Here are the bands I am in or have been in: an asterisk denotes an album.

Regular bands

Valiant Dance Band (2014 -) with Roger Digby (concertina), Liz Giddings (fiddle), John Howson (banjo & guitar) and Rob Neal (cello). Gutsy music for dancing to or listening to from some of the best English traditional musicians around.

More on the Valiant Dance Band website.

PolkaWorks * (2008 -) with Fi Fraser (fiddle), Nina Hansell (fiddle), Sue Harris (dulcimer), Jeannie Harris (melodeon) and Gareth Kiddier (piano). An English ceilidh band of star players, fuelled by gin, silly pranks and frankly eccentric shoes. Oh, and superb music.

More on the PolkaWorks website.

And more occasionally:

Michael Sheehy Band (2012 -) A rarity: a band playing Sliabh Luachra music in England! We make a point of featuring much of Michael’s family repertoire of fabulous slides and polkas. ‘An exciting and creative meeting … dazzling music’ (Peta Webb, Musical Traditions Club)

Past bands in chronological order

Old Hat Band (1980 – c.1986) with Jeannie Harris (melodeon), John Howson (banjo), Adrian Turner (fiddle), Mark Dixon (percussion).

Old Hat Concert Party * (1982 – 2007) with John Howson (banjo) and Reg Reader (dulcimer), plus various other people over the years including: Cyril Barber (singer, stepdancer, musician), Billy Bennington (dulcimer), Ted Chaplin (singer), Glyn Griffiths (mouthorgan), Tony Harvey (singer), Dick Hewitt (stepdancer), Des Miller (mouthorgan), Simon Ritchie (singer, stepdancer, musician), Charlie Stringer (singer), Clem Pearson (mouthorgan), Adrian Turner (fiddle), David Webb (singer), Percy & Doreen West (stepdancers), Lenny Whiting (stepdancer), Font Whatling (melodeon and stepdancing).

See the Old Hat  page on this website for more detail on this family of bands.

Old Hat Dance Band * (1987 – 1999) with Barry Coope (piano), Mel Dean (concertina), John Howson (banjo), Reg Reader (dulcimer), Ted Stevens (percussion) and Chris Wood (fiddle).

Old Hat Dance Band at Haddenham, c.1990. It was Reg’s birthday, so 4th May.

Old Hat (2000 – 2004) with Jeannie Harris (melodeon and percussion), John Howson (banjo), Rob Neal (cello and piano), Adrian Turner (fiddle and piano), Simon Ritchie (mouthorgan and percussion), Reg Reader (dulcimer).

Katie’s Quartet * (1990 – 2013) with John Howson (banjo), Rob Neal (cello and piano),  Reg Reader (dulcimer), and when Reg left in 2007 – Simon Ritchie (mouthorgan).

Katie Howson & Jeannie Harris * (1994 – 2012) A duo exploring our East Anglian roots plus quirky music from around the English and Irish diaspora.

Occasional collaborations


Martin Brinsford & Katie Howson (2017 -) A  collaboration with a wide ranging repertoire on two harmonicas and melodeon. Martin (Brass Monkey, Old Swan Band, Pigeon Swing) and I share a taste for lively tunes and sparky playing, plus we’re two of the very few English musicians name-checked in Fintan Valleley’s book ‘Companion to Irish Traditional Music’!


The Four Stops (sometime in the distant past + 2017/8) Four one-row melodeon players, what could possibly go wrong? If you think we’d be playing ‘Reach out, I’ll be there’ you’d have another think coming! The most recent embodiment of this idea was in February 2018, with Rees Wesson, Tony Wetherall and Steve Dumpleton. Previous four-stoppers have included Jeannie Harris, Dan Quinn and Will Duke. To be continued …

Bayou Seco Big Band (various, including Sidmouth Folk Festival 2003) We first met Jeannie McLerie and Ken Keppeler in 1993 and have kept up a long-distance friendship ever since. Their roots are deep in the southwest of the USA, where they have collected music from older traditional American musicians (including Hispanic, Cowboy, and Tohono O’Odham musicians in New Mexico and Arizona) and learned to play many of their tunes and songs.

Then there were the party bands put together for one-off daft events at Wilderhope,  Bockleton and Sidmouth Drill Hall: Pearl and the Twinsets, The Bockleton Pocket Band, The Dinner Ladies …

Pearl and theTwinsets (aka Old Hat Dance Band), Sidmouth Drill Hall, 1990. Honson’s Holiday Camp event (you had to be there …)

One or two other bands came and went over the years, but these are the ones that kept going or recorded albums: an asterisk denotes an album.

See my Discography page for details about the albums.