Thursday, January 23, 2014

The 'Mum Rock' Band of Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey's Lady Grantham

Lady Grantham likes to rock. Well, she likes to pop, anyway.

Elizabeth McGovern is the actress who portrays Lady Grantham on Downton Abbey.But since 2007 McGovern has had a side project, a music project: She fronts a pop band called Sadie and the Hotheads.

In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, McGovern referred to the style of Sadie and the Hotheads as "sort of mum rock." You might get a sense of what that means in this video of what is, because of its goofy lyrics and folkie shuffle, perhaps the band's best-known song. It's called "The Cow Song":

McGovern plucks a guitar and pluckily handles vocals for the band, whose 2007 debut album was called I Can Wait. That was three years prior to the premiere of Downton Abbey, when McGovern was 46 years old. In 2012, Sadie and the Hotheads' second album, called How Not to Lose Things, arrived. Album No. 3 is currently in the works.

Here's a song that rocks a lot harder than "The Cow Song" (relatively speaking, of course). It's called "Nothing New":

I like that one. McGovern was goofy as lyricist in the first video, earnest in the second one. Here's one called "All My Sins":

The band gigs regularly around London, starting out on the pub circuit in its early days and now hitting some festivals and making TV guest appearances. That's the value of having one of the stars of Downton Abbey as your singer, songwriter and bandleader. But that value apparently doesn't necessarily make a band financially sound. According to The Telegraph, World Vision, an aid-for-Africa charity McGovern supports, "has paid her band £28,000 to fund the recording of their latest album and a UK tour, in return for which (the band) have agreed to promote the charity. Without this money, McGovern says, her band would 'never survive'. She recently turned to a crowdfunding website for donations towards her next album, with a portion of the money going to World Vision."

The Sadie and the Hotheads' crowdfunding effort is hosted on PledgeMusic.com (see it here). (The propriety of celebs using crowdfunding methods that are intended to help struggling artists, not established artists dabbling with a side project, is something for a different post.)

You can find more of Lady Grantham's music on the Sadie and the Hotheads YouTube channel. A check of the band's website shows they are currently playing shows, which is good timing with Downton Abbey due back on the airwaves in a few days.

And if you want to buy some of McGovern's music, check Amazon for Sadie and the Hotheadsrecords and songs.

And if you want to know more of the story of the band, why McGovern started it, where the name comes from, what she wants to accomplish with it, who else is in the band, here is an interview with her about Sadie and the Hotheads taped in 2010:

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