Sheffield Americana band team up with historian

An unlikely collaboration between a Sheffield-based Americana band and Dr Andrew Heath from the Department has produced an album with a difference, inspired by 19th century American history.

Photo of Andrew HeathThe Mule and the Elephant by The Payroll Union will be launched on 19 January 2013 at Club 60, recording studio to Sheffield bands Reverend and the Makers and The Crookes.

Lead singer Peter David, who currently works in Student Services at the University of Sheffield, explained how the collaboration with Dr Andrew Heath came about and the inspiration behind the album: “I met academics from the Department of History at one of our Tramlines gigs this year. They were interested to know how and why I came to write songs primarily about 19th Century American characters and events, and more specifically the Jacksonian Era (roughly 1815-1848). I didn’t study history, I’m just interested in this period – the most interesting in American history, I think – it’s full of duels, religious persecution, political corruption and sex scandals!”

“Our shared interest in this era led us to decide to work together on a joint project. I asked Andrew if he would like to write the liner notes for the album to expand on some of the themes and he agreed, which is really exciting. We’re also in the process of submitting a proposal for Arts Enterprise funding to work on a collaborative project about the antebellum period, drawing on a lot of Andrew’s research.”

Dr Heath said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Pete, who is not only a great songwriter, but also a very talented historian. The album he’s written brings to life people and ideas I’ve been teaching and researching for the last ten years and it’s been exciting for me and my students to find someone who can tell the stories we explore through books and articles in such a novel way.”