The Butcher Baronet
'The Butcher Baronet' is Gary's 'Folk-Rock Opera' about the mysterious 17th Century historical figure John Duck ("Durham's Dick Wittington").
Gary and Helen met with Paul Stainthorpe, Founder and Director of Lone Pine Pictures, appropriately at the John Duck public house in Durham City in November 2018 to discuss an unknown project that Paul was due to propose. This turned out to be his plan for Lone Pine Pictures to develop and produce 'The Butcher Baronet', a documentary film about the tale of John Duck. The plan was for Gary and Helen to respectively create new songs & pieces of music alongside a series of illustrations specially for the project, which would be an exciting cross-arts collaboration of film, music and art.
Coincidentally, just prior to their meeting at the John Duck, Helen had delivered a couple of art workshops with the Monday Art Group in Lanchester, County Durham, focussing on the story of John Duck. These workshops provided a strong impetus and inspired Helen to create an initial piece, 'John's Jacobus (A Tale of Durham's Dick Wittington)' [right]. They also inspired Gary to come up with a couple of songs - 'The Butcher Baronet' and 'John's Jacobus (Inscription)'. In fact, it seemed like this project was somehow meant to happen.
Meanwhile, shortly afterwards, and in the space of only three days, Gary went on to write a further 6 songs and pieces of music for the project. A handful more quickly followed. Within a matter of weeks, Gary had created a full song-suite encompassing the entire story of the legendary John Duck, expanding the initial project idea into a fully-realised 'Folk- Opera' through a collection of around 30 songs and pieces of music, including the use of several Northumbrian tunes dating from the 17th Century during the time of John Duck. Gary is currently collaborating with a variety of musicians, including Mick Tyas (who, with Gary's encouragement, has contributed a couple of original songs of his own to the piece) and members of The Whisky Priests, as well as other notable North East musicians and performers, and more, to bring this project to fruition with a 2-hour performance and a double CD album and book.
The songs and tunes written by Gary for the project to date include the following (listed in project chronological order): -
Paul had previously approached Gary and Keith Armstrong earlier in 2018, seeking permission to use their already-existing song 'Ballad of the Little Count' (taken from The Whisky Priests album 'Bleeding Sketches', featuring lyrics by Keith and music by Gary) to use as the theme song for his company's debut project, 'The Little Count', a fascinating documentary based on the story of the incredible historical figure Józef Boruwłaski. Gary and Keith were happy to contribute the song, which fitted the documentary perfectly.
The highly-acclaimed film was well-received at its sell-out launch night at the Gala Theatre & Cinema, Durham City on 30th October 2018 and has subsequently been released on DVD, available here.
Extracts from the documentary, including the song 'Ballad of the Little Count', are now on permanent display at Durham City Town Hall.
In 2019, 'The Little Count' was nominated for 'Best Documentary at the Romford Film Festival.
Following the success of 'The Little Count', 'The Butcher Baronet' is due to become Lone Pine Pictures' second film documentary project, with filming beginning in June 2019, thus continuing what is hoped will be an ongoing cross-collaboration featuring a wide range of artforms.
[Watch this space for further developments as they happen!...]