Sproatly Smith are a band with an air of mystery about them, steeped as they are in Herefordshire’s folklore. The band’s music draws on traditional folk music, delving into its origins, reinventing it and spinning it out into the current day, so that when listening to it you find yourself transported, as if down one of the ancient green lanes that criss-cross the county. Reminiscent to these ears of those lost but treasured bands of the late 60s and early 70s such as Trees, the music of Sproatly Smith has been evolving at a rapid rate with new material and ever more instruments appearing with every live performance.
It is around Sproatly and their guitarist/seer, Ian Smith, that the Weirdshire collective has coalesced. Promoting gigs by similarly influenced artists, including Vaginapocalypse and Heed the Thunder, and issuing a highly recommended compilation Beating the Bounds, Weirdshire is favoured Wild Hare Club territory. The Beating the Bounds compilation and all of Sproatly’s albums including their first much loved recordings The Yew and the Hare (natch) are available from the band’s bandcamp page.
Should Rob Young ever revise his book Electric Eden – Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music (a highly recommended read) he would be remiss not to include a chapter devoted to Sproatly and their fellow travellers from Weirdshire.