The Early Days | Up, Up and Away | Ambitions Realised | The Here and Now

Ambitions Realised

Reverse of the Horumarye album with Grame Miles Reverse of the Horumarye
album with Grame Miles

Other than a smattering of guest appearances on the records of several of those friends, we didn’t venture back into the recording studio until 1991. At that time we felt we would like to realise an album of what had become our "old favourites" – a selection of disparate songs, both traditional and contemporary which we had come to cherish over the last fifteen years. With our usual flair and imagination the resultant LP was titled The Wilson Family Album. The cover was a montage of photographs of us as kids and many people bought it for that reason almost as much as for the songs!

Unfortunately, the 1990`s saw a big move towards convert based arts centre type venues, and the consequent decline in the popularity of local folk clubs as we had known them. We felt then (and still do) that this was a move in the wrong direction, and was divorcing the music from its traditional venues. So somewhat against the trend, we continued to give preference to bookings in "proper" folk clubs.

Whilst the clubs declines, the emphasis was now more and more on the festivals, and we were now fortunate enough to virtually have our choice of the ones we wished to do – many of which are now annual arrangements.

It was through the festivals that we became good friends with Steve Rusby, who was the sound system "desk" man at most of the festivals in the North. Over the years came to know the mix of our voices better than anyone else does so much so that we rarely had recourse to a sound check.

This relationship gave us the opportunity of realising another ambition. Whilst we had been more than happy with all our previous recordings, we had always felt that they could never recreate the atmosphere, spontaneity, vibrancy and general craic of a live performance. Steve had digitally collected many of our festival performances, and suggested that with this base we could select enough material to produce a "live" album. However, things never turn out as simple as they first seem, so in 1996 we arranged for him to record a night at The Sun Inn folk club in Stockton, which, with a bit of input from ourselves, he mixed with some of his archive stuff to create Stocking Tops - The Wilson Family Live.

Thanks in part, to some wonderful reviews the CD was really well received and sold out several times over!

Singing at Middlesbrough Town Hall for the Mayor Singing at Middlesbrough Town Hall for the Mayor

So that was it – job done – and it had only taken…um…23 years!!!!!!

We had met, and in many cases, become friends with the majority of our heroes. We had performed at great clubs and festivals throughout the country, had recorded the albums that we considered significant and even built up a modest coterie of fans – but most of all we had made a great number of lifelong friends.

For the next decade (it doesn't sound long if you say it quickly) the UK club and festival circuit, once again continues to keep us as busy as ever. Although we have had plenty of offers to tour, or appear at festivals in the states, Canada, oz and NZ, it has so far, just proved totally impractical with the pantechnicon that is the Wilson family – although we have managed to invade Holland on one occasion and have appeared in Ireland several times.

It is probably worth briefly mentioning here that, since we all have good individual professional careers, we have never seriously considered turning folk music into a career – although others have mooted the idea from time to time.