Are you sitting comfortably? then I'll begin...

Once upon a time and far, far away, in a crooked little port stood a crooked little school, filled with many crooked little teachers and even more crooked little childers.

One grey day, in 1985, three of these crooked little childers decided that kicking a leather bag of air around a muddy field wasn't actually as scintillating as it sounds, so they planned and connived to non-participate. Ha - ha, thinks they, we'll pretend to be in a band, everyone will consider us sportingly challenged and Bob's your auntie's budgie!

Well, do you know - it worked - and a little crooked band of crap footballers was born, and it was called "Who's Rachel?"

So anyway, Who's Rachel? progressed (I use the term loosely) and mutated over the following 10 years, spawning members as indubitable as Thomas the 'enlightened' and as over-talented as 'strings' René, finally ending with a role call of two Janner originals - Ken (bass, vocals) and Chris (guitar, vocals) - and a press-ganged Berliner - Thorsten (drums). Together, these three unlikely candidates threw together a few ditties and chansons, designed to titillate and enthrall.

They strutted their funky stuff, pretty extensively, around a large and effervescent section of Europe for the better half of a decade, generally having a damned jolly good time.

They played a bit of music too.

"Who's Rachel?" Spain, 2004 and their logo

"Who's Rachel?" Spain, 1994

As with all happy families, Who's Rachel? finally gave up its denial and admitted dysfunctionality. The three estranged chappies waved "cheerio" to one another and set off their own merry little paths through this glorious chocolate caramel cup called life.

I (Chris) met a girl in Ireland (Lizzie) and together we bimbled around the planet for five years, before arriving back in Blighty with a little thing we found under a cabbage patch leaf. Over those five years I continued to write and sing stuff, and indeed have carried on to this present breath, now under the all-important-rubber-stamping-give-yourself-a-name: "Hedgemumpers".



Hedgemumpers is a term I first (in fact, only) came across in an excellent book of "Folksongs of Britain and Ireland" edited by Peter Kennedy. We are informed that :"from a Romany point of view there are four classifications of people on the road: Pure Romanies... Posh-rats (literally half-bloods)... Pikers or Pikies: Romanies expelled from a tribe for breaking the code." and, of course... "Needies, Mumpers or Hedgemumpers: Travellers with no Romany blood at all."

Not only did I feel a certain amount of empathy with the term having spent a considerable period of my adult life up until that point in a non-Romany-blood-travelling sort of definition, but also the sound of the word - Hedgemumpers - is simply beautiful. Well, that was it. I had a new nom de musique.

First CD cover

First CD cover (click on image above for more information...)

To try and literally encapsulate this meaning of Hedgemumpers, on the backs of both CDs are these words:

"They journey from shire to shire,

With wandering spirit as cannot be tamed,

Yet flowing within is nought of Romany blood,

Therefore Hedgemumpers shall they be named."

Second CD cover

Second CD cover (click on image above for more information...)

I produced the first CD in 2001 after having recorded 12 songs, over the course of several months, on a little Tascam, analogue Porta-studio. Apart from some vocalization by Lizzie (and a laugh from my daughter), I hold my hands up to every other noise on this compilation - drums (unfortunately) included. Granted, it's not the greatest musical accomplishment in the history of recorded sound, but (there's always a but) it makes for a reasonable "sketch".

Then came the dawning of the age of digital enlightenment within my festering grey-matter. Hen's teeth, what a person can't do with a little PC, some appropriate software, a sprinkling of operational understanding, a couple of instruments, a few ideas and (most importantly) a decent drummer. Dear Fanny Parker, what an epiphany! Any Joe in a hole can now produce a pretty bloody reasonable quality of recording. So, that's what I've done... or, at the very least, attempted.

The second CD is a somewhat more refined attempt of the first, with more recently written material, and the all-important (have I mentioned this already?) decent drummer - that drummer being my old mate and thumper Thorsten (ex - Who's Rachel?). Other than this mighty whalloper, like the first, I'm responsible for everything else, apart from some extremely welcome, female harmony vocalization on 'Hymn Upstairs' (care of Jo, Emma and Lizzie), and a little bit of atmospheric joviality during the live recording of 'Good Mornin' Postie'.

So there you have it - all that is and was my jibbering, musical world. There is a next step of course - to go live again. Ah... the smell of the saw dust and the disturbed screeching of the paralytic. This was (and to a certain extent still is) a bit of a pipe-dream. Any of you that have been involved with "musicians" before will know what a demanding exercise it can be - a bit like bedding down with sodden-brained, clinically experimental couch-fodder on amphetamines. I'm the first to hold my hands up... I'm no angel either.

Getting the right mix of bodies that can not only inwardly understand and accept each others musical bents, but also simply tolerate each others company, has, I'm sure, always been, and will always be, one of life's little mysteries. So, I'm not holding my breath, but (there's always a but) I haven't given up either!

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