England's folk music scene was enlivened in the 1970s by acoustic guitarist Robin Dransfield and his younger brother, Barry, on fiddle. Their bluegrass-style vocal harmonies, which they dubbed "country and northeastern," are still recalled fondly. Initially playing together in a semi-professional bluegrass/old-timey band, the Crimple Mountain Boys, in the mid-'60s, Dransfield was persuaded by his younger sibling to leave a teaching position and devote his full attention to music in 1969. As a duo,Robin & Barry Dransfield built their early following at the Harrogate Folk Club, where they shared the stage with such influential folk artists as Martin Carthy, Ewan MacColl, and the Watersons. Continuing to evolve as a band, the Dransfields moved to an acoustic/electric sound with the addition of vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Charlie Smith and drummer Brian Harrison.
Two years of nonstop work peaked with the release of two duo/band albums, Rout of the Blues and Lord of All I Behold. The Dransfields toured with British singer/songwriter Ralph McTell and were invited to tour with Steeleye Span. They signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. The streak of good luck ran out, however, when reports of their energetic performances were conveyed to Steeleye Span, who withdrew their invitation. Instead, the Dransfields were forced to tour the United Kingdom as opening act for American singer/songwriter Tom Paxton. Frustrations during the tour led to heated arguments betweenRobin & Barry Dransfield, resulting in the group's disbanding. Although Barry credited the ambitious but poor-selling album The Fiddler's Dream, based on tales of a fictitious traveling fiddler, to the band, it was primarily a solo effort.
Retreating from the concert stage, Robin Dransfield found employment as a roadie for Dave & Toni Arthur. Separated for nearly a decade, Robin & Barry Dransfield reunited to record an acoustic duo album, Popular to Contrary Belief, in 1977. They soon resumed their solo careers. Robin's debut solo album, Tidewave, followed three years later. A 39-track compilation spanning Robin & Barry Dransfield's discography (together and solo), Up to Now, was released on the Free Reed label in 1997. ~ Craig Harris