Although I had been playing in Barn dance bands and for City Morris through the 1970s and 1980s, throughout all this time I was going down to Sam's Hotel and playing the old style pub music with Ruth, George and the others. I was also mixing and playing with other traditional musicians such as Stan Seaman, the Kings Korner Band and others further afield.

Ruth Askew at ECMW 1999
Ruth Askew playing at ECMW, Postlip, 1999
I'd met up with Mervyn Plunkett and along with Steve Roud during the late 1970s and early 1980s Mervyn , Steve and I organised 'ad hoc' gatherings of the ‘North Hampshire Band of Musics', a motley ocassional band drawn from traditional players that we had met.

There was Bill Hiscock and Albert Hawkins, mouth-organ players from Baughurst; Sam Bond, mouth-organ player and singer from Basingstoke; Ruth Askew and George Privett, melodeons, up from Shedfield, plus Fred Lewis, the Goddard brothers and George Fisher on mouth-organs and assorted brass and percussion players from Pewsey's Kings Korner Band.

Kings Korner band, Pewsey Wiltshire 1982
The Kings Korner Band marching to the statue in
Pewsey, Wilsthire 1982.
Steve and Mervyn and I had joined the Kings Korner in 1979 - although we had joined in with them at sessions after the carnival for a couple of years previous - and we went over every time we could to play with them. I played my C melodeon or mouth-organ. At times there could be as many as twenty musicians belting out ‘Sussex by the Sea’ or ‘Eton Boating Song’ just for the pleasure of playing together.

We played on Saturday nights at pubs across Hampshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire including The Royal Oak at Goodworth Clatford, The Railway at Whitchurch, The Pineapple at Baughurst, The French Horn at Pewsey and The Adelaide Tavern in Andover.

After City Morris packed up at the end of the 1980s, Dave Williams and I continued to play music together. Dave had an occasional Barn Dance Band. With his old friends Vic Wilton, Geoff Brammer and Albert Wilkins, we played for local dances. In 1994 Dave met Stan Seaman, a traditional melodeon player from Buckler's Hard, New Forest, Hampshire. Stan was keen to get the old 'Village Hops' going again and with our help he put on several in the Beaulieu area.

It was around this time that the monthly musical get-together of traditional players from the New Forest began. In 1995 Dave Williams organised many of these players to meet with interested parties for a grand get-together at Colbury, Hampshire. It was a great success but sadly a one-off. Dave died in 1997 and we didn't have the heart to try it again.

Traditional music making at Colbury, Hampshire 1995
A day of music making led by Dave Williams (centre) with traditional Hampshire musicians and others from the local folk scene sharing a common enjoyment in making music. Colbury 1995.

But similar musical evenings have continued ever since. Originally held in the 'pigsty' at the Countryside Education Trust in Beaulieu they moved to the village hall in East Boldre after
a couple of years.

They are still held there on the 3rd Saturday of the month. We regularly have some 15-20 musicians playing a wide range of traditional and popular music on all types of instruments: fiddle, accordions, melodeons, mouth-organs, mandolins and songs.

Traditional musicians at the East Boldre monthly music evenings.
Just some of the many traditional musicians that gather at East Boldre in the New Forest for the monthly musical evenings led by Stan Seaman. Stan is second from the left in the back row (next to me).

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