MADDY Prior frontwoman of Steeleye Span, one of Britain’s most enduring bands, says folk music is like an eclipse — it comes, then goes but never disappears for long.

She cites reinvention and revival as the reasons why the band has survived 45 years in an industry often dominated by music trends.

“Folk music is all about revival. It’s what it does,” she said. “It’s like an eclipse. It runs around the sun and then wings out and becomes old-fashioned and then for some reason it comes back again. I think it has a lot to do with people wanting to get back to their roots. Maybe the recession has something to do with it.

“Everyone is knitting and sewing and I love that. I love Sewing Bee on telly. It’s local and it’s home-made and immediate. Perhaps it makes people feel more in control.”

The band, who reached a peak of commercial success in the Seventies with All Around My Hat and Gaudete, are about to re-invent themselves once again following the departure of long-standing fiddler Peter Knight.

His place will be filled by 26-year-old Jessie May Smart, a young, vibrant talent who trained with Richard Ireland at Trinity College of Music before going on to The University of Nottingham and whose CV includes working on The X Factor and with Katie Melua.

According to Maddy, she will bring “freshness” to the band.

She said: “Peter has been with us a long time and is the only fiddle player we ever had, so it will be interesting to see the change in the dynamic. This is what keeps us going.”

Indeed, part of Steeleye Span’s incredible story has been the individuals that have contributed to its history. The current line up of Maddy, Rick Kemp, Liam Genockey, Julian Littman and Peter Zorn, along with old names such as Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Tim Harries, Bob Johnson and most recently Peter Knight.

The band released their new album Wintersmith in collaboration with Sir Terry Pratchett at the end of 2013. A record based on Pratchett’s Wintersmith novel, the subject matter was completely appropriate for Steeleye — a tale of ancient rituals and secret folk dances that perfectly complemented their previous work while taking it in new directions.

“Terry is a friend and a big fan of the band. He said on Desert Island Discs that we would be the band he would take with him,” said Maddy. “I love his work. He has a wonderful leftfield approach. It seemed right that we should work with him.”

Born in Blackpool, Maddy left Lancashire at the age of 11, but she clearly remembers being a member of the Co-op Choir led by the “redoubtable Miss Jenny Whiteside.”

So began an incredible story. Others may claim the invention of folk-rock, but Steeleye were the first to drag it into the electronic age. In the age of the giant rock band, Steeleye Span fitted the bill perfectly, taking folk music out of the backroom clubs and into the charts with a string of hit albums, gold discs and world tours.

Steeleye Span, Albert Halls, Bolton, Thursday, May 22. Details from 01204 334400