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The Veteran recording label was founded by John Howson, and the first release was in 1987.
It was on cassette only, and the label was then known as Veteran Tapes.
And here is an idea of what we are about:
"Veteran is a small independent record label, devoted to capturing the finest in traditional music from across the British Isles. Their carefully selected catalogue features singers and musicians who reflect the vitality and power of traditional music. Veteran eschew the scattergun approach of some labels who record just about anyone in the hope of hitting on a genuine talent. Instead they record only those artists whose music is instinctive, honest and earthy and whose music is crying out to be captured and made available. Nor will you find too many "star names" in their catalogue (although there are a few totemic performers on their books, and more power to Veteran for securing them!) - the label is more concerned with the quality of the goods on offer than on the place of the artist in some artificial pecking order."
from a 'Pay the Reckoning' review.
In 1993 the first CD compilation was released.
This was VTC1CD 'Stepping it Out!' which included a track from each of the first twenty-five cassette releases.
Singers: Hubert Freeman, Ted Chaplin and Tony Harvey with John Howson (standing) enjoying a drink in an Ipswich pub before appearing on BBC Radio Suffolk, 1990. Photo: East Anglian Daily Times
These first cassettes concentrated on the recordings made by John Howson in Suffolk but they were followed by some important, previously unreleased, material recorded by the eminent collector Mike Yates. John then started recording in many parts of England where it was said that traditional music had died out. Not so! And a fascinating collection of recordings was made which is now housed in the British Library, National Sound Archive.
In 1995 Veteran was the first label to release, on CD, new recordings of traditional English singing - VT131CD ‘When the May is All in Bloom’
Bob Lewis, Bob Copper, Louie Fuller, Gordon Hall, Ron Spicer and John Copper at the launch of 'When the May is all in Bloom' held at the Central Club, Peacehaven,1995. Photo: John Howson
After releasing 40 albums on cassette, including four doubles, all the production is now on CD. There are now over forty CDs in this catalogue featuring some of the best and most interesting traditional music and singing from both England and Ireland including: songs and melodeon music from the label's home county of Suffolk, country dance and stepdance music from remote Dartmoor villages, classic traditional singing from Sussex as well as fine examples from the great Northern Irish singing traditions.
VT137CD The Girls Along the Road
Antrim singer and tin whistle player John Kennedy receives a framed copy of his CD 'The Girls along the Road' during the album launch at the Ennistymon Singing Weekend, Co. Clare 1999. Photo source: Unknown
Many are newly commissioned recordings, whilst others are digitally cleaned archival recordings, some dating back over sixty years. The back catalogue has not been forgotten: in addition to straightforward re-releases there are also compilations from the Veteran archive.
VT139CD Moor Music
Jason Rice, Rob Murch, John Howson, Gareth Kiddier and Mark Bazeley launching 'Moor Music' at the Dartmoor Folk Festival, 2000. Photo: Alan Quic
John Howson, Roisin White, Con O'Drisceoil at the launch of Roisin White's CD 'With thanks' at Friels bar, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare - 2010. Photo: Katie Howson
Following the death of the founder of the Veteran label and mail order service, JOHN HOWSON, in June 2022, his widow, Katie Howson is now running the label and mail order service. Katie has always been there in the background, and occasionally even out front at a festival stall too (as left, at Dartmoor Folk Festival)!
The short term aim is to keep the existing Veteran catalogue available and to run the mail order service in a smaller way.
Long-term plans are being made to ensure that the Veteran business will be able to develop and expand.
Thanks for your custom and please journey with us into the future!
Veteran Mail Order
Our Mail Order service was originally set up to market the Veteran Label. Several customers commented that it was a shame that other small (and not so small) esoteric labels didn't provide a similar service.
We then decided to market other similar labels and became the first stop for buying CDs of real English, Irish, Scottish and American & Blues traditional music and singing as well as Books & DVDs on the subject.
Bob Lewis, Bob Copper, Louie Fuller, Gordon Hall,
Ron Spicer & John Copper in the Central Club Peacehaven,
Sussex for the launch of 'When te May is all in Bloom
photo John Howson