East Anglian Traditional Music Trust



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Autumn Concert Party event (updated 26.9.17)


New Horizons at EATMT


Traditional Music Day (updated 26.9.17)


Volunteering Opportunities (updated 26.9.17)


Stepdance Day (updated 20.7.17)


Evening classes 


East Anglian Dulcimers website 


Email newsletter  


Older News


News Archive (pre 2016)





We are very happy to announce our upcoming Autumn Concert Party ...

Saturday 11th November 2017 
Starts at 7.30pm (doors 7pm)

Tickets are £12 / £6 (under 18) which includes an Autumn Ploughmans Supper and delicious cakes from Suffolk based café ‘Everyday’s a Picnic’.

VENUE: Earl Stonham Village Hall, Forward Green, Earl Stonham, IP14 5HJ. 

THE CONCERT PARTY Music + Food + Friends + Raffle
The evening will feature some favourite musicians and dancers including:
HUSHWING - a 6 piece band devoted to the traditional music of their home county of Norfolk. Playing mainly tunes collected in the county; OTIS LUXTON - Melodeon; DOREEN WEST-O'CONNOR - Stepdancer; MUSICAL ROOTS RE-UNITED - A Suffolk based collective of musicians and singers who continue the ongoing legacy which began as the Musical Roots project run by EATMT in 2003-4 and special guests - acclaimed instrumental trio ALMA.

ALMA released their debut album Varieties in 2016 and is a trio of two awarding winning fiddle players John Dipper (English Acoustic Collective) and Emily Askew (Askew Sisters), along with the well-respected East Anglian guitarist Adrian Lever (Arhai & Horses Brawl). Their repertoire continually springs surprises. The playing is spry, intelligent and joyous too.”  THE SUNDAY TIMES

Laura Cannell, the newly appointed Director of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust says: “We are very excited to share ALMA's joyful interpretations of traditional English music with friends of the Trust and new audiences alike. We are also extremely proud to present players from the East Anglian region who play, sing and dance in traditional East Anglian styles and keep the traditions very much alive.”

The Concert Party is also an opportunity to come and say 'hello' to Laura and to find out more about EATMT’s future plans.

There is also a Raffle, Real Ale Bar, locally pressed fruit juice and opportunities to become involved in the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust’s future work. 

Tickets are available now, please follow the link below to book online: 

Tickets are also available from the EATMT Office: 
Please send a cheque made payable to ‘EATMT’, including number of tickets required and your name to:
EATMT, The Old Stables, Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 1DL.

PLEASE NOTE: The booking deadline is 3rd November to help us plan catering.

Earl Stonham Village Hall has plenty of parking and good wheelchair access and is located just 3 miles from Stowmarket train station.

Below: Doreen West O'Connor stepping at one of our previous goodtime events (Worlingworth, 2007); our long-standing tradition of mega-raffles (Harvest Horkey, 2000).



 New horizons at EATMT

So, it’s hello from me …

New EATMT Director, Laura Cannell, has her sights set on creating fresh opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the traditions of East Anglia:   

“East Anglia is a land rich with music, song, dance and traditional customs. Over the centuries, this music has been treasured, collected, written down, recorded, shared beyond county borders, brought back, learnt, shared by ear. And so the cycle continues.

We are drawn to sing, dance, play and share our traditions, and my aim as the new Director of EATMT is to support this by generating more activity through new events, workshops and research - by taking into a new era the original objectives of the Trust – ‘to advance education in the traditional folk music of East Anglia and other areas, including: Folk Songs, Tunes, Dances, Customs & Traditions… through   workshops, classes, concerts, lectures, exhibitions, community and schools projects; carrying out research, archiving work and publishing resources.’ I am really looking forward to creating new opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the traditions of East Anglia. 

Finally of course, I would like to thank Katie and John Howson for their impressive legacy and wish them all the best with their future musical adventures.”

Goodbye from me …

Katie Howson founded EATMT with husband, John, in 2000 and has been the driving force behind everything - researching, creating, teaching, encouraging and playing.

“I’ve been privileged to work on some amazing projects over the last sixteen years whilst leading EATMT. Although I’m looking forward to a slightly quieter life, I have at least three research projects in the pipeline, plus plans to play more music, so I’m not about to put my feet up just yet!

What will I miss? Well, definitely the people – I have met so many lovely individuals through the Trust, in particular the dozens of volunteers who have supported us at events and in the office, and the hundreds of students who have attended our evening classes and workshops. So many have become friends, and I know that I’ll bump into you, all over the place in the future. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who have supported the work of EATMT and also to Administrator Alex Bartholomew and the board of trustees, some of whom have also been with us since the outset. I’m delighted that Laura has now taken up the new post of Director and wish her and EATMT the very best for the future.”

And hey! We’re still very much here!

Trusty administrator, Alex Bartholomew, has been a familiar voice on the EATMT phone line and an ever-calm presence at EATMT events. She’s been with EATMT since 2001 and is a fount of knowledge:

“I always find September a bittersweet sort of month, but none more so than this year when it has been a month of changeover.  Katie and Laura have worked together to ensure that the transition is smooth, and Thursdays have been and will continue to be my day in the office. Laura is as keen as mustard and it's a relief that she's not overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all and neither does she seem too phased by my habit of talking to myself - I caught that off Katie!”

And finally, a word from EATMT Chair, Miriam Stead, on behalf of the board of trustees:

“Those English Folk Dance & Song Society Gold Badges say it all – Katie and John’s legacy to date is invaluable and as we wish them well, we - and East Anglia - cannot thank them enough. As we look to the future, we are confident that Laura’s drive and enthusiasm, her ideas and talent for bringing people together into happy and productive working relationships will ensure that the excellent work of EATMT not only continues, but flourishes for the future.”


 Traditional Music Day

Once again the day (2nd September) dawned fair and the sun shone nearly all day – I don’t know how we’ve done it, but over the last sixteen years we’ve barely had any bad weather on Traditional Music Day. The fine weather meant that people were able to sit outside and play music and there was no shortage of stepdancers on the open boards.

The indoor events were well supported as well, with Edgar’s Farmhouse, Abbot’s Hall and the Chapel providing atmospheric settings for events such as ‘A Song, A Step and A Story’ and ‘His’n’Hers. Have-a-go-sessions on melodeons, concertinas and jig dolls attracted people of all ages, as did the afternoon ceilidh. The evening concert in the medieval Tithe Barn provided a memorable finale to a fine day with the rafters ringing with songs and laughter.

Details of next year's event will be announced here, or join our e-mailing list to get the news first: please click here. You can unsubscribe at any time.


                    Racker Donnelly (2017 guest)

Jig dolls in action

Lynette & Jim Eldon (2017 guest)


In 2017, as usual, there was a superb selection of special guests: Jimmy Crowley, Jackie OatesPigeon Swing, Lynette & Jim Eldon, Carol Anderson  and Racker Donnelly, all performing in small acoustic events in the atmospheric historic buildings around the wonderful Museum of East Anglian Life site


Further details are on the Traditional Music Day pages of this website. Click here for a timetable for the day and a site map to see what you missed!

Click here for a short trailer about Traditional Music Day 2016, made by Ian Trouse.


Traditional Music Day is held in the atmospheric setting of the Museum of East Anglian Life in the centre of Stowmarket in mid-Suffolk.


The guests listed above are just one aspect of this very distinctive and characterful event which features many local stepdancers, traditional musicians and singers, as well as a backline of regular visitors who frequently grace the stages of other festivals. There is always plenty for all the family to get involved in: trying out instruments, joining in the singing and dancing, listening to stories and songs.


Details of next year's event will be announced here, or join our e-mailing list to get the news first: please click here. You can unsubscribe at any time.



 Volunteering Opportunities


Volunteers ... EATMT is not only about music, song and dance, there are lots of other ways to be involved, from research to bunting making! 

Current Volunteering Opportunities
Wednesday 1st November 2pm - 5pm
We would like to make some new bunting for future events, Laura will be in the office on Wednesday 1st November 2 - 5pm with a sewing machine - please email us if you have an hour or two on that date, a sewing machine and/or some material. OR if you have some bunting you would like to donate! Tea & coffee provided.

Saturday 11th November
Please email us if you would like to help out at The Concert Party on 11th November or in the preparations beforehand.

We’re always pleased to welcome new people to the friendly and hard-working team of volunteers who help us out in a wide variety of ways. Volunteers help with stewarding at events, checking tickets, making refreshments, putting up signs, taking photographs, helping with equipment and transport and with occasional office-based tasks. Please email us or give us a ring on 01449 771090 if you would like to help out in any way.




Above and centre: Jig dolls in action with volunteers and public; right: volunteers in action at Traditional Music Day.




 Stepdance Day

Occold, Sunday 16th July 2017

A 'brilliant and delightful afternoon' according to one new-comer. With its usual easy-going atmosphere, Stepdance Day this year included the best of local stepdancers alongside people trying it out for the first time, although the youngest participant, 4 year-old Lewis, was a veteran from last year and returned this time with proper dealer boots and bags of confidence!

After the workshop and some informal dancing, came the two competitions. The overall winner of the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition was Leo Temple Baker, runners up were Ella Beal and Lenny Whiting and the best newcomer was Millie Jarlett. The Font Whatling Trophy was also won by Leo Temple Baker! Second was Lenny Whiting and third was Pam Russell. The Percy West O'Connor Plate was presented to Simon Ritchie with James Abbott and Sue Mitchell also receiving medals.

Click here to read a full report on the 2017 Stepdance Day and see what's happened in previous years.

Lenny Whiting in action at the 2017 Stepdance Day. (Photo by John Halliday)





 Evening classes


Evening classes are on hold at the moment, but we plan a relaunch before too long!


 If you are interested in attending evening classes, do email us and find out the latest dates and details.


Don't forget that we  hire melodeons and anglo-concertinas by the month at very reasonable rates and they are great instruments to teach yourself.





 East Anglian Dulcimers website


Thirty years of research are coming to fruition in a new website devoted to the history of the dulcimer in East Anglia!


It is jam-packed full of photographs and fascinating details about this iconic and distinctive instrument.


There are sections on the instruments themselves, with details on the construction and decoration and further sections about players and makers over the last 150 years or so. The players' pages also link to sound recordings and other resources.


It will make a significant contribution to our knowledge about this instrument in England and to our understanding of the social and economic contexts in which this instrument and its music flourished.


Whether you're a musician yourself, or interested in local history, woodworking or antiques, there's bound to be something on this wonderful website that will interest you.

The site is at www.eastangliandulcimers.org.uk and was launched in 2015. Do look back regularly, as it's a developing resource with more information added all the time.




 Email newsletter


To keep you up-to-date with what's going on at EATMT, we send out a newsletter by email about four or five times a year.


To receive our newsletter, all you've got to do is click here. You can forward it to your friends too.


If you'd like to be a bit more involved, or support us further, you might like to consider becoming a Friend of EATMT. Details are on our membership page.





This page is updated throughout the year, so do look back here regularly, or alternatively, to receive our email newsletters (about four times a year), please click here. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Back to Top

Older News

New Director for EATMT


EATMT Founders retiring this Autumn


Melodeons and More


Lullaby Concerts


Vaughan Williams in the East 


World Dulcimer Congress 


Percy West R.I.P. 


Melodeon Makers 2014 


Songs from King's Lynn 


The Full English 


New Norfolk Dulcimers 




 New Director for East Anglian Traditional Music Trust

The EATMT Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Laura Cannell as the Trust’s new Director.

Laura is a bright and inspiring professional musician, composer and freelancer who hails from the Waveney Valley on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. She is perhaps best known locally – and also nationally and internationally - as a fiddle and recorder player and has extensive knowledge of folk and early music.

As well as performing, running her own record label, teaching private students and supporting her family’s business, Laura has recently run both a fiddle school and a folk choir in East Anglia.

We are confident that her drive and enthusiasm, her ideas and talent for bringing people together into happy and productive working relationships will ensure that the excellent work of EATMT not only continues, but flourishes for the future.

Laura will take up her post on 1st September, for a brief cross-over period with the current Director. John and Katie Howson will be leaving us officially on 30th September 2017. We are however delighted to confirm that they have pledged their ongoing support in an advisory capacity as required.




 EATMT Founders retiring this Autumn


After much personal soul-searching, Katie Howson announced her retirement from conducting the business of EATMT. She has been a pioneer in safeguarding East Anglia’s unique folk music heritage and responsible for establishing one of the region’s top musical charities. Her decision will take effect from 1st October 2017.

Katie and husband, John, set up the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust together after years spent recording and playing alongside ‘endangered’ traditional East Anglian singers, dancers and musicians.

Since the Trust’s foundation in 2000 and with Katie at the helm as General Manager, a wide range of community and education projects, a much-loved local calendar of events and activities at a national level have seen wider, younger and even international audiences honouring, enjoying and participating in East Anglia’s traditional music offering, both within the region and beyond.

Katie says that they set out to 'keep the candle burning', but we are all only too aware and grateful that through their passion and hard work, they have done so much more than simply fan the flames. Katie herself is the first to admit to being amazed at how the Trust’s range of activities has expanded over the years: 'It’s been a dream in many ways, yet there’s still so much to be done,' she shares, 'but I feel it’s time for me to move on. I’m looking forward to doing more of what I set out to do – playing more traditional music.'

On behalf of the Trustees and many long-standing stakeholders, EATMT Chair, Miriam Stead, praises Katie and John for their vision and commitment as they also announce their retirement as Non-executive Directors. 'It was so appropriate that their dedication and excellence were formally recognised a few years ago by national organisation, the English Folk Dance & Song Society. Those prestigious Gold Badge Awards say it all - their legacy to date is invaluable and we - and East Anglia - cannot thank them enough.'

The EATMT Board firmly believes that the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust has a promising future ahead. We can only identify the news of these departures later in the year as an important opportunity for a period of in depth evaluation and consultation.

From the EATMT board: Miriam Stead (chair), Owen Garling (deputy chair), Peter Dodd, Lindsay Want & Ivan Cutting (see EATMT people for more information on our structure and management). 1.2.17

Katie & John Howson playing in Essex in 2012. Receiving their EFDSS Gold Badge Awards in 2010.




 Melodeons and More


In 2017 Melodeons and More took place on Saturday 25th March.

Check out the details here.


There was a fabulous selection of talented tutors: - Saul Rose (Faustus, Wayward Band, Whapweasel, War Horse); Nick Cooke (Mawkin, Sweet Liberties, Glorystrokes); Jeannie Harris; Sandra Kerr; Rees Wesson; Katie Howson; Steve Dumpleton; Andrew Collins & Ron Ross offering a wide range of themed workshops including one-row style, playing with feeling, syncopation, arranging tunes, playing for dancing and much else.


All this took place in the village of Mendlesham in mid-Suffolk, in the Community Centre and school there. Many people make a weekend of it and explore some of the lovely Suffolk countryside as well. See our accommodation page for ideas.


A good number of people took advantage of the opportunities for absolute beginners on this day too, using the EATMT instrument bank of melodeons and anglo-concertinas,


In the evening there was chance to hear some top quality music and entertainment from the guest tutors in the Squeezebox Special concert.


There was also a music market during the day with stalls including Hobgoblin Music and Veteran CDs. Open to the public 10.45 - 4.pm.


Full details are on the Melodeons and More page.










 Lullaby Concerts

Ella Beal in action in Lowestoft, courtesy Paul Coghlin.

In Autumn 2016, we had the wonderful experience of working with the City of London Sinfonia, sharing our regional traditional music with young children and their families across Suffolk, Essex and east London.

The Sinfonia has worked with Orchestras Live and local councils on these themed family concerts for nearly ten years now. The theme in 2016 was 'A Day at the Fair' and traditional music was provided by Katie Howson (melodeon) and Tom Knight (dulcimer) with Ella Beal introducing the audience and orchestra alike to the joys of stepdancing. We even had our own set of jig dolls dancing to the Can Can! The ten half-term concerts were followed by a one-off finale for a schools project in east London in December.

Aside from all the fun, the partnership worked superbly and all were thrilled with the extra impact the traditional music and dancing gave the performances. We have been able to introduce traditional music and dancing to a whole new audience and hope to see some of them at our events in the future.

Recently we were delighted to find that the project won an award for the Best Family Arts Event in 2016.









 Vaughan Williams in the East


The latest in our series of articles about Vaughan Williams' folk song collecting in the eastern counties is now available to read here. In 2016 we were invited to talk to the Pulham Society about local music and singing and took the opportunity to share our latest researches into dulcimer players from the vicinity and also to unearth further information about the singers visited by Vaughan Williams in 1911.


We were able to positively identify all the singers and flesh out their life stories somewhat. There will eventually be links through to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library online database for all the songs. Take a look at the work so far and find out more about Blue Fisher, Mr Woods and the singing landlords at the Gissing Three Horseshoes and the Scole Greyhound.


We have now revamped all the information about Vaughan Williams' collecting in the region, which is of interest to local and family historians as well as those interested in the folksongs themselves. You can access all the information and photographs through the Vaughan Williams in the East webpage.


We have also started to provide links from this website directly through to Vaughan Williams' original notations of the songs, which are housed on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website and digitised through the English Folk Dance and Song Society's project 'The Full English' - so far we have done the King's Lynn and South Norfolk material and we are also looking into material from the Norfolk Broads and south Suffolk.



 World Dulcimer Congress



This amazing event took place in Malvern in Worcestershire, in October 2015 and the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust took a display of East Anglian made dulcimers and a photographic exhibition which drew much interest and provoked some interesting and fruitful discussions.


We also gave two talks - one to the Nonsuch Dulcimer Club at their annual gathering on Sunday 25th October, and one to a more international audience at the World Dulcimer Congress on Tuesday 27th October, while Richard Blake followed up on the Thursday with further ideas on the development of the dulcimer in Norfolk.


Nonsuch Dulcimer Club


World Dulcimer Congress




Photograph left courtesy of the WDC.



 Percy West R.I.P.


We're very sad indeed to report the news that Percy West, stepdancer extraordinaire, died after some months' illness on Saturday 25th July 2015 at home near Diss.


Percy was a great character, his cheeky nature expressed through his exuberant and energetic stepping style which has inspired many younger dancers.


Thanks to Susan Bell for this wonderful photo which really captures Percy's style.


Below is the piece which we wrote for Percy's funeral, which took place in Diss on Thursday 6th August.

John Howson writes:

Almost forty years ago I was with the great melodeon player and stepdancer, Font Whatling, in Mendlesham Fleece. We were sharing a packet of small cigars (as we often did) with our pints. Our conversation centred around the local music and stepdancers and then the door opened and a slim, well-dressed man walked in. He acknowledged Font and went to the bar. Font leaned over to me and said 'That’s Percy West, now that’s who you ought to see dance!'


It was actually quite a few years before I did see Percy dance - but what a dancer! We became friends and he told me about his family. I then discovered the recordings made by Peter Kennedy in 1956 at Friday Bridge, Wisbech of Percy’s father Frank Connors introducing his family tradition, and included in those recordings was a 13 year old Percy stepping to his father playing mouthorgan. It sounded like a stunning performance and over the last twenty years I have seen many stunning performances from Percy. Whether it be at our Stepdance Day in Worlingworth or our annual Traditional Music Day in Stowmarket where the closing dance at the Stepdance Special always had to go to Percy, simply because nobody else could follow him.


Over the years we had many invitations to weekends away at festivals and clubs all over the country, but Percy was happy in the location he knew. I would have loved to have taken him to Dartmoor Festival to meet up with the Orchard family but it was too far. Fortunately he did of course eventually meet up with the great stepdancer Tom Orchard at our Traditional Music Day in Stowmarket and within minutes they had established that they were related. But a few years ago, Percy and Doreen did agree to come for a weekend away in central London for the Keith Summers Festival. Percy was amazed that the welcoming audience knew about him and, as ever, he stunned them with his stepping. We all stayed in a posh hotel, paid for by the festival, but Percy confided in me that he had had little sleep in such an environment. What was probably the highlight of the whole weekend was when Steve Knights, who was driving the minibus for us, took us on a trip around the sights of London and we arrived, with immaculate timing, at the front of a traffic queue at Buckingham Palace just in time to see the Changing of the Guard!


But it was in the pub where Percy really shone, not just as a dancer but also as a raconteur. He was always the centre of the party, always with a quip and a joke particularly after a few bottles of his favourite tipple – Mann’s Brown.


Katie Howson adds:


As a musician who has played for many stepdancers, Percy was just the most exciting dancer to play for, however brief the burst of dancing was, that didn’t matter. The joy and humour of his dancing made playing for him the highlight of many, many occasions. I feel deeply privileged to have known him and to have had those wonderful experiences in such good company. He has entertained and inspired many people and I really hope some of the dancers coming through now pick up Percy’s cheery and cheeky style as well as his steps.


There’ll be many a glass raised in Percy’s memory wherever steppers are gathered in future years.


Cheers, Percy.





 Melodeon Makers 2014


Autumn 2014 saw the fiftieth melodeon built in Stowmarket, on the fifth Melodeon Makers course run by EATMT in partnership with Emmanuel Pariselle from Poitiers. Emmanuel is a designer of instruments and the only person brave enough to take on a group of ten people for a week, who each went home with a one-row melodeon at the end of the course. His original inspiration was an early twentieth century “Monarch” melodeon, of the style which was played by so many traditional musicians in East Anglia, which is why we first jumped at the chance to host this course in 2007.

Emmanuel prepares a lot of the parts in advance, including all the wood parts - walnut for this year’s batch - and the other components such as the bellows and reeds come from Castelfidardo, a town in Italy where there are many small workshops and factories specialising in parts for melodeons, concertinas and accordions. During the course, the wood and mechanical parts are assembled and finished and the reeds are tuned.

The course had a rather dramatic start, as Emmanuel realised he had left some parts at home and they had to be flown with some urgency into Stansted! There were loud cheers when the parcel eventually arrived and all went well from there on, with tuner Theo Gibb arriving to get them all sounding good as well as looking beautiful! The right-hand photograph below shows the staff of John Howson, Emmanuel Pariselle, Theo Gibb and Katie Howson with the ten instruments made this year. We were aided and abetted by the most marvellous team of volunteers, whose help and support was much appreciated by the participants.


Click here to read more and for more photographs from the 2014 event.



Currently EATMT has no definite plans to run another one-row making course. However, there is good news if you are interested in making a melodeon with more buttons!  In 2016, Emmanuel is leading a two-and-a-half row building course (fully subscribed) and the possibility of a one-row building week, both at Halsway Manor in Somerset. Halsway is a residential centre for the folk arts, currently undergoing exciting developments, and a great place to spend a week, although of course, not as lovely as Suffolk!! There is also the possibility of a one-row building week in the future at this venue. If you're interested in these courses, contact Gavin Davenport at Halsway Manor.


News just in (December 2015): Emmanuel is also running his annual workshop in France from 5-13 July 2016. Instrument specification: two-and-a half rows, two voices, fourteen basses. Price: 2200€ including accommodation and food, straps and gig bag. A deposit of 800€ must be paid to reserve a place. Details here (in French) or contact Emmanuel directly (in English) by email.





 Songs from King's Lynn


In October 2014, there was a fascinating day for those interested in traditional song, at Marriot’s Warehouse on the historic quayside in King’s Lynn at the invitation of Norfolk singer and musician Alan Helsdon. It was the first easterly meeting of the Traditional Song Forum, a national organisation which brings together people interested in the research, collecting and performance of traditional song. TSF meets three times a year at locations around the UK and each meeting has a programme of talks open to non-members.


The morning started with a round-up of Traditional Song Forum members’ research projects, followed by presentations by Alan Helsdon and Liz James on Ralph Vaughan Williams’ collecting in 1905/6 in King’s Lynn. After lunch there were tunes from Chris Holderness and Richard Blake - playing a dulcimer found recently in King's Lynn (below, second right) - and a walk to the Fishing Museum in True’s Yard, (below, right) where singer Joe Anderson used to live, before Katie Howson's talk on the singing fishermen of the 1950s and 60s with some of the newly rediscovered recordings to listen to, and finally some reflections on Norfolk singer Sam Larner from the renowned folklorist and collector Doc Rowe. After a brief gasp of fresh air and some very good fish and chips, it was back to Marriot's Warehouse for an evening of local songs, music and stories from Damien Barber, Katie & John Howson and Chris Holderness and Richard Blake.



1950s and 60s songs and singers


EATMT has worked with Alan and fellow singers and researchers Jill Bennett and Liz James for a number of years on the King’s Lynn material, since our first North End Voices project in 2005. Alan led the “Northenders” schools project for EATMT in 2007. On the 2005 project, the song tutor was Chris Coe, and together we looked at some of the songs collected in the mid twentieth century, as well as the earlier (and better-known) items collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1905/6. In True’s Yard museum was a transcript of recordings made with fishermen in the 1960s by Mike Herring, but search as we could, neither EATMT nor Liz James and her colleagues in the King’s Lynn museums could find the actual recordings. Then, amazingly, Chris Coe’s husband, Johnny Adams, a respected sound engineer based in Yorkshire, commented that he had been given some tape recordings of singers from King’s Lynn ... and ... they turned out to be none other than Mike Herring’s tapes of “Bussle” Smith (above, left) and “Slinger” Woods for which we had the transcript! This set us off on a quest to find out more, and we presented our findings and played some of the recordings at the TSF day. The recordings are now once more housed in True’s Yard museum, alongside the transcripts.

It was great to actually hear “Bussle” Smith’s rumbustuous rendition of the song best known as Dogger Bank, which was a favourite amongst King’s Lynn fishermen in the mid twentieth century, and we are now sure that he was the same George Smith who sang on a BBC recording made in the Tilden Smith pub in 1955. Second left above is Charlie Fysh (and his wife) who sang on a BBC radio programme made by John Seymour in the 1950s - sadly no recordings of this have yet been found, but a detailed and lively newspaper report really gave a good flavour of his singing. The songs collected in King’s Lynn, together with oral history interviews and publications provide us with a unique opportunity to ponder the differences in repertoire between Vaughan Williams’ findings in 1905 and half a century later, when the old fishing community had begun to break up due to economic and social changes.

The 2014 research has now been added as Appendix 3 and 4 on the North End Voices research page.

Click here to visit the Traditional Song Forum website.






 The Full English



This magnificent project, run by the English Folk Dance and Song Society was completed in late 2014: the online archive has thousands of songs, dances, stories and tunes to be viewed at the touch of a button - or two!  The year-long project included community events and eighteen schools projects across the UK; the latter culminated in a wonderful day at Birmingham Town Hall in June, with varied and moving performances from children aged 4-18. Thanks to the EFDSS and photographer Roswitha Chesher for these photos of very different takes on molly dancing, from our two local projects in Cambridgeshire, led by tutors including Mary Humphreys and Katie Howson.


Mary worked in a primary school with Debs Newbold, teaching traditional songs, rhymes, dances and games, based around a true story. Katie worked with Kerry Fletcher, Paul Scourfield and Amy Holly with a brilliant group of 18 year old dance and music students on a piece involving both traditional and contemporary dance, based around the ballad Lucy Wan. The students learned about molly, step and broom dancing, using tunes from the region. The molly dance was used to represent the community, with contemporary moves expressing the breaking of social mores through incest and finally murder, from the song lyrics. Further information about this project is on the Education page.


Visit the EFDSS website to browse the Full English collection. The website also contains fantastic resource packs for teachers to use, developed through the Full English project.






 New Norfolk Dulcimers 


Many of you will already know of Norfolk’s tradition of dulcimer playing, with legendary names such as Billy Bennington and Billy Cooper. EATMT has been researching the lesser known players of our region and also the dulcimer makers, such as Mark Widdows from Norwich and James Caston from Forncett St Peter. Now the name of Richard Blake has been added to that list.


Richard Blake has lived in Melton Constable for many years, and has finally combined his skills of playing the dulcimer and cabinet-making to design a new Norfolk-style dulcimer which is now being produced professionally at Marcus Ashby’s workshop in Norwich. Here is Richard’s story.


‘Sometime last year, my brother, who is much more knowledgeable with computers than I am, suggested that he could turn the measurements that I had made, some ten years ago, of the dulcimer at Gressenhall Museum, into full size working plans that could be used by any cabinet maker. At about the same time I found Paul Hasluck's 'Violins and Other Stringed Instruments' * (published 1907) on the internet, this gave an accurate description of how dulcimers used to be made. Putting the measurements that I had made together with Hasluck's description we were able to take the plans to Marcus Ashby in Norwich who had the machinery to make the first prototype. This looked good and, when strung and tuned, played well. Most importantly it sounds like the real thing! Satisfied that the whole thing works, I have had the first batch of six made, which I am now fitting with strings and chessman bridges. I insist on tuning them the 'Norfolk' way: if, like me, you wish to play like Billy Bennington or Billy Cooper*, then you really do need those chromatic notes that the old tuning provides. As well as being essential for the two Billys' repertoire or the music from the Watson* manuscript, it means that the rare classical dulcimer repertoire is also playable. The dulcimers cost £700 each with an extra £50 for a soft case. I will also supply cane beaters in the traditional style.’

It would be great to see more people playing the wonderful local style of dulcimer, and the production of this new model makes that more possible! The dulcimers can be obtained from Richard at 26, Church Lane, Hindolveston, Dereham, Norfolk NR20 5BT, or talk to him on 01363 860100 or 07717 671946 or email at blakedulcimist@gmail.com


For further information about dulcimers in East Anglia, click here.

*Further information on sources referred to above:

Paul Hasluck's 'Violins and Other Stringed Instruments’ - www.wkfinetools.com in the ‘Masters Library’ section.

Billy Bennington - click here for a biography and here for details of the CD The Barford Angel.

Billy Cooper - click here for a biography and here for details of the CD English Country Music.

George Watson (1860-1944) lived in Skeyton near North Walsham. 80 tunes from his hand-written tune book are in ABC format in the manuscript room at www.village-music-project.org.uk If you would prefer to see these tunes in conventional format, Norfolk researcher Alan Helsdon will send you a copy at a very reasonable price.



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