Reg Hall is a melodion and fiddle player, folk music collector and professor, who has made a quiet, but none the less massive contribution to the folk music of these islands.
In a way you could say that folk music – well, certainly traditional music – has been his life. As a young man Reg played with Irish musicians in London in the early days of the post-war immigration into this country. He collected music and played alongside them and was respected by the musicians, who knew that this was a fellow musician and not just somebody looking to make a reputation on their backs.
He also played with and collected music from musicians in East Anglia, such as Sussex concertina player, ScanTester and Norfolk musicians like Walter and Daisy Bulwer and Billy Cooper.
He still plays; he has played fiddle with Bampton Morris since the 1960s and plays with Padstow Blue Horse dancers in Padstow, Cornwall.
Reg has worked with the great folk label, Topic Records since the early 60’s and with Bill Leader he was responsible for that great CD, Paddy In The Smoke. He recently curated the amazing Topic Collection, Voice of the People.
In recent years he has been a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex from which he has now been awarded his doctorate.
He still plays with The Rakes ( Reg, Michael Plunket and Paul Gross) and his melodion playing has a distinctive style that isn’t a purely English style. I think Reg knows more about melodion playing than anybody I know. He has always maintained that before the speed merchants came along Irish musicians would have played at a much steadier pace. You can hear his playing on the Rakes recordings and on recordings on the Veteran label.