Tom Shepley’s Band Reviews

How Do You Do Tom Shepley Band
How Do You Do Tom Shepley Band

Tom Shepley’s Band: How Do You Do?

Label: Epona (EPO 014)
Tracks: 13
Website: https://www.eponarecords.com

Tom Shepley’s Band was a four-piece outfit who played the folk clubs of the north-west and Cheshire back in the 1970s and ’80s. Their speciality was the songs and tunes of the north of England (especially the Lancashire and Cheshire areas) – a repertoire which set them apart from the majority of bands on the scene who played exclusively tunes of Celtic (Irish and Scottish) origin. It may have been an unfashionable stance to adopt, but it certainly paid off in the proud individuality of their performances. That stance, and the copious amount of research that went into its adoption, can be credited to the enterprise of the band’s fiddle player Jamie Knowles, whose single-minded persistence unearthed many interesting and pleasing gems.

The band’s one and only LP How Do You Do? was masterminded by Brian McNeill (he of subsequent Battlefield Band fame); it appeared on the Macclesfield-based Traditional Sound Recordings label in 1978, and this admirable Epona reissue marks its first appearance on CD. The quartet takes its name not from one of its members but instead from a street in Hyde; the group’s personnel comprises Jamie Knowles (fiddle, mandola, cittern), Pat Knowles (electric piano, harmonium and lead vocals), Nan Trench (flute & concertina) and Martin Colledge (guitar, tenor banjo, cittern, whistle and bodhrán); it’s not exactly an orthodox lineup, and their performance style might be considered a touch eccentric at times, but there’s no doubting their sheer exuberance and commitment, or indeed the quality of their musicianship. The LP, and the performances enshrined within, prove very much of their time, maybe a bit of a curio methinks, but its 46 minutes make for very entertaining listening. I really like the ensemble’s intelligent approach to scoring, which is at once attractively intimate and homespun and informed by a certain degree of classical discipline. Only on some of the tracks that prominently feature the slightly artificial quasi-synthy timbre of the “electric piano” does the LP betray its age, while the remaining zeitgeist is both plausible and extremely appealing. The repertoire displayed on the LP showcases the band’s versatility and flexibility, for it unashamedly includes some transplanted Irish jigs and reels, a Cotswold morris tune and a Scottish jig in amongst the indigenous Cheshire and Lancashire material. The songs are well characterised by Pat, and include her spirited renditions of The Collier Lass and The Dundee Lassie.

This timely Epona reissue also contains a useful bonus track, Factory Doll, which is taken from the BBC Radio Manchester Children In Need album produced in 1987 (with Jamie being joined by Gill McKay and Sam McGrady for the occasion). One final point: those who possess the original LP need not panic on seeing the credit for track 4, which has now been more accurately titled (The Stockport Hornpipe) following recent discovery during research in the years since its initial appearance.

In all, it’s a pity that Tom Shepley’s Band didn’t get around to recording a second LP


David Kidman FATEA


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Tom Shepley’s Band: How Do You Do?

Label: Epona (EPO 014)

First time on CD reissue of 1978 Traditional Sound Recordings LP on which the worthy quartet turnes the spotlight on tunes and songs from Lancashire and Cheshire that had been newly researched by fiddle player Jamie Knowles. Spirited, if sometimes a touch quaint.