Duo conjure up a musical Christmas feast of plenty

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You certainly couldn’t accuse Paul Sartin of being work-shy.

As one half of comic-folk act Belshazzar’s Feast, he’s due to play at The Wedgewood Rooms on Thursday with his musical partner Paul Hutchinson.

But when The Guide caught up with him, he was enjoying a rare day off during the recent 10th anniversary tour as part of 11-headed folk giants Bellowhead. Paul is also involved in numerous other projects.

‘This is my fourth tour out of five in five months’ he explains. ‘I think we’ve all been working towards a day off, and we’ve now all sort of collapsed.’

Several nights earlier, the band had played a sold-out show at 02 Guildhall in Southampton: ‘It was a great gig, partly because it’s a home crowd, and I had a lot of friends in, but it’s been a very good tour altogether. It’s been a bit mental.

‘We had no idea we’d still be going 10 years after the inception of the band, and all the places it’s gone. It’s all come as something of a surprise.’

Multi-instrumentalist Paul, who lives near Whitchurch, is also enjoying a significant anniversary with Belshazzar’s Feast.

‘It’s our 20th anniversary year this year,’ he says. ‘We met because I was living in Oxford at the time and people from the folk club knew a band that needed a fiddler.

‘Paul had been drafted in to help as well – we’d never met before – but we ended up rehearsing in a barn somewhere in Oxfordshire and played with this band for a few months, and then decided to go off as a duo.

‘We’ve both got similar senses of humour – we’re both a little bit silly at times, and we thought we could somehow turn that into an act.

‘We both like traditional music, and English music, so there was that connection.

‘Belshazzar’s Feast is rooted in traditional English music, but with a few other things thrown in, and it’s a bit of a comedy act too.’

The gig at the Wedge comes as part of one of their regular Christmas tours.

Paul adds: ‘We do a lot of things for people to sing along to, it’s not so many of the familiar carols. We found some interesting material from England and The States and the continent as well, but there are plenty of opportunities for people to join in.

‘The first half tends to be a bit more serious and then we let our hair down in the second half.’

Doors open 8pm, tickets cost £12.50. Go to wedgewood-rooms.co.uk or call (023) 9286 3911.