Dez Allenby

We Sail Our Castles by Dez Allenby

Former member of seminal psychedelic folk combo Forest Dez Allenby releases his two track EP ‘We Sail Our Castles’ on the DHM record label on Friday 6th October 2017. Available as download from all major digital outlets, and on CD from Bandcamp and selected stores. Catalogue number DHM011.

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Dez Allenby is a musician/singer-songwriter located in East Yorkshire. He has a taste for less conventional acoustic instruments, playing bouzoukis, harmonicas, whistles, shruti box, kalimbas and English concertina. This has led to collaborations with other performers. Dez is a member of Strawberry Moon (Jeff Parsons, Kelvin Baldwin and Cathy Allenby), North Wood Drift (Phil Friend and Cathy Allenby), Three Voices (with poet Trevor Millum and storyteller Graham Langley), and with Martin Peirson’s Runaway Train and Henry Priestman’s Men Of A Certain Age.

Dez first came to public attention in the late 1960’s as a founder member of the progressive folk group Forest, releasing two albums, ‘Forest’ and ‘Full Circle’, and the single, Searching For Shadows, on EMI’s prestigious Harvest label, sneaking into the LP charts in 1970 on ‘Picnic. A Breath Of Fresh Air’ and playing live on John Peel’s Night Ride, Top Gear and Sunday Shows.

Dez now enjoys vegetable gardening, touring on his bicycle and spending time with his family.

The EP ‘We Sail Our Castles’ (2017) comprises two recent compositions.

  • We Sail Our Castles is a reflection of Dez’s relationship with Hull, since first arriving on a paddle steamer in the 1950’s. The song is about migrations, freedom and culture.
  • 1968 was written after reading Mark Kurlansky’s book that remembers the protests of that year, their impact and their consequences.

We Sail Our Castles

‘We Sail Our Castles’ started when I attended the launch of Hull Songs in November 2015. Lou and Rich Duffy-Howard had encouraged people to write and perform songs related to Hull and the Humber and I began thinking about what I could say about my connections with Hull.

My first steps in Hull were taken when, in the early nineteen-fifties, I disembarked from one of the paddle steamers, the Wingfield Castle, the Tattershall Castle or the Lincoln Castle with my mam and her friend. Dad was at sea, trawling. More than sixty years later I retraced my steps. I was astonished to learn that more than two million people had also arrived, from Europe, in the nineteenth century and realised that many must have taken similar steps. For me and perhaps for them, Hull symbolised freedom in many ways. It continues to do so. These ideas went into the song ‘We Sail Our Castles’.

The other composition on the EP,  ‘1968’, is an exploration of why I think and act as I do in these extraordinary times. The core values of my generation were set by our awareness of the 1960’s Civil Rights movement and the student protests that spread across the world in 1968. Mark Kurlansky’s book tells the tale. I played a very small part in student protest but understood that big changes were happening everywhere. So in ‘1968’ I recall some decisive events around the world and try to draw on those energies and the peaceful nature of those protests to find hope and direction now.

On the recording, I’ve been joined by some fine musicians. My thanks and appreciation extend to Jeff Parsons, Kelvin Baldwin, and Cathy Allenby, my Strawberry Moon buddies, to Phil Friend, with whom Cathy and I perform in North Wood Drift and to Adrian Welham, my long-term friend and fellow band member in Forest, who sailed on the ferries as a child and was very much ‘there’ in 1968. Indeed we were all ‘there’ in our own ways. More importantly we are here now.

Dez Allenby September 2017


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