ANARCHY IN THE EWE-KAY: Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds are set to bring their distinctive brand of folk punk to the Hippo on July 3
ADRIAN Edmondson may have lost out to Dynasty queen Linda Evans in the final of Hell's Kitchen last week, but he doesn't really need reality TV fame to help out with the latest twist to his career.
Okay, it might bring a few more along to gigs, but the comedian/actor/writer, who first rose to fame as part of the Comic Strip Presents and went on to become the anarchic punk Vyvyan Basterd in The Young Ones, then Eddie Hitler in Bottom, is doing very nicely, thank you, fronting his new folk/punk group The Bad Shepherds.
And the brilliant news is that manager/promoter Ray Rose at The Hippo has pulled off a mighty coup by attracting them to Plymouth to play the newly revamped Bath Street venue on July 3.
Actually Ade is no stranger to the music world, having enjoyed a No 1 single with Cliff Richard for Comedy Relief with Living Doll back in 1986.
But he's also a mean live performer, having more recently played the Monsters of Rock and Reading Festivals with The Who and toured with The Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band.
It was when he was touring with the Bonzos that the idea for The Bad Shepherds came about. After a boozy pre-Christmas lunch in Soho, Ade 'accidentally' bought a mandolin in Denmark Street on the way home.
Surprised to find it in his kitchen the following morning, he picked it up and started picking out songs that had formed the soundtrack to his youth in the late Seventies/early Eighties, those he'd tried out many a time on his old acoustic guitar – by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam and the Stranglers.
The seed of an idea formed in his mind and he returned to the Bonzos tour with his new mandolin.
With Neil Innes on acoustic guitar, the pair had a bash at London Calling in the dressing room and the result was so encouraging, that it wasn't long before he was dialling up some proper folkies to play punk era classics with Celtic folk arrangements.
"I've always thought that punk songs were the folk music of their day," says Ade, "and a lot of those songs are much better than people think they are. I think the same thing happens with folkies as happens with punks – there's a natural excitement that just takes off…
Maartin Allcock, a multi instrumentalist from Manchester, best known for playing guitar with Fairport Convention from the mid Eighties to the mid Nineties and keyboards for Jethro Tull for four years, was well up for the challenge.
So too was composer/arranger/musician Troy Donockley, who happens to be a leading virtuoso on the Uillean Pipes, is a member of Iona and tours with the likes of Maddy Prior, Roy Harper, Midge Ure etc. Troy suggested adding The Model by Kraftwerk to the repertoire, having always wanted to play it on his pipes.
Having tentatively met up on the quiet to mess around with the idea, they knew within minutes that they were on to something.
Several pints, a couple of curries and, more importantly, eight songs down the road and The Bad Shepherds were born.
The line-up was completed with the addition of Andy Dinan, twice winner of the all-Ireland Fiddle Championship, best known for playing with Toss the Feathers and Mike McGoldrick.
They started touring the UK to packed and very appreciative houses at the end of 2008 and released their debut album, Yan, Tyan, Thethera, Methera – which means One Two Three Four in an ancient Cumbrian dialect used almost exclusively by shepherds.
The journey continues in 2009 with a host of gigs lined up across the country and the promise of a show that hits exactly the right balance between fun and musicianship.
"I really think this should appeal to anyone who likes these songs," says Ade, "but you also really have to make sure you give people a good time – and that's what we intend to do."
Tickets for the Hippo show are available now at £15 from www.ticketweb.co.uk, or by calling 08700 600 100 or you can purchase them in person from Bigga Records, Vibes Music and Raw in town.