The Lewes Favourites

PICA Volume 2, 2005

The Lewes Favourites. Edited by Andy Warburton; forward by Vic Gammon. (Lewes [Sussex]: Lewes Arms Folk Club, 2003).

Reviewed by Roger Digby

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If you travel eastward along the South coast of England, you will reach South Sussex, which could, with a change of cultural emphasis, be equally appropriately restyled ‘Copper Country’. A county of great traditional music and song for many years, it now contains a thriving community of session players, partly sustained by the quality of some of the local residents (Sussex is the home of Will Duke and Iris Bishop, both of whom I have mentioned earlier) and also by enthusiastic organisers of clubs and session venues. A collection of 180 tunes from these sessions named The Lewes Favourites has been compiled by Andy Warburton, and while the presence of a handful of tunes from Scan Tester and one from William Kimber does not justify a full review, a theme of this essay has been approaches to English Country Music, and those wishing to discover the repertoire will find a large number of the most widespread tunes in this well-presented collection, which also contains some photographs and the occasional dance notation. It will, however, not help with the playing style, and for this the enthusiast will need to search the internet and the second-hand shops for the excellent old vinyl records which are now mostly unavailable. The Free Reed retrospective will fill a few gaps in the revival players, and there are some specialist CDs in the Voice of the People series, but the big gaps will remain until Topic issues a similar retrospective based entirely on their wide resources of traditional English musicians.

1. I must declare a slight interest, having played a small part in the first two items reviewed. Far from influencing my opinions, however, the presence of my own mistakes is a valid reminder of our human weaknesses.