About

Adrian and Murray

Face Furniture are an acoustic duo, comprised of songwriter and poet Adrian May and double-bass player Murray Griffin. They formed a couple of years ago to record and perform songs and poems from Adrian’s CD and book Comedy of Masculinity. The initial live outings and the reception of the album/ book proved very successful, with appearances in folk and poetry venues, concerts, festivals (literary and music) and even some pubs and bars.

With two new complete shows to add to the Comedy …, The Ballad of Brian Bird and John Ball, about the Peasants’ Revolt and Skiffle (!) and their new collection Discovering England (see Shows page), they are forging ahead with more plans, which include 2016’s Sidmouth International Folk Week.

For larger gigs, they are often joined by musicians from the first album, John Seabrook on drums and Martin Donald on guitar, under the name Face Furniture and the Extensions.

Face Furniture aim to specialise in witty and thoughtful songs, performed with commitment and musicality, somewhere on the borders of skiffle, poetry and 21st century Music Hall. With many decades of multiple musical experience between them, from writing songs for June Tabor (Adrian) to being in a Brum reggae band in the 70s (Murray), they bring a seasoned and wry edge to every gig. They might look like a before and after advert for hair-restorer, but their aim is to be rootsy restorers of the world’s soul…

Adrian May

Face Furniture

Since forming Face Furniture with Murray Griffin, Adrian May has experienced a renaissance in performing his own songs and poems live. A pioneer of the uke, he has been successful with his serious songs as well as with the comic.

Up to the 90s he had performed on the English folk scene solo, as well as in Spring Chickens, The Metric Foot Band, and Eastern Angles Theatre Company. He has written songs for such artists as June Tabor, Adele Anderson of Fascinating Aida and Maggie Holland, and the above bands.

For the last few years he has also written many essays on creative writing, song lyrics, as well as Myth and Creative Writing (Routledge) and three collections of poems and lyrics from Wivenbooks: An Essex Attitude, Ballads of Bohemian Essex, and, most recently, Comedy of Masculinity, which includes Face Furniture’s first album of the same title.

    Murray Griffin

    Face Furniture

    Murray started playing the bass guitar when he was 13. Along the way he was classically trained trumpet player only to eschew it for rock and roll.

    He’s probably best known for playing Soul but he’s been in reggae, pop and rock bands. He’s even played with a few people you may have heard of.

    He is still learning to play the double bass, he can play the electric bass ok but the interface between sport and music, which is the world of double bass, is altogether a different thing.

    It took most of 20 years to finally persuade Adrian to risk an afternoon of playing together and about 15 minutes to persuade Murray to start a joint project.

      Martin Donald

      Face Furniture and the Extensions

      Martin Donald LLCM(TD):A life in music has provided Martin with some unique experiences and memories that have included radio, theatre, touring, writing and teaching plus numerous television shows. He’s had the good fortune to play with many talented artists and in situations as diverse as the QE2 and The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. A small selection of highlights have included Jimmy Ruffin, The Drifters, Freddie Cole (Nat’s brother!) Jools Holland, Tom Jones, Bob Monkhouse, Little & Large and many musicals from Cats to Cabaret. Work at The Barbican with The Royal Shakespeare Company, shows with Bob Miller and the Millermen and television on The Frank Skinner show as a Skinnerette show how adaptable he’s been. More recently there have been films with Jesse Eisenberg (The Double) and work with The Honeycombs, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their big success Have I The Right.

      Martin has also been associated with the Registry of Guitar Tutors (RGT) and the London College of Music (LCM) for many years and is a senior examiner for the guitar grades. This includes classical guitar/electric guitar/rock guitar/bass guitar and acoustic guitar, and has involved travelling to many parts of the globe conducting exams and workshops.

      Teaching some of the amazing young talented artists around at the moment has also been an exciting part of life and has included X Factor winner Matt Cardle.

      Martin has enjoyed teaching at Felsted School for many years and continues to be part of the thriving musical life there.

        John Seabrook

        Face Furniture and the Extensions

        With a playing career spanning nearly five decades, John Seabrook has built a solid reputation as a talented and eclectic drummer. His early influences from Gene Krupa and Earl Palmer through Al Jackson and Zig Modeliste have contributed, along with many others to a style that combines swaggering backbeats with subtle intonations, all enriched by an ever present syncopation.

        A veteran of TV,radio and many, many live performances, he can still talk the talk and ,very definitely, walk the walk.

        John currently lives in the rural wilds of Essex and for relaxation likes to skydive without a parachute.

          Shows

          What you can expect from our shenanigans.

          Adrian and Murray

          The Ballad of Brian Bird and John Ball

          Protest, Skiffle and the Peasants’ Revolt

          With songs, poems and texts, Face Furniture’s songwriter and poet Adrian May, with double-bassist Murray Griffin, present a tribute to the radical history of Colchester and England through the Reverend Brian Bird, who wrote a book on Skiffle music in the 50s and one on the 1381 Peasant's Revolt leader John Ball.

          There is also reference to Sydney Carter (another religious protester, author of Lord of The Dance), who wrote a song about Ball and one about Beatnik Vicars. A Lonnie Donegan Gospel number gets an outing and modern evangelicals are teased!

          As a member of the audience commented after the first performance (at the 2015 Essex Book Festival): 'Excellent evening last night (Sat 29 Mar) at the Minories. Making telling political points, reminding us of our heritage and prompting us to do something about it(?), together with good poetry & song ... are those songs going to get to cd?’

          And as an elderly member of the same audience said: ‘I didn’t know I was going to a Rave-Up!’

          Adrian, Murray and a shoe

          Discovering England

          Songs (and poems) taking a wry look at the idea of being English, as a way of respecting our Welsh, Scots and Irish (and other) neighbours, bigging up our humility and re-claiming love of place from the dumb xenophobes of the right …

          As a devotee of English Music Hall, punk, English traditional folk music and multiculturalism that let’s you be yourself, Adrian, with his Face Furniture colleague double-bassist Murray Griffin, presents some ironic and serious takes on being English, where ‘Nobody hates the English (as much as they hate themselves)’!

          The show will include reggae played on the uke, songs about landscape, longing, the Music Hall and a place where ‘There’s a kindness, a refuge, a welcome, a home/ That says we’re all one, so come on and join in …'

          Discovering England will be the title of a new album by Face Furniture and the Extensions.

          Full Band Recording

          Comedy of Masculinity

          Face Furniture’s first album (accompanying Adrian’s book of the same name) is a collection of songs (and poems) taking a wry look at ‘what it takes to be a man today’.

          As writer Hilary Llewellyn Williams said: ‘the poems and songs contain Adrian’s trademark wit, sensitivity, humour and pathos.’

          The theme is ‘explored from a wonderful variety of angles, personal and universal, anecdotal and mythical, comic, ironic, angry and sad, questioning and hopeful. These are big questions treated with a lightness of touch that never trivialises, holding a mirror up to both men and women, seriously funny, irreverently soulful. The style is self-deprectating, but this is important stuff … And, from a woman - highly recommended!’

          Face Furniture have performed the show’s songs (and a few poems too) at the Essex Book Festival, in Arts Centres, folk clubs, to U3A groups and in village halls, with their full band, Face Furniture and the Extensions.

          Live music

          21st Century Music Hall

          Described as ‘21st Century Music Hall, Face Furniture’s more general gigs (with or without the Extensions) comprise songs from their shows, plus some others from Adrian’s past experience as a songwriter/ performer, both solo and with bands such as Sporing Chickens (where he was the main lyricist) and the Essex traditional folk band Potiphar’s Apprentices.

          Old a new songs are presented with their characteristic wit, verve and musical flair, accompanied by Murray Griffin’s double-bass and Adrian’s ukes and guitars.

          As song-poet Martin Newell said in his weekly column for the East Anglian Daily Times: 'The mixture of toughness, tenderness and Formby-esque music-hall humour was more like an early Boots-era Ian Dury gig than anything I’d experienced in recent years. I was profoundly glad I attended.’

          Tracks

          Have a listen to our tracks on Soundcloud.

          Contact

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          Reviews

          Surprising nice things people said about us.

          Sons and fathers stumble towards each other in the dark saying, who the hell are you? – Dr Adrian May, Essex balladeer

          There exists a new crisis, apparently, concerning of all things our “lost masculinity”. The Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, is to present a TV programme on this subject. The hessian press have been wringing their hands over the matter for some years now, while the tweedier media merely yell, “Man up!” and grumble about our depleted armed forces.

          Read Review

          This is a review of a CD and a book, although there’s no particular reason to stop there.

          Adrian May is a performer, and although it says ‘songs and poems’ on the cover of his book, it’s pretty hard to draw a hard and fast distinction between them; poetry, music and performance in both modes seem all to be more or less equally important aspects of his creative practice. I’ve seen him perform, and I’ve made public some words on the subject, but the oddly arbitrary context to which I restrict myself here confines my attentions to the particular objects I have before me.

          Read Review