Welcome to the website for
and Old Hat Music
Katie is a traditional musician, researcher, writer and events organiser from Suffolk, England.
I play traditional music on the melodeon and harmonica. My musical education took place largely in the pubs of Suffolk as a young adult, where I learned much from an older generation of musicians. Since then I have spent most of my life either playing traditional music or passing it on to others in one way or another.
Until October 2017 I was Artistic Director of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust.
Seventeen years of work is summed up in a presentation I did for the EFDSS Folk Educators’ Group in June 2017, which you can see here (but there are only a few words of explanation as it was designed as an aide-memoire for me to talk over!): FEG 2017
I am now a freelance performer, tutor, researcher and animateur.
I started playing the melodeon whilst at university, teaching myself to play through listening to others. This was at a time when English traditional music was experiencing a renaissance and there was no shortage of exciting recordings and events to inspire me.
After moving to Suffolk in 1978, I spent many hours in pubs playing alongside traditional musicians and in 2000, with the founding of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust, the music of my adopted locality became a huge focus for research and performance.
I play and learn by ear. I love the fact that learning by ear opens up music-making to people from all walks of life and I have taught many people to play instruments and express themselves musically in this way.
EFDSS Gold Badge Award
In 2010, my husband John Howson and I were awarded the prestigious Gold Badge by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. You can read the EFDSS Gold Badge Citation here.
Page updated on 9th January 2019
Great news to start the new year: we have received confirmation of some grant funding from Culture Ireland, an organisation which facilitates visits by Irish performers to other countries, for our Julia Clifford memorial event I Looked East and I Looked West. We’re delighted to have their support, alongside other established English events such as Return to Camden and Birmingham Tradfest.
Tickets for I Looked East and I Looked West are on sale now – here’s a quick link to the section of this website about the event.
We’re organising this event completely independently and would encourage you to buy your tickets as soon as possible, or consider making a donation, so that we can ensure it all runs according to plan. It’s a one-off event, so if you miss it … you miss it!
More news very shortly.
Highlights from 2018
Lots of old photos of Julia Clifford surfaced from a variety of people, including this wonderful one of her playing with Tony Hall – whizzo English melodeon (accordion if you’re Irish) player – for a ceilidh at Notre Dame High School in Norwich with Tony and Chris Morley; two on the right unknown. Thanks to Chris Morley for the photo.
A long drawn out project finally reached fruition last summer. Some years ago Pat Pickles who had, with her late husband Rennie, written a book about the history of jig dolls, asked me to work with her on a new edition. The task was a long one, with the revision turning into a whole new edition, with many many extra photographs and pages and pages of additional information, including whole new sections of my own research. It was very much a joint venture and I am only sad that Pat wasn’t really able to appreciate its eventual publication, as, sadly, her health took a serious turn for the worse a couple of years ago. The Brightest of Entertainers is on sale from the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust by post or from me in person, price £11.00.
There’s some events I wouldn’t miss each year, even when I’m not officially booked at them, here’s some recommendations:
Dartmoor Folk Festival, South Zeal, Devon. Went to the first one in 1978 and although I’ve missed a few, it’s a fixture in the diary, especially for the stepdancing and the Orchard family’s sessions. 9th-11th August 2019.
Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare. Been going to Miltown for donkey’s years, but only to the ‘Willie Week’ in more recent years, when I have been honoured to take part in the harmonica recital. 6th-14th July 2019.
Meanwhile, the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust continues under the new management of David Cain. EATMT has had a period of upheaval recently but is regrouping and looking forward to a revitalisation in 2019!
Having spent 17 years setting up and running the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust, there are a lot of links from here to that website. However, the EATMT website is in the process of being rebuilt and some pages may be temporarily unavailable.
Click on the thumbnail to see the whole image.
You can email me at katie.howsonatgooglemail.com (just change the word at for the symbol @).