Musicians come and go but the band plays on

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Our columnist Stuart Reed on an important anniversary

This year is the 15th anniversary of the band Squinty McGinty.

Originally formed to play Irish-flavoured ceilidh music, the band branched out into barn dances, tangos, Scottish music, country and Italian material.

Year on year we have performed at Goodwood races, military mess dinners, Burns’s Night suppers, naval pickle nights and Trafalgar nights, Italian restaurant soirees and weddings.

Venues have ranged from rough pubs to posh hotels in Hampshire, Sussex and the New Forest.

We’ve made two CDs, The Time of Our Lives and Lucky Day at the Races.

Without doubt, playing at the Festival of the Sea in Portsmouth was a real blast.

Being on that big stage in front of a huge crowd was fantastic.

Other prestigious gigs included playing in the aircraft hangar of HMS Ark Royal and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

From the start, and even today, the mainstays of the band are Chris Bousher from Fareham, and guitarist Chris Lowe, from Emsworth.

Both are prolific singer/ songwriters.

Former cruise liner entertainer Carla Hendriks, another founder member, later moved on to join Manhattan Groove singing swing, Latin and jazz.

She recently sang at the Great Fire of London spectacular on the Thames.

I’m the band’s fiddle player and fellow founder. I also play in four amateur orchestras and I lead string quartets.

I spoke to Carla, who said: ‘It was such a laugh working with Squinty.

‘Stu fronted up to the audience and did the patter.

‘Chris Lowe sang harmony with me and Chris Bousher kept the whole outfit steady with his solid bass playing.

‘We never argued and it was a pleasure trying exciting original material.’

Squinty’s first accordionist, Jill Smith from Fareham, has taken up a new instrument and now plays ukulele in the Gosport Strummers.

Janet Beale, also an accordionist, and Angela Clancy Martin on the fiddle, were both classically trained and still play with the band.

Angela, who also conducts orchestras and teaches violin, told me playing with Squinty is one of the best things in her life. Janet also works with Francis McNamara’s Hanging Tree Band.

Terry Lambourn, fiddle player and dance caller, is also a leading light of the barn dance band, Corn Riggs.

Even though some musicians have come and gone they’ve all stayed friends and often make guest appearances with the original performers.