Hedgepig have now retired after 25 years. Legacy website coming soon: www.rosieeade.co.uk/hedgepig

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Chapter one – Early History
by Steve Matthews

The origins of the Cambridge based folk-rock band, Hedgepig, lead back to the deconstruction and eventual break-up of Frayed Knot, who came together by a string of chances in the early Spring of 1990. Frayed Knot were fronted by two singer/guitarists - Steve White and Phil Anderson. The other members of the band were Alice Davie on fiddle and viola (and occasional shaky egg!), Paul Murphy on trombone and backing vocals, Kevin Rolph on bodhran and other percussion, and Steve Matthews on mandolin, banjolin and occasional percussion (including being taught how to play the bodhran by Kevin). The real star of the band was Alice, who is a fantastic fiddle player who brought a wealth of tunes to the band – some of which still survive in arrangements used by the current line-up.

Steve W ... Steve M ... Kevin

Phil ... Alice ... Paul

Frayed Knot at The Unicorn, 04-10-1990
Kevin, Alice, Steve M, Steve W, Phil

...& in Willingham 16-06-91
Kevin, Steves, Alice, Paul

Much of the early material reflected Steve White’s Scottish roots, mixed with Phil’s renditions of Nic Jones material, and the occasional nugget from the rich mine that is Irish traditional music. Some of the material from this era occasionally resurfaces with the current band, albeit in an often rearranged format (such as Trooper and The Maid, Twa Corbies, Banks of Esk/Santiano, Whiskey In The Jar, Clare To Here, Leaboy’s Lassie, O’Reilly’s Daughter and Weird Rover).

The band’s gigging was Cambridge based, playing local pubs and clubs, Cambridge colleges and private parties, with The Unicorn in Trumpington being one regular venue. Phil left the band after 7 months to work in the Antarctic with the British Antarctic Survey. The band actively continued, and played regularly as a five piece. However, with Paul’s departure in the Summer of 1991, followed by Alice the following Spring (1992) the gigs fizzled out as the band membership dropped.

Frayed Knot at The Unicorn, 23-07-1990
Steve M, Alice, Paul, Phil
Steve W, Kevin

It was during life as a four and a three-piece that the name Hedgepig was first used – the old English name for a hedgehog. It was a name suggested by Steve Matthews as being appropriate, given that it was both indigenous to Britain and a bit old fashioned – like the choice of music!

Once left as a three-piece, comprising Steve White, Steve Matthews and Kevin Rolph, the search for a replacement fiddle player began. In August 1992 Sharon Durie joined on fiddle, and the band adopted a name change to The Devil’s Rant – a name suggested by Steve White. On their day, this line-up was capable of producing some very powerful acoustic folk music, with Sharon’s driving fiddle, supplemented by counter melodies from Steve Matthews on mandolin and tenor banjo, with Kevin’s fantastic percussive work and fronted by Steve White’s rhythm guitar and vocals. This line-up played local pubs, including The Clarendon Arms, but remained a solely acoustic band, thus limiting the size and type of venues that could be played.
Sharon left in the Spring of 1993, and the band were back to a three-piece again. With this came the reversion back to the name Hedgepig, which has stuck ever since. The search for an alternative fiddle player continued, whilst the trio played various gigs at local folk clubs, including Fulbourn, and private functions. It was on one such occasion, at a local folk club to the south of Cambridge, that the band did a set with two Australian didgeridoo players – which created a terrific sound, combined with Scottish and Irish folk.

Other musicians were tried out, but none clicked with the band until the arrival of Mark Lemon. He was discovered at The Catholic Club, known then as The Shannon, whilst the two Steves were out on a ‘fiddle player hunt’ around the local pubs and clubs. Mark was then a member of Cambridge Irish Folk Music stalwarts Pagan Billy, playing both mandolin and fiddle for them. With Mark’s arrival, Hedgepig proper could begin. Sadly, Kevin chose to leave the band at the end of 1993, for various musical differences. This left the three-piece that would really establish the band’s name.