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BRIAN KELL - Nowt’s The Botha 

BRIAN KELL - Nowt’s The Botha 
Private Label 

The main reason that Brian’s name is likely to be known on the folk scene is as an organiser. Under his stewardship the Whittlesea Straw Bear festival on Plough Monday in January has become of a beacon in the bleakest month of the year. He was awarded the BEM for services to music and the community in Whittlesey. However, in the notes of this CD he says, “I have always considered myself to be a singer which may surprise some who see me as an administrator.”

The album shows that he is right to think in this manner. There is one song that reflects his long commitment to the folk culture of Cambridgeshire, Colin Cater’s Penny For The Plough Boys, but the solid body of the songs here is from the districts of the North-East that were associated with coal mining, several of which he learned and used to sing at Birtley Folk Club.

Brian has a pleasing voice and all the songs are sung unaccompanied and in a straightforward manner. The choice of material suits his sure voice and there is a lot of subtlety and interest generated by the slight deviations from the standard versions. It is clear that he is enjoying himself and dives into each song and relishes the north-eastern dialect. For all that, the most likeable performance is of the song strongly associated with the Norfolk singer, Walter Pardon – Old Brown’s Daughter.

Brian tells us that the album title comes from a phrase used by his wife’s grandfather, meaning “no problem”, and there is certainly none on this album.

Vic Smith


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine