Ashburnham

Dave Shepherd & Becky Price

CD only BEJOCD-36

 


A fiddle-and-accordion album of traditional and self-written tunes, packed with vitality and thoroughly English in character. The settings are brilliantly inventive. Jigs and hornpipes, played full-tilt, are interwoven with gentler and more reflective airs, while familiar tunes intermingle with many exciting discoveries from 18th and 19th-century collections.

What the Critics have said...
‘Exquisite’
Verity Sharp, Late Junction, BBC Radio 3

'It's incredible that these two beautiful musicians are able to restore so many emotions through their instruments alone: there are articulate, melodic lines, shared, soloistic and improvising rushes, excited rhythmical passages, rich harmonic intensities. And varieties of interpretation that only two artists so complete can offer.'
Giovanni Pietro Scazzola, L'Ovadese (Italy)

'Shepherd and Price turn their considerable talents to traditional English tunes and a few of Shepherd's own. Given his history, it'll be no great surprise if I say that a lot of this proves reminiscent of Blowzabella before the saxophones took over. Something like Through the Woods Lady would fit right alongside that band's Willow Runnel, for example. The imaginative way the instruments work together and keep pushing the music on is a big plus point throughout. I especially liked the all-too-brief Green Bushes and the near hypnotic effect they give Fairies Revels and Jack of the Green'.
fROOTS

'Glorious tunes and glorious playing from this new duo comprising piano accordist Price, well known on the English circuit and overdue to visit Wales, teamed with Blowzabella's Shepherd, one of England's finest fiddlers and a cracking dance teacher. The combination works beautifully; the accordion adds a richness and body to the fiddle, yet the tightly interwoven playing that is the hallmark of good duets is still apparent. Time Passed, Time to Come a scottische by Dave played on 5-string fiddle, has a wonderful depth, with the fulsome drone of the accordion first in the background, then slowly emerging to share the limelight - they could have gone on exploring this tune for half an hour without proving boring! Another scottische by Dave, Ashburnham, has his trademark changes in stress that so delight the listener and the dancer (sometimes one and the same). The CD is filled with memorable tunes, such as Easter Thursday, an 18th-century triple-time hornpipe, Through the Woods Lady, a haunting traditional tune from Lancashire played as a mazurka, and the wonderful piano-led Debtors Salutations, which although complete in its stark simplicity, could have been extended and expanded. Buy this. Book them.'
Sally Clayden, Taplasa

'Dave Shepherd is more widely recognised as the fiddler for Blowzabella. Joined by Becky Price on piano and piano accordion, this new duo has much going for them on the strength of this delightful album. As the press blurb states, this is predominantly English music in character with a mix of traditional and their own tunes. Some years ago the wonderful Dave Roberts (also from Blowzabella) paved the way with his cavalier attitude in accompanying the lead line and I'm pleased to say the tradition now has the female equivalent in Becky. Punchy, rhythmic chordal stabs from the accordion with strong tunes all superbly executed and with a sense of enjoyment that is sadly lacking in a lot of artists these days. More please! '
Pete Fyfe, folking.com

'Anyone interested in English dance music will want this album'
Green Man Review

'I first listened to this CD on the Walkman on a sunny September morning walking on the Ridgeway, and the music and landscape enhanced each other beautifully... With unusual time signatures such as triple-time hornpipes and a 5/4 waltz, these quirky, chromatic tunes with gentle melancholy show how well English music can stand up to any other tradition.'
Tom Bell-Richards, Shire Folk

'Is this album for you? - well, the press release makes a brave attempt to tell you all you need to know - "a fiddle-and-accordeon album of traditional and self-written tunes, packed with vitality and chiefly English in character". I can't improve on that, but that straight factual description, while totally accurate, can't be a substitute for the listening experience. And this is an exceptionally listenable album, where some tune-albums are not. Considering the restricted instrumental complement employed, the variety of textures and moods is astonishing. The key to this must surely be the empathically complementary combination of talents of Dave and Becky. They each possess a distinctive musical personality; Dave, famous from the early Blowzabella line-up, fuses elements from various traditions in his vital fiddle playing, with a fantastic sense of rhythmic and chordal opportunities, whereas Becky (who plays in the band Finality Jack and has recorded for WildGoose) has a powerful and inspired approach to the harmonic possibilities of her role as accompanist, partly gained through her experience of the classical piano tradition and partly through absorbing the influence of diatonic accordion players like Andy Cutting. To expand on the press handout again: it refers to "jigs and hornpipes, played full-tilt" - well, these are genuinely exciting, not just exercises in note-spinning (just sample the opening All Hands High set). And another very special feature of Ashburnham is the way these full-tilt pieces merge and blend into and out of more reflective pieces without a trace of incongruity - take Betty Can Drink No Water, which starts out with a piano-backed version of the slow melody of that name before morphing into a vigorous reworking of two 9/8 jigs. The inventive blending of different pieces and styles from different eras is another particularly successful aspect of the whole album - the familiar enticingly rubbing shoulders on the dance floor with the unfamiliar. So, if you want traditional English music played with a contemporary, and very European, freshness, then don't hesitate.'
David Kidman, Folk Roundabout

TRACK LIST
1) ALL HANDS HIGH - All Hands High (trad) / The Green Ship (trad)
A hornpipe from the William Mittell collection published by the late Dave Roberts. We both have very fond memories of Dave, and this recording is dedicated to his memory. The second tune is found in the Winder Ms. from Wyresdale, Lancashire c. 1789.

2) TRIP TO BARNARD - Trip to Barnard (trad) / Two and Two (trad)
Two 18th-century jigs, the first from 'Northern Frisk - A Treasury of Tunes from North West England' (Dragonfly Music) and the second from 'Old English Dances' by Frank Kidson.

3) THROUGH THE WOODS LADY - Through the Woods Lady (trad) / Orla (Price)
A tune from the Tildesley Ms from Swinton Lancashire, from around 1860, played as a mazurka and coupled with a new mazurka of Becky's.

4) THREE SHEEPSKINS - (trad)
Another tune from the Winder Ms.

5) 5-STRING SCOTTISH - Time Past, Time to Come (Shepherd)
A scottish written by Dave to be played on the five-string fiddle.

6) BREAKDOWN - Fairies Revels (trad) / Breakdown (trad)
This set starts with our version of a jig from the H. S. J. Jackson collection (Wyresdale 1823) and ends with a tune of Northumbrian origin from Matt Seattle's 'Morpeth Rant' (Dragonfly Music).

7) TOM MELLIN'S - Tom Mellin's (trad) / Bobbing Joan (trad) / The Tumbler's Hornpipe (trad)
John Offord's tunebook 'John of the Greeny Cheshire Way' opened up a whole new world in English traditional music in the late 1980's, and provided us with the opening triple-time hornpipe of this set. The other two tunes come from the Winder Ms. and the Biggins Ms. (Leeds 1779) respectively.

8) JACK OF THE GREEN - (trad)
A traditional tune collected in Herefordshire by Cecil Sharp in the early years of last century.

9) YE MARINERS ALL - Ye Mariners All (trad) / The Oak Room (Shepherd)
An English 5/4 waltz set

10) ASHBURNHAM - Ashburnham (Shepherd) / Roslyn Castle (trad)
Ashburnham is a scottish by Dave. We created a second scottish out of a traditional air 'Roslyn Castle'. This version is from the West Midlands and is published in the 'South Riding Tune Book' by Paul Davenport.

11) THE GREEN BUSHES - (trad)
Not the usual tune for this song but one from Sussex which we found in the George Butterworth collection.

12) BETTY CAN DRINK NO WATER - Betty Can Drink No Water (trad) / Fill the Tankard (trad) / Four Bare Legs Together (trad)
Betty Can Drink No Water is a melody from the Winder Ms. The two 9/8 jigs are from the Browne collection (Lake District 1800) and Matt Seattle's edition of the Vickers Ms - 'The Great Northern Tune Book'.

13) NEWTONDALE - Newtondale Hornpipe (Shepherd) / The Blue John Hornpipe (Shepherd)
Two hornpipes by Dave, both inspired by traditional tunes.

14) THE DEBTORS SALUTATIONS - (trad)
An air from the Benjamin Cooke Ms. (c. 1770) in the Frank Kidson collection.

15) EASTER THURSDAY - Easter Thursday (trad) / Barn Elms (trad)
Two triple-time hornpipes from early 18th-century editions of 'The Dancing Master'.

 

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