Stephen bought an English Concertina in 1972, playing it for barn dance and morris, but was frustrated that he couldn’t get that distinctive ‘William Kimber’ sound from his instrument. A wooden-ended 1880 20-button Lachenal proved the key to transforming his playing. This led to a search for the ultimate morris anglo.
In the 1990s he was commissioned to write a play (Wonder Working Wire) about Charles Wheatsone, inventor of the concertina. He regularly performs a costumed talk on the life of Wheatstone. Stephen has travelled with his concertina, sailing the oceans and playing concerts for accordion societies in Russia and Sweden, as well as numerous festivals from Europe to Australia.
Stephen teaches concertina, whistle, pipe and tabor and bagpipes and specialises in helping students learn to play by ear and playing for dance. He teaches the Playing for Morris workshop at Sidmouth Folk Festival.
Morrisman, Folkie and Guitar picker I spent a lot of my working life at sea and bought my first Anglo in Curacao Netherlands Antilles in 1971. The owner of the music shop, who had never been to Europe, played me ‘The Helston Floral dance’ on it. Back on the ship I spent the first week playing it upside down before the penny dropped. It was a 20 key German Red one but it was enough to get me hooked. I have dabbled in the English but my first love is the Anglo. Steve Rowley introduced me to Steve Dickinson who was making concertinas and I ended up ordering what was to be the last ever Dickinson Bros of Great Linford as the instrument was used by Steve D to convince Boosey & Hawkes to let him trade as Wheatstone Concertinas. That concertina has done 10 world cruises on the QE2 and been played on a Square Rigger in the Caribbean.
Like Steve Rowley I play for the Morris. I enjoy working out tunes that are not conventionally Anglo tunes such as Ragtime, Spread a little Happiness, Bring me sunshine, Blue Skies, Makin’ Whoopee and the like. Players I admire are Alan Day, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and as for Mohsen Amini – well! Biggest concertina regret is that Andrew Blakeney-Edwards died long before his potential could be realised. I currently play that Dickinson, now in Bb/F and a Crabb in C/G.
Doug Watt has played anglo and melodeon for about 24 years. He is a Cheltonian who lives in Stroud. He trained as a classical/jobbing pianist and he brings a wide and novel repertoire to diatonic boxes as well as playing in the English tradition for morris and ceilidhs. He leads courses for experienced players for regional and national playgroups.