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Saturday, 1 May 2010

P. J. Harvey: Bridport and the Blues

A view from the West Cliffs

 Bridport, at around the time the first blues records were being released in the USA

Who was it who was born in Bridport (some web sites say Yeovil), hangs out in West Bay and Eype, grew up on a smallholding in Corscombe (Mosfas Little Acre, opposite the Fox Inn) and listened a lot to the music of Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Bob Dylan, amongst others? The answer, of course, is Polly Jean Harvey, P. J. Harvey. Her parents Ray and Eva Harvey (quarryman and stonemason/sculptor, respectively) must have had an amazing record collection.

There's a good recent interview on YouTube, from the Andrew Marr show of April 18, 2010, and an interesting feature on her mother, Eva Harvey, in the June 2010 issue of the Marshwood Vale magazine, which reveals how important West Bay was to the family, especially at weekends, and pub music venues such as the George, the Bridport Arms and the New Inn at Eype. They often used to stay at a friend's flat at Pier Terrace, West Bay, where they have owned their own flat for fifteen years. Amazing to think that Ian Stewart (Stu), Alexis Korner and Charlie Watts would once play at Eype.

Read about her new album, Let England Shake, recorded in Eype Church.

Hear her talk about it

Alex Petridis, The Guardian, 11 February 2011, gives the album 5 stars and comments:

"Listeners used to Harvey in full-on, bug-eyed Dorset avenger mode might be slightly taken aback by Let England Shake....Let England shake sounds suspiciously like the work of a woman at her creative peak."

Live version of The Last Living Rose

Update, 26 February 2012, Sunday Times Magazine, "Gritty Polly" article by Bryan Appleyard:

The profile of P J Harvey by Hilton Als, published in The New Yorker, August 2001, suggests she was born near Yeovil, not in Bridport: But the writer seems to think Yeovil is in Dorset, rather than in Somerset.

"Next slide please. A hamlet near Yeovil, in Dorset, England. There isn't much to the place (population six hundred): a phone box, a pub, a post office, families that have known one another for generations. 'A lot of burial grounds and Iron Age forts', is the way Harvey describes it. She was born here in 1969...her mother...also engraved headstones, and Harvey spent much of her childhood with her mother, among the graves wet with rain and mortality...Harvey's parents had a rich and diverse record collection, and she grew up listening to John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Jimi Hendrix."

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