FOR a band which has a career lasting 47 years and with literally thousands of gigs under their belt, it comes as a surprise to learn that the current tour the Houghton Weavers are in the middle of is one of their busiest yet.

“It’s our biggest tour for some time,” said Steve Millington, ahead of the Weavers’ show at Darwen Library Theatre tomorrow night.

“We did go out on the road a bit last year but it was a really strange time coming out of lockdown, we didn’t really know what it was going to be like.

“We’d had two years off the road which was difficult and we’d not been able to make any albums.

“But now we’ve got a new album and a lot of dates and we’re hoping we will get some fans there and have a good time.”

The Bolton News: The Houghton Weavers

With their own brand of Lancashire folk, the Houghton Weavers have carved out a unique place in the music scene.

“Our strapline is ‘keep folks smiling’ and that’s what we do,” said Steve.

Post lockdown he admitted that the band had been given a new impetus.

“It’s a bit of a new dawn really,” he said. “It’s given us a fresh start. I think the lockdown taught us a few lessons, one of which was not to take anything for granted and, of course, we have sadly lost a number of our wonderful fans during the pandemic.

“I can’t describe how wonderful our fans are. They follow us around and try to get to as many shows as possible.”

Ahead of the tour, the Houghton Weavers released the album New World in The Morning - “that’s well over 50 albums but I’m not sure exactly how many” said Steve.

It is the first Weavers’ album not to feature founder member Tony Berry who died in 2019.

“His wish was to keep the band going and we’re trying to do a good job for him,” said Steve who along with original member Dave Littler and Tony’s brother Jim Berry make up the Weavers. “I think Tony would be proud of the new album.

“I have produced the last 27 albums I think and it was strange not to have Tony around. He was a superb vocalist and has his own place in Lancashire folk history.”

Until Jim Berry was brought into the band four years ago when brother Tony fell ill, Steve was the ‘new boy’.

“I’ve been in the band 27 years and I think they’re going to keep me on,” he laughed. “Actually, I only went into the Weavers for a Christmas tour. I was a session keyboard player at the time and they asked me to join them for a few dates.

“When the tour ended they contacted me and asked it I’d like to continue to be part of the band. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make as I’ve never had as much fun in my life - and we’re still having that fun now.”

The Bolton News: The Houghton Weavers

The Houghton Weavers have a remarkable history. On top of the numerous albums and countless live shows they also had their own BBC TV series Sit Thi Deawn in the late Seventies bringing Lancashire folk to millions of viewers.

More recently Mark and Lard championed the band during their time as DJs on Radio One.

“That was brilliant for them to do that,” said Steve. “They’d be playing one of our songs nearly every day for a while.

“That led to us getting a lot more students at our gigs along with our diehard fans.”

And the Weavers continue to attract a young audience, music lovers who want to see one of folk music’s genuinely original acts.

“Our shows are simple,” said Steve. “If we play a wrong chord we all laugh about it, we’re not purists. It’s all about having fun - for us and the audience.”

With Christmas looking the current tour will feature a few festive classics.

“Oh, we’ve got our Christmas favourites lined up,” said Steve. “There’s Bless Your Whiskers Father Christmas and What’s Christmas without a Brass band? But we’ll also be playing some of the songs on the new album.

“But even after all these years we’re still learning - we’re in development, who knows, we might get it right one day!”

The Houghton Weavers play Darwen Library Theatre tomorrow night; Barnoldswick Music and Arts Centre on Thursday, December 15; Bolton Little Theatre on Wednesday, December 21 and Chorley Theatre on Thursday, December 29