know by now, the Big Green Gathering has been cancelled due to intolerable pressure from police and the local council. Word is that this was a concerted attempt by the authorities to break the festival - read more here and here.

Whatever the reasons, I'm pretty pissed off. The Big Green is an unmovable feast in my calendar - a chance to hook up with activists, radical free-thinkers, green techno-shamans, artists and tribedelic musicians - the whole delightful, inspiringly ramshackle Green circus. My summer holiday too.

Doubtless the festival will be bankrupted by this. One can't help wondering if there was a long term strategy at work here - legalise the free festivals but gradually strangle them with bureaucracy. Soon the only festivals will be corporate brand fests. It stinks.

Andy xxx

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Radio 4 Play

I'm quite sure it has nothing whatsoever to do with us, but next Friday, 31st July, at 2.15pm Radio 4 are broadcasting a play called 'Telling the Bees.'

Afternoon plays range from the quite good to the truly dreadful but it'll be interesting to see how a playwright tackles the folklore. If, like me, you're gonna be at the Big Green Gathering, you can listen again online for a week.

Andy xxx

Thursday, 28 May 2009

New Bee needed!

As some of you may know, Josie is expecting a baby in August. We're looking for someone to dep for her over the next six to twelve months, for the gigs she can't do. We're not necessarily looking for a cellist, but you should play a mid-low range instrument - accordion, for example, but try us. If you play more than one instrument, so much the better.

So: if you get what we do; can play with sensitivity and groove; can commit to rehearsing regularly; are prepared to travel to gigs (some of them even paid!); and ideally live near Oxford, then we'd love to hear from you.

Get in touch and send us an mp3 or a link to where we can hear you play.

Look forward to hearing from you,

Telling the Bees xxx

Monday, 11 May 2009

Hurdy-gurdy festival

Andy will be playing with gurdy maestro, Cliff Stapleton, at the one and only Hurdy-Gurdy festival this weekend, in Youlgrave, Derbyshire.

If you're passing or want to know more about this wonderful instrument, then do pop in.

Monday, 4 May 2009

May Morning 2009

As is now traditional, we were out with the Whirly Band, a scratch band of all-comers, playing on the streets of Oxford at 6am to celebrate the coming of spring. In case you missed it, see Bill's video here:

Monday, 20 April 2009


We've had these here videos done, shot during our recent Rotunda gig. By a stroke of coincidence, all the tracks are from the new album - a sneak preview in other words. Enjoy x

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Oxford Recording

Last day recording today in this particular session. All songs are now down, ready for the creative stuff, fairy dust and overdubs. Last night we did the final song of the album, the full moon shining in through the window. Quite magical.

And here are some photos of what we've been up to.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Back in the Rotunda!

After the success of our Rotunda gig the other week we're chuffed to bits to going back there on May 2nd. This time we are supporting local poet, Alan Buckley, who will be launching his first collection, Shiver, published by Tall Lighthouse. Believe me when I tell you that blood has been sweated over these poems - he's very good indeed.

There'll be performances by the Kate Garrett band, and two other top quality local poets, George Roberts and Joe Butler. Stephen Hancock will MC. Promises to be a corker.


We thought you also might like to know that Rima is on board to do the artwork for the next album. Even now her pencils are twitching and ideas starting to gel...

Oh, you want to know what the album will be called? Well you'll just have to wait now, won't you...


We're back in the recording studio this week, this time decamped to a friend's house in Oxford while they are on their hols. We can announce that there will be 11 tracks on the album - so far we've recorded ten of them, we're doing the last today. Then there's overdubs, mixing and mastering - all of which take an age but are the fun bit, without the tension and release of getting a good take. But the process has gone really well and we're sure you'll like the results. So here, to tantalise you, is a screen dump of one of the songs - can you work out how it will sound...?

BTW - the DAW software we use is called Ardour. You won't read about it in the music tech mags because it is open source which means it is entirely FREE - it is supported by Mac OSX and Linux. It does everything you'd expect of Pro Tools, Logic etc, and latest version supports MIDI and VST. And Colin is now a listed developer too. How cool is that?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Mulberry Tree

Everything is gearing up nicely for this weekend's Oxford Folk Festival - we're playing on Saturday night on the Cornbury Stage at 7.55pm, directly before Kris Drever. More info here.

But we thought we'd tell you about a gig coming up on March 27th. At present you'll only be able to get tickets on the door, so do come early to avoid disappointment. Here's the blurb:

The Mulberry Tree presents:

An Evening of 100% Acoustic Excellence in the delightful venue of The Rotunda, 44 Iffley Turn, Oxford, 8pm Friday March 27th, £7/5


Telling the Bees
Darkly crafted lyrics underpinned by driving mandolin, cinematic strings and haunting English bagpipes. Inspired by English folklore and the politics of protest, their music evokes an England of rustic charm and savage beauty. TtB recently supported Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings and will perform at the Oxford Folk Festival.

This is the Kit
A rare chance to see this fabulous Paris-based band, featuring singer-songwriter, Kate Stables, and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Vernon (Moonflowers, Morning Star). Their debut album, Krulle Bol, produced by John Parish, is a work of beauty, featuring the classic 'Two Wooden Spoons' and 'Birchwood Beaker'. Not to be missed.

Branch Immersion
A new-comer to the acoustic scene, Branch Immersion combine dextrous guitar picking with fierce lyrics and a political bent. In the tradition of Drake, Renbourn and Jansch, their artful music will draw you in.

Bring your own booze and a cushion to sit on. Decor by Groovy Su - chai will be served. The first happening of the year!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Tickets selling fast!

If you were thinking of coming to our Jericho Tavern gig this coming Saturday, March 7th, supporting Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings, then it would be worth buying tickets in advance as they are selling fast. It will probably sell out. We're on at 8.30pm sharp, so get there early to see our full set. Tickets £12 from Wegottickets.

See you there!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Fancy a bit of French?

If you're in the Glastonbury area on Saturday March 14th and fancy a bit of French and Breton dancing, Andy will be playing with Cliff Stapleton - edgy trance music on bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy. Maybe see you there!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Last FM

We've finally got round to joining Last FM where you can listen to the album in full, love, scrobble and shout to your heart's content xxx

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Glastonbury gig confirmed!

Our gig in the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms was one of our favourites of 2008, so we're delighted that they've asked us back! Support slots from the golden-tongued Brythonic Bard, Nathan Lewis Williams, and an unplugged Ten Ton Tongue (that's Emma Harper & Becky Forsyth).

Do spread the word and we'll see you there.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Excited about our gig

Getting excited now about our gig with The World is Not Flat, a delightful duo who don't get to gig often given what as they are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Should be a corker of a night down Oxford's legendary Jericho Tavern. See you there!