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Folk -Ben Paley and Tab Hunter

Paley and Hunter have been playing together for years, both on the folk club and gig scene, and have become famous for their brilliant blend of guitar (Hunter) and fiddle (Paley) in various incarnations such as the Aardvarks and the Wild Turkey Brothers. They play a mix of Appalachian tunes, klezmer, Swedish folk and Irish and English traditional tunes, with a dose of wild punk spirit thrown into the mix.

I meet Hunter, who lives in Lewes, at Caffe Nero to get a better idea of what they’re all about. “I’ll be the fat guy with the beard,” he tells me before: he’s much more than that. Tattoos, piercings, cotton shirt, he’s got a wild-man-from-the-woods look about him; though as soon as he talks you can tell he’s a gentle soul.

“I started out busking in the eighties. I was a hard-core punk and I was doing Pogues-style stuff,” he says. “Those guys did a lot to popularise Irish folk music; they put a lot of energy into it. I used to play Dirty Old Town and Wild Rover and stuff. I used to like those songs.” He’s been playing in bands ever since, most famously in the Wild Turkey Brothers, at their height about fifteen years ago, playing what he describes as ‘death metal bluegrass.’ They often supported the Levellers. Nowadays, touring the folk scene with Paley, he’s calmed things down a bit: the duo are well known for their accomplished musicianship: they mostly play instrumentals, though both sing the odd song in the set. “We’re a little hard-core for some people; there’s still something of the punk spirit about us,” he says. And then “or maybe that’s just bollocks.” (continued overleaf...)

Into the blue: Tab Hunter strums his stuff in Stewards Inn