One of my many musical projects is a group called Boxtet. We are four melodeon players – Ollie King, Matt Quinn, Mel Biggs and myself. Several years ago I had the idea that it would be fun to play together. We are gradually building ourselves up as a band and our first public gig (at the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust’s “Melodeons and More” event this March) went very well. We now have an active facebook page, where as well as posting news about the group we are trying to engage with our followers and encourage a greater appreciation of our instrument. This is where our #7daysofbox challenge came in. The idea was that we would all pick seven melodeon players who meant a great deal to us and post a sound file of them playing. This series of posts brings all of that music together – I hope you enjoy listening to them!
Week 2 – Ollie King – http://www.olliekingmusic.com/
Good morning all, Ollie King here. This week, it’s my turn to inflict some of my favourite squeezebox players on you all, as part of our #7daysofbox series.
Now, with only 7 days, it’s impossible to include all my favourite box players, so I’ll start off by cheating a little. This video is where it all started for me. This was my first conscious exposure to the melodeon, which I found when I was 13, and without it I wouldn’t be playing!
So, here is a rare appearance of Saul Rose and Tim van Eyken together as part of Waterson:Carthy, with Raggle Taggle Gypsies.
For the second of my #7daysofbox choice, we move from the English tradition over the channel to the European bal-folk tradition. I remember discovering this style, and being blown away at the sheer musicality of the players. There are many wonderful exponents out there, but one of my favourites is Sophie Cavez, from Belgium. Here she is with her duo partner, the wonderfully named Balthazar Montanero, with Gaspacho.
I couldn’t do this #7daysofbox series without celebrating the music of Cotswold Morris dancing. I got my first melodeon about a month after I started dancing, so the two have always run parallel for me. One of my favourite Morris musicians, and someone from whom I take great inspiration, is Ian Dedic. Musician for one of the finest Cotswold Morris teams around, the World Famous Hammersmith Morris Men, Ian’s playing is full of interest, drive and lift – everything you need to get the dancers off the ground, and to keep the audience interested. Here is Ian playing his amazing arrangement of Shooting for Smiffs at Sidmouth 9 years ago.
Day 4 of my #7daysofbox, and I’m sort of cheating again by extended the defintion of ‘box’ to all squeezeboxes, specifically the English concertina. Rob Harbron is one of the finest musicians in any genre and on any instrument. His playing is subtle, intricate and often deeply moving. His playing and his approach to traditional music, along with his incredible composition skills, are a constant source of inspiration to me. Here he is as part of Leveret (along with Sam Sweeney & Andy Cutting), with his beautiful tune Dundas.
It’s day 5 of my #7daysofbox stint, and we’re headed back over the channel to The Netherlands, and a player that may be an unknown to many. One of the things that defines Remco Sietsema’s playing is the pure, infectious rhythm that gets under your skin. He takes his influences from all over the world, including English, Italian and Madagascan players. This is his composition African Rock, and it swings like a mofo.
Day 6 of #7daysofbox, and we’re back to the world of Morris, specifically to Molly dancing. When I was living in Cambridge, I spent a few years playing for Gog Magog Molly, alongside the wonderful Andrew Swaine. Most melodeon players deride piano accordionists, but I learnt an awful lot about rhythm and drive from playing alongside Andrew. Just a wonderful bounce!
Day 7, the final day, of my #7daysofbox choices. I really couldn’t compile a list of my favourite box players and leave out this man. One of the most important and influential people in the last 50 years of English folk music, he is an astonishing musician, a composer of fantastic tunes, and not a bad dancer either! He’s probably the most obvious influence on my style, and my approach to traditional music in general. Ladies and gentleman, John Kirkpatrick.