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Waterson:Carthy are the 'first family' of British folk music. In the 1960s Norma Waterson was a founding member of ground-breaking English a cappella group The Watersons. At the same time, her husband-to-be Martin Carthy was pioneering the use of guitar to accompany English traditional song. The couple married in 1972. In the 1990s their daughter Eliza Carthy emerged as one the most significant new traditional fiddlers, singers and song writers of her generation. In The Pure Drop, the three perform with acclaimed young melodeon player Tim van Eyken.
Born into a musical family, vocalist Norma Waterson's first group was a jazz and skiffle band she formed with her siblings and cousin, The Mariners. As the music began to focus more on traditional songs from East Yorkshire they morphed into The Watersons. When the band split in 1968, Norma left England to work as a DJ at a radio station in Montserrat in the West Indies. The family came together again four years later and eventually included Martin Carthy. Norma was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours List of 2003.
Martin Carthy is one of Britain's most well-loved guitar players whose style is marked by the use of alternate tunings and a strongly percussive picking style that emphasises the melody. Although he was supposed to learn the trombone as a child, he smuggled his guitar out instead, and later was an early influence on well-known names such as Bob Dylan and especially Paul Simon, who used Martin's arrangements for Scarborough Fair, which was a huge hit for Simon and Garfunkel. From 1970-72, Martin was a member of Steeleye Span where he first played electric guitar.
With Norma and Martin as parents, it was natural that Eliza Carthy became a musician. She formed The Waterdaughters with her mother, aunt (Lal Waterson) and cousin Maria Knight in 1989. She has subsequently worked with Nancy Kerr, in addition to her own solo work.
The only member of Waterson:Carthy not related, Tim Van Eyken plays the melodeon (a simple diatonic accordion). He is also a member of Dr Faustus and is emerging as a significant solo performer. Tim is leaving the group in 2007 to focus on his solo career. He will be replaced by Saul Rose, Martin and Norma’s son-in-law.
- Eliza Carthy (fiddle, vocals)
- Martin Carthy (guitar, vocals)
- Tim Van Eyken (melodeon, vocals)
- Norma Waterson (vocals)
Visit the Waterson:Carthy website