Pat Knowles Reviews

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Standard Settings – Pat Knowles

Pat Knowles: Standard Settings

Label: Epona (EPO 015)

Resurrection of near-forgotten 1980 Fellside curio wherein classically trained pianist Pat Knowles indulges her “music is music” dictum in “switched-on” (albeit sometimes eccentric) performances of British music (jigs, airs and other delights) on sundry keyboards, ably assisted by Brian McNeill et al.


Folk Roots. October 2015.


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Pat Knowles: Standard Settings

Label: Epona (EPO 015)
Tracks: 13
Website: https://www.eponarecords.com

This Epona reissue complements that of Tom Shepley’s Band’s 1978 LP How Do You Do?, in that its protagonist Pat Knowles was a key member of that outfit, along with husband Jamie. Prior to that phase of her life, Pat had taken classical piano lessons for over a decade, and shortly after meeting Jamie and being introduced to traditional music she met Brian McNeill (Battlefield Band founder member) who was to provide much help and encouragement to her musical endeavours (indeed, Pat was to do session work on several LPs including Brian’s solo album Excalibur). Pat’s own solo album, Standard Settings, subtitled “British Music On Keyboards”, was produced by Brian, and released on the Fellside label in 1980; it provides a perfect demonstration of her credo “music is music and I like it whichever side up it arrives”.

She plays a veritable plethora of keyboard instruments (electric and acoustic pianos, pedal organ, crumar performer, Godwin organ and Jen synthone), several of which are now all but forgotten and decidedly obscure, very probably the province of the esoteric museum specialist. But what an intriguing sound they make! Pat’s keyboard skills are augmented by the musicianship of her Tom Shepley’s Band colleagues – husband Jamie (fiddle, mandolin), Nan Trench (concertina, flute) and Martin Colledge (banjo, electric guitar) – together with Brian McNeill (mandolin, bouzouki), Gary Walsh (flute, whistle, very occasional vocal) and Ian Stewart (snare drum, bodhrán). Those personnel credits may make it sound like a group album by any other name, but in fact it is very much a solo album focussed firmly on Pat and her intensely proficient (albeit unassuming) musical talent.

The repertoire Pat has chosen for performance on this LP forms a broad cross-section of English music, with regional dance tunes rubbing shoulders with items by Playford and Purcell; she also finds room for some O’Carolan pieces along the way, together with a stately slow air of her own composition (Mary) and a tune by Brian himself. It’s a lovely selection, affectionately rendered, and Epona’s attractive reissue reproduces the original, enlightening and enlightened sleeve notes in full (including some details of the instruments used). It’s a very likeable album, albeit a little of a period-piece (I mean that in the nicest possible sense), and this fine reissue stands as a tribute to Pat’s musicianship, good taste and warm personality.


David Kidman FATEA


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