White Horse Festival, August 1998
Dick Wolff, Ian Wheeler, Mark Fry and Dave Wilmshurst. Spring 1999
Firmly rooted in the English tradition, Three Pressed Men perform wonders with voices, hammer dulcimer, guitar, melodeon, whistles, harmonica ... and lots of concertinas! Our music embraces many moods and styles - striking a cappella harmonies, sensitive ballads, lively dance music and rousing choruses.
Mark Fry, Dave Wilmshurst and Ian Wheeler met through dancing with Oxford City Morris Men, and started learning each other's repertoire (i.e. pinching each other's best songs) at the pub sessions that often follow City performances. Rather than argue about it, they started singing together. Mark and Ian are well known performers at folk clubs and festivals in the Oxford district, and previously played in other bands: Mark in the duet Faux Pas with Terri Butler, Ian with the dance band Phungus. Dave used to work in Hong Kong, where he was a member of the local morris team. When he returned to Blighty in 1992 to study at Oxford University, he also joined Oxford City Morris. He describes himself as a "morris tart", being a member of up to 5 teams at once!
In October 1998, having been awarded a doctorate, Dave decided to move back to south-east Asia, so we "pressed" Dick Wolff to take his place. Since Dave didn't actually leave until October 1999, we had the pleasure of a year with this expanded sound. Dick is an experienced solo performer and has played in several dance bands, including Aardvark and, currently, The Aldbrickham Band. He has brought with him a wealth of new ideas, further enriching our sound. Dave is currently residing in Taiwan, but is threatening to return to England for his summer holidays.
What do we play? Our usual answer is "mostly English, mostly traditional". When we started performing together, Irish, Scottish, Breton, Swedish, Cajun and a dozen other different folk styles were receiving lots of attention, which was very exciting and interesting, but it seemed that the English tradition was being ignored. English music has always been at the heart of our individual repertoires, and so we decided to make a virtue of it. Since then a lot of other people, such as Waterson:Carthy and Show Of Hands, have felt the same, and English folk music is now as respectable as Scottish or Irish.
Of course, we like to play music from other styles and traditions as well, but we can't help playing it with a trace of an English accent. Equally, our playing of "foreign" styles rubs off on the way we play English music. In truth, the boundaries between the various folk styles get fuzzier all the time. These days, we are all aware of a vast spectrum of music, from Hildegard of Bingen, through Bach and Beethoven, to the Beatles, the Sex Pistols, Steve Reich and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which previous generations who played what we call "folk" music never were.
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Ian plays an anglo concertina in C/G by Jeffries. He also has a Saltarelle melodeon which the rest of us are trying to persuade him to use more often.
Mark plays a "dreadnought" style guitar by Robin Greenwood (1989),
mandolin by Kaij Tonjes, octave mandola by Button (1999, completed and
set up by Tim Howes), treble and baritone English concertinas by C. Wheatstone.
On Plain English he used an Aria Pro II bass, but has subsequently acquired
David also plays an anglo concertina by Jeffries, but in G/D,
an English concertina by C.Wheatstone (though not on any of the records),
and a Hohner 48-bass piano accordion.
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this page updated 14/1/2001