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Vic Smith of fRoots

reviews Fenlandia by Mary Humphreys & Anahata

Fenlandia? Well, the Fens have become home to these two and here they are trying to reconstruct a song repertoire from the work of early 20th century collectors who often were more interested in melody than song text, especially where the collector was female? Ella Bull in this case?and the words were considered "unedifying".


Mary has been trying to reconstruct these songs (using an entirely different method from that used by that other great East Anglian ethnomusicologist, Sid Kipper, and the way he "remembers" his songs) and has come up with some pleasing results, giving new life to neglected, near?forgotten but beautiful airs. Amongst the songs are some fine sets of Welsh and English tunes. Anahata's precise and rhythmically inspiring playing of the melodeon is one of the most pleasing sounds to have emerged in English music in the last few years and it dovetails beautifully with Mary's concertina. In places they are joined by Dave and Gina Holland whom they also work alongside in the ceilidh band, Fendragon.


A glance at their website will show you just how busy they are in solo appearances in clubs, concerts and festivals as well as barn dances and the new quintet with Craig:Morgan:Robson. They deserve to be busy; they have a great deal to offer.