Name: THE HAWTHORNES
Mission: TO CARRY ON THE RICH TRADITION OF BRITISH FOLK MUSIC BUT WITH A MODERN FLAIR
It was after writing about my friend Colin and his band that Jesse got in touch with me. He had read the article and asked if I would feature his band. The Hawthornes are an Alternative Folk band formed in mid-2013, comprised of Louisa Gaylard – Vocals and Guitar, Jesse Benns – Cajon and Mandolin, and Gordy Partridge – Bass and Backing Vocals.
Louisa and Jesse met whilst they were both studying in Guildford. “We discovered a shared love of British alternative acoustic music and singer songwriters such as Billy Bragg and Frank Turner. As well as Punk music like Bad Religion, The Descendents and NoFX.” They decided to start playing music together in 2012. Jesse would back up Louisa’s solo material, changing from drums to the Cajon, as they developed a style of playing. Jesse started bringing some songs to the table too and they decided to become a duo.
After cutting their teeth at numerous open mics around Cheltenham, Louisa and Jesse met Gordy who was running one of the local open mics at the time. “After hearing his great style of bass playing we immediately invited him to add his signature sound to our music. We had all had a few drinks though that night, and it wasn’t until we woke up the morning after and realised, ‘Have we invited a strange man to come round to our flat this evening?’ Thank god he turned out to be a good bloke!”
The three band members all share a passion for British Folk Music. “We are inspired by so many different people. Show of Hands, Seth Lakeman, Megson, 3 Daft Monkeys and Ruarri Joseph, as well as the slightly grittier end like Billy Bragg and early Frank Turner. Tom Waits holds a special place our hearts as well as many punk bands from The Descendents to Bad Religion to NoFX.”
When the band began playing, “it was simply to make ourselves feel good, and to feel like we were a bit different to other people. We played venue after venue to nearly no one, relying on just the two or three people in the room to enjoy us and hopefully spread the word.” However the band now play to bigger and more appreciative audiences. “We’ve realised that we do it because we can genuinely make our audiences happy and that makes us happier too. But you never know when it will happen again, particularly if we are playing a brand new town or city. We made a decision very early on to always give 100% at our shows no matter how many people are there, as that one person watching us just might end up being out biggest fan!”
In the band’s short time together they have released a 4 track EP, and played shows with acts such as Phil Beer, Terry & Gerry, Babajack, and The Roving Crows. “We’ve worked hard, but have also had the best time ever playing gigs and spreading our name. After playing around the country we have slowly amassed a loyal following that seems to grow every show. They know the majority of our songs before they are even recorded!” They’ve also received positive reviews from Folk Radio UK and Jesse has been endorsed as an official artist for Lion Cajons. “Jesse has always loved the brand, they make fantastic instruments, so for them to recognise his playing and The Hawthornes music was a real special moment for him.”
There is a feeling among the band that not enough ‘younger’ people are playing acoustic music anymore. “Acoustic music is the bare bones and essence of any music out there, so for so many people not to acknowledge where it came from is a real shame. There are so many fantastic acoustic and folk acts out there but they’re not getting any younger, so we’re hoping to carry on where they leave off!”
The Hawthornes are due to release their album ‘Stoneville Street’ soon. “All our recording bits are done and it’s getting mixed and mastered as we speak. We have tried to use the Folk ethos as much as possible with this album. Not using expensive studios and instead relying on our talented friends. We’re really excited for it to finally be released and see what everyone thinks. Once it’s released we can really take the band to the next level.” The band also hope to “continue playing as many shows as we can along with some of our favorite acts both personally and professionally.”