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THE BOAT BAND "Burning the Water" Harbourtown HARDCD030

In the time-honoured tradition I must first declare an interest as The Boat Band are very near neighbours of mine, just a few miles along the Trent & Mersey Canal. That said this is an excellent album full of Louisiana bar-rom sound, impossible to listen to without wishing to be swirling around in a swampland waltz.

The Boat Band lack the polish of Britain's best known cajun outfit Chris Hall's "R. Cajun & The Zydeco Brothers" but that works in their favour as the slightly dirty sound comes over as rather more authentic. Add to that a huge plus in the shape of Kate Barfield's nasally vocals which really bring the cajun music to life.

Containing some ten swamp standards highlights being "Clair de Lune", a wonderful fiddle driven "T'as pas Raison" and the storming "Bosco Stomp". The Boat Band throw in a bluesy "Alberta" and stray well away from Louisiana with "Kansas City". Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's wonderful "Bad Week for Old Fiddlers" gives Greg Stephens a chance to display some neat banjo picking, while all the way through the album Allison Parkes' accordion showed exactly how the rub-board should be played.

If you enjoy music, certainly one for your collection and if you're new to the music an excellent intro. Watch out too for a BBC 2 documentary on The Blues Band due out in the summer.

John Ridgway

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.