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John Kirkpatrick (musician)

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John Kirkpatrick (musician)

John Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick performing at Lewes, 2008
Background information
Born (1947-08-08) 8 August 1947
Origin London, England
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Button Accordion, Anglo Concertina, Melodeon
Years active 1972–present
Associated acts Steeleye Span, Albion Band, Thea Gilmore, Richard Thompson, Brass Monkey

John Kirkpatrick (born 8 August 1947) is an English player of free reed instruments.


  • In London 1
  • In Shropshire 2
  • Steeleye Span 3
  • Brass Monkey 4
  • John Kirkpatrick Band 5
  • As soloist 6
  • Discography 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

In London

John Kirkpatrick was born in 1947 in Chiswick, west London.[1] As a child he sang in the choir and played piano. In 1959 he joined the Hammersmith Morris Men, in the second week of their existence, beginning a career-long love of folk music. In 1970 he became a regular at a folk club in the Roebuck pub in Tottenham Court Road and led the resident group, Dingle's Chillybom Band. The club hosted a film show of Morris dancing and Ashley Hutchings turned up. It was the beginning of a long musical relationship. In 1972 John recorded his first solo album Jump at the Sun which included Richard Thompson on acoustic guitar.[2]

In Shropshire

In 1973 Kirkpatrick moved to Shropshire and married Sue Harris. After seeing a dance team called Gloucestershire Old Spot Morris Morris Dancers he formed Shropshire Bedlams to perform local dances, in the so-called Border Morris style. In the early weeks some girls turned up and rather than have a mixed morris team, Harris took the girls aside to form Martha Rhoden's Tuppenny Dish; both teams are still flourishing. By this time John Kirkpatrick was an expert player of melodeon, Anglo concertina, and button accordion. Ashley Hutchings' project Battle of the Field floundered when the Albion Country Band broke up. They had recorded not quite enough material for an album. John had appeared on several of the tracks with Martin Carthy and offered to record two extra tracks with his wife in 1973. It was not released until 1976 but is highly regarded. Harris sang and played oboe and hammered dulcimer, an unusual combination. In 1974 John Kirkpatrick and Ashley Hutchings produced a themed album The Compleat Dancing Master, a history of English country dancing. He 1976 he teamed up with Martin Carthy for Plain Capers, a collection of morris dance tunes.

Steeleye Span

In 1977 Steeleye Span recruited both Kirkpatrick and Carthy, partly to replace fiddler Peter Knight, Kirkpatrick appearing on the albums Storm Force Ten and Live at Last; in concert with them, he would perform solo morris dances. In the same period, John released two albums as a duo with Sue Harris. John became part of Richard Thompson's backing band in 1978. This brought him such publicity that he was in heavy demand as a session musician. He recorded with Pere Ubu, Viv Stanshall, Gerry Rafferty, Maddy Prior and others. In 1980 he released his only single, Jogging Along with My Reindeer. Two more albums with Sue Harris appeared in 1981, but the constant touring, as a duo and as part of other groups, was putting a strain on the marriage. They had four sons together, but parted in the mid eighties. In 1988 he and Sue published Opus Pocus, a collection of many of their own compositions from the previous 20 years, and a selection of some of the (then) more obscure traditional English tunes which had influenced them.

Brass Monkey

In 1979 Kirkpatrick had appeared in the National Theatre Company's stage show Lark Rise to Candleford together with Carthy and trumpeter Howard Evans. Prior to this the use of brass instruments in English folk music was a rare event, but all three had found it thrilling and a couple of years later formed Brass Monkey with Martin Brinsford from the Old Swan Band. The group is an occasional gathering rather than a fixed company. Roy Bailey, like Leon Rosselson has frequently recorded songs of social commentary, frequently on an anti-war theme. John has made several records with Roy Bailey, as well as in a group called Band of Hope. He recorded with Frankie Armstrong in 1996 and 1997. They share a love of early English ballads.

John Kirkpatrick Band

In 1997 John decided to front his own "rock-folk" band, and put together a line-up consisting of Graeme Taylor (guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin - ex Gryphon, The Albion Band and Home Service), Mike Gregory (drums, percussion - ex Albion Band, Home Service), Dave Berry (electric bass, double bass, tuba) and Paul Burgess (fiddle, recorders - from the Old Swan Band). They made two albums: a live album "Force of Habit" containing many of John's arrangements of Morris tunes, plus other material from his back catalogue, plus a studio album "Welcome To Hell" featuring new material.

As soloist

Since 1993 John has recorded seven solo albums. He often unearths obscure English tunes and songs from folk ceremonies. Recently he has started to explore Balkan and Hungarian dance tunes. He has produced one of the only teaching videos for English (D/G) melodeon, now also on DVD. A further teaching resource is his 2003 book of traditional tunes, English Choice, and two accompanying CDs. He has recently started to perform with accordion wizard, Chris Parkinson as the Sultans of Squeeze, and the pair have released one album. He is happily remarried. One of his sons, Benji Kirkpatrick is a member of Bellowhead, a former member of Magpie Lane and Dr. Faustus, and has recorded as a solo guitarist. All four of John's sons do morris dancing. As a composer, choreographer and musical director John has contributed to over 60 plays in the theatre and on radio.


Solo albums
  • Jump at the Sun (1972)
  • Going Spare (1978)
  • Three in a Row (1983)
  • Blue Balloon (1987)
  • Sheepskins (1988)
  • Earthling (1994)
  • One Man and His Box (1999)
  • Mazurka Berzerker (2001)
  • The Duck Race (2004)
  • A Short History of John Kirkpatrick (anthology) (1994)
  • Make No Bones (2 CDs) (2007)
  • Dance of the Demon Daffodils (2009)
  • God Speed the Plough (2011)
John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris
  • The Rose of Britain's Isle (1974)
  • Among The Many Attractions at the Show will be a Really High Class Band (1976)
  • Shreds and Patches (1977)
  • Facing the Music (1980)
  • Ballad of the Black Country (1981)
  • English Canals (1981)
  • Stolen Ground (1989)
Ashley Hutchings with John Kirkpatrick
  • Morris On (1972)[3]
  • The Compleat Dancing Master (1974)
John Kirkpatrick and Martin Carthy
  • Plain Capers (1976)
With the Albion Band
  • Battle of the Field (1976)
  • Lark Rise To Candleford (1980)
With John Raven and Sue Harris
  • The English Canals (1977)
With Steeleye Span
  • Storm Force Ten (1977)
  • Live at Last! (1978)
With Brass Monkey
  • Brass Monkey (1983)
  • See How it Runs (1986)
  • Sound and Rumour (1999)
  • Going And Staying (2001)
  • Flame of Fire (2004)
  • The Complete Brass Monkey (anthology)
John Kirkpatrick Band
  • Force of Habit (1997)
  • Welcome To Hell (1997)
With Umps and Dumps
  • The Moon's in a Fit (1980)
John Kirkpatrick, Maddy Prior and Sydney Carter
  • Lovely in the Dance (1981)
Kepa Junkera, Riccardo Tesi, John Kirkpatrick
  • Trans-Europe Diatonique (1993)
John Kirkpatrick, Rosie Cross, Georgina Le Faux, Michael Gregory, Jane Threlfall, Carl Hogsden
  • Wassail! (1997)
Maddy Prior, John Kirkpatrick, Frankie Armstrong, Nic Jones, Gordeanna McCulloch
  • Ballads (1997)
John Kirkpatrick and Chris Parkinson
  • Sultans of Squeeze (2005)
As session musician
  • Henry The Human Fly (Richard Thompson) (1972)
  • I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (Richard and Linda Thompson) (1974)
  • Hokey Pokey (Richard and Linda Thompson) (1975)
  • Pour Down Like Silver (Richard and Linda Thompson) (1975)
  • First Light (Richard and Linda Thompson) (1977)
  • Sunnyvista (Richard and Linda Thompson) (1978)
  • Hand of Kindness (Richard Thompson) (1983)
  • Daring Adventures (Richard Thompson) (1986)
  • The Crab Wars: A Ballad of the Olden Times, As Remembered by Sid and Henry Kipper (The Kipper Family) (1986)
  • Amnesia (Richard Thompson) (1988)
  • Why Does It Have To Be Me? (Roy Bailey) (1989)
  • Sweet Talker (Richard Thompson) (1991)
  • Rumor and Sigh (Richard Thompson) (1991)
  • The Happiness Counter (Leon Rosselson) (1992)
  • Mirror Blue (Richard Thompson) (1994)
  • More Guitar (Richard Thompson) (2003)
  • Boomerang (Benji Kirkpatrick) (2007)
Original film soundtrack
Compilation albums

The tracks John performs on in the Three Score And Ten boxed set are The Rose Of Britain’s Isle / Glorishears from the Rose Of Britain's Isle as track twelve and

  • Homepage

External links

  1. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Accordion Links: Northwestern Europe". Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  3. ^ with other artists
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