Here are a few sound clips and then some rather random Youtube videos!
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Music with no pictures …
Ponytrot Polka / Oscar’s Polka Unpublished (2018) Two archetypal East Anglian polkas, the first from Norfolk dulcimer player Billy Bennington and the second from Suffolk melodeon player Oscar Woods. Here they are played on a hundred-year-old melodeon, refurbished in recent years with new Italian reeds.
Duke of Cornwall’s Reel Katie’s Quartet (1996) The finishing track from the Katie’s Quartet album. We wanted to give the feeling of a band marching past, so added some extra instrumentation to create this atmosphere – with Ed Caines on fiddle, Johnny Adams and Trevor Bennett on trombones and myself on mouthorgan and drum as well as box.
Seamo’s Polka / Lichfield Tattoo Katie Howson & Jeannie Harris – ‘Unbuttoned’ (1998) Duelling one-row melodeons on a tune from Oscar Woods (Suffolk melodeon player) followed by a nineteenth century military band number.
Tousle Your Kerchee / The Bicycle ‘The Green ‘Un’ (2009) A moody pair of tunes – the first from northern England and the second loosely adapted from the playing of Johnny O’Leary from Co Kerry. I play these very differently these days, but these recordings were made soon after I’d very rashly bought a lovely new instrument, which was beyond my means at the time and I made this limited edition solo album to fund it.
Park / Shane’s Fancy Valiant Dance Band (as yet unpublished) Two lively jigs from northern England. The Valiant Dance Band website has another soundclip of two perky polkas from Newfoundland.
A few random moving pictures …
Look me up on YouTube and you mostly find box players demonstrating tunes they have learned from me!
Here are a few things to set the record straight. One day I might get round to doing some proper filming …
I did manage to make a video a little while back, but found the recording quality to be rubbish … anyway, here it is: the gorgeous tune is the New Land Waltz written by Otis Thomas and learned from my friend Emmanuel Pariselle in my favourite key of B minor.
Sliabh Luachra session in Co. Cork: looking a little bit out of my comfort zone, sitting in what should have been Jackie Daly’s seat in a session at the Maurice O’Keeffe festival, Co. Cork in 2017. Familiar tunes though – the Ballydesmond Polkas from Julia Clifford.
Stepdancing at Diss: in 2013, John Spiers and Jon Boden had the inspired plot to invite local traditional musicians and dancers to play in the bar before their sell-out tour ‘Backyard Songs’. John Spiers wrote: ‘We were treated to some amazing playing by John & Katie Howson before the show in Diss Corn Hall with stepdancers of all ages and demonstrations of jig-dolls. Here’s a bit of the atmosphere from the bar beforehand including a performance from local legend Percy West. Many thanks to everyone for giving us such a great night.‘ The tunes are Redwing / Golden Slippers and Albert Hewitt’s Hornpipe.
PolkaWorks ceilidh, Shrewsbury Festival, 2011. Once the calling’s over, the music winds up a notch, but then unfortunately we’re cut off in our prime! Two great jigs – The Whetstone from the pen of wonderful dulcimer player Sue Harris followed by Tekili, a nineteenth century stage tune.
And another PolkaWorks clip: 10th anniversary gig for SHOCC ceilidhs 4th anniversary, just before Christmas 2018. Tunes are another of SUe Harris’s: Howson’s Hoolie, written as a birthday present for John, followed by an old favourite, Bobby Shafto.
‘It’s Just What We Do’ : a good old Suffolk set – the band playing, Simon Ritchie singing Old Joe, the Boat’s Going Over and then stepdancing from some of our local youngsters – in Cecil Sharp House, London – part of our EFDSS Gold Badge Awards in 2011. There’s a saying in Suffolk: ‘You can’t hurry me, I’m from Suffolk’ – a mantra in evidence at the start of this clip!