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The Queensberry Rules
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Image: The Queensberry RulesAbout The Queensberry Rules

Having spent three years serving their apprenticeship in the folk clubs of Britain, The Queensberry Rules first signified their arrival on the folk circuit with the release of their 2004 album – ‘Heritage and History’.

Self produced and released, it contained a collection of songs focusing, in the main, on their home city of Stoke on-Trent. Songs such as ‘The Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker’ and the title track, talked of trade and industry synonymous with the area, whilst ‘Jam Jar Wakes’ dealt with the local traditions.

Cd Cover: Heritage and HistorySo successful was the album in introducing the band to new audiences, that their burgeoning reputation also alerted the attentions of the Fellside label in Workington, Cumbria. One of the most prolific and well-respected folk record labels in the UK, and home to staples of the scene such as Spiers and Boden, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Bram Taylor and Cockersdale, and who also launched the careers of Jez Lowe and John Wright.

Through their commitment to playing lengthy tours of the U.K, and high profile shows with the likes of Fairport Convention, The Levellers, Vin Garbutt and Show of Hands, their star continued to rise, as word of their exhillerating live shows continued to spread.

Simon Jones of fRoots said of the band in 2006; “..they have pulled many a dire festival bill out of the mire and made everybody smile..” whilst Sing Out stated; “..they are a real hoot live..”. The result of their fruitful collaboration with Fellside was the album ‘The Black Dog and other stories’ which was released in July 2006. Provoking comparisons with Jez Lowe and Vin Garbutt and developing on the themes of their previous long-player, ‘The Black Dog’ continued to mine the rich seams of local history for the subjects and themes of the album, the title track being based around a local legend recognised as a precursor of a bad event or catastrophe.

The album also contained live favourite – the emotional ‘A Mother’s Love’, rooted in the events of a local tragedy, their workout of the shanty based folk standard ‘Rounding the Horn / Gallant Frigate Amphitrite’, songs with a social conscience such as ‘Can’t Comprehend’ and the lead track ‘Sinking Town’, highlighting the oft ignored, yet potentially catastrophic problem of slipping mineshafts in the area.

It was this track in particular which really brought the band to prominence with wider audiences. Mike Harding alone, played the song twice himself on his BBC Radio2 weekly folk program (The song was also subsequently played on two further occasions during his public request shows – such was the impact of the song). An ebullient Harding enthused about the band on air claiming that they are; “..a band destined for great things..” and that ‘Sinking Town’ was; “..one of my favourite tracks of the year..” Having departed from the Speaking Volumes agency in the Spring of 2006, Bassist Duncan set up his own ‘Acoustic Squeeze’ agency and set about stepping up the bands profile to the next level. A fully nationally publicised and covered 30 date tour ensued, including their first dates outside the UK, supporting The John Wright Band in the Netherlands.

Cd Cover: Black DogThe rapturously received, if slightly obviously entitled ‘Black Dog Tour’, saw the band play to numerous full houses, even in areas that they had never visited before. 2007 also saw the bands inclusion on the Fellside 30th Anniversary 3 CD celebratory release ‘Landmarks’ and three Videos were recorded to promote the tour and album release – “The Black Dog”, recorded on location down the last working mine in Staffordshire, was featured as a promo video on the album, whilst ‘Sinking Town’ and ‘Architects of the Fall’ were also released (the latter in conjunction with Fair Trade, using footage shot on an ambassadorial visit to Uganda by the actress Gail Porter). So, fast forward to January 2008 and the release of the bands brand new, eagerly anticipated album ‘Landlocked’.

The album features the playing talents of Fiddle player – Kate Bramley from Jez Lowe’s band – ‘The Bad Pennies’ and the respected Melodeon and Concertina player – Brian Peters, to back the bands strong new songs and arrangements. Content-wise, it’s more of the same as local legends such as The Stoke-on-Trent witch and Halmerend’s Mining Accident get the TQR treatment in ‘Molly Leigh’ and ‘The Minnie Pit Disaster’ respectively. There is also the inclusion of two traditional numbers – ‘High Germany’ and ‘Dol-li-a’ and the band’s first instrumental tune, plus the lead track ‘I still believe in England’ is a wry stab at the state of our nation. Title track ‘Landlocked’ is reminiscent of Steve Knightley or Martin Joseph, is an evocative, nostalgic trip into childhood holiday memories, but with a bitter, hard centre. This new release is certain to cement the bands place in the hearts of folk audiences internationally, and will help to contribute to their meteoric rise to mainstream success.

Website: www.myspace.com/thequeensberryrules

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