2007 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the formation of Violinski by John Hodgson, Mik Kaminski and John Marcangelo and their successful albeit brief dance with the music charts. Always more than "one-hit wonders" or an Electric Light Orchestra side project for ELO violinist Kaminski, the group recorded two fine albums and a wealth of previously unreleased material while their history goes back beyond their 1977 recording debut...
Marcangelo, Kaminski & Hodgson

The young guns of punk had fast replaced the tired platform-booted stomp of glam rock with a new, raw music that filled London clubs with the sound of Doc Martins energetically pogoing but for one musician in the North of England, an older more traditional form of footwear was providing songwriting inspiration.

John Marcangelo was born and bred in the town of Whitehaven, situated on the west coast of Cumbria and built on the traditional industries of mining and shipping. For hundreds of years, workers in the North had walked to their demanding and at times dangerous jobs in wooden soled shoes with leather uppers called clogs. It was no different in Whitehaven and everyday, the clatter of clogs could be heard as coal miners made their way to the pits. A different but no less percussive sound could be heard coming from a small shop in Roper Street, intriguing a young musician.

JOHN MARCANGELO: "As a kid I used to pass by Brew's clogger's shop, watching Mr Brew hammering away at his last, making and repairing clogs, and after a while it just gave me the idea for the 'Clog Dance' piece."

That initial inspiration was also fuelled by the clog dance itself, a two-hundred year old percussive dance that pre-dated tap dancing. Another influence and one which would later play an important role in the songs' longevity was the proud musical heritage of the colliery brass band. For now, studies beckoned and the opportunity to meet like-minded musicians at the Leeds College Of Music who not only wanted to further their skills but create their own music.

At just 5 years old, John Hodgson was performing in local orchestras and brass bands, including the renowned Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. Three years later, he was playing over five nights a week and during weekends before moving to the Leeds College to begin his studies in jazz and improvisation at age 15.

Violin prodigy Mik Kaminski made his first professional appearance with the Leeds Orchestra at 14 years of age while also winning early critical acclaim as well as competitions for his classical playing. Kaminski joined Hodgson and Marcangelo at the School Of Music and finding they all shared similar musical ideas, the three soon became friends and set about forming a band. Cow was an experimental rock group with influences from Frank Zappa to modern jazz and classical music and some of the early compositions for the band would later resurface on Violinski's debut album, 'No Cause For Alarm'.

MIK KAMINSKI: "We were the only band apart from Curved Air who used a violin. Unfortunately we were devoting more energy to the band than to work, with the result we all got thrown out."

Preview extract taken from 'Clog Dance - The Very Best Of Clog Dance' sleeve notes by Rob Caiger.

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