FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Teesside inspiration for married duo

Three times nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and double winners of the Spiral Earth Awards, Megson (aka Stu and Debbie Hanna) draw heavily on their Teesside heritage to create a truly-unique brand of folk music.

Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 11:26 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:57 am

But for their latest album, Good Times Will Come Again, released at the end of May, they assembled a CD of all their own compositions.

They visit the Festival of Chichester on Thursday, July 14 at 7.30pm for a date at the Assembly Room, Chichester City Council, The Council House, North Street.

“This album is the first album we have done which is all our own stuff,” says Stu.

“Usually we mix up it up with traditional material. This is the first time we have had the courage to do all our own songs.

“A lot of people have been asking for it, and I suppose over the years, there have been songs that we have written and not spent long enough over until now.

“Lyrically there is an influence perhaps from the traditional material. Musically we have been influenced by a lot of the things we listened to when we were younger.

“We wanted to make the lyrics make sense. There are some narrative songs. There are a couple of songs that are inspired by the industrial language, including one called Burn Away, which was inspired by the steel industry. And there is a love song set in a firm of accountants with all the language of ledgers!

“We are really pleased with the album,” says Stu.

It is their seventh album in around ten years, during which the husband-and-wife duo have become known for their infectious mix of vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars.

Debs provides vocals, whistle and piano, and Stu offers guitar, mandola and banjo.

“We can’t wait to get on the road with it. We did a couple of songs from it at the end of the last tour, just to sneak them in so that it is not too much new material all at once.”

The couple now live in south Cambridgeshire: “Debs moved to music college in London, and we were there for seven years. We are now slowly moving our way back to the north-east. We are now north-east of London!”

Adding fun and complications is the fact that they have got a five-year-old daughter: “We have to be incredibly organised about baby-sitters!”

The impact of parenthood has been a bit of a slow-burner.”

“Straightaway you are just really busy. You have got to do so many things that you weren’t really prepared for and didn’t really think about, and all your spare time has gone.

“But when you think about it, you slowly start feeling a bit more responsible for the world!

“We have been performing together for 12 years or so now.

“We met in the youth choir, Cleveland Youth Choir when we were in the sixth form.

“Debs was the star soprano! We used to busk outside Marks & Spencers in Middlesbrough. We made quite a bit of money out of it! That was our first foray, and then Debs went off to university and I went off to university, and then we got back together again and that’s when we started performing properly.”

So is it all good, working with your wife all the time?

“Well, she is sitting right here, so yes, I had better say it is definitely all good absolutely all the time!”

Tickets for all Festival of Chichester events are available on www.chichestertickets.co.uk.

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