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KEN LANGSBURY And Then It Happened

And Then It Happened

Musical Traditions  MTCD348

Ken Langsbury has been prized as a tradition bearer in Gloucestershire for over 40 years, and this 64-minute CD of his stories should bring him some belated wider recognition. It’s a performance recorded at Miserden Village Hall in September 2009 by Musical Traditions supremo Rod Stradling. Their association goes back to 1973 when The Cotswold Liberation Front, soon to become the Old Swan Band, supported Ken at several of his gigs. Two of the stories here, The Fire Brigade and Moreton in Marsh, appeared on OSB’s Gamesters, Pickpockets and Harlots album in 1981.

Ken’s repertoire consists of whatever takes his fancy, but here he has concentrated mainly on stories by Gloucestershire folk, whether countrymen like himself or Cotswold dialect enthusiasts like Charles Gardiner, the Clerk to Evesham Council. The stories are shortish, humorous takes on local everyday life, building to strong punchlines. One of the best is Ken’s own How Do You Spell Yokel?, when the outside world intervenes in the form of refugee children from London.

Some of it seems slight and dated when read from the page (the liner notes provide transcripts, as well as Ken’s life story in his own words), but Ken’s skills as a natural entertainer ensure that each story can be relished like a ripe hedgerow blackberry. His dramatic style embraces a rich accent, a wide vocal range, and a capacity to surprise. Some stories are interrupted or followed by snatches of song, to keep us on our toes. He can do longer songs and ballads too, and I suspect it won’t be too long before another album appears.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 87 of The Living Tradition magazine.