Melodeon Player, Piano Player, Organ Builder and Blogger based in Durham, UK.
“Owen Woods is probably the most cutting-edge English melodeon player at this moment in time. He is constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be done on this simple folk instrument leading to an incredibly musical experience while remaining surprisingly true to the traditional elements of the humble squeezebox.”
– John Spiers
My name is Owen and I am a melodeon player. That sounds like the opening to a support group meeting, and perhaps it should be. This instrument has proved to be somewhat of an obsession with me over the last decade or so – if it is for you as well then you should find this site of interest! In here are collected musings and ramblings about or related to this instrument and my adventures trying to play it.
My musical education started when I was less than a month old, when the sound of the mighty Harrison and Harrison organ of St Albans Abbey left me completely overawed (the first waking moment that I spent in silence). I then progressed steadily onto “The Instrument”, a collection of washboards, pots, pans and blocks painstakingly assembled by my grandfather, Rollo Woods and upon which I would “accompany” him as he played his concertina.
At the tender age of five I took up the Piano and at the age of ten the Clarinet. Both these instruments I took to a moderately high level, playing solo on Piano and in a Big Band on Clarinet. It wasn’t until I was twelve that I took up the melodeon and not until I reached university that I began to play seriously.
I have been playing in ceilidhs almost since I started playing box, but at university I started to play one a week during term time. In four years with the Cambridge University Ceilidh Band I played over 80 ceilidhs, which advanced my playing hugely. I also took up Morris dancing at this time with the Cambridge Morris Men.
Several projects came to fruition at university, including There and Back Again, which saw us release a CD and perform at the likes of Towersey Folk Festival and Broadstairs Folk Festival. I also started to play with the Marianne Neary Band, including at Shepley Spring Festival and Chagstock. Significantly, I have become one of comparatively few instrumental performers on solo melodeon.
I specialised in Acoustics and Vibration in my degree and ended up studying the Acoustics of the Charango in my final year. This work was published in the Proceedings of the Stockholm Music Acoustics Conference 2013, where I presented a poster. I also presented the musical aspect of the work at the Galpin Society/CIMCIM conference in Oxford in 2013, for which I received the Debut Paper Prize.
I am now trying to balance working full time as an organ builder with my continuing acoustic research, melodeon building and my various musical projects. I am still playing in ceilidhs, with more scratch bands than I can count. In particular though I play with the Cunning Plan Ceilidh Band, the Jazz Ceilidh Project and Peregrine.
I hope that you enjoy perusing this site.