Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra

Biography by

The Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra -- which also sometimes worked under the name Tim Turner's Narration -- were one of the pre-Fairport Convention bands formed by Ashley Hutchings and Simon Nicol. Hutchings,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

The Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra -- which also sometimes worked under the name Tim Turner's Narration -- were one of the pre-Fairport Convention bands formed by Ashley Hutchings and Simon Nicol. Hutchings, who played upright bass and sang, was the prime catalyst for the formation of this quintet which, in addition to Nicol, also included a kazoo player that everyone seems to remember only as "Willy," Lyan King (some sources say Bryan) on washboard, and Steve Airey on guitar and vocals. According to Nicol's account, it was through Hutchings at around the time of the existence of this group that Nicol and Richard Thompson, who attended different schools in their London suburb, first met. Nicol also writes on the Fairport official website that Thompson played with the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra on some occasions. They were more of an acoustic jug band with an eclectic, eccentric repertory -- in keeping with Hutchings' own wide-ranging interests -- than a folk outfit, though folk music obviously figured large in their output, as is clear from the fact that Nicol played a 12-string acoustic guitar in their lineup. They never had a recording contract, but left behind one track, "Washington at Valley Forge," that has surfaced across the years on various compilations devoted to Fairport Convention and Ashley Hutchings' output. They seem to have only really existed in 1966 under this name, and following some other membership changes and realignments, the band known as Fairport Convention emerged in 1967. The recording of "Washington at Valley Forge," done as a home recording in 1966, seems to mark the first appearance of Hutchings and Nicol on a recording together, as well as the recording debut -- albeit on an amateur basis -- of each of them.