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Pipe and Tabor

Who do we have here?

This is Pipe and Tabor, a folk duo comprised of Carly Stubbs of Washington and Dean Morris of Horsham, by an abandoned watermill in Lower Beeding.

What’s a Pipe and Tabor?

It’s a small drum and a three-hole pipe often used in folk music. The band doesn’t actually use them, but it has meaning.

What meaning?

Carly said: “We wanted to call ourselves ‘Elephant in the Room’ as that was our first song. But the name had been taken by another band. We were close to calling ourselves ‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ too, but we were reading
about Morris dancers as we share the surname (Carly’s maiden name is Morris) and we have a folk sound. We found folk bands use a pipe and tabor so we went with that.”

So have I heard anything they’ve done?

That’s doubtful, as they’ve only written eight songs, of which only four have been recorded to demo and only one has been mastered. There has been no EP, let alone an album, and although they’ve played a couple of times at The Tanners Arms, local gigs are few and far between.

So why bring them to my attention?

Their demos are good enough to have attracted interest from Joan Armatrading. The three times Grammy nominated singer-songwriter has chosen Pipe and Tabor to be her support act at a concert at the Hawth in Crawley in November.

How did that come about?

Dean said: “I was looking on the Hawth website and clicked on the details for the gig and noticed that there was a competition to find a different local support act for every night of the tour. You had to send a basic recording to an email address, so I sent Elephant in the Room and The Virgin, and didn’t think anything more of it. The tour manager called and requested a copy of our lyrics. Later they came back and asked us to master The Virgin. It was apparently Joan who chose the artists.”

Then what happened?

The duo met the singer, most famous for her top 10 hit Love and Affection, in Liverpool for a photo shoot. They were transported from Euston station along with other bands from the south in a fleet of gold Mercedes tour buses and eventually met Joan at a service station. It was here that Carly embarrassed herself…

Do tell - I like an embarrassing anecdote…

Carly recalls: “We weren’t expecting to see her, so when I walked off the bus and she was there I shouted ‘Joan, there you are!’ Then the cogs started turning, and I realised she didn’t have a clue who I was of course. Dean, who blushes easily, was beetroot red! But I had to go along with it, so introduced myself and continued to make an idiot of myself throughout as that’s what I do around anyone cool. I did something similar with Martha Wainwright!”

Martha who?

Martha Wainwright is Carly’s musical hero. You’re more likely to have come across the music of her brother, Rufus. Dean is also into his acoustic singer-songwriters, citing the likes of Fionn Regan, John Gomm and
Xavier Rudd as influences. 

So how did Dean and Carly meet?

They both played in a band called Tinks several years ago. Carly said: “We had a very ambitious team leading us back then and there was a lot of talk that we were being signed. It gave us false hope. Nothing came of
it and Dean and I were getting a bit fed up with what was happening, so we wrote ‘Rock Star’. We had such a good time that we decided to form our own band and called it Mr Fynn.”

Just as a duo?

The became a four-piece band. They played at the Pressure Point in Brighton acoustically a few times and they went down well but the songs were more suited to a full band sound. Tom Cooper, who played in a function band called The Session with Dean, joined on bass and he brought in Jonny Aves on the drums.

How did Mr Fynn do?

They played at the Boars Head regularly, performed at Guilfest a couple of times and occasionally in London too. They released an EP – Stand Down – and reached the final of the Live and Unsigned competition, having won a local heat and then a south of England regional final to earn their place in the national final in London. They also had a well-known singer-songwriter supporting them at one gig…

Paul McCartney?

No, he was already fairly well established at that point. It was Ed Sheeran, who as well as looking like Chuckie from Rugrats has had a number one album and sang a Pink Floyd song at the Olympics closing ceremony. Carly recalls that he was one of the very few people they have come across on the circuit who had genuine star quality.

Mr Fynn couldn’t follow him into the charts then?

Carly said: “I fell pregnant when Mr Fynn was doing pretty well. I did play Guilfest when I was seven months pregnant so we did try! After Bertie was born it was a struggle for us all to get together to rehearse. Tom got itchy feet first and felt it was time to move on, and Jonny was doing his own thing and moved to Jersey to try and set
up his own school of music. So we became a duo.”

And changed the name too?

That all came about due to the very different kind of music they were writing. The loud rock anthems of Mr Fynn gave way to gentle fables of love and life. Dean said: “The band was young people’s music, whereas the music we are playing now appeals to an older audience. Also, when we had a full band Carly’s voice was almost being forced into places it didn’t want to go. It’s a more natural sound now and I’ve been able to introduce a lot of percussion into the songs.”

So what are the new songs about?

There’s a string of good songs, of which Elephant in the Room is the most immediately catching. The Virgin was inspired after Carly talked to friends about their memories of early sexual encounters (‘Oh hell all this is new, I don’t know what to do, I'll just copy what I've seen in films and roll around on top of you’) whilst Elephant in
the Room was based on a difficult break-up (‘How can you bear to be, standing here in my company? Just look around and you will see, that everyone feels as awkward as me’).

Sounds a little sombre…

Other songs are a little more rousing. The Dance Settee is a stomping sing-along based on the Lord of the Dance, a song regularly sung as a hymn at schools and in churches.

Do Pipe and Tabor play live often?

They play live every few weeks at The Proud Galleries in Camden, called  ‘London’s premiere lounge-about hip spot’ by Time Out magazine. Carly said: “We play on a Saturday afternoon when they serve barbecue food on the terrace. For the first few times we were quite happy to sort of fade into the background a bit but the last time we played there we went for it. We stood up rather than sitting on stools and played to our best and the reaction was unbelievable. It went from people milling around to cheering and dancing and we got rid of all of our CDs. To see people walking by from Camden Market and coming up to have a drink and listening to you play is very
rewarding.” They also perform at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Brighton, occasionally at The Tanners Arms – they call it Horsham’s best live music venue – and of course at the Hawth in November.

Maybe third time lucky for Dean and Carly then…

Who knows, but there is not so much drive for success, and both Dean and Carly are happy to concentrate on writing good songs and see what happens. Carly said: “You come across people all the time on the unsigned
circuit where you stop and think ‘wow, she has a great voice’. It is not every day you stop and think ‘wow that was a great song’.”

Can I hear their music?

You can visit the band’s website at www.pipeandtabormusic.com for three demo recordings

Pipe and Tabor

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