Annie Dearman & Steve Harrison - Community Musicians
Annie Dearman (voice, jew's harp, kazoo) & Steve Harrison (melodeon, mouth organs, banjo, tenor guitar) perform songs in a robust and firmly rooted English style, taking their repertory from traditional singers, the folk song collectors of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, printed ballad sheets, and songs and tunes that they happen to hear and like. They have a particular love of songs that tell historical stories, but are also fond of American material from the 1920s and 30s. They also have a nice line in political songs, whilst Annie has written a few telling songs about the places in which they live and which they visit.

Based in the Pennine village of Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, Annie and Steve are true community musicians, performing not just in festivals and in folk clubs all over England but for history societies, community groups, political events, weddings, birthdays and funerals. Their performance style is direct and straightforward, with uncomplicated accompaniments that always give priority to the words of their songs.

We are able to offer three main types of performance:
A variety of traditional songs (including ballads), together with a few more recent songs and an occasional humerous item. This would be typical of what we might perform in a folk club or festival booking;

A thematic performance, perhaps concentrating on traditional material, or on political or local songs. This would be typical of what we might present at a local arts centre,

A historically-oriented 'show', using traditional English songs to illustrate historical themes, and including visual  illustrations and contextual material presented orally by Steve. This would be typical of what we might perform for a local history society.

Our 'shows': we are currently able to offer the following, usually without the need to charge any fees. A typical show runs for about 75 minutes, plus an optional interval. For audiences up to about 50, no amplification is required,

The Noisy Frame:
The Lives of Cloth Makers in Song & Testimony, c.1780-1840
The programme explores the the tumultuous changes and conflicts of the early industrial revolution as they affected cloth makers in the north of England. The good times of the late C18th Century, the slump in trade after the Napoleonic wars, the violent reaction of Luddism to attempted mechanisation, and the beginnings of the factory system are illustrated in songs, narratives and pictorial evidence all dating from the time.

Crime, Sex & Retribution in English Folk Song
This presentation explores these three themes and their interrelations as illustrated in songs derived from both printed ballad sheets and oral sources, mainly from the C19th, accompanied by relevant visuals and oral commentary. We include songs dealing with true histories of murder and mutiny; the death penalty, reprieve, and transportation of convicts; stories of press gangs & army desertion; and notions of true, tragic and false love, angry parents, and plain old sex.

Stormy Weather Boys! Sea, Ships and Sailors in English Folk Song
This show  uses songs from the English folk tradition, supported by oral commentary and relevant visuals, to illustrate aspects of nautical history over the last couple of centuries. We  include songs related to the press gang; work on board ship; piracy and mutiny; sea battles; the last days of sail, the coming of container ships, the women left ashore, and some who weren’t!

We also occasionally perform with poet Adam Strickson to present mixed poetry/ song events, usually on a theme. (We have recently focused on birds.)

What do we sound like in live performance?

  • For the use of a clip of our music in a moving and innovative animation, see here.
  • For the use of Annie's singing in a contemporary political context, see here.

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