Matt Hopwood - singer, songwriter and founder of fair trading music and arts organisation Montpatry Press, based in Brighton - will be telling An English Love Story as he tours across Sussex (January 6-17).
An “enthusiast for all things English”, Matt said: “My debut album ‘And To This Last’ (set for release in 2012) was recorded in St Andrews Church, Edburton over the period of a few months and the songs and the sound of the album are very much rooted in the vicinity of the Downs, with those people who work and live there.
“Produced alongside Petra Jean Phillipson it was a piece of art that expressed a desire to communicate with those people who visited and used the church. In the end, the album itself became more than songs but a working example of discovering and exploring community in that rural setting. This project is seeking to continue that journey.
“I am embarking on a musical and community journey along the length of the South Downs entitled An English Love Story. My journey will start in Winchester with an open performance before making its way along the South Downs by foot to Eastbourne.
“As I journey I will take time to visit hamlets, villages and towns, meeting with people in groups, as individuals and in congregations, in their homes, meeting places, village Halls and Churches. I will perform my music to them, discussing its origins and creation, my ‘love story’, and talk to them about their encounters with love, hearing their love stories and experiences.
“Through conversation and sharing we will create An English Love Story from the South Downs, recording peoples stories, collecting their shared memories and exploring how people live and love in this beautiful corner of England.
“During this journey I will perform at church venues including Winchester, Amberley, Steyning and Firle. I will also be meeting up with fellowship groups in Storrington and Fulking, playing in the the George Inn at Alfriston and talking with local craftsmen and individuals along the way. I will also take the opportunity to explore the wild beauty of the South Downs, spending time in the open, visiting Chapels of Ease and exploring the nature and spirit of the places I encounter.
“I will be broadcasting my MNH Podcasts discussing the South Downs, the conversations, stories, the walking and the experiences. These podcasts will be broadcast on completion of the tour in January. These can be heard on itunes or on my own podcasts page here: http://www.mnhopwood.com/mnh-podcast.”
Tour dates are: Jan 6, Winchester Cathedral; Jan 8, Oving (to be confirmed); Jan 9, 2pm St Michaels, Amberley. Free open performance; Jan 10, 2.30pm, Storrington, Local house group; Jan 12, 7pm, Steyning Methodist Church, £5 entry; Jan 14, 6.30pm, St Peters Church, Firle, £5 entry; Jan 16, 7pm, The George Inn, Alfriston; Jan 17, Eastbourne sometime, on the beach. More details on www.mnhopwood.com.