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-Rock 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 will be collaborating with a variety of musicians 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): -
Lone Pine Pictures' promo poster for 'The Butcher Baronet' documentary film based on Helen's original artwork
Following the success of their debut project 'The Little Count' in 2018, 'The Butcher Baronet' is Lone Pine Pictures' second film documentary (the second of what is ultimately planned to be a trilogy of documentaries about notable historical Durham figures).
Helen has contributed artwork to the project whilst Lone Pine Pictures commissioned Gary and his Whisky Priests colleague Mick Tyas to each contribute a song, respectively 'The Butcher Baronet' and 'John Duck', to be featured as part of the film's soundtrack. In addition, Helen, Gary and Mick filmed sequences at 'The John Duck' Public House, Claypath, Durham City (Helen talking about her artwork and Gary & Mick performing their songs) on 12th June. All three are currently expected to appear in the final cut of the film.
Filming of 'The Butcher Baronet' was completed in July 2019, whilst Gary and Mick recorded the two soundtrack songs at Iain Petrie's Awake Music (with Iain producing and adding additional instrumentation) during an exciting single-day's session on 4th August 2019. A few days later, musical colleague/collaborator and Whisky Priests accordionist Ralf Weihrauch added accordion to Gary's song.
A Teaser Trailer was officially released on 14th August 2019, featuring Gary's song 'The Butcher Baronet' as the soundtrack to the Trailer.
You can watch the Trailer (look out for a brief clip of Gary & Mick!) HERE.
Editing of the film will continue throughout August and September with a launch event and film premiere being planned for October 2019.
This continues the ongoing cross-collaboration between Gary, Helen and Paul, featuring a wide range of artforms, with more exciting and interesting projects still to come...
[Watch this space for further developments as they happen!]
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' won 'Best Documentary' at the Romford Film Festival. Check out the following clip of Lone Pine Pictures' Paul Stainthorpe, Richard Lavernick and Steven Landles from a Q&A session at the festival...