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Rose of the Shires

Lew Bear February 4, 2022

Article Published on Friday February 4, 2022 4:57 PM by

Rose of the Shires

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Lew Bear is fully exploring his folkiest side in this new EP of folk songs inspired by his home county of Northamptonshire.

Rose of the Shires is an EP that has been bubbling below the surface for Lew Bear for 7 years now, constantly being put off in the hope of more suitable songs being written in order to make it an album, before finally relenting and releasing it as is on Feb 25th 2022.

Featuring on the EP alongside me are:
Duncan Bisatt (The Marabar Caves, Rogue State Circus) – bass
Nick Ellison (The Redhills, (Gregg) Cave) – violin

The 6 songs are…

Rose of the Shires – written for a BBC Northampton competition to find “the anthem of Northamptonshire” but finished too late to enter, is a celebration of all that’s good about the county.

The Rothersthorpe Bullet – a funny tale of the home guard of Rothersthorpe, told to me by musician and Rothersthorpe resident Stephen J Jennings, who is sadly no longer with us, but this song will be used to not only remember the story, but him, for as long as I live.

A Northampton Rhyme – while researching “The Northamptonshire Poacher” I found a very old book that someone had scanned and uploaded to the internet. The chorus to this song was found handwritten in the margins underneath the header “A Northampton Rhyme” and I couldn’t resist bringing it back to life, now as an after hours drinking song.

Merry Tom – The truth of this story is in the ending. “Red” Earl John Spencer had a horse called Merry Tom, who met his end in an attempted jump over a tributary of the River Nene. Red Earl then made a tribute to the horse, but someone broke in and inscribed at the bottom “ridden to death by careless Red Earl John.”
I spent many hours wondering who would care enough about a horse to risk their freedom in order to do this. The beginning of this song outlines what I think may have happened, before reaching the 100% truth at the end.

The Northamptonshire Poacher – a traditional song that I found an a cappella version of on the BBC field recordings and then came up with my own music for it. Turned out it’s a variation on The Lincolnshire Poacher and doing this I’ve made some Lincolnshire folkies very angry. Sod em!

Izzy – many years ago, my Great Great Grandmother made a deathbed confession to my Mother, detailing this whole story of an interracial couple around the turn of the 19th-20th century. This coupling didn’t go down well with the local populace. Sadly, I can find no proof of this tale, so there is just as much chance this is a deathbed fantasy as it is a deathbed confession, but I do hope that it’s real and that Izzy and her lover had a happy ending and that, one day, one of their descendants gets in touch to tell me as much.

Press for Lew Bear

“One of my most favourite artists and most believable artists” – Lal Muttock, BBC Introducing DJ for BBC Northants

“(A voice) not too different to the cosy blanket you wrapped yourself in as a kid” –

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