Edward II (known also as EII, and previously as Edward the Second and the Red Hot Polkas and e2K) are an English band named for King Edward II, which play a fusion of world music, English folk and reggae. Active from 1985, the band broke up after losing several key members in 1999, relaunching as "e2K" in 2000. In 2003, the band dissolved once more, but have since reformed for a one year reunion tour in 2009 under the "Edward II" name, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the breakup of the original band.
Edward the Second and the Red Hot Polkas:
The band formed in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1984. The original line-up of Edward The Second And The Red Hot Polkas featured Tom Greenhalgh (guitar/vocals), Jon Moore (guitar/vocals), Barney Stradling (guitar), John Gill (bass), Steve Goulding (drums), Danny Stradling (percussion), Rod Stradling (melodeon), and Dave Haines (melodeon). The band made their recording debut in 1987 with Let's Polka Steady!, with British dub producer Mad Professor, which contained several reggae inspired instrumentals and is usually considered the highpoint for the original line up. However, it was as a live act that they made their name with a series of gigs at festivals throughout the UK and Europe. Further additions to the fluid line-up during the late 80s included Neil Yates (trumpet), Lorna Bailey (vocals), John Hart (trombone), Gavin Sharp (tenor saxophone), and Alton Zebby (drums), all of whom made their début on the second album Two Step To Heaven (1989).
At the start of the 90s the band shortened their name to Edward II and then EII, with Moore, Yates, Sharp, Hart and Zebby joined by new members Tee Carthy (bass), Glen Latouche (vocals), Rees Wesson (melodeon/accordion), and rapper McKilla on 1991's Wicked Men. Ex-Albion Band member Simon Care (melodeon) joined Edward II in the mid-90s, featuring on the studio albums Zest and This Way Up. The last of these featured some pure reggae tunes, including 'Don't Let the Fire Go Out', but the album still retrained more-culturally blended songs. The band performed twice at the Cropredy Folk Festival, held every year by Fairport Convention and one of these performances was released on CD entitled Live at Cropredy (2000). After a 'sell out' gig at De Montfort Hall, Leicester on 19 November 1999, Zebby, Latouche, and Carthy elected to leave the band, and this line-up dissolved.
Moore, Yates, and Care re-launched the band in the new millennium as e2K, bringing in Ghanaian instrumentalist Kwame Yeboah, and Albion Band lead singer and guitarist Kellie While. The new infusion of African and traditional British folk influences re-energized the band for two more albums: Shift ( 2001) and If Not Now (2003). Devotees may feel that this line up could not recapture the originality and vitality of the EII days, but they won some appreciation of their music, being described as 'a multicultural group for the 21st century', whilst popular folk reviewers Living Tradition said of their last album If Not Now that "this is an album that crosses a lot of barriers and the folk world should be proud to count them as one of their own." The lineup dissolved after a tour in 2003.
To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their final gig, the last line-up of EII undertook a series of reunion gigs in 2009.
A double-disc 'best-of' album was also released in 2009, Edward II: The Definitive Collection. It uses the 'Edward II' name but covers the band's entire career under all of their names except for e2K. Disc 1 includes songs from their time as Edward the Second and the Red Hot Polkas, whilst Disc 2 includes songs from their time as Edward II.
Martin Brinsford (percussion), Rod Stradling (Melodeon), Danny Stradling (percussion), Dave Haines (melodeon, melodica, bass clarinet), John Gill (Bass), Mike Hirst (Melodeon), Tee Carthy (Bass), Glen Latouche (vocals), Gavin Sharp (Saxophone, Keyboard, John Hart (Trombone), Simon Care (Melodeon), Neil Yates (Trumpet, Guitar), Jon Moore (Guitar), Alton Zebby (Drums), Steve Goulding (Drum), Tom Greehalgh (Guitar), Barney Stradling (Guitar), Lorna Bailey (vocals), MvKilla (Rap), Rees Wesson (Melodeon, Melodica, Backing Vocals), Neil Fairclough (Bass), Pat Illingworth (Drum), Andy Morel (Saxophone), Kellie While (vocals), Kwame Yeboah (vocals), Gareth Warren (Melodeon), Paul Francis (Drum), Robert Fordjour (Drum).
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license