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VARIOUS ARTISTS Stepping It Out Again

VARIOUS ARTISTS Stepping It Out Again
Veteran VTC10CD

This is just the sort of CD I really enjoy delving into - music which is still relevant today but sung and played by those who are a real part of our tradition. The material on here has all been collected from the musicians during the last quarter of the twentieth century by John Howson, familiar to many through The Old Hat Concert Band and running the traditional sessions at Sidmouth for many years. Quite rightly John was awarded the Gold Medal in 2011 as recognition for the work he has done in this field, or rather the pub or the living room, and this CD is the result of requests for a ‘greatest hits’ from his archive. John has done better than that by producing a compilation of recordings from his archive which for various reasons had never previously made it onto CD.  I for one am really pleased that he took that path.

On here, amongst others, you will find Emily Vickers who was in her eighties when she was recorded in 1975, the first person John recorded; Cyril Barber from Suffolk who was later to join Old Hat; Tom Valentine Smith who learnt most of his songs from his father; Lucy Farr who was originally from Ireland but became part of the London Irish scene and played in the Rakes.

Whilst all deserve a name check, space doesn’t permit that, but mention must be made of Jimmy Lynch, a busker familiar to many on the streets of Liverpool - a true star. Jimmy is accompanied here by his wonderful dancing dolls as he plays melodeon – it’s worth buying this CD just for his contribution.
In the late 1990’s I remember seeing a young Irish fiddler and his grandfather at one of John’s sessions in Sidmouth. Darren Breslin was only 12 then, but he is on here with his grandfather again sounding just as good as I remember.

There are excellent sleeve notes with short biographies on each artist as well as extensive notes provided on all the tracks which bring it all to life. Thanks John for all the work you have done, and will do I hope in the future, but thanks also for Stepping It Out Again!

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.