When I lived in Reading, as I did until a year ago, I became aware of the red kites. These birds had become extinct in England but were successfully re-introduced in to the Chilterns in the early 90’s and have prospered. There are now over 300 breeding pairs and their story is a conservation success. They can regularly be seen circling in a slightly marauding manner over the Chilterns but also making passes over Reading.
The melodeon virtuoso John Spiers has written a slow air entitled “Red Kites”, celebrating their re-introduction and we saw him play this sweet tune on Saturday evening. He and his long time collaborator Jon Boden were performing here in Totnes and what a brilliant concert it was with the two musicians creating such energy and joy. You can only marvel at the musicianship of the two men with Boden having the ability to sing and play the fiddle at the same time, a physical impossibility for me. Spiers provides a superb melodeon or concertina foil for Boden and contributes a strong drive to the music. Their slightly amplified folk music is light years away from the traditional “hand on ear” folk. Despite this they revel in the spirit of the stories told in the songs and in the folk song and morris dance melodies.