On our trip northwards to Lindisfarne, we called in on my old mate Sam Pirt, who lives the wrong side of two railway tracks in Gilberdyke, East Yorkshire.
I first encountered Sam at the Wooton Fiddle Club ceilidh in about 1997, when I was a deckie learner accordionist, and tentatively launched into 'Lucy Farr's', only to be played out of the session by this amazing 17 year old squeezebox maestro. His style was quite simply astonishing, I'd never heard the accordion played like it, and it ignited my admiration for Sam as a player and a teacher that remains undimmed.
Our musical lives occasionally overlapped, I took Sam's place in Bill Sables' Shenanigans ceilidh band when he was off starting up 422, then I started the Foolish Virgins with Eric the Viking and Carol Dawson, with Bill as caller in residence. Pressure of work and playing gigs all over the north of England got to me, so I resigned and formed the Black Diamond Ceilidh Band (which just played locally and more occasionally in the Hull area), Bill took over the Virgins, and replaced me with ......Sam!
I think it was in 2001 that I attended one of Sam's accordion courses in Goole (and put on half a stone that weekend, enjoying his mum Gill's cooking), which gave me another leap in my playing style. I can faithfully recommend Sam as an inspired teacher as well as an all-round good guy. He has worked tirelessly for his mum's Kenyan charity, Sengwer Aid, having visited seven times, helping with various projects and teaching accordion to youngsters there.
Sam's musical collaborations have grown widely, whilst still a mainstay in 422, he now has a combo called The Hut People, with former Beautiful South percussionist Gary Hammond, and several other incarnations, visible at his website.
Right, back to the story. We called on Sam to arm him with a 96 bass Black Diamond Accordion, which he wants to get the feel of prior to recording some studio tracks that we will use on the website, so potential customers get an idea of the sound of these instruments.
So, we're looking forward to hearing Sam's workout with a BDA, and we'll get it online as soon as practicable.
Meanwhile, to give you a taster of his playing style, here's Sam playing in The Hut People: