Keith and Sylvia sing mainly English traditional and traditionally influenced contemporary songs and work extensively all over the UK, Europe and beyond with collectively over 80 years performing experience (and neither yet walks with a stick!).

Both have a very wide ranging repertoire, strong voices and uncannily compatible and complimentary styles of delivery, affording an exciting enhancement in duo and between them produce a striking acapella harmony sound. They also frequently accompany themselves and play lively dance tunes on three different systems of the only English invented musical instrument – the Concertina.

And when they’re not doing that you’ll probably find them in nearest charity shop!

The Ensemble:

Keith Kendrick: Vocals, English and Anglo German Concertinas

Sylvia Needham: Vocals, McCann Duet Concertina

Bob Axford: Guitar

Jon Loomes: Hurdy Gurdy, Fiddle, Upright Piano

Michael Beeke: English Pipes, Whistle, Tuba

Johnny Adams: Vocals, Piano, Harmonium, Melodeon, Trombone, Fiddle

Gilly Loomes: Cornet, Hammered Dulcimer

“....breathtaking harmony work that leaves the listener gasping........- Jane Kremer and Dave Thomas - The Folk Mag

“…'Once I courted a Damsel', derived from a fragment of Joseph Taylor's singing, is Keith and Sylvia at their very best - unaccompanied, well thought out and together in splendid harmony, a model of how to sing a traditional English song.” - Pete Wood - EDS

“....Sally Free and Easy deserves a special mention. Keith sings this song in harmony with Sylvia Needham. Their voices blend and compliment each other's, capturing the anger and despair of this Cyril Tawney song to perfection. It is unquestionably, the best interpretation that I have ever heard of this song.” - Ken Hinchliffe – What’s Afoot

1 Banks of the Nile 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

Refers to the Battle of Abukir Bay (at the mouth of the Nile) 1798. Believed to have been written about one single incident – but we know it happened more than once! The tradition has thrown up many a good version of this song since then. This one, which I found too many years ago now in Peter Kennedy’s ‘Folk Songs of Britain & Ireland’ is arbitrarily, (it has to be said), my favourite. N.B., The reference to ‘Blacks and Heathens’ is merely an historic piece of vernacular of the time and does not reflect in any way our personal take on such issues.

2 Turpin ‘Ero 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

Or – Ear ‘ole as I usually call it! A great version of this song chronicling the life, antics and eventual demise of Richard (Dick) Turpin - the vicious old English thug and highwayman. Learned from the wonderful singing of another of my all-time heroes - the great, Roy Harris. 

3 Jolly Bacchus 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham/Axford) 

Apparently, old Bacchus was the Roman God of wine, leisure and pleasure – by Guyney; he must have known how to rock! We think the melody is a Swedish dance tune and we found the lyrics in a book by Richard & Tish Stubbs called ‘The English Folksinger’ – loads of good stuff in there! 

4 The Riddle Song/Lovers’ Tasks (Sex) 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

Here, segued together are two of three songs on this collection to honour and celebrate the life and work of John Langstaff (Google him, it’s worth it!) who championed the cause of English traditional music across America for close to six decades through his mammoth work in schools and with his Christmas Revels theatrical productions, which now run annually in 10 cities across North America. Started in Washington, these Grande events were so popular they became a duplicated phenomenon all over the US, all running in tandem at Christmas Season for decades and are still rolling! The shows were a massive undertaking with a gigantic cast, made up of young school children, an adult chorus, Morris and sword dancers, renaissance/medieval musicians and special ethnic players, (varying from script to script and city to city), and others from the local community. They frequently employed some of the great names of the day from the UK like Norman Kennedy, Margaret Bennett, Ron Smedley, Bob Parker, Alasdair Fraser and Shay Black. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1920, by the time he was 11, John was a celebrated choir-boy soloist in oratorio and sacred music concerts around New York, and later a classical baritone . But the watershed event in this history was when John changed schools at age 13 to a private school in Brooklyn, whose Headmistress was Carol Preston -- the most important totally unknown name in this history. By sheer accident, she was the house-mate of May Gadd, already the Director of the American Branch of EFDSS, which a few years later became the Country Dance and Song Society of America (CDSS). Ms. Preston was already deep into the traditions of song and dance and spotted John's talent and interest. In 1935 she took him to the White Top Festival in North Carolina where John heard and witnessed the real tradition in the flesh. It totally changed his life, and thus the lives of countless others. Later, John met Maud Karpeles and Douglas Kennedy during his five years in the UK working for the BBC. He also recorded an album of traditional songs at Abbey Road under the production of a young George Martin - way before the Beatles were even heard of....;-) Ralph Vaughan Williams was a friend who frequently used John’s recordings to illustrate his lectures. John tragically died about a year after we met him at Pinewoods Camp, Cape Cod in 2005 just before his 85th birthday. He had the most amazing voice, a very open and inclusive personality and had a very special way of bringing traditional songs to life through his unique interpretations. A truly great, GREAT man. 

5 Five Gallon Jar (Drugs)
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

A song about how dope could be used to shanghai unsuspecting carousers around the ports into a stressful life on the ocean wave! Mr & Mrs Marr clearly have a lot to answer for!..We got it many years ago from the singing of the ‘Bolton Bullfrog’ – the inimitable Bernard Wrigley. 

6 One More Day/Shallow Brown 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

Here are two great early versions of these already very popular shanties from the repertoire of John Short, the famous ‘Watchet Shanty Man’. Also known as ‘Yankee Jack’, he led shanties throughout the hay day of sail across the mid to late 1800s while mainly sailing the Americas and was collected by Cecil Sharp and Sir Richard Terry in the early 1900s. 

7 Well Dressing Song
(Sarah Matthews, Arr. Kendrick Needham) 

This is one of only two songs we are aware of that celebrate or even mention the age old custom of well-dressing in Derbyshire (and, of course, elsewhere in England). No-one knows how long ago people began dressing wells as an acknowledgement to the Earth for the constant supply of fresh spring water to her communities but, it was certainly before Christianity became associated with it. Puzzling then, that no-one was ever moved to dedicate any music or to write any songs to accompany/support the ritual? Until, that is, Andrew Train in the seventies, wrote: The 5 Wells: about the Tissington W.D. event and of course our dear and talented friend Sarah Matthews penned this one as part of the Mills & Chimneys song-writing project commissioned by Derbyshire Libraries in 2009. We think it’s rather special. 

8 Three Ravens
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

We were inspired to include this in our repertoire after hearing it sung by Julie Preen just a few years ago in Leicester. She told us she found it in Bronson’s Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballad so, that’s where we went to find it but ended up doing the version next to it which is slightly different in the melody and which, delightfully, originates from Derbyshire. 

9 Love Farewell 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

Way back in 1972 Argo Records brought together The Druids, Martyn Wyndham Read, Jim Younger, The London Tinkers and Vin Garbutt to produce an LP recording called ‘Songs & Music of the Redcoats’ as an audio accompaniment to a book of the same name by Louis Winstock. This was an excellently researched collection of songs that the actual soldiers themselves sang as opposed to ‘just songs about soldiers’. ‘Love Farewell’ is a great example. Mick Hennessy sang on the original track and I’ve been singing it ever since. John Tams also recorded a wonderful version with ‘The Band of the Rifles’ prior to Christmas 2008 to help to raise money for the ‘Help For Heroes’ charity – and very nearly made the British Charts with it...nice one Tam... 

10 The Spire the Aspired 
(Ian Carter, Arr. Kendrick/Needham/Carter/Adams) 

This is a song that was destined to be on Muckram Wakes version III’s first LP back in 1983 had we not disbanded before we had a chance to record it! It was written by Ian Carter who went in search of the truth about how Chesterfield’s crooked spire came to be in such a state....and here it is...... 

11 Sprig of Thyme 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

I dread to think on how long I’ve been singing this song – it’s one of my all time favourites from one of my all time favourite singers: the unbeatable Joseph Taylor of Saxby-All-Saints in Lincolnshire. What I wouldn’t give to have met him! 

12 Blue-eyed Stranger/Joe Pea’s
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

Two tunes from the repertoire of the ‘Winster Morris Dancers’, for whom Sylvia and I are musicians. Blue Eyed Stranger is a kind of Jigged-up version of ‘Shave the Donkey’ (more commonly played as a hornpipe or schottische – but which came first...the Chicken or the Donkey?). Joe Pea’s is a dance written in honour of Joe P Raines (upon his death) who was once the greengrocer in Winster (hence the mischievous mis-spelling) and also a long standing member of, and musician for, the side. The tune for this (also originally entitled: The Blue Eyed Stranger) was in fact hi-jacked from the nearby village of Wensley and matched up to the dance. 

13 Whitby Fisher Lad 
(Anon. Melody. Peter Norman, Arr. Needham/Adams) 

The text for this is to be found in Holroyd’s Yorkshire Ballads. This particular setting, which has been with Sylvia for many years, comes from her brother-in-law Peter Norman (himself a fine and creative singer/guitarist from Dewsbury). It’s a clever tune we think because it flexes itself beautifully for the changing moods in the story line. 

14 Uttoxeter Souling Song 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham/Adams) 

My first performance of this song was, if I remember correctly, with Muckram Wakes back in the early 80’s. It was discovered, I believe, by Derbyshire folk living legend Roger Watson who kindly gave it to us. Particularly delighted then to have me old mucker John Adams (who sang it with me in MW) returning to put his old bass line on for us here. 

15 Six Jolly Miners 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham) 

This is a throwback from Ram’s Bottom days when we were all more about fun than professional correctness...:-) Originating from the mining areas at the borders of Derbyshire and Yorkshire where, from the structure of the lyrics and the shenanigans at the end (which are entirely traditionally legit), they really knew how to have a good time once they got to the pub – holey trousers, clogs, black faces an’orl!! For the record; the little rowdy song at the end is, in this instance, dedicated to current head of the BBC Regional and Local programmes Stuart Thomas, who, it seems almost single handedly orchestrated and executed the removal of practically all the specialist music programmes from BBC local Radio across the UK in 2010 without compunction and ‘seemingly’ GOT AWAY WITH IT!....we’ll see.... 

16 Turtle Dove (Ten Thousand Miles) 
(Trad. Arr. Kendrick/Needham/Loomes) 

And finally, another great song that came to us from the great afore-mentioned, John (Jack – to his friends) Langstaff. We simply love this version to bits...and Jack’s interpretation too, from which we have unashamedly taken inspiration. 
Banks of the Nile
Refers to the Battle of Abukir Bay (at the mouth of the Nile) 1798. Believed to have been written about one single incident – but we know it happened more than once! The tradition has thrown up many a good version of this song since then. This one
Turpin ‘Ero
Or – Ear ‘ole as I usually call it! A great version of this song chronicling the life
Sample not available
Jolly Bacchus
Sample not available
The Riddle Song/Lovers’ Tasks (Sex)
Sample not available
Five Gallon Jar (Drugs)
A song about how dope could be used to shanghai unsuspecting carousers around the ports into a stressful life on the ocean wave! Mr & Mrs Marr clearly have a lot to answer for!..We got it many years ago from the singing of the ‘Bolton Bullfrog’ – the inimitable Bernard Wrigley.
Sample not available
One More Day/Shallow Brown
Here are two great early versions of these already very popular shanties from the repertoire of John Short
Sample not available
Well Dressing Song
Arr. Kendrick Needham)
Three Ravens
We were inspired to include this in our repertoire after hearing it sung by Julie Preen just a few years ago in Leicester. She told us she found it in Bronson’s Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballad so
Sample not available
Love Farewell
Way back in 1972 Argo Records brought together The Druids
Sample not available
The Spire the Aspired
Arr. Kendrick/Needham/Carter/Adams)
Sample not available
Sprig of Thyme
I dread to think on how long I’ve been singing this song – it’s one of my all time favourites from one of my all time favourite singers: the unbeatable Joseph Taylor of Saxby-All-Saints in Lincolnshire. What I wouldn’t give to have met him!
Sample not available
Blue-eyed Stranger/Joe Pea’s
Two tunes from the repertoire of the ‘Winster Morris Dancers’
Sample not available
Whitby Fisher Lad
Arr. Needham/Adams)
Uttoxeter Souling Song
My first performance of this song was
Sample not available
Six Jolly Miners
This is a throwback from Ram’s Bottom days when we were all more about fun than professional correctness...:-) Originating from the mining areas at the borders of Derbyshire and Yorkshire where
Turtle Dove (Ten Thousand Miles)
And finally
Sample not available

Paul Slater

Paul Slater

Finally got around to listening to 'Well Dressed'

Pleased to say that it is the first CD I've bought for many a year on which I can enjoy EVERY track.

Most CD's I buy I like about three tracks but this one is something special.

Well done and I hope you sell thousands, it is well worth excellent reviews and I hope someone in the folk publishing world recognizes it as a major work.

Thanks for a most pleasurable experience,


Pete Fyfe


I count myself very lucky to work on occasions with Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham as members of the music 'crew' providing entertainment onboard HMS Warrior, Portsmouth. Many's the times we've shared a good joke together whilst either singing or playing in an informal session and that comes across in this more than pleasurable recording.

Both fine singers, Keith and Sylvia prove just as adept at accapella as they are in accompanying themselves in company with, amongst others Jon Loomes (hurdy gurdy, fiddle and piano), Johnny Adams (various instruments and vocals) and Gilly Loomes on cornet and hammered dulcimer. The duo's repertoire of predominantly traditional arranged British songs including �Banks Of The Nile�, �The Riddle Song/Lovers' Tasks� and a stirring, if somewhat unusual setting of the shanties �One More Day/Shallow Brown� courtesy of John Short establishes their credentials as purveyors of that distinctive 'folk' culture that we from these islands should all be proud of. The inclusion of a jolly  rumpy-pumpy concertina led set of tunes �Blue-Eyed Stranger/Joe Pea's� evokes memories of Keith's days spent with the much missed band Ram's Bottom and should prove a popular addition to English session players everywhere.

Yet another fine album from the Wildgoose stable.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

I have known Keith and Sylvia personally for many years now but I promise to be as objective as I can in reviewing a couple of 'mates'! Having worked with Keith as part of our trio Three Sheets to the Wind I know only too well his innate musical ability and his ear for finely tuned harmonies. From the first track on this CD 'Banks of the Nile' it is clear that Keith and Sylvia have a knack of complimenting each others' voices superbly with close harmony singing.

A substantial part of the recording is a trilogy entitled 'Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll' which features 'The Riddle Song', 'Lover's Tasks' (sex) and 'Five Gallon Jar' (drugs). This section ends with rocking and rolling on board a sailing ship with interestingly different versions of two well known shanties from the singing of John Short the 'Watchet Shantyman' which are 'One More Day' and 'Shallow Brown'. The work of John Short is, of course, another project that Wild Goose studios is involved with and my reviews of which you'll find in previous editions of FolkNW.

The title track 'Well Dressing Song' celebrates that strange but colourful Derbyshire tradition in one of the very few songs associated with it. Sylvia gets to sing solo on very well performed versions of 'Three Ravens' and 'Whitby Fisherlad' with sensitive concertina backings. One of my favourite tracks is the poignant 'Love Farewell' rendered with empathy and a sensitive arrangement. In lighter mood is Ian Carter's 'The Spire the Aspired' which is all about Chesterfield church. I have a minor criticism with 'Sprig of Thyme' which is actually a woman's song but which opens with Keith singing the lead!

Understandably with Keith and Sylvia's competent concertina playing a few tunes are included in this album too. They have also enlisted the help of other fine musical talents including Bob Axford on guitar; Jon Loomes on hurdy gurdy, fiddle and upright piano; Gilly Loomes on cornet and hammered dulcimer; Michael Beeke on English pipes, whistle and tuba and Johnny Adams on piano, harmonium, melodeon, trombone and fiddle who also adds vocals on some of the tracks. In other words a veritable feast of musical variety. The album finishes with a lovely arrangement by Jon Loomes of 'Turtle Dove' a classic song from our wonderful English tradition.

As always from the Wild Goose stable the album is very professionally produced with comprehensive sleeve notes and some fine photography by Elly Lucas delightfully incorporated into the overall design by Hilary Bix. In fact I have to admit I was quite shocked by the photographs as I've never seen Keith so 'well dressed' before!!


Oz Hardwick

Keith and Sylvia mostly sing mostly sing traditional English songs, and  they sing them bloody well!

Okay, it's not that simple, but it never is, is it? There are countless singers of traditional song the length and breadth of the land (and hooray for that!), but there are some, like Keith and Sylvia, who have a little something that a musicologist could perhaps define, but a layman such as myself wouldn't understand even if they did.

What I do understand, though, is that although I've heard most of the material here any number of times, these versions have that raw boisterousness that in decades gone by we used to get away with calling 'authentic'. The a cappella unison of the likes of 'Five Gallon Jar' and harmonies on 'Banks Of The Nile' bristle with simple power. Elsewhere they accompany themselves with nimble concertina playing, whilst friends pop by to add spirited accompaniment on guitar, hurdy gurdy, fiddle, dulcimer and more as needed.

Really, though, it's all about the songs and the singing, and if that's what you're after, this cracking little album will do very nicely indeed.

Folk London

Mike Norris

If there are foundations upon which the current successes and popularity of English traditional music can be said to be built, then Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham and those of similar talent and commitment are the core components.

This album is absolutely terrific with not a weak track among the 16 on offer. As you would expect from these two the CD is unashamedly traditional although having said that the arrangements are, without exception, creative and interesting.

The so-called trilogy of song listed as 4, 5 and 7 intrigued me. They are collectively labelled as The 'Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Trilogy' and consist of 'The Riddle Song/Lovers Tasks(Sex)',' Five Gallon Jar (Drugs)' and 'One More Day/Shallow Brown (Rock and Roll)' . The first two are a tribute to American collector and educationalist John Langstaff, and the last two from the repertoire of John Short the famous 'Watchet Shanty Man'.

My favourites from the remainder are a version of 'Banks of the Nile' that I have never heard before and quite different from Sandy Denny's better known recording, and 'Love Farewell'. The latter is a song revived from a 1972 collection called Songs and Music of the Redcoats produced by Argo records.

I shouldn't let this review finish without mentioning the excellent concertina playing from both Keith and Sylvia that accompany many of these songs and the comprehensive and interesting insert notes that enhance the pleasure of listening.

Unqualified enthusiasm therefore for this album which would grace the collection of any lover of traditional music.


Jacqueline Patten

WildGoose Records, WGS387CD Since Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham began performing together in 2003, they have gained a deservedly high reputation as a duo with audiences throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond. Individually they have a wealth of experience, both having been established artists for many years. Each has a powerful, resonant voice and together they are amazingly compatible. This adds a depth to the a cappella sound that would be difficult to surpass. Likewise, their individual skills on the concertina are remarkable, yet complement each other beautifully.  

The album opens to the resounding voice of Keith singing, 'Banks of the Nile', with Sylvia Needham harmonising for many of the verses. This fine rendition of a song steeped in the English tradition sets the tone. Having captivated the listener with a strong a cappella song, the second track, 'Turpin 'Ero', is introduced by the haunting sound of the hurdy gurdy, played by Jon Loomes. A trilogy with the subtitles 'sex, drugs, and rock & roll', is indicative of the insight into, and knowledge of the material that these artists have, and includes 'Lovers' Tasks', 'Five Gallon Jar' and two shanties collected by Cecil Sharp from John Short. Sources are mostly traditional with the exceptions of the 'Well Dressing Song' by Sarah Matthews and 'The Spire the Aspired' by Ian Carter. Only one of the tracks is instrumental, comprising two tunes from the repertoire of Winster Morris for whom Keith and Sylvia play. A rendition of the widely known 'Turtle Dove' closes the album perfectly.

Throughout, the arrangements of the songs are sympathetic to the subject, while the mix of humour, pathos and pure storytelling delights the listener. They are joined by a talented array of instrumentalists which enhances the arrangements and gives variety.


Andy Stevens

From the cover this looked like a pair of concertina players, (who are actually musicians for Winster Morris), but the strengths of the duo is their harmonious singing and the concertinas are never overstated particularly as they are regularly joined by five other musicians on pipes, brass and guitars etc.

There are a few well known folk songs, modern comic songs, shanties, and tunes but some with interesting variants. Two striking examples and with a very good brass accompaniment are Turpin' Ero (best on the album) and Blue Eyed Stranger / Joe Pea's. Nicely recorded at Wildgoose

Shire Folk

Tony ONeill

Keith and Syilvia have been performing together for some time now, and this CD clearly demonstrates how close they have become as performers and interpreters of English Song, with tight harmonies and powerful individual renditions. They also, unusually, back themselves with three systems of the only English invented musical instrument, the Concertina   I hate clever people!

This CD, ('England on a stick'!) is a fine selection in 20 tracks of English ballads, songs and tunes, acapella, in harmony and accompanied by a mass of instruments, too numerous to name here but subtly applied.

The 'Well Dressed' of the CD's title refers not to Keith and Sylvia's sartorial elegance, (although who am I to deny it?) but to 'Well Dressing Song' (Sarah Matthews) which is one of only two songs written in the last 50 years that celebrate the pre Christian custom of well dressing, to thank the Earth for the supply of spring water to her communities.

Two other tracks stood out to me, although all are worth a listen. 'The Tower That Aspired' (Ian Carter) which purports to tell why the spire of Chesterfield Church became twisted in the way it is and `Love Farewell' (Trail) which I came to via John Tam's version but I like this much different offering.


Colin Cater

How splendid: another CD offering from Keith and Sylvia, ever developing their Derbyshire hallmark. Splendid artwork from Hilary Bix in the style of a Derbyshire well dressing; with Keith and Sylvia looking as if they'd just stepped out of the puddled clay at Tissington, or Ashford in the Water or Newborough or any of the summer long well dressing shows.

Of course Keith has been a stalwart of Derbyshire since Derbyshire was just a lad m'duck   his vocal command and mastery of both Anglo and English concertinas don't fail him this time either. Opening track Banks of the Nile is an unusual version of a well known song, as is Turpin 'Ero which follows. Sylvia provides a tasteful offering of Three Ravens and the two combine superbly for Sprig of Thyme   the best known version this time. Derbyshire features strongly in the Winster tunes Blueeyed Stranger and Joe Pea's and in the two songs Well Dressing Song by Sarah Matthews and The Spire that Aspired by Ian Carter   my favourite track. It's not often that a hoary old joke can make a great song. Keith Marsden did it with All his other wives came in and between them Ian and Keith and Sylvia have certainly done it here.

Couple of carps   the use of the hurdy gurdy on a couple of tracks detracted, and illustrated why this instrument no longer features in English tradition. The book 'The English Folksinger' was written by Sam Richards and Tish Stubbs, formerly of Staverton Bridge, and both still very active, not as stated in the sleeve notes. But these are small criticisms made by an old fart, who also says   go and have a listen; this is really good stuff.

What's Afoot

Mike Palmer

When I received this disc I realised that not only had I not seen them but I had not heard them either. (I should go out more!) Having now heard the album, I was delighted by their singing and playing. Keith and Sylvia both have superb voices, create great harmonies and have clear diction, a feature not always perfected by some singers. They are supported by a fine selection of accomplished musicians on a wide variety of instruments.

As for the songs themselves they are a great mix of traditional and local songs expertly performed by Keith and Sylvia. Being musicians themselves, (they play for Winster Morris) they throw in a couple of Morris Tunes to add variety to the collection. A couple of shanties from the singing of John Short who was collected by Cecil Sharp are included. My Favourite track? Probably Love Farewell which when recorded by John Tams around 2008 with the Band of Rifles to raise money for the help the heroes campaign, nearly made the charts. This is a great song from soldiers themselves. The Whitby Fisher Lad is another great track beautifully sung by Sylvia. The Spire the Aspired changes the mood and is a song about the crooked church spire in Chesterfield. There is also a song about well dressing which is a great local tradition in Derbyshire, hence the CDs' title Well Dressed.

In all there are sixteen tracks on this disc, the last one being Turtle Dove beautifully arranged by Jon Loomes. This is a fine alburn, well performed and produced, has a very informative booklet with it and will enhance most peoples collection of folk music. I liked it.


Mike Greenwood

IMPECCABLY recorded, much of this first (as far as I'm aware) recorded collaboration between Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needhem. It's dedicated to the life and work of John Langstaff, an American collector of English traditional music and dance, who knew Maud Karpeles, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Douglas Kennedy. His Turtle Dove, sung in harmony with sparse piano, tuba and harmonium gently closes an album full of variety.

The artists' native Derbyshire is never far from their hearts and the album title is a reference to that county's well�dressing custom, as illustrated by a Sarah Matthews song and there are also tunes from Winster's Morris tradition amidst the ballads, shanties and choruses. Each singer offers an occasional solo, though most vocals are shared in harmony, sometimes a cappella, sometimes accompanied by the duo's collective concertinas, or with sympathetic instrumental and vocal assistance from Ryburn valley stalwarts such as Johnny Adams.

The Living Tradition

Clare Button

As depicted by the colourful album cover, the album's punchy title denotes dressing of the floral, village well   rather than the Savile Row   variety. That said, there is enough musical suavity and elegant vocal tailoring on here to suit any dedicated follower of folk.

The names Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham evoke quality, reassuring earthiness and that warm feeling that only something wellbrewed can bring. Each of them is equipped with a concertina, a solid, strong voice full of character and an infectious joy for traditional song. Their admirable keep it simple approach leads to deceptively rich textures of sound, as in the two shanties One More Day/Shallow Brown (not the one you think). Sylvia leads on the first shanty and Keith on the second, both with all the gusto and zest one would wish, backed ably by backing vocals from an assemblage including WildGoose's Doug Bailey himself.

True to the duo's roots, Derbyshire features strongly as the originating point or subject of many of the songs on here and of course an album with this title would not be complete without a well dressing song. Since, oddly, there were none composed before the 1970s, Sarah Matthews' charming recent composition has a deserved place more or less as the album's centrepiece. And if you don't know why Chesterfield spire is crooked, then you obviously haven't heard The Spire The Aspired...

If you like your larynxes hearty, your songs robust and ruddy and your wells well dressed, this is the gem for you.


David Kidman

Well Dressed is the long awaited full CD debut of a rather special partnership that's been steadily growing in stature over the past five years.

A veritable Derbyshire legend, Keith already boasts a folk pedigree stretching back some way (Druids, Muckram Wakes, Ram's Bottom), and an invigorating reper�toire encompassing traditional and tradition�ally influenced contemporary song and shanties, but nowadays he's deservedly in demand both as a versatile solo performer and for his exceedingly engaging duo work with Yorkshire born Sylvia. Their teaming has been a fortuitous one, for they prove a truly complementary couple, in the musical as well as personal sense.

Keith and Sylvia are blessed with strong individual voices and a keen sense of togeth�erness: an innate personal empathy, which, allied to their intuitive and intelligent approach to harmony singing, is a real joy to experience, as is their penchant for warmly sharing their songs with listeners. And between them they're also fine exponents of the three different concertina systems (English, Anglo, duet). The aptly titled Well Dressed has turned out to be not only an excellent demonstration of the couple's strengths, but also a tantalising taster for their charismatic live appearances.

A cursory glance at the tracklist might conjure a hint of 'same old', but this is emphatically not what we encounter, either in the couple's treatments or in the specific variants of often familiar texts which they adopt. Sprig Of Thyme is probably the best �known of these, but its refreshingly simple a cappella harmonised setting here brings nothing but satisfaction, as does Turtle Dove (one of three songs recorded here in honour of the great John Langstaff). Banks Of The Nile is (unusually) briskly dispatched in bold 6/8 metre, while the surprisingly different versions of Shallow Brown and Turpin 'Ero are bound to delight. The disc's central sec�tion contains two standout renditions: a spec

tral Three Ravens and a beautifully poised revisit of Love Farewell. Proudly regional fare such as Six Jolly Miners, The Spire The Aspired, Uttoxeter Souling Song and Sarah Matthews' original Well Dressing Song receive vital, alert performances, as does Whitby Fisher Lad (done to the lovely melody by Sylvia's brother in law Peter Norman).

On the disc's only instrumental item a bracing pair of tunes from the repertoire of the Win�ster Morris Dancers  Keith and Sylvia are joined by Jon Loomes, Bob Axford, Johnny Adams, Michael Beeke and Gilly Loomes; vari�ous permutations of these musicians also pro�vide creative (and jolly) input on a few other tracks.

WildGoose's presentation is typically exemplary, with some rightly pointed com�ments spicing the wonderfully informative liner notes. This release is a triumph for both label and artists.