Hello You.
Welcome to the brief-but-still-quite-lengthsome history of folk/rock/skiffle (Friffle) band Why?
Click on the left hand images for photos, videos and full artwork.
You can listen to all of the songs on the players below or download them for free via this link.
We are still playing the odd gig now since reforming for Greenbelt 2013 as part of their 40th birthday celebrations. Lots of photos on Facebook. We hope to record some new and re-worked material at some point in the future. Please like us on facebook so you can keep up to date with all the news.
 
     


The first anyone knew of Why? was when Ant Parker (vocals/acc. guitar) and Jeff-no-pun-intended-Whiley (bass) played together at an open mic night at Greenbelt Headquarters in London way back in 1989. They had met while working for YFC (Youth for Christ) in Brixton and written a handful of songs about some of the situations they were faced with in their work.
 

 

Why? released their first album on cassette in 1990 called Rachel’s Lovely Jumper – named after their friend Rachel’s lovely jumper.

Rachel – or at least Ant’s hand-scrawled caricature of Rachel – subsequently became the logo and subject of albums, backdrops, van graphics, stickers and thousands of t-shirts for years to come.

At the end of 1990 Jeff moved back up north and Ant moved back out west to Street - Somerset where he was joined by his little brother, Nick (mandolin/vocals) and they went out as a duet The Mandolin Brothers – mainly doing Spring Harvest and the odd festival.

 

 

1991 saw the release of Why?’s first (and last) bit of vinyl. The 7” single Children of Brixton which had Andy Hay’s “Through it all” on the B-side was recorded in Giant Studios in Street by Jon Mates and John Parish (Giant was just the name, they weren’t particularly big).

Summer came, along with its big tenty thing Greenbelt, and Why? blagged their way onto the fringe for a few tunes.

 

 

In 1992 two became five as Ant and Nick were joined by Mark Davis (drums) and Kitty Roberts (violin). Seamus Herbert and James Cannock took it in turns on bass.

The second album ‘Yo Skipidy’ was released on the Super Ferric label and Why? had their first ‘proper’ gig at the Greenbelt Fringe where they were joint winners of the battle of the bands with Iain Archer and Jonny Quinn (Snow Patrol).

 



1993 saw the very first ‘Jig at a Why? Gig’ which was held in Crispin School Hall in Street. Seamus and James decided to call it a day and Why? were joined on bass by Stephen Barnard. Needing something new to sell at the gig they released yet another cassette ‘Nicely Hugged’ and yet again traipsed back over to Greenbelt, this time to play the main Fringe venue.

 

 
 

At the beginning of 1994 Ant joked that the aim for the year was to get a gig at Brixton Academy. The following month they won a battle of the bands – the prize for which was – you guessed it – 2 gigs at Brixton Academy. Why? were chosen alongside a couple of other bands to play at the MAYC annual descent upon London. One of the bands also chosen was a band called Ruth. In a previous life, some of Ruth’s members were in A Tribe of Toffs (John Ketley is a Weatherman) and in later life singer Matt Hales became Aqualung - with help from his brother Ben who also lends a hand to Duke Special from time to time.

Brixton wasn’t their only London gig in 1994.

Why? had been asked to support The Ukrainians in The Mean Fiddler. In the audience was Peter Hankiewicz; a German guy who had come over to see the main band. After the show he invited Why? to play at the Frankfurt Speed-Folk Festival for what was to be their first of hundreds of German gigs.

With the bass position sorted Why? decided to record a ‘proper’ album ‘Rachel Says Boo’

At Beehive Studios in Westonzoyland, Somerset.

They took the album to Greenbelt along with a van full of T-shirts and stickers and played at various venues around the site. At the end of 1994 Kitty left for pastures new, so Rob Webb stood in for a few months before Why? handed fiddling duties over to Shona Clark.

 
Good Question
Volume 1- Issues 1 to 4
If anyone has a copy please scan/copy and send
 

 


 
 

Then came 1995 – as was likely.

Again Why? were chosen to play at the MAYC event in London. They also did their first German tour – supporting Eden Burning – where they met Hardy Elgert who was to be their German agent for the next few years  

Greenbelt finally took Why? seriously (they thought…) and gave them their first ‘proper’ gig in the full-to-capacity Big Top – which to this day, is a career highlight of some members.  

Why? played many festivals this year including a memorable gig on the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Transglobal Underground and Dreadzone at the Pilton Party.

They were also given the residency at the ‘after hours’ events at Spring Harvest which they shared with a band called Wondercub (who later became Athlete)

1995’s release was Giggle, which featured guest musicians Silas Crawley (Fat and Frantic) on washboard, Dave Chedgey on banjo and Padraig Dwyer on accordion. It was recorded in Beehive Studios again with Mark Harvey and Matt Roberts taking care of production and the brilliant Garry Brown on engineering duties - aka Mike Puke!

Why? also enlisted the help of Alan Rogers (King Rollo/Pigeon Street etc) to take over the illustrations.

At the end of 1995 Shona decided it was time to move on and made way for Jane Robson.


 
 
 





1996 saw the release of Why?’s first live album. It was recorded at their annual ‘Jig at a Why? Gig’ event in Shepton Mallet’s Amulet and was called – wait for it – ‘Jig at a Why? Gig’.

Another year, another fiddler.

Jane decided it would be warmer in the Cayman Islands so Why?’s search for a fiddler was resumed.

During the search they enlisted the help of flautist Katy Elliott and fiddler Judith Stephens.

Glastonbury came again – Avalon Stage. Flevo Festival in Holland came – Main Stage and then Greenbelt came – tiny Sinai tent.

As only a small percentage of ‘fans’ could get in, Why? asked nicely for another gig over the weekend. The only slot left was 9am on the Monday morning on the even tinier bandstand.
Why? being Why? gratefully accepted and got on with the task of trying to let people know about it.

Monday morning came and so did 3,000 people. As you can imagine, this was another career highlight for many in the band.

Although Why? kept churning out CDs, it was the T-shirts that were selling by the boxload and at Greenbelt ’96 it seemed you were never more than 100 yards away from someone wearing one.    

A lot of 1996 was filled with touring Germany which was quickly becoming Why?’s second home and another highlight came when they supported one of their influences, The Alarm’s Mike Peters at Nottingham’s Rock City.

The year was a sad one however as the sweetest man you will ever know (and probably the best drummer – certainly the fastest) Mark Davis left to go to university. It really was a huge blow to the rest of the guys for obvious reasons, some of which were mentioned only seconds ago – depending on how quickly you can read.

So what with no fixed drummer or fiddler, Why? were yet again on the look out for more musicians.

After trying to think which other bands had a nickable drummer Why? borrowed Eden Burning’s Mike Simpson who only happened to be dating a fiddler Beth Balmer.

So with the band back intact Why? were given the elusive Greenbelt Mainstage slot.

After a few tours of Germany Mike and Beth went on their way and Why? were joined by drummer Andy Davis (no relation to Mark – who had been in another band at the MAYC event years before) and fiddler Ed Harnett (who hadn’t).

Good Question
Volume 2 - Issues 1 to 4
If anyone has a copy of Issue 4
please scan/copy and send
 

 

 
 
 

1997’s release Pinnenstripensuitenwearenfoddergeburnenclippencloppen was inspired by the German word for a zebra and was solely dedicated to Mark.

It was recorded in Cheltenham by Charlie Ingram (Eden Burning) and Jeff Spencer and a few other musicians were pulled in to help out including Eden Burning’s Charlotte Ayrton, Paul Northup and Mowf.

‘Pinnen’ as it was affectionately (or lazily) known was not their only recording this year as Why? recorded some Sydney Carter tracks for a CD ‘Lord of the Dance’ to celebrate his 80
th birthday.

Most of 1997 was spent touring around Germany, Holland and the UK as in previous years and at the end of the year it was (nearly) all change. Steve (bass) left the band and was replaced temporarily by Mowf – and then more permanently by Steve Amadeo – and Ed left, leaving Why? fiddlerless yet again.


 
 
 

In early 1998 Nick left Why? to devote more time to his new family and his role was filled by Jamie Hill.

Although still strumming the occasional mandolin, Jamie brought a new dimension to Why?’s sound as he came complete with keyboards. Why decided to continue without finding a new fiddler and got used to life as a four-piece.

Their 1998 release ‘Look Back’ was – for want of a better phrase – a ‘Best Of’ album with the last few tracks giving a hint to their new sound. It was also the first album with a track written by someone other than Ant or Nick (apart from a couple of covers on the live album) as drummer Andy’s ‘Edam or Bergkamp’ was included.

Greenbelt Mainstage beckoned again as did the seaside festival in Norway and another bout of extensive touring through Germany.

 
 
 Good Question
Volume 3 - Issues 1 to 5
If anyone has a copy of Issue 3
please scan/copy and send
 
 

 
 
 

In 1999 Why? found themselves in the studio again, with Craig ‘Tuff’ McCleish (Fat and Frantic) producing. The album ‘Happy’ hit the shelves, this time including songs from Andy, Jamie and Craig (as well as Ant naturally), and Jim Harris (also FaF) popped along to splutter into his trumpet.

Again the European tours continued, Greenbelt had them back on Mainstage and they also got to play at the Royal Albert Hall at the MAYC weekend.

At the end of 1999 Ant decided that his time with Why? had come to an end and subsequently that – being his creation – Why? as an entity should come to an end.

Their final gig was at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a relatively sad occasion – to which Nick had been invited back for a few songs – and the crowds around the merch table were certainly bagging a bargain or two as Why? tried to shift the last of their T-shirts and CDs.

So that was it. Or was it?

 

 
 

In 2006 came the call Ant had not been expecting. Christmas Rock Night in Germany – where Why? had played on many occasions – were organizing a Legends of Rock event and they wanted Why? to reform for it.

So Ant, Nick and Andy got together with Al Kendall on bass and somehow managed to get Jane to come all the way over from the Cayman Islands for one gig in Ennepetal in the spring of 2007.

Although the dancing wasn’t quite as energetic as in their younger years, Why? certainly had a right laugh, mucking about constantly, as you’d expect.

Roll on 2017.

 

Where are we now?
Find us on Facebook or check out our websites
Nick's is here and Ant's is here 

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