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For Bellowhead’s trumpet player Andy Mellon, it will be a triumphant homecoming when the band’s acclaimed Revival tour makes its stop in Margate in November.
Andy lived in Sevenoaks before moving closer to London, and his favourite place to relax when he’s not blowing his own trumpet (couldn’t resist) is Whitstable.
“I try to get down to Whitstable as much as I possibly can – just three weeks ago I went for a proper swim there,” says Andy, 38, who lives with wife Anna and children Charlie, 9, and Jess, 3.
“I eat as many oysters as I can on the harbour, I love the spit and sawdust of it.”
Pottering around with the kids’ dinghy and enjoying oysters from the stall is a far cry from the glory that surrounds Andy on-stage.
His 11-piece band Bellowhead has ascended to the highest point on the British folk scene during their 10-year career, selling out the Royal Albert Hall in April and launching their exuberant new album, Revival, at No.12 in the UK album charts to rave reviews.
“The lovely thing about being an 11-piece is that we are very familiar and supportive of each other and, musically, all of that constantly feeds into what we are doing,” said Andy, who has studied music since childhood, including at the Royal Academy of Music, and can also play piano.
He adds: “We’ve got an organic, flexible sound – within the band everyone plays lots of different musical instruments.
“Our sound can be funky, jazzy, orchestral, but the theme that runs through it is traditional English music: material about 200 years old and we grab hold of it and might do a disco version.
“It’s so eclectic and you can’t really explain it, you can only show it. We might have a trumpet and a flugel horn and you’re singing in a football chorus style for an old shanty.”
It’s a far cry since the days over a decade ago when the band’s frontman, Jon Boden, put out the shout that he was forming a band. Andy heard the grapevine reports via his mum, who volunteered in a Winchester charity shop alongside the mum of another member, drummer Pete Flood.
“We all met and did a pub session one evening and I remember thinking, ‘Well, that will never work!’” remembers Andy.
History dictated differently, and the band has since built up an adoring following who are likely to pack the Margate Winter Gardens in November, when the band’s Revival tour returns.
The Kent date will give Andy the chance to stop off at the place he loves best – Whitstable.
“The Wheelers crab sandwich is a thing of beauty,” he says wistfully.
“We’ve got a new dinghy and I can’t wait to take that out and have a paddle with the kids.”
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