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Roy Harris of EFDSS

reviews Where Umber Flows by Tom & Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara Brown have recorded a CD of their own after, at least, 25 years of activity on the folk scene. Many people will be saying About time too and thanking them for inspiration and encouragement given at some time during those years, for the Browns are that kind of people. Wherever they have gone, music and song have followed They have started clubs, helped organise festivals, run sessions and workshops, (they are peerless singaround leaders) and they have researched songs that then went back into circulation. They did all of this when I first knew them in their beloved West Country, and later in London where they ran one of the big citys best folk clubs. Back in the West they were instrumental in bringing some village customs back to a vigorous life then, typically, leaving its continuance to the local people because, as they said to me, It Belongs To Them. They are activists of the best kind, ever eager to spread the music and the word and to encourage the participation of as many people as possible. In short, doing the EFDSSs work, whether under that banner or not. Along with the likes of Ron Angel (Stockton), Dave & Ruth Cooper(Nottingham), Ted & Ivy Poole(Swindon), they should be high on the list when medals for services to..., or the Societys Gold Badges are being dished out.


As for this album, well its a good one, full of handsome songs and tunes with something of a West country bias, not surprisingly, sung with the honest straightforwardness that is a Brown characteristic. They know when they have a good set of words and they let them do their work. The names of Devon and Cornwall musicians past and present crop up, such as Bob Cann, Mervyn Vincent, Dave Huthnance, and collectors like Baring ?Gould and the Hammond brothers. Outside of that we get a lovely Australia/New Zealand collaboration on The Flying Cloud and a New Bell Wake from Tom & Barbaras .Regalia days, with former colleague Charley Yarwood joining in. The Browns are folk who like to sing with other folk, which explains the ten others who give instrumental and vocal backings throughout. Nice to see that daughter Freya is among them. Another nice touch among a whole album full of nice touches is that the title tune Where Umber Flows, played by Tom Brown, Keith Kendrick, and Chris Bartram, is named after a local river, and was written by Barbara.