Little Donkey
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Little Donkey

Chelmsford, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Chelmsford, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Welcome to the 'Sanctuary'"

I want to welcome you all to a band who call themselves Little Donkey. What can I say about this band? The world is full of new age folk bands which all have a similar kind of sound (some of which I like), however Little Donkey are here to put their own spin on the genre. These guys have created an edgy cool folk vibe which is influenced by the grunge movement and it sounds awesome. If I’m honest, I did struggle with their sound on my first listen but the more I listened the more understood it. I’m so glad I did stick with it, as I’m now a huge fan of their music.

Who are Little Donkey? They are made up of three guys who are:

Mat Frost - Vocals, Guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin
Simon Charlton - Guitar, Stompbox, Vocals
Russ Charlton-Ricks - Bass

Together in 2013 they released their debut EP ‘The Heavy Load Session’ (available HERE) which I think is a great introduction to their music and deserves the attention it received. This EP is a little rough around the edges but that’s what makes it standout and has resulted in a great debut release. You should check out my favourite track ‘Get your Gun’ just because its awesome!

The guys have recently released their new EP called ‘Sanctuary’. The first thing I noticed when listening to the EP was its production as you can hear that they have effectively used the studio time to bring us something special. This improved finish lets us hear so much more depth in their music which adds to its appeal. When you listen to the music you can hear each member showing off their musical skills which combined gives us that trademarked Little Donkey sound. The music helps the lyrics take you on a journey, which after a few listens will have you singing along because of its catchy nature.

I have to mention the vocals as Mat delivers a raw but natural tone which has a surprising range to it. There is not many singers with that vocal tone who can show an impressive range like that, only one comes to mind and that is Eddie Vedder. There is times when I’m hearing this EP I can hear a little Eddie in Mat’s vocals and as a big Pearl Jam fan myself is a huge compliment.

My only problem I have with ‘Sanctuary’ is that it is way too short as it only has 4 tracks. I know I say this every time when it comes to EP’s but this bands music is so good and they should have made a 6 or 7 track release.

Choosing my favourite track was difficult as I like each track for various reasons. ‘Damascus’ is one of my highlights as it featured on their debut release but this rework is flawless and really shows what the band are capable of. My favourite song is ‘Empty’ which has everything that made me a fan. I love the guitars on this track and Mat’s vocals towards the end of the track when it picks up tempo is amazing! I really want to hear this track live!

As you may have guessed, I am loving this EP. I think I have already found an early contender for my top 10 end of year releases.

I got the chance to catch up with Simon from the band, so I thought to ask him a few questions. This is what he had to say:

Which artists have influenced the sound you create?

‘All three of us grew up during the whole MTV unplugged era, and Seattle grunge scene was our diet of choice. We'll all draw influences from Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains, but more modernly, we also draw an influence from Ben Howard, The John Butler Trio and Beck.’

This is your 2nd EP, what were your goals before you starting the writing process?

‘The same goals that were there when we created the first E.P. We didn't want to bog ourselves down with the time and cost of over-production. We wanted to keep it organic, and live sounding, so all of the songs we mixed from just two takes. The end goal this time round was to push it more online, and to use it to push us forward on to some big summer festivals.’

What was your reaction when you first heard the finished EP?

‘We were chuffed to bits! Even though the songs were quick to record, the post production took a while to get back to us (we got some freebie studio time from a good friend, so we couldn't rush him) and then the decision what tracks to put on it, then the artwork, yadda yadda yadda. Let's just say, we feel it gives a pretty good idea about what Little Donkey is all about!’

If you were headlining a world tour, which bands would you choose as YOUR support?

‘There would be so many to pick from! I think we'd have to do a day festival to fit them all in, and a Hyde Park calling stylee. Pearl Jam would definitely be in there, as lead singer Mat would be beside himself to sing a few songs with the great Eddie Vedder. Other groups would probably be our influences from earlier. Simon and Russ would pick The John Butler Trio, and we'd love to get Beck, and some great Australian bands like Josh Pyke, Boy & Bear and Lisa Mitchell.’

What does 2014 have in store for Little Donkey?

‘We're on a hiatus gigging at the moment, as lead singer Mat, is expecting his first child in February. We are working hard to really go for some festivals in the summer, once he's got the hang of breast feeding and nappy changing. The bigger the festival, the better! We've got a few local ones lined up already. We may also get a drummer on-board, and we shall be releasing a few extra songs to keep our fans appetite wet’.
I’m really hoping these guys get the opportunity to release a full length album very soon or a longer EP. I really think the music world needs this to happen or maybe its just me who needs this to happen. ‘Santuarary’ EP shows that this band have an amazing talent and I feel there is still a lot more that this band can offer and I think a full release would show that.

You can find out more about this band at or visit their social media sites on Facebook or Twitter. If you have liked what you have heard then feel free to show your support by spreading the word of these folk rebels on your social media sites and make the world aware of their sound. Little Donkey are here!!! - My Random Jukebox

"Ones to watch: Essex trio Little Donkey"

Hello Little Donkey! Introductions are in order… who's who and who does what in the band?

Howdy and thanks for having us! Well, we've Mat Frost on vocals and (acoustic) rhythm guitar, Simon Charlton on (acoustic) lead guitar and Russell Charlton-Ricks on bass. Russ and Si also provide the harmonies when we play live and Mat sometimes dabbles in ukulele and mandolin, crazy cat that he is.

How did you first come together and what's with the moniker?

Si and Russ met way back when, after Russ was born of the very same mother and father (that's what you call fate right there). Mat then met Simon at school several years later and they very much enjoyed going ice skating and swimming together and to meet with Simon's many girlfriends; often leaving Mat to play Golden Axe (as Ax Battler). This answer, much like the moniker, makes little sense... Perhaps Little Donkey because we're three wise men, but more likely it's because people hated the name, so we kept it.

Did you have an idea of the kind of sound you wanted for Little Donkey from the outset or is it something that just came out of playing together?

We all grew up during the grunge era, so the whole MTV Unplugged era kinda stuck with us: heavier, alternative songs played acoustically and with a meaning or story behind them. We naturally fall into that bracket, but think we put a bit of a modern spin on it.

Are you folk or are you rock or are you folk rock? Or none of these?

We're all those things, but with a smattering of ass [of the donkey variety].

What music are you guys into and what would you say has influenced the music you play?

There are so many influences, from Blind Melon to Pearl Jam, John Butler to Ben Howard, System of a Down to Ben Harper, Sparklehorse to Beck and Bottom. Some of us are more open to contemporary acoustic stuff (Si and Russ) and one of us can be a bit stuck in his 'I grew up with it so I love it more than anything else' ways (Mat, who's always right in his opinions). It's a potent mix.

When and where was your first gig and how did it go?

Si and Mat started out as Little Donkey & Dusty Rhodes about four years ago, smashing out a particularly melancholy set at the Fleece in Chelmsford. It was an incredibly emotional gig because one PA speaker broke and there was a continual hum and buzz throughout the set. Good times indeed and a heads up that we needed to employ a bassist pronto, to drown out any future buzzing. Or boos.

What a year 2013 was for you, winning Essex Undiscovered and a Panic Award. What was it like to get those accolades and how have they helped you?

We're still pretty amazed to have received both of these awards – there are some amazing bands in Essex and we've been lucky enough to have gigged with many of them. To have also defeated them so openly and publicly is a true honour and we're already preparing ourselves for battle in 2014. On a serious note: A massive Little Donkey thank you to all who voted for and supported us – we genuinely love you for it.

What are your other favourite memories and achievements of 2013?

Walthamstock, Brownstock, The Ideas Hub, The Fling, the Black Bull, The Shakster gigs… All amazing experiences thanks to passionate, lovely people and all with fantastic crowd support. 2013 was a very good year for us.

So, you've got an EP coming out. How exciting, tell us all about it…

As a result of winning Essex Undiscovered, we won some time at Maple Studios in Southend and have also hooked up with a good friend and recorded more tracks at Soundlab Studios in Loughton. We're really happy with the results, so have selected the tracks that we think give the best insight into what we're about and with different perspectives on production too. We're also throwing in a revamp of a really old track (one of the first that Si and Mat wrote together) that was home recorded. It's basic, but hopefully allows the EP a wider appreciation of what we're about.

What else have you got planned for 2014?

Well, Mat's got a baby on the way, so he's going to be a bit busy! However, we're trying to fit in more studio time so that we still have something to keep people's eardrums entertained and exercised and there's a website underway too. Of course, Little Donkey will return, bearing gifts and having once more travelled far along the dusty road. And maybe with a baby. On drums.

Find out more about the band: and

Read more: - Essex Chronicle

"Music Review: Little Donkey"

See Review URL - The Suddenly Kate Show

"Doing the Donkey work"

CHELMSFORD three-piece folk-rock band Little Donkey are on a high after winning the Essex Undiscovered talent competition and bagging a Panic Award for Best Band.
Here they explain how they came together, what they've got coming up and deny rumours that they're models for Hirsute Monthly.

Crikey, Little Donkey are winning everything! But who and what is Little Donkey?
Hi! Little Donkey is a kinda folky, kinda rocky acoustic three-piece from Chelmsford, comprising Mat Frost, Simon Charlton and Russell Charlton-Ricks.

How did Little Donkey come about? And why the name?
Mat and Russ had had some success with their band No Reply At 109, but after going their separate ways a couple of years ago, a void was left in Mat's soul. Simon saw fit to plug this void by forcing Mat to write melancholy acoustic songs with him, which in turn led to the reintroduction of Russ and the birth of Little Donkey. In terms of meaning, the concept of a ragged and fatigued donkey endeavouring to carry its heavy burden just clicked with us (after alcohol, at Christmas).

Did you have a clear idea of the sound you wanted for Little Donkey from the beginning?
Ish! We have a mutual love of early-90s music and the MTV Unplugged bootlegs that did the rounds at school, learning to play guitar in our teens and cutting our teeth on acoustics around secret campfires in a bid to be as grunge as possible... It's that young love of songwriting and having something interesting to say that we hope to get across.

Talk us through how a Little Donkey song comes together. Is there a typical process?
It's never a set process, thankfully. Whenever we practise, one of us will invariably start playing a new song or idea, in the hope it catches on and the others get interested. If there's the slightest response, it's probably going to make it and will end up being jammed and recorded as a draft on someone's phone.

Which acts have had a big influence on Little Donkey?
Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Blind Melon, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, REM... Eric Boswell?

And what are you listening to at the moment?
Manchester Orchestra, John Butler Trio, Junip, Neutral Milk Hotel.

You've had a great year so far. First of all, tell us about winning Undiscovered and the process involved in that...
Winning Essex Undiscovered was absolutely amazing, not only because we were up against some truly brilliant bands and artists, but also because it showed that Essex still has a great music scene and following. The competition was ultimately a battle of the bands set-up, with a select panel of judges who cast their votes at each round of quarters, semis and the final, based on performance- related criteria. The obvious amount of effort and care put in by the organisers and judges was amazing and we're truly grateful to have been a part of it all, let alone to have won! A big thanks goes to Tony Morrison for organising the whole event.

And winning the Panic Award must have been great as it's voted for by the public
We were staggered to have won best band at Panic – the caliber of the competition was outstanding and the mere fact that public votes saw us to the win left us flabbergasted. Again, the amount of time and effort that goes into arranging these events is incredible, so we're honoured to have won and thank all who were involved or voted.

What have you got planned in the coming weeks and months?
We've got loads coming up – The Ideas Hub, The Globe and Squeezebox in early May, followed by Walthamstock on June 29 and The Fling Festival on July 6. Everything is listed on our Facebook page littledonkeymusic, or the Little Donkey Band app,

Where can we hear and get hold of your music?
We're on Soundcloud at www. and always have CDs on us at gigs. We've also got some studio time and a website in the pipeline, so keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter
( for updates...

What's the strangest gig you've ever played?
An empty, wind-blown and rainy festival, for a promoter who thought we were a country band – We were literally sliding around on plastic seats, intermittently clutching at our mic stands as the gale tried to slap us off the stage. We were somehow overpaid, though, so every cloud has a silver lining!

Tell us something surprising about Little Donkey...
Despite the photographic evidence, we are not and never have been models (despite frequent requests from Hirsute Monthly and So You Want To Be A Lumberjack Magazine. - The Essex Chronicle


Sanctuary (4 track E.P.) - self released

The Heavy Load Sessions (4 track E.P.) - self released

Uh-Oh - BBC Essex Introducing radio airplay
Uh-Oh - Saint FM radio airplay
Uh-Oh - XFM 'The Kicks' Competition
Get Your Gun - Saint FM radio airplay



Beards -  not vogue beards – but beards like tapestries – battle, bravery, brotherhood.

Armed with unrefined grungy folk, Little Donkey are the valiant defenders of the Essex realm.

Plug in on your trans-Mordor commute and escape with the Riders of Rohan rhythm.

It's the outlaw's melody - come on, join in. 

Band Members