Return to Lau-Land for Martin Green

From past projects on ghost songs, migration and the darker corners of Christmas, Martin Green is a familiar figure to those attending Opera North’s events at the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds.

This weekend the accordionist and Lau, his Anglo-Scottish folk supergroup with Kris Drever and Aidan O’Rourke, will take over the venue with a three-day festival of concerts, collaborations, workshops and ceilidhs.

“We’ve been doing Lau-Land on and off for about 10 years and it’s always a bit different,” the 43-year-old musician tells The Yorkshire Post. “It moves city and moves venue but it also changes in content a little bit from place to place.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The programming at the Howard Assembly Room has always been brilliant. They work really hard to bring in brilliant people and give a broad spectrum of different types of music, so all of that is very appealing. I’ve done a lot of work with them and I find them a very inspiring organisation, so when they asked if we could curate one of these events it felt like a perfect fit. I haven’t done anything there for 18 months but it feels time to go back, especially since they revamped that building.”

As well as performances by Lau and the US-born, now Manchester-based singer songwriter Jesca Hoop, new facilities within Opera North’s revamped headquarters also allow for Green, guitarist Drever and fiddle player O’Rourke to each hold instrumental workshops throughout Saturday, places for which can be pre-booked by players of all abilities, and on Sunday events will round off with a family ceilidh at the restaurant and bar Kino.

Green explains that Lau and Hoop are “joined together by a number of mutual friends, not least John Parish” who has produced records for them both. “So,” he says, “although we haven’t worked together before it feels like we orbit the same planet; also, she brilliant.”

Lau will act as a “house band” for Hoop on Friday evening.

“We’ve been meeting on Zoom and discussing what we’ll play,” Green says. “We’ll work on it in advance and then we’ve got the day of the gig. It sounds like not very much time, but one of the great things about it all being in the same place is everything’s already set up. It’s quite luxurious for us. Normally we’re moving every day.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Accordionist Martin Green will conduct an instrumental workshop at Lau-Land.Accordionist Martin Green will conduct an instrumental workshop at Lau-Land.
Accordionist Martin Green will conduct an instrumental workshop at Lau-Land.

Lau’s unplugged set on Saturday evening will be a “reimagining of some newer things and some older things”, Green says, adding: “We’ve worked quite hard on the presentation of the show. It’s unusual, it involves quite a lot of movement. I’ve really loved it, I think it’s the best show we’ve ever had, and part of that has been that we’re just down to the three instruments and the voices. Although I have a huge love for technology, and I’m sure Lau will return to surrounding ourselves with gadgets, it has been refreshing and really focused just to get back to the instruments.”

As a band, Lau, who formed in 2006, have long felt part of a lineage of artists from Edinburgh such as Martyn Bennett and Shooglenifty “pushing at traditional music in interesting ways and manipulating it”.

“So it didn’t feel like we were departing from a tradition – at that point the tradition was to mess with tradition,” Green says. “It felt like it was a continuation of a load of bands interested in that sort of thing.”

Lau-Land’s closing ceilidh is intended to be a multi-generational event. “That’s one of the things about folk music that we all love,” Green says. “All our parents play folk music, many of our children play folk music, and part of the magic of it all is to have multi-generational events of which there are fewer and fewer. I feel slike our entertainment is increasingly compartmentalised, which is a shame. The ceilidh is always a good craic, sometimes it’s late on Saturday night, this one will blow away the cobwebs on Sunday​​​​​​​, but it’s always fun.”

Lau-Land runs at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds from Friday May 17 to Sunday May 19.

Related topics: