Tuesday, June 10, 2008



For those unfamiliar with his oeuvre, here's Acker's site.

For our non-UK friends, here's his Biog.

Acker (pronounced in Somerset-ese as "Ahhhhh-kerr", meaning "mate"/"pal"/"buddy") comes from Pensford, a small mining village a few miles south of Bristol that you pass thru on the way up from Yeovil. It's marked on local maps with a tiny clarinet symbol. Acker's a true West Country legend: round here, they call him "Mister Acker Bilk" with the emphasis on mister...I'm being a t(r)ad disrespectful, so I'll correct myself.

Mister Acker Bilk was one of my dad's trad.touchstones (along with Chris Barber and Kenny Ball, and of course Satchmo) and the main reason I got nudged into learning clarinet at school.

Here he is in a local pub lol, playing "Stranger on the Shore," the song that gave him a shock US No. 1 in the early 60's:

Check out the original when you get a chance - the tone of his clarinet; the fluidity of his playing on that recording - it's breathtaking and it's also an oddly moving song. He's about 80 now, but he still sounds like he's having a lot of fun - and there's something quietly inspirational about that.

I can't ever hear this song without thinking of my dad and getting a huge lump in my throat. This one's for you, Ronnie.