BOSUN HIGGS – A Most Particular Vintage (WildGoose WGS439CD)

A Most Particular VintageI’m afraid that I’m long out of touch with the barn dance scene. The pandemic brought it to a shuddering halt but I don’t know how much things have recovered so it may be that Bosun Higgs – great name, by the way – are ahead of the curve in releasing an album of music for dancing. A Most Particular Vintage consists of eleven sets, mostly pairs of tunes. Some are traditional, some originals and other garnered from here and there in the time-honoured manner.

The sets are timed for dancing and the tempos are pretty strict so if you run a dance club that uses records and are looking for new material this is perfect. Bosun Higgs haven’t just put a bunch of well-known tunes together – that’s the easy way to do it. I don’t recognise many of the titles but they sound familiar and you can hear echoes of Old Swan Band, New Victory Band, perhaps Cock And Bull and half a dozen other bands you’ll have heard and danced to.

The lead instruments are melodeon, fiddle and banjo and may I go against convention by saying that there isn’t enough banjo for me? Unlike the folk-rock style of barn dance band Carly Rose’s percussion is big at the top end; cymbals, snare, wood blocks and even a cowbell at one point unless I’m very much mistaken. This is the sound that carries in a hall whereas a kick-drum would just vibrate the floor. The bass is taken care of by Neil Gledhill’s bass saxophone and it’s nice to hear an autoharp played by Martin Banks on one track – the last fifty years just rolled away.

With the exception of ‘Snowday Waltz/Dream Waltz’ the music is suitably up-tempo but not too fast. Keith Holloway’s melodeons are solid and dare I say, occasionally almost funky, and Taz Tarry’s fiddle supplies the flourishes. I’ve already said that A Most Particular Vintage is excellent for dancing but what about listening? Well, I’ve enjoyed it but I was concentrating on the music – I’m not sure that I could play it and read a book at the same time.

Dai Jeffries

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