Multi-talented Colin tells all about his musical journey

Colin Bradford of Alnwick Rotary Club during his talk with Morpeth Rotary Club members Alan Barron and Tony Stubbs looking on.
Colin Bradford of Alnwick Rotary Club during his talk with Morpeth Rotary Club members Alan Barron and Tony Stubbs looking on.

Morpeth Rotary Club

Colin Bradford, of Alnwick Rotary Club, was persuaded by the Morpeth Gadgie, Alex Swailes, to tell Morpeth Rotary members about his accordion playing and interest in music.

As well as being a member of the Castle Band, he is also a composer, poet, editor and teacher.

He set up Border Box to help young people to develop their talents and become skilled in the Northumbrian tradition of music making.

Colin started playing on his granny’s old accordion as a teenager, but at the time it was not considered cool so he took up the guitar. He played American music on guitar in many teenage bands.

A move to Alnwick when he was 20 changed his style. Out came the accordion from the loft and he found it still worked.

Colin talked about the many different types of accordion and how different countries have different styles of playing. He illustrated by playing some of the slower accordion music of the Norwegians, the classical music liked by Russians and, as a contrast, the more lively style used in Britain and Ireland.

He explained the different types of accordion, including the bandoneon used for Argentinian and Tango music, the melodeon which is bisonoric (it has a different note on the same button depending on whether the accordion is pushed or pulled) and the British chromatic that sounds like the instrument played by Jimmy Shand.

There is an alpine accordion, one that sounds like a piano and a bayan, which is played mainly in Russia. There is a great diversity, with many different types and differing numbers of reeds.

Accordions were first heard of in China in the 1700s and did not come to Germany, Austria and England until around 1820.

Some early ones were played by mouth and some were hand or foot operated.

Colin loves accordion music and teaches a group of young people from Northumberland at the Sage.

He had a CD of their playing, which was being sold for charity.

Putting his theory into practice, he entertained club members with clips of music from different countries and on different accordions showing off the versatility of the instrument.

It is used to entertain young people all over the world and is especially good to dance to. Colin had examples from Russia, Canada, Argentina, and Texas in the USA.

His last clip was called the battle of the accordions – with many different types and arrangements playing together to produce wonderful music. It is all about enjoyment.

He admires a brilliant young player called Leonard Jackson and encouraged people to go and see him.

Colin was thanked on behalf of Morpeth Rotary Club by David Richardson.