The world in Westonzoyland

Someone said “if something needs to be sung about then Reg Meuross has a song for it!” And this proved to be the case on Sunday 23 February in St Mary’s Westonzoyland.

IMG_4650One song, entitled Tony Benn’s Tribute to Emily Davison, recounted the story of the brave suffragette, who in 1911 hid overnight in a broom cupboard in Parliament so that she could give that as her address when she appeared in court the next day.

In another, Reg Meuross took on the persona of the City of London.

Yet another, celebrated Ida Lewis who died in 1911and was at one time the best-know women in America, a lighthouse keeper famed for her heroism in rescuing people from the seas.

Then a wonderful flight of fancy with the song, Leaving Alabama, in which he imagines a meeting between Hank Williams and Dylan Thomas.

A ‘real’ encounter is described in his Phil Ochs and Elvis Eating Lunch in Morrison’s Café.

And he even had a song about Westonzoyland. Challenged by a resident in 2010 to write a song about the village, the composition became a moving tribute to the many who fought and died in the Battle of Weston in 1685, and travesty of justice that followed.

Between songs, Reg regaled the near-capacity audience of around 160, with anecdotes- amusing and informative by turns.

A memorable, moving and momentous occasion.

One or two dreamy smiling faces around the venue this afternoon.

Rising above the nearby site of the famous Battle of Sedgemoor, St Mary the Virgin at Westonzoyland offers a sanctuary very different now from that experienced by 500 rebels imprisoned therein and tremulously awaiting their fate in July 1685. Indeed, because this same church offers a monthly programme of live music with afternoon tea.

On 26 January, under the wings of angels in this most ‘splendid of Somerset’s perpendicular gothic architecture’ *, it was the turn of Swing Fever to entertain an audience of 150+. Many were already fans; this six-piece band has been around for many years and has travelled the world. One of its most prestigious gigs was Ned Kelly’s famous jazz club in Hong Kong. In recent years the band has stayed closer to home playing at many venues in and around Weston-super- Mare. Band leader and trumpet player Mac Kirby promised ‘Something for everyone’.

Their programme was varied: jazz (Duke Ellington, Kenny Ball, Johnny Dankworth and Acker Bilk); rhythm ‘n blues (Humphrey Littleton, a James Bond Pink Panther medley, Glen Miller’s Pennsylvania 6-5000/String of Pearls/Chattanooga Choo Choo) and some 60s pop – Billy Joel’s I (We) Love You Just the Way you Are. A 1930s-40s favourite too, It’s Only a Paper Moon. Anyone for a Strictly Quick Step?

Write-up courtesy Patsy & Robert Atkins (Polden Post editorial team & archive)

 . . . and a comment from Jenny McCubbin: The music sat surprisingly well in the church setting and the performers had an easy and unassuming style about them. A performance which had wide appeal judging by the full house, and clearly stirred some happy memories of dance hall days, looking at one or two dreamy smiling faces around the venue this afternoon.


Line up: clarinet and sax, Paul Kenward; trombone, Ian Hammond; piano, Colin Frechner; bass, Jim Pullen, drums; Dave Joyce; trumpet/leader, Mac Kirby.

More about Reg Meuross – 23 February 3.30 pm soloist of the year 2019 brings songs from his new album RAW along with old favourites, and he might even sing his as yet unreleased ‘Sing a song of Westonzoyland’ which he wrote in 2010 in response to a challenge from an audience member at the village hall.

The breadth and depth of Reg Meuross’s material is unparalleled in contemporary folk: songs about forgotten heroes, famous names, folk legends, the climate emergency, tales from the kitchen sink and news from the world stage; if something needs to be sung about then Reg Meuross has a song for it. Masterfully accompanying himself on his ‘44 Martin six-string guitar, harmonica, tenor guitar, banjo and dulcimer and captivating audiences with his beautiful tenor voice, witnessing a Reg Meuross performance is to experience a journey into the heart, soul and songs of one of England’s finest writers.

“…assured a place in the pantheon of great folk songwriters.” David Kidman, The Living Tradition

“Classic, with echoes of early Dylan, Tom Paxton and Leonard Cohen” The Guardian

“The remarkable singer-songwriter that is Reg Meuross” Sean Rafferty BBC Radio 3

Reg Folk East with harp RM_FolkEast_0020_LR

Photo: Rachel Snowdon

Admission to the concert is free thanks to a grant from Westonzoyland Parish Council and the generous donations from members of the audiences.

Teas are available at a modest charge to enjoy before and during the concert and are served from around 3.00 pm.

The church is open all day and features an interactive exhibition about the Monmouth Rebellion and the Battle of Sedgemoor, 1685.

There is no need to book; just turn up at the church in time to be seated by 3.30 pm. Contact Frank on 01278 699071 or e-mail for more information.