Sunday, 6 September 2015

The East Anglian Traditional Music Day

Most people have a musical accompaniment to their lives that rarely deviates from the busy and increasingly frantic motorways of popular taste. Some of us turn off onto less travelled, but still well-worn, roads of classical, jazz or other styles. But tucked away in hidden corners, where few visit and even fewer linger, are old and largely forgotten traditions. It's through these meandering verses and along some bumpy and lop-sided old tunes that I ventured on Saturday.

There are folk festivals and there are folk festivals - but then there's The East Anglian Traditional Music Day at Stowmarket in Suffolk....

Most summer music events are held in parks or fields: the EATMD is held in a museum, the Museum of East Anglian Life, a large site where old buildings from various villages have been saved and reconstructed.

So the music takes place in a medieval farmhouse, an old hall and an ancient barn, as well as in marquees and outside on the grass. And though there's plenty of local traditional music on offer, there are also other rural areas of England and Ireland represented.

Matt Quinn

Edgar's Farmhouse, so old that it's got an earth floor and no windows, sounds an unlikely venue for concert spots but it works perfectly well. I heard the traditional songs and tunes of Matt Quinn there in the morning and went back in the afternoon for the gentle anarchic poetry of Les Barker.

The big barn has a music session that runs all day, with musicians dropping in and out. There are a lot of squeezeboxers, plenty of fiddlers and whistles, concertinas, banjos, a hammer dulcimer.....

Outside there is informal step-dancing going on with a lot of youngsters showing that, with a bit of luck, this often overlooked East Anglian tradition should be safe for a few more years.

Later in the afternoon there's (slightly) more formal step-dancing in the barn....

For those who like their music Irish - and who doesn't - there were sessions from these three excellent musicians....

Orlaith McAuliffe, Brogan McAuliffe and Darren Breslin on flute, concertina and button accordion respectively.

Of course there was a great deal that I missed - story-telling with John Row (above) and others, music from Kevin and Ellen Mitchell and Peter and Barbara Snape, an exhibition of photographs by John Halliday, talks on various topics, a ceilidh with music from the trio Proper English, chances for beginners to have a go on various instruments, a bar selling some great local beers........and probably some other things too!

I'll be back later in the week with some videos and some more photos. Until then....

Take care.



  1. You must have had a fantastic time John, am very envious, especially to have listened to the wonderful Les Barker who we often view on Youtube he totally cracks me up ! Has he published any new material ?

  2. What a day full of traditional music. Did you record any? Love to hear the Irish music. Your area is so fortunate to have all the old traditions still intact. I would imagine that the rural areas are where you find this kind of music not in the industrial areas. -- barbara

  3. So happy to see that heritage continuing!

  4. Oh my! I need to come to this! And John Row--I think he was on the storytelling list I've been on for years. Is it always this same weekend?

  5. Sounds like a really enjoyable day - I always like visiting the Museum of East Anglian Life, I've been there several times as my son only lives about 25 minutes drive away from Stowmarket.

  6. Sounds like a fun festival. It is great to see old traditions living on.

  7. Perfect venue for musical events John, folk music gets more popular all the time it seems, such a dedicated following!

  8. Looks like a great way to spend a day and in such a wonderful ancient environment. Love these traditions and hope they continue for a long, long time. Great photos!

  9. Oh, I'm so envious John. What a perfectly wonderful day, and thank you for sharing your experiences and your photos. Will look forward to more....

  10. That sounds like an interesting day to say the least! I bet you had a good time.

  11. What a treat John ... I love those little push-button accordions and I should imaging the acoustics in the old farm-buildings would have been wonderful.


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