It's been 34 years since I recorded anyone around a campfire and I was so inspired and moved by the music of @Beth Salmon at last year's Campout 2019 that I immediately had to get involved and was delighted when she accepted my invitation.
The thing that struck my about Beth's songs and emotional singing style was how right for these times her wry observational lyrics are and how she immediately commanded total attention (in the most gentle of ways) when she picked up her guitar around the campfire. her song 'In Love We Are All One' prompted spontaneous and gorgeous hushed harmony singing from the assembled campfirers and her other songs tell of love, loss, betrayal, hope, democracy and revolution, plus a few more light-hearted vignettes from her time in Africa such as 'Mosquito'.
I'm very excited about the idea of making a series of campfire recordings in different places, but to start, we had a small gathering in the wonderful back garden of my friend @Helen Lennard (helenlen)@ in a Leicestershire village on a rare dry (but chilly) night in early December (after having to postpone at least one previous attempt because of our wet climatic conditions through the autumn).
The recording turned out really well, especially after some loving care and attention from @Bruce Bickerton editing and mixing down four sound sources (thanks also to Helen Lennard and Melvin Rickarby for their recordings ) so we're releasing a limited edition cassette called 'The Ullesthorpe Campfire Tapes' on February 14th which will be available at Winter Gathering in Frome over that weekend.
Beth Salmon plays her first ever gig at Campfire's Winter Gathering weekend February 16th
Check out Beth introducing her music:
and an excerpt from the Campfire tapes
Here is Beth's biog:
Brought up in a musical family in a tiny village in Rutland, Beth was surrounded by nature and music from an early age. She learned the cello and would sing with her family in church. She learned to play the guitar and began writing songs to perform in a local folk club in the village of Lyddington. At 16 she left home and moved to south London where she discovered reggae, African music and jazz which she loved. On realising she needed more education to get work, she moved back home to attend college where she did her A levels and set up a creative Saturday school for 5-10 year olds.
She majored in music and creative arts in Newcastle Upon Tyne and whilst there she performed in pubs and clubs as part of a music/comedy duo, before returning to Rutland to assist on the family farm. There, she trained as a music and drama teacher and also DJ’d in clubs, playing world dance music as there were no clubs playing the music she liked to dance to.
After a few years birthing and nurturing her children, she put together a band called Natural Sweetness, gigging in and around Northampton, playing her mixture of protest songs, comedy songs, love songs and lullabies.
When her marriage broke up, she had more children and the family moved to Gambia with the intention of living more in harmony with the earth, and to record her songs and stories as teaching material in schools and for home schoolers. On relocating to Senegal, Beth wrote and sang teaching songs with the local children before returning to the UK in July 2018 and has since written many songs as therapy from the abuse she endured in a dysfunctional relationship.
Despite these experiences, her positivity shines through her music. She lived in temporary accommodation for over a year before being housed in a council house and taking a part time job as a community bus driver so that she could have plenty of time with her children. She found that playing particular solfeggio frequencies in the home and singing them, was very helpful in maintaining a calm household after some turbulent experiences in Africa.
During the summer holidays in 2019, she determined to seek opportunities for her children despite having very little money. She visited an old friend in Cornwall and ended up playing a few songs in a pub in Tintagel and was taken aback by the response. People really loved her music and she began to build her trashed confidence in her musical ability.
When she saw an internet posting about Campfire Convention’s Campout event, she determined to go there and was absolutely delighted to be offered a bursary ticket. She loved being with like-minded people who believed that we need to be more in harmony with the earth and that things really need to change in our society if we are going to survive as a species on this planet.
She took her guitar with the hope of playing around the campfire and to play songs to her children. When there, she had an opportunity to play around the fire and was very happy to be showered in love when people heard her songs. When Campfire’s founder and firestarter Pete Lawrence said he would like to record her, it was like a dream come true.