After playing for many years, trawling the venues of Britain and beyond, THE BOAT BAND have picked up a huge and varied catch of tunes: Creole, Caribbean, gospel, Cajun, Irish, zydeco and blues-not much slips through the net.If it can be played on accordion and fiddle (or trombone, washboard, trumpet, banjo etc), if it touches the heart and moves the feet, it`s in the repertoire.
Their latest venture takes the band away from the cajun twosteps of South Louisiana to the dance music of northwest England, drawing on the rich tradition of some thousands of tunes collected by and from the musicians of Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. The favourite current source of good tunes is the Langdale fiddler William Irwin. and The Boat Band have just released new CD "A TRIP TO THE LAKES" featuring these tunes. You can buy MP3's of these tunes or indeed buy a digital copy of the whole CD from efolkmusic
Come along to a gig and enjoy the English tunes and songs nestling in alongside the already eclectic offerings, whether it's at an all out ceilidh, a strictly cajun dance or a sit-down concert. The line-up is based on: Kate Barfield (fiddle, trombone, vocals), Mark Burke (percussion, accordions, vocals), Greg Stephens (guitar, banjo, vocals), Tony Weatherall (accordions, vocals), plus occasional special guests.
guitar, tenor banjo, percussion
From a musical Millom (Cumbria) family, but mainly brought up on Exmoor. He refused music lessons as a child, thought they were wet. Life changed in 1956 when he heard 'Rock Island Line'. Went out and bought the Lonnie Donegan record, followed quickly by a ten-bob guitar, check shirt and lumberjack boots. Special school holiday for Princess Margaret's wedding was spent not on waving union jacks but going to Alexis Korner's flat, being shown blues guitar licks and listening to Memphis Jug Band records. Set up a skiffle group and a folk club at school, and taught himself to compose by writing arrangements for the school military band. First paid gig was with Bob Horton's Jazz Band at the British Embassy in Paris in October 1961. Sang 'Jesse James' and 'The Wreck of the Old 97'. Went electric as a student, playing bass-guitar with a group successively called H-Bomb and the Fallouts, the Hoochie Coochie Men and the Crawling Black Spiders. Found that the Rolling Stones had cornered the R'n'B market.
Discovered English traditional music in the 60's, ran various folk clubs. Developed lifelong interest in hanging about in obscure rural pubs looking for old codgers who sang songs and played tunes.
From 1964 wrote music for shows, and worked as musical director with many theatre and community arts companies, including Welfare State International, Charivari, Cat Island, Theatre of Fire and Beavers Arts(now B.Arts). Learning a lot about pyrotechnics and street-bands. Recorded mildly influential 'Beggar Boy of the North', Greg Stephens and Crookfinger Jack, 1977 (first ever LP devoted to traditional NW English tunes). Did a lot of radio talks on folk-related topics: Thomas Hardy's fiddling, Appalachian banjo styles, Carolan tunes, seasonal celebrations etc. Spent a lot of the 90's lying on the decks of small boats exploring Scottish islands with the Boat Band, and working inland with N.Staffs based B.Arts. Recorded lots of Cajun, Cumbrian and Cheshire tunes. Had fun on some fusion stuff with rappers. Always liked mixing up Latin, Caribbean and African rhythms with tunes from nearer home; there are very few towns between Carlisle and Stoke that he hasn't banged his drum through. Worked on regeneration projects in Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle-on-Tyne and many other places Project Director of the Penkhull Mystery Plays, long-standing Stoke-on-Trent community drama project now in its tenth year.
Favourite guitarists: Eddie Lang and Joseph Spence. Favourite singer: Leadbelly. Favourite mountain: Black Combe.
Still singing 'Jesse James' and the 'Wreck of the Old 97'.
cajun accordion, two-row and one-row melodeons
Born in 1950 in Staffordshire England.
Grew up in musical environment, family sing-songs and home-made music in grandfather's pub Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Discovered American Folk music and Blues in the 60's via the "British Beat Boom."
First instrument was guitar at the age of twelve (can still play the same three chords learnt from the Bert Weedon tutor book!).
First record bought, "She Loves You" by The Beatles.
Became increasingly interested in British Folk music in the early seventies and took up the melodeon. Moved to London in mid-seventies - days spent working at The Serpentine Gallery installing exhibitions and rubbing shoulders with London's Art World - nights spent in London's music venues - week-ends in the legendary Dobells and Collets record shops.
Helped form pioneer Cajun band the Crayfish Five in mid-eighties, later went on to play with the Companions of the Rosy Hours, Le Rue, The Hackney Ramblers, Boat Band. Now also playing with Bartram, Brookes and Weatherall, who specialise in tunes and songs from Shropshire, and barn-dance band the Shropshire Heroes.
fiddle, trombone, accordion, vocals
Became interested in blues music and folk music from an early age after rifling parents record collection.
Moved onto a boat and played flute for Sandbach Morris team.
Played fiddle and sang harmony with her mum at boaty sessions in pubs and for boat launches. Played drum and trombone in Cat Island street band and the Rhythm Angels
Busked with fiddle from Crewe to the Camargue, and Northwich to New Orleans.
Worked thoughout the UK and internationally as a musician, artist (maker of images and giant puppets), performer and pyrotechnician: for B.Arts, Theatre of Fire, Dog Troep, Walk the Plank and Welfare State International.
Got together with a group of musicians to make a boat sea worthy, they called themselves the Boat Band and in 1989 set sail from Liverpool to the Hebrides and Adventure. The first of many musical raids on the coast of Scotland and Ireland playing Cajun, Caribbean and English music.
Visited Louisiana with fiddle to learn more about Cajun music. Stayed at music legend D.L. Menard's house.
Toured in duo's with accordionists Katherine Bersoux and Tony Weatherall.
Sings in a duo with Esther Brennan.
Runs singing workshops at festivals and art centres. Leads Staffordshire community choirs the Clay Chorus, Loudmouth Women, Mystery Singers and Seasonal Singers.