My uploaded harmonica video archives can be found in several places.
YouTube – My first attempts at video production were to capture the annual National Harmonica League (NHL, now HarmonicaUK) concerts in the Folk House in Bristol, starting in 2001 until they were moved after 2018. I also began to digitise some earlier NHL concerts from VHS tapes and early camcorder tapes mainly from recordings by Victor Brooks. Around 230 videos can be viewed on my YouTube site.
Here is the video introduction for this channel.
Vimeo – I prefer the videos to be viewed without ads, and I like the control that a paid Vimeo account allows. The downloading and embedding of the videos can be specified and if a video needs updating or editing it can be uploaded over the original without affecting the original link/url.
My more recent harmonica videos have been uploaded to Vimeo where they can be linked to my websites like this blog. There are over 75. You can view them here
The videos are organised into Showcases where similar videos are grouped together.
Playing the Thing – One group of the Vimeo videos is part of a project to reverse engineer a harmonica film from 1972 – ‘Playing the Thing‘ – directed by Chris Morphet. These are now embedded on a dedicated web site for this project which is recreating the original interviews which were edited to create the original film – Larry Adler, Sonny Terry, James Cotton, Cham-Ber Huang, Duster Bennet, Bill Dicey, Andy Paskas, Hohner’s Factory, Dutch Harmonica Championship … You can watch the original film here
This video contains all the chromatic harmonica music played during the Memorial Service held on April 21st, 2006, in Olney Parish Church. Douglas Tate was a charismatic UK harmonica player, engineer and teacher. He had played in World Championships, broadcast on the BBC, and written books on the maintenance and playing of the chromatic harmonica. He became President of SPAH in 2000 but his term was sadly ended by cancer.
Douglas had been involved with the National Harmonica League (now HarmonicaUK) for most of his adult life and the musicians who took part in the Memorial Service were friends from the organisation. Gerry Ezard, Colin Mort, and Harry Pitch were long time friends and Philip Achille, Eddie Ong and Jamie Dolan were youngsters that Douglas had encouraged.
01:20 mins – Douglas Tate – Sonata for Harmonica (Peter Jenkyns)
06:00 mins – Jamie Dolan – Mulberry Cottage
09:00 mins – Harry Pitch – Last of the Summer Wine
13:00 mins – Philip Achille – Ashokan Farewell
17:50 mins – Jang Ming – No Place Like Home
19:00 mins – Ensemble – Bach Double Violin Concerto
27:40 mins – Jamie – Dark Island
30:00 mins – Douglas Tate – Trio Sonata in F major (Jean-Baptiste Loeillet)
You can learn much more about Douglas Tate and his life from my articles in the Harmonica World magazine issue shown in the video above. It can be viewed here.
I first heard about Martin Brinsford when Eddie Upton came to the NHL festival in Bristol in 2008, and we discussed the place of the tremolo harmonica in English Folk dance music. This is covered in full on my blog page on British traditional harmonica players.
Martin was busy at the time with Brass Monkey but eventually he agreed to play at the H2017 and H2018 festivals in Bristol. This is based on his workshops and subsequent communications.
This is work in progress.
Martin was born in 1947 and was given a Hohner Chromatic harmonica when he was 10 years old. He still owns it although he has played tremolo harmonica for the last 50 years. He took up the drums in 1962.
In 1972 he bought a copy of ‘Morris On‘, a folk rock interpretation of Morris dance tunes featuring John Kirkpartrick and members of Fairport Convention, and fell in love with the music. That year, after moving to Cheltenham, he joined the newly formed and subsequently legendary Old Spot Morris dancers where he met Rod Stradling, an influential melodeon player and evangelist for the traditional music of England. Rod gave Martin at least 6 hours of cassette tape recordings of traditional musicians which he listened to religiously whilst working as a carpenter on building sites, much to the bemusement of the rest of the workforce!
Rod also introduced Martin to the Romany Traveller tradition of simultaneous mouth organ and tambourine playing.
The Old Swan Band, England’s premier country dance band, was formed in 1974 with Rod, Martin and other local musicians, playing tremolo and and percussion. It is still playing and they had a 40th anniversary concert tour in 2014.
Martin’s first recording was in 1976 on squeeze box virtuoso John Kirkpartrick’s album Plain Capers and in 1977 the Old Swan Band released the first of many LPs and CDs
Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick set up Brass Monkey in 1981 and invited Martin Brinsford to join. They toured and recorded extensively but intermittently for over 30 years. Martin is pretty confident he was in the only band to play at the Albert Hall and his local pub, The Prince Albert, in Stroud. Here is a video featuring Martin playing ‘Happy Hours‘ with them.
Martin played with several other bands like The Tangent Band, and Edward II and the Red Hot Polkas as well as taking part in many recording sessions on harmonica, saxophone and percussion.
He has also recorded with the English country dance band ‘The Mellstock Band‘, ‘The Steve Ashley Band‘, ‘Phoenix‘, and ‘Grand Union‘, on on harmonica, saxophone and percussion. He even played on ‘Grandson of Morris On‘ a third generation follow up to the record which inspired him all those years before.
An unusual part of Martin’s style is his gypsy style harmonica and tambourine playing. He discussed this in a workshop at the NHL H2017 festival. He also demonstrated his interest in performing a wide range of world music.
Currently he is playing with The Pigeon Swing who specialise in vintage Québécois dance music, and who are planning to record later this year.
Martin and Katie Howson played together for a few years, but now it is on an occasional basis.
Martin’s most recent CD, ‘Next Slide Please‘ has lots of mainly Irish/American tunes and was recorded with Keith Ryan and Gareth Kiddier.
I learned about Terry Potter from Eddie Upton in 2008. Eddie ran Folk South West when he came to the National Harmonica League festival. He was able to give me the names of some harmonica players who were active in the English folk music scene.
Terry Potter is a tremolo player who has been active since the 1960s with the modern traditional musicians like Ashley Hutchings (‘The Compleat Dancing Master‘, ‘Kicking Up The Sawdust‘) as well as playing with the Etchingham Steam Band, Potters Wheel and his family group, Cousins and Sons.
Along with Richard Taylor, I interviewed Terry Potter in his home in Sussex in 2009. I am using this and subsequent written communication to write this blog.
Terry was born in 1935 and is a traditional folk musician. He first became involved after his extended National Service in Germany, when he attended a local folk club in 1957, in the Free Christian Hall, in Horsham, West Sussex, where he still lives. It was run by his parents and he joined in all the dancing. He wanted to play this sort of music and remembered he had some old mouth organs at home. His father had played mouth organ and Terry had played a few pop songs – but not in public! Both his father, Charlie, and mother, Marjorie sang folk songs and were recorded by local collectors in the 1950s. Their original songbook was presented to the Horsham Museum.
He was allowed to join in at the next dance and soon learned to play a number of tunes, like ”Joe the Carrier Lad‘, from three ladies, The Benacre Band, who came to the club. They invited him to play with their band. He played his first concert that year which lead to to his first band, ‘The Derrydowners Folk Band’ with Geoff Hedger (piano), Derrick Smith (accordion), George Whetton (banjo), Lionel Bounton and Tony Wales (drums). It played for Barn Dances throughout Sussex for over 25 years
Terry formed a folk club in Horsham in 1958 with Tony Wales called called Horsham Songswappers, and the Horsham Folk Club continues to this day. Folk musicians were a close knit group and Terry joined up with Paul Morris (guitar/banjo) and Mike Howley (accordion) and played with them at ‘The Troubadour‘ at the time of the London folk boom, and with ‘Benacre Band‘ at the Albert Hall, in London, in 1958. There was also ‘The ‘Pandemonium String Band‘ with Pete Marsden (fiddle, guitar and vocal) in 1958 and ‘Country Cousins‘ began in 1962. Terry collected folk albums and played in the Ceilidh, jazz and blues clubs in Dublin and made visits to Germany.
In 1970, Terry was in Martyn Wyndham-Read’s band, ‘No Man’s Band‘ and they were heard busking in Leicester Square, London. They were playing Ned Kelly songs outside the premier of the film ‘Ned Kelly‘, staring Mick Jagger, and they ended up playing them on the BBC2 late night TV show.
Terry met Ashley Hutchins in 1972 when he was recording an album of traditional tunes with well known folk musicians, ‘The Compleat Dancing Master‘.
Terry played on the three tracks below: First, ‘Haste to the Wedding‘ – 2:10 mins, ‘The Triumph‘ – 4:25, ‘Off She Goes‘.
Here are a couple of tracks from Shirley Collin’s 1974 album, ‘Adieu To Old England‘. First, ‘The Chiners‘ and then ‘Portsmouth‘.
From the 1970s, Terry played mouth organ occasionally with several progressive folk bands such as ‘The Albion Band‘, ‘Kicking up the Sawdust‘, ‘The Etchingham Steam Band‘, ‘Potters Wheel‘, and ‘No Man’s Band‘. These bands included great musicians Ashley Hutchins, Shirley Collins, Dave Mattocks, Simon Nicol, Martyn Wyndham-Read, John Kirkpatrick, Bob Cann, Grahame Taylor, Peter Bullock, Michael Gregory, John Tams, and John Rodd.
Here Terry is featured on ‘Speed the Plough‘ on the ‘Kicking up the Sawdust‘ LP.
Some of these bands became very popular and some of the musicians went full time and toured Europe. Terry had a job and could not continue so he stood down and continued to play locally. He had worked with Metal Box but later did a series of local jobs.
Terry had continued to play with his cousin, Ian Holder, and wife, Margaret, since 1963 with various musicians but the band finally settled into, literally, Cousins and Sons‘ when they were joined by their sons, James Potter and Gary Holder. In 1978, John Tyler included their gigs in Harmonica News. They played together for 50 years but no longer play regularly in public. Fortunately, Dave Arthur recorded the group in 1993 in Terry’s sitting room.
Terry does not read music so he has built up his large repertoire of music by learning by ear. He only plays a tremolo but this has all the diatonic notes and it lets him play in many styles of music besides folk, including popular and some jazz tunes for fun. The mouth organ’s musical range is similar to other instruments in the bands but he can play in the higher octaves to have a more distinctive voice. He also uses a small Hohner mic and amplifier when playing in the band. Like Sonny Terry he plays the mouth organ upside down (back to front) with the high notes on the left.
Terry has made lots of recordings but the financial rewards are slim. His checks of the Royalties website suggest he may have to wait a while before they reach the level where they start paying out. He plays music for the heart and still gets nervous when he performs.
Terry has a large collection of mouth organs but his favourite is a Golden Melody which he plays in the keys of C,G,A,D,E and F. Hohner liked to get value from their brand names and this is not the well loved blues harp, but a tremolo harp.
Terry has made a collection of tracks called “Terry’s Collection – 1974 to 2001” which illustrates the range of his musical performances with different groups.
A = ‘Country Cousins‘, B = ‘Potter’s Wheel‘, C = ‘No Man’s Band‘, and D = ‘Etchingham Steam Band‘.