Skibboo and “Half Ton Sessions”


When I first got hold of the new banjo, I played it obsessively for a while. I was not consciously trying to play in any style – just relaxing with the instrument and letting it go wherever it seemed to want to. I remember being particularly relaxed about meter – letting the plectrum make its own patterns on the strings without trying in any way to tidy things up or “do things properly”. As I did this, a batch of new tunes started to emerge. They were obviously some kind of folk music, but did not seem to come from anywhere in particular. Some kind of lost Celtic tribe? A listener who came across the tunes on SoundCloud described the style as “Celtic hurdy gurdy funk jazz”, and until I can think of something better, this will do nicely.





Eventually I decided to record the tunes – but not before adding some more instruments. I was enjoying the sheer audibility of the banjo – so I went for “loud and raucous”, and chose hurdy gurdy, accordion, saxes, bouzouki, bass and drums. Have a listen here. Play it through some decent speakers, and whack the volume right up!


If you like the sampler, you can now listen to the whole album on Soundcloud.

Thanks to all the members of “Skibboo” – the virtual 7-piece “band” who helped me to record this. They were Bert Santilly (accordion), Brian Cleary (bouzouki and guitar), Dave Olney (bass guitar), Anne Templer (percussion), Duncan Moss (hurdy gurdies, flute, soprano sax), and Trevor Barlow (baritone and soprano sax). They have never all met in the same room, but they all played some rather odd music wonderfully! Thanks also to Neil Rogers at Half Ton Studios and to Jim Brown for the lovely artwork on the cover.

I really did want this to turn into a live band – but then got daunted by the sheer amount of time and work that it would involve to get it going. One day I am going to come back to it and have a lot of fun 🙂 In the meantime,  Brian Cleary and myself sometimes include stripped-down versions of these tunes in our sets – his mighty “Gzouk” is ideal for doing all the big beats and drones.