Frank Harte  
A source of traditional songs among folk-revival singers, Harte has collected thousands of songs and has published a book and several albums of Dublin street songs. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide

Tim Hart  
A young duo from St. Albans who founded Steeleye Span with Ashley Hutchings and Gay and Terry Woods, most of their influence on the music scene has been with that band, but their solo albums are also classics. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide

Martin Hayes  
Ireland-born and Seattle-based Martin Hayes is a master of the slow, lyrical Clare style of fiddling. The son of P.J. Hayes, fiddler and leader of the 50-year-old Tulla Ceili Band, Hayes has continued to expand on his father's legacy.

Hayes comes from one of Ireland's most important musical families. In addition to his father's influence, Hayes inherited his musical skills from a grandmother who played concertina, and an uncle (by marriage), Paddy Canny, who was a national fiddle champion. A six-time winner of the All-Ireland fiddle championship, Hayes received his first fiddle as a Christmas gift at the age of seven; much of his youth was spent playing with his father's band. After college, Hayes emigrated to Chicago where he played with a rock band, Midnight Court.

Shortly after moving to Seattle, Hayes recorded his first solo album of traditional Irish music, The Shores of Lough Graney, released on cassette by Ice Nine. His subsequent albums -- Martin Hayes and Under the Moon -- have been released by Green Linnet. Under the Moon, which was recorded in County Clare, featured instrumental contributions by P.J. Hayes, guitarist Steve Cooney and Hayes' American band, the Randal Boys. In June 1997, Hayes recorded an album, The Lonesome Touch, with Irish accordion player Dennis Cahill. Live in Seattle followed two years later. ~ Craig Harris, All-Music Guide

The High Level Ranters  
A Northumbrian group, they formed in the late '60s, featuring Alistair Anderson, Tom Gilfellon, Johnny Handle, and Colin Ross. The High Level Ranters were very regionally oriented, with lovely songs in broad Geordie dialect and tunes identified with the region. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide

The House Band  
A pan-Celtic approach is taken by the British group House Band; while their sound is rooted in traditional music, their repertoire includes tunes from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Bulgaria and even Africa. In addition to numerous folk songs and instrumentals, the House Band has interpreted songs by contemporary songwriters ranging from Archie Fisher and Richard Thompson to Elvis Costello and jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand).

The House Band was formed as a quartet by Ged Foley (vocals, guitar, Northumbrian pipes), Chris Parkinson (accordion, harmonica, melodeon, keyboards), Iain MacLeod (ten-string mandolin, guitar, vocals) and Jimmy Young (smallpipes, flute, whistle). They were together for just over a year and recorded the band's self-titled debut album.

A native of County Durham, England, Foley had performed on the British folk circuit before joining the Battlefield Band in the early 1980s. The grandson of a piano player, he received his first guitar at the age of 14 or 15. After seeing a musician play Northumbrian pipes, a scaled-down version of the Highland pipes played with bellows, he acquired his own instrument and taught himself to play.

Yorkshire, England-born Parkinson began playing harmonica at the age of three of four and later taught lessons on the instrument. He received his first melodeon as a teenager. At the age of 21, he was introduced to folk music by a sister who was interested in folk dancing. In 1976, he acquired a piano accordion and taught himself to play in a French Canadian or French-influenced style that he dubbed Lancashire Cajun. An active session player in the early 1980s, Parkinson was a member of the tradition-rooted band Yorkshire Relish.

In 1986, MacLeod and Young left the group, and John Skelton (flute, bombarde, whistle, bodhran) joined along with vocalist Brian Brooks after the demise of their London-based group Shegui (she-gwee). Skelton, who grew up in Somerset, England, played tin whistle for dances as a youngster. While attending college near London, he rediscovered Irish music and started traveling to Ireland for several weeks each summer. He acquired a flute after hearing a performance by Mikey Cronin of Bally Desmond, County Kerry. As a member of Shegui, he sharpened his skills by performing in Irish pubs six nights a week and Sunday mornings. In 1973 he bought a bombarde, trading lessons in Irish music for instruction on the instrument.

When Brooks left the House Band after two years, the group temporarily continued as a trio. The band's newest member, Roger Wilson (guitar, fiddle, vocals), joined shortly before the recording of the House Band's seventh album, Rockall, in 1996.

Tracks from the House Band's first two albums, The House Band and Pacific, were released in the United States as Groundwork in 1993. Craig Harris, All-Music Guide

Ashley Hutchings  
Ashley "Tyger" Hutchings first achieved recognition as a co-founder of Fairport Convention in 1967, but his work and his musical influences predate Fairport Covention by several years, and he has since gone on to found and lead numerous other notable groups, including Steeleye Span, and the various Albion Bands. In many respects, he is to English folk-rock the rough equivalent of what John Mayall is to British blues, except that his recordings have remained interesting for far longer.

Ashley Hutchings started his musical life as a fan of skiffle, a highly rhythmic British answer to American folk and R&B, played at its most basic level on acoustic guitars, washtub bass, and washboard percussion, which became popular in England in the middle and late '50s. He also had an appreciation for "trad," a British form of Dixieland jazz that had become popular in Britain at the beginning of the 1950s. He listened to a lot of early English and American rock & roll, but by the early '60s had developed a deep and abiding love for folk music as well. He began singing and playing bass in a skiffle band, and later graduated from the washtub version of the instrument to a proper upright bass.

In 1966, he formed the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra with Simon Nicol (guitar), Steve Airey (guitar), and Bryan King (washboard), which played a mixture of English skiffle, American R&B, and folk music from the British Isles. Their work together led Hutchings -- who was known then as "Tyger," a nickname he'd picked up because of his aggressiveness on the football field -- and Nicol, and new colleague Richard Thompson to form Fairport Convention in 1967, with Martin Lamble (succeeded, after his death in a car crash, by Dave Mattacks) and Judy Dyble (later replaced by Sandy Denny) added to the line-up. Fairport Convention performed a similar mix of traditional English folk, original songs, and American singer/songwriter material. After three albums structured along those lines, the band recorded Liege and Lief, a record drawn largely from traditional folk material. When it became clear to Hutchings, however, that future albums would include far more original material, he exited the line-up and began organizing a new band, Steeleye Span.

Formed by Hutchings, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, and Peter Knight, with Martin Carthy coming in as the fifth member, Steeleye Span in its original form (and for several line-up changes after) was devoted to purely traditional music, adapted to the forces of a five-piece band with a growing arsenal of electric instruments. Ultimately they shared the limelight with Fairport Convention, vying for the greater loyalty of folk music fans and even reaching out for a time to rock audiences -- the decision to go almost fully electric, and the addition of a full-time drummer toughened their sound considerably, and an association with Jethro Tull, opening for the chart-topping band on an American tour, and getting the services of Ian Anderson as producer for one album.

Before that point, Hutchings was gone, having exited after the recording of the group's third album Below the Salt. In late 1971, he found himself a member of the Albion Country Band, formed to back his then-wife, Shirley Collins, on one of her albums, and decided to keep the studio ensemble together under that name. The initial line-up included his ex-Fairport bandmates Simon Nicol (guitar) and Richard Thompson (guitar), and vocalist/concertina players John Kirkpatrick and the late Royston Wood, and the group subsequently had upwards of 26 musicians in it at various times. This Albion lasted in various line-ups (Kirkpatrick exited the original line-up very quickly, to return later on, while Wood was gone after October of 1972 -- Steve Ashley joined on harmonica, along with ex-Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks, Linda Thompson came in on vocals, fiddle and banjo player Sue Draheim came into the fold for a time).

In January of 1974, the Albion Country Band evolved into the Etchingham Steam Band, with Hutchings on acoustic bass guitar, Shirley Collins on vocals, Ian Holder on accordion, and Terry Potter on mouth-organ. Nicol, Mattacks, and Hutchings' Steeleye Span bandmate Martin Carthy all passed through this line-up, which lasted into 1975. The group's next incarnation, lasting from 1975 until 1977, was the Albion Dance Band, with Hutchings (back on electric bass) and Nicol still at the core. Finally, in 1978, Hutchings formed the Albion Band, with a line-up that included future Fairport Convention member Ric Sanders on violin. This group, with some line-up changes (including Nicol and Mattacks passing through) has lasted into the 1990s, recording numerous albums, and also became the subject of a BBC documentary. (See separate entry on the Albion Band).

Hutchings also recorded several quasi-solo projects during the 1970s and '80s, including Kickin' Up the Sawdust, A Word in Your Ear, The View from Pa's Piano Stool, and By the Gloucester Docks, The Compleat Dancing Master with John Kirkpatrick, Rattlebone and Ploughjack (credited to Ashley Hutchings & chums) and Morris On, Son of Morris On, and Sway with Me (Hutchings and Judy Dunlop). He appeared on numerous albums by other artists throughout the 1970s and '80s, including work with Ian Matthews,The Bunchh (a rock showcase album by a group of English folkies), Shirley Collins, Royston and Heather Wood, Ray Fisher, Richard Thompson (Henry the Human Fly), Mike and Lal Waterson, Martin Carthy, the Kipper Family, and Polly Bolton. With so many associations in his past, Hutchings has turned up on numerous compilation albums and boxed sets devoted to such artists as Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny, among others. During the 1980s, Hutchings also wrote and performed his own one-man show about folksong collector Cecil Sharp, which he took throughout England beginning in 1984, and resulted in the album An Hour with Cecil Sharp and Ashley Hutchings. In the 1990s, he also put together Ashley Hutchings' Big Beat Combo, a revival group specializing in skiffle, trad, and early English rock & roll.

By now one of the grand old men of English folk-rock, Hutchings has been a major force for close to 30 years, fostering the foundation of more than his share of legendary and important bands. His skills as a bassist have placed him in demand beyond the boundaries of typical folk bands, but the most important aspect of his contribution to music, apart from the bands he has organized, is his ability to take traditional music, long predating this century, and transmute it into something accessible to young, modern listeners, without violating its spirit wholesale. He also has a sense of humor that radiates as brightly as his musical ability on most every project he has ever participated in. Bruce Eder, All-Music Guide


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