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MARK DOWDING 'A Mon Like Harry' Cock Robin Music CRM097

The 'Mon Like Harry' of the title is Harry Boardman, sadly the late Harry Boardman, he died in 1987. Harry was the guiding light of the Manchester folk scene from its earliest days, and a mighty champion of Lancashire song. He immersed himself in the songs and lore of his home area, researching and bringing to life many otherwise forgotten songs and dialect poems. He performed his stuff in a simple and unassuming way but his pride and pleasure in his material charmed audiences everywhere. Naturally, young singers of the NW flocked around him, eagerly receiving the advice and encouragement he dispensed freely. He was a strong influence on many a performer looking for direction, telling them to sing honestly, in their own voice. Brian Peters is one of many who credits Harry Boardman with much of his approach to singing.

Harry Boardman was not forgotten after his death. His local folk friends missed him but kept his songs alive through their own performance. There were tributes paid to Harry and this album is one of them, from Lancashire man Mark Dowding, aided by Chris Harvey, Jenny Shortliff, and Alison Younger. The repertoire is entirely from Harry's singing, with titles like 'Handloom Weaver's Lament', 'The Bury New Loom', 'Billy Suet's Song', 'The Merry Little Doffer', Lancashire material every one.

Quite fittingly Mark Dowding chooses to sing the songs in an unpretentious way, rich with Lancashire accent, with banjo or concertina backing, The result is uncannily evocative of Harry Boardman, without any sign of imitation or parody. I really like this album, as I used to admire Harry himself, for his steadfast integrity and love of his material.

Mark Dowding and his collaborators have produced an album that stands up as an entertaining piece of work in it's own right, and a fine tribute to a much admired, much missed, man. Unlike those prophets in the old saying, Harry Boardman had much honour in his own country.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 58 of The Living Tradition magazine.