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POLKA WORKS - Borrowed Shoes

POLKA WORKS - Borrowed Shoes
G&T Music G&T001

They claim to be a ceilidh band of whom five-sixths wear cocktail dresses and shoes to die for whilst playing, but this may just be promotional teasing, so I’ll need to go along to one of their gigs and check them out for myself! Mind you, the real reason I would want to hear Polka Works is to dance along to their first-class playing.

The line-up is Fi Fraser, fiddle; Nina Hansell, fiddle; Jeannie Harris, melodeon; Sue Harris, hammered dulcimer; Katie Howson, melodeon and harmonica; and Gareth Kiddier, piano (the one without the cocktail dress). The various members have been involved with many of the great English bands over the years and have a particular affinity with Morris, clog and step dancing.

They have been performing as Polka Works for some six years and, with a quality of performance like this, it’s surprising that nobody asked them to record sooner. The instrumentation gives a very sweet, flowing sound which is played with verve and dynamism, yet keeps to the strict tempo requirements of music that is primarily for dancing. Don’t despair if you’re not one of nature’s born terpsichoreans, however, as this CD is eminently listenable to purely for the musical content. There’s a fresh, clean feel to the music, with a splendid balance between all instruments, with the hammered dulcimer, for me, adding an especially pleasing extra nuance to the whole sound.

The tunes are mostly traditional, drawn from a wide range of well-researched source documents, and this CD should be in the collection of anyone who enjoys English ceilidh music.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 103 of The Living Tradition magazine.