Farmer combines work and playing bass
By Western Daily Press | Thursday, August 15, 2013, 05:00
Mark Butler works on the family farm at Hullavington, near Chippenham in Wiltshire, and also plays in no fewer than five top live bands. Now the musical farming family are diversifying into the only farmyard wedding and party venue with a 'house band' included PICTURE: Clare Green
Like most farmers, Mark Butler is constantly looking for ways to diversify to help earn a living from his little piece of the West Country.
So when harvesting stops for the day, Mark is often to be found jumping from the tractor cab, picking up his bass and heading off into the night.
For the farmer is also an accomplished bassist – and plays in no fewer than five top live bands, gigging regularly around the West.
And now Mark, along with his wife Helen and brother Tim, are converting the musical farming family into a diversification business – as the only farmyard wedding and party venue with a "house band" included.
Mark's bass-playing prowess has taken him from a goth punk band in New York in the 1980s to a key figure in the Cotswold music scene. Just last month, one of the five bands he plays in, a country rock outfit called Grey Earls, played a major set at the Womad Festival in Wiltshire.
He also plays bass in Hipkiss, who are headlining next month's Stroud Fringe Festival, the Steve Browning Band, a blues band from Gloucester, the Patsy Gamble Band, a well-known jazz funk band from Stroud and The Hawds, an original rock band along with his brother Tim and nephew.
The family farm at Hullavington, near Chippenham in Wiltshire, is an arable one, with a handy five-acre field just right for parties.
"Helen has started a business running the events venue, and we've got this great field that is perfect for weddings, parties and corporate events," he explained. "We can provide a marquee for a wedding, and a band of course – and I'm hoping Helen will ask me," he joked.
"It is a challenge being in so many bands, but what is good is that everyone is so good we don't tend to have to rehearse that much, so it's just a case of playing gigs.
"The other day the Patsy Gamble Band had an unexpected gig, and I literally was combining and had to leave the field half done, grab my guitar and head off. Luckily, my brother Tim is great and stuck around to finish the job."
The farm's event firm, called Piccadilly Parties, is holding a launch event in the form of a family fun day at Court Farm, from noon on Saturday, September 7, with bouncy castles, children's entertainment and, of course, a live band.