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BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-nominated husband and wife duo Megson slipped into the genre by chance


By Alex Spencer


Stu and Debbie Hanna met as teenagers when they were both members of a youth choir in the north east.

But it was only when Debbie had to learn some folk tunes as part of her classical training as a soprano at music college in London that the couple considered playing folk together at gigs.

Megson (8836351)
Megson (8836351)

Stu said: “Debs was the star soprano in the youth choir and I joined because I thought it was a good way to pick up some attractive girls. And it worked!

“It wasn’t until we were in our early 20s that we discovered folk. I used to play in rock and punk bands and Debs trained as a classical singer.

“As part of her training she learned folk songs. I had an acoustic guitar so I said I would accompany her rather than carrying on with punk. Then we discovered the folk clubs in London and it went from there.”

Since then the pair, who live in Melbourn, have found considerable success with their laid back songs filled with northern humour. As well as being nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards four times, they are also double winners of the Spiral Earth Awards.

Stu says: “It’s nice to be nominated because it gets the word out about what you do to more people and the award bashes are quite fun. You get to meet random people at them – I remember Debs once stole Charles Dance’s wine at one of them. It was a year when it was really snowy that a lot of Scots and Irish come to the folk awards and they couldn’t get there, so there was loads of excess booze. We were on a table next to Charles Dance and we were on a mission to have plenty of wine, so Debs took his when he wasn’t watching. He was very good about it – he seemed a lot nicer than he is in Game of Thrones!”

Megson will be performing a one-off matinee show in Cambridge on May 18. It will include tracks from their new album Contradicshun, which was recently Sunday Times Folk Album of the Week.

The album is named after the title track, which is a song written by Geordie music hall star Joe Wilson in the 19th century.

Stu explains: “The north east has this massive back catalogue of traditional songs and songwriters and there was a big music scene there in Victorian times in the music hall and even before that. These ballad singers and entertainers used to tell stories through song and Joe Wilson was one of those singers.

Megson (8836353)
Megson (8836353)

“We saw Contradicshun was spelt differently, we thought it looked a bit interesting so we looked at the song and worked on that and then it became an idea for us to make an album about contradictions.”

They have also written their own tracks on the album, including one set in Cambridgeshire called Barrington Judo Club.

“We used to get a lot of stick because we have been based in Cambridgeshire for a while but a lot of our songs are inspired by the north east where we are both from,” says Stu.

“I used to say to people I would write a song about Cambridge, but I couldn’t think of anything that rhymes with punting. So we have written one on this album about a fictitious local village judo club and its exploits.”

Megson’s Cambridge Matinee Show will be at Stapleford Granary on Saturday, May 18 at 2pm.
Tickets: £12 and £6 (under 18s). Box office: megsonmusic.co.uk.



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