Bryon's Boutade





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Published on Feb 18, 2013

Fried's 1991 4-couple set dance, Bryon's Boutade (from Potters' Porch), written in honor of musician and composer Bryon Bonnett (1929 -- 2008), is deservedly one of her most popular creations. Set to Bryon's syncopated, swaggering tune "Hubbub," the dance is wonderfully inventive, with its modified Choice Morsels hey in the A music and double poussette in B1.

When Fried taught it, she made a point that the final turn-single right leads into the opening move of the next round. She wanted the hands-4 to be well-formed, well-weighted ECD circles, she expected the couple making the arch and the top couple to move toward each other and not have one wait while the other came to them, and she loved the change in texture as the 2s and 3s ducked under the arch and cast back to the top with a skipping step (not mentioned in the instructions but encouraged by Fried nonetheless).

But above all she wanted the dance to be fun. Nothing serious and not fast, so that dancers can take advantage of the tune's swagger and not be scurrying about to get to the next place in the dance. You will see what she meant when you reach the point in the video when the dancing begins (02:27:10).

"Hubbub" was not the only Bryon Bonnett tune Fried used. Her dance Innocent Merriment, for instance (also from Potters' Porch), is set to Bryon's tune "Codlins & Cream," also from the collection "Trial Run" and used with permission of the publisher H.E. Styles. Fried met Bryon and his wife Barbara at Halsway Manor, and they were very fond of one another. I think you will see why, at least in part, when you read some of the biographical details of Bryon's life, which his daughter Penny generously shared with me for this video.

"By age of 18 Bryon was a full time organist at Yeovil Congregational Church and continued as a church organist for 60 years, playing in church only days before he died and directing choirs wherever he played the organ, taking a great delight in giving reluctant singers the confidence to perform. He discovered folk music in the early 1960s, but initially refused to play it, insisting it would ruin his organ playing, but in later years maintained that it was in fact the best thing he could have done. He took great pleasure in slipping traditional tunes into his voluntaries -- he would often tell me gleefully that, after he had played some piece of Playford as a closing voluntary, somebody would come and ask what that piece of Bach was.

"He and his wife Barbara, also an accordion player, moved to Barbara's old stamping ground in the north west of England. Here they formed The B's band, which went from strength to strength, playing nationally and internationally at dances, festivals, weekends, folk camps, etc., for the EFDSS and others. Their enthusiasm led them to be involved in the beginnings of the Sidmouth International Festival, Folk Camps, and Halsway Manor in Somerset, where they met Fried de Metz Herman. Bryon and Barbara also played and sang as a duo, and with their children Penny and Chris and sister Moira, performed at folk clubs and ceilidhs. All these activities continued on their return to the West Country in later years.

"The first folk tune I am aware of Dad's writing was "Our Babs," written for Mum when they first met, but he started to become more prolific in the 1970s. Tunes just 'came' to him, ready formed, needing very little adjustment. We got used to a glazed look coming into his eyes and a call for paper and pencil, sometimes at the most inconvenient moments -- in the middle of the night, or when driving - on that occasion he dictated the complete tune to Mum as he drove. He was later invited by Harry Styles to produce a book of his tunes (now out of print but I still have a few copies if you're interested) and many appear in other collections and recordings. He also wrote religious music, including carols and a beautiful setting of the Lord's Prayer.

"A note about the spelling of his name -- he always maintained that his parents had intended it to be spelt 'Bryan', but according to his mother the register was drunk at the time!"

Adrian Dickinson, the son of Sid and Pam Dickinson who played with Bryon and Barbara in The B's, added this colorful memory of Bryon in an email to me.

"Bryon was a lovely guy and a superb musician. His inventive use and mastery of progressive chord sequences and harmonization was amazing, and he was able to use this to great effect, even within the relative confines of short folk tunes. The B's band was formed around 1967 and they played their first gig the night I was born (obviously, my mum wasn't in the band at that point!). Bryon and Barbara were the accordionists, my dad was on the fiddle and Pete Rowly was on bass. My mum took over on bass about 6 years later, I think. I used to sleep on the back of the stage in the double bass case! Happy memories." Happy memories, indeed! --Paul Ross


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