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Cut the Coal – a Wychbury live session

Leeds-based duo, Wychbury, talk us through their new single, 'Cut the Coal', and explain how it was inspired by the tradition.

Wychbury are Che Bradley and Rhiannon Kenny-McGrath, a folk duo from Stourbridge in the West Midlands. Despite being in their early twenties they have been playing together for over a decade and chose to name their duo after their local landmark of Wychbury Hill. Both recently graduates from the folk course at Leeds Conservatoire, they studied under Nancy Kerr, Jim Moray, Sam Carter and Stuart McCallum.

Their debut single, ‘Cut the Coal’, is due to be released on the 27th October. We’re delighted to share the video preview here on Tradfolk.

“The idea for the song came after a conversation we had about the role of folk music in the modern day,” explains Kenny-McGrath. “We really liked the idea that one function of folk music has been to pass on the stories and histories of working-class communities and to make sure that their legacy lives on for future generations. As children growing up in the West Midlands we were both inspired by the stories of our industrial past, from the trading across our canals to the iconic Glass House, which was the centre of glass production during the industrial revolution. We have always been interested in finding out the stories of people who shaped the world we live in today.

“‘Cut the Coal’ was written to honour those workers who came before us, those who battled through unbearable working conditions and who risked both lives and livelihoods in fighting to secure a fairer and safer world for us today. Through our research we were touched by the stories of workers’ strikes, both successful and unsuccessful. We took great inspiration from the Welsh colliers strike of 1898, when workers took industrial action to obtain equal pay for equal work. Their demands were not met and their efforts were squandered. We felt it was important to commemorate not only the stories of success, but to acknowledge that the fight for workers rights has been a long and turbulent one, and one that is still by no means over.

“We also took great inspiration from a wealth of songs which look at working conditions and workers’ rights. These included the traditional song the ‘The Blackleg Miners’ [Roud 3193], ‘The Pound a Week Rise’ by Dick Gaughan, and ‘The World turned upside Down’ by Billy Bragg, to name but a few.

“This summer has been so busy for us and we feel so grateful to have played at some amazing festivals, from Glastonbury to Gate to Southwell, The Green Gathering and Moseley Folk festival. We are so excited to finish off the summer performing at Hartlepool Folk Festival this weekend. The line up looks incredible! We will be playing Saturday 1st October at 12:30pm at St Hilda’s Church and Sunday 2nd October at St Mary’s Church. If any of you are going we would absolutely love to see some of you there!”

To find out more about Wychbury, head to their Instagram page.