Featured Album: (Sunday 7th April 2019)
David Bowen Trio
“Sounds of the Old Morino”
“Sounds of the Old Morino” from the David Bowen Trio is this week’s featured album on the Real Sunday Ceilidh. It was released in 2003.
The trio are:
David Bowen Lead Accordion
Dennis Morrison Piano, Bass and 2nd Accordion
Billy Thom Drums
Sleeve notes from the CD from David Bowen:
“My Old Morino was made around the late 1920’s and is a Hohner Morino 4 with freebass. I purchased the box in the early 1970’s and it’s still producing a wonderful sound. I do hope you enjoy listening to many of my favourite tunes.
Special Thanks to: Dennis Morrison and Billy Thom for their wonderful accompaniments and input. Both play a major part in the Scottish Dance Band scene and I am sure you will enjoy their added contribution to this CD”
Sleeve notes from the CD from colleague, John Carmichael:
“The Old Morino, it may be, but the sound is as fresh, bright and musical as the day it was born. David Bowen in this CD shows why he is, and has been for many years, respected in Scottish music circles. His tasteful playing, excellent choice of material and fine harmonies are all testimony to years of ‘treading the boards’ with many of Scotland’s top dance bands. Happy listening… and here’s to the next one!”
About David Bowen
When you ask any musician involved in the Scottish Dance Music circuit “When was your first public performance?” you don’t expect the answer to be “the King’s Theater, Glasgow, in 1962 – playing trombone with an amateur opera company, in a production of Show Boat”. However, this was indeed David Bowen’s answer to that question.
David is well known today as a talented box player and is also in great demand as a pianist. However, he was playing trombone and piano long before he ever strapped on an accordion. In fact, he claims he got involved with the accordion “by accident” while he was on holiday on the Isle of Coll. He had been asked to play piano for Bunny Cruickshank from Oban, in a show dance, which was being staged in the local village hall. There was only one slight problem – the piano provided was “way out of tune”. Luckily, Alistair Oliphant – the hotel proprietor – had brought his box along and asked David if he wanted to play instead. David had never tried an accordion before, but being able to play piano, he managed the right hand (keyboard) side with relative ease. This was his first attempt at an accordion – at the age of eighteen. David was brought up in Glasgow, his parents both played piano and his father also sang tenor, performing in various operas and shows in Ireland. Both of David’s sons had piano lessons, but unfortunately never continued.
David taught himself to play the accordion – his first one being a Baille. He now plays an original Hohner Morino IV with free bass – which was actually made in the late 1920’s. He bought this particular accordion in the early 1970’s – and it still produces a fantastic sound. The competition stage was only visited once as a competitor by the young self taught accordionist. It was the West of Scotland Championship, organized by Jock Loch, and was held in Straiton, Ayrshire. David thinks he came in about fourth in the competitions and remembers Ronnie Easton and Brian Griffin were also competing. David remembers playing second box at the evening concert with John Carmichael and Charlie Cowie with a few remarks from the afternoon competitors! In the early years, the music of the Jim MacLeod Band was a favourite of David’s – in fact, he used to play along with the MacLeod records while practising in front of a mirror!
Nowadays, David is frequently involved in various competitions and festivals – in the capacity of adjudicator and tutor. These events include anything from the Mod, to the Festivals held in Keith, Lairg and Stornoway.
Within the Scottish Dance Band circuit, the Jim Johnstone Band is probably David’s favourite band, but there are so many others that he enjoys listening to. These include Jimmy Blue, Bobby Crowe and Jimmy Lindsay from days gone by and then more up to date there are bands such as Graeme Mitchell, Colin Dewar and Gordon Shand.
Although David has never had the urge to compose a single tune in his life, he enjoys arranging music for different groups – both Scottish and folk.
The band scene began for the young musician around the time when the Accordion & Fiddle Clubs started. David was a member of the ‘M.A.F.I.A.’ (the musical one, of course!) and was in Dumfries on business when he met up with Jimmy Yeaman, who mentioned that there was an A&F Club being held that night at the ‘Hole in the Wa’’. David went along and played piano with Jimmy. The guest that night was Bobby Crowe, who asked David to play at a few gigs with him – that was the start of the band scene and a long friendship.
Performing All Around The World
David moved to Inverness in the early 1970’s and was involved in Construction Equipment Sales. Later, he changed direction and was a professional musician and tutor, playing as often as he could as a soloist and with his own and many different bands as well as tutoring five days a week.
Foreign shores have also had the pleasure of hearing the Bowen sound. David has performed in Nigeria, Norway, Bulgaria, Germany and Eire as well as having toured Australia and New Zealand with the Alexander Brothers as part of the Bobby Harvey Band.
Radio & TV Work
Closer to home David has worked as a backing musician with most of Scotland’s top performers. His first radio broadcast was with Tommy Walker around 1969/70. In these early days, David was broadcasting every year with various bands, from the aforementioned Tommy Walker to Graeme Mitchell or Jock Fraser. David has also broadcast many solo performances for BBC Radio Highland.
And he hasn’t restricted himself to radio broadcasts!! David has been on many TV Hogmanay Shows and numerous other TV programmes.
Away from the ‘live’ performances, there are over thirty albums on which the playing of David Bowen can be heard. Just a sample of these include – Bobby Harvey, Stuart Anderson, Graeme Mitchell, Iain Anderson, Bobby Crowe, the Strathpeffer Dance Band, Hector McRae, Bobby Coghill, Tommy Darkie, Davis Silver and Fergie MacDonald – the list is endless (and not a grey hair on his head!).
Other Musical Interests
occasionally likes to get away from Scottish dance music and relaxes to some
easy listening music, which includes the likes of Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow
and James Last. Brass band music, church music and modern folk styles are also
favourites which have had some degree of influence.
As well as teaching music, recording CDs and playing gigs with all these wonderful musicians, David still finds time to attend Accordion and Fiddle Clubs – and not just as Guest Artiste. He tries to attend his local clubs of Highland, Dingwall and Forres as often as he possibly can.
Advice For Young Players
Being a tutor, David has these words for young players who may be new on the scene “Learn the basics first, read music where possible and play tunes within themselves at sensible tempos”.