Sue Harris

CD only BEJOCD-37


The first solo CD by Britain's premier hammered dulcimer player.

What the Critics have said...
'Sharpness and clarity reign. Instrumental highlights include the O'Carolan set and a majestic Scott Skinner lullaby, but this disc is quality all the way through'

'This is an exquisite and strangely addictive gem of a CD. Any reservations I might have had about the hammered dulcimer were very soon dispelled as I found myself mesmerised by the warmth and infectiousness of Harris's playing. Her own The Whetstone/McColl's Jig, Scots fiddler James Alexannder's John's Jaunt, and Pastorela, a Christmas Eve tune from a little-known tradition in northern Italy are among my favourites, but choosing from such a wealth of great music is difficult. The two songs, Fair Maid on the Shore and Sprig of Thyme highlight what a fine and powerful singer Harris is. The album is refreshing in its unhurried simplicity and, like all good albums, you are left wanting more. Let's hope Sue follows this with a second...and soon.'
Boz Boswell, Taplas

'Featuring Sue Harris on hammered and plucked dulcimer and voice, this is a specialist production of very high quality. The album includes familiar pieces such as O Carolan's Cup and Fair Maid on the Shore alongside more unusual material like the title track, Pastorela, which is from Northern Italy, and the Northumbrian pipe tunes Gipsies' Lullaby, Billy Pigg's Hornpipe and Bill Charlton's hornpipe. Sue is one of the best dulcimer players around so you can pick up the full range of sounds and moods that the instrument is capable of. The loneliness and power of the Northumbrian pipe tunes comes over well for me, and two of her own jigs, Whetstones and McColl's Jig have a nice bounce.'
Chris Mills, editor, Shire Folk


1. O'Carolan's Cup/ In the Shadow of the King's hill
O'Carolan's tunes seem to fall quite well onto the dulcimer, and this is one of my favourites. My son, Benji, lived underneath the hill fort of Caer Caradoc in South Shropshire for a while and it led him to write this tune, which I find very evocative.

2. Fair Maid on the Shore
A song that I've sung for many years, learnt from John Kirkpatrick who found it in the Peggy Seeger songbook. The captain and his crew get their comeuppance after persuading a fair maid on board. I prefer to pluck the dulcimer when accompanying songs rather than using the hammers.

3. Parson's Farewell/ Indian Queen
These dance tunes come from the John Playford collection. Indian Queen was a dance used in the production of Country Dancing, a play by Nigel Williams, with which I was involved at the RSC in 1987 with Martin Carthy, Chris Wood and Chris Taylor. I've been fond of it ever since.

4. John's Jaunt
I am lucky enough to lead a rural community band, Bandamania, and one of our players is a Scots fiddler. His family in Scotland had a special celebration for his uncle, Dr John MacDonald of Findrassie who was 80 years old. In his honour they asked James Alexander to write a tune for him and this is it. James Alexander also runs Fochabers Fiddlers, a fabulous young persons' orchestra of 30 strong.

5. Caractacus Medley
This is a medley of some of the music that is played when I work with Roger Garfitt, the poet. We do a programme called Border Songs, which is a set of poems he wrote to be engraved on glass in the new archive building in Shrewsbury. Caractacus theme Lament --- both original Jenny Pluck Pears --- Playford Flaxley Green dance --- traditional

6. Pastorela
This tune comes from a unique tradition in Northern Italy. In the villages of Ponte Caffaro and Bagolino a team of male dancers with fiddlers, guitars, and double bass to play for them, turn out on Monday and Shrove Tuesday to do their ritual dances from dawn till dusk. They wear stylised masks and white gloves, with brightly decorated hats made of felt, covered by ruffled ribbons of red wool and multicoloured silk ribbons which move to enhance the rhythm of the dances. It is an extraordinary day of celebration. The Pastorela is the only instrumental tune and is played on Christmas Eve.

7. Sprig of Thyme
A song collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset. Known also as the Seeds of Love.

8. The Whetstone/ McColl's jig
Two of my own tunes. This particular Whetstone is in the middle of a local beauty spot, Hergest Ridge. Mr McColl is my good companion.

9. Gypsies Lullaby/ Billy Pigg's Hornpipe
I have long been attracted to Northumbrian music and in particular the playing of Billy Pigg, who was an extraordinary smallpipe player. These are two tunes written by him.

10. Lamento di Tristan
I came by the music for this many years ago. It is 14th-century Italian and more than that is a mystery.

11. Scott Skinner Tunes
A lullaby followed by the Inverness Gathering, both from The Scottish Violinist by Scott Skinner.

12. Bill Charlton's Hornpipe
I first heard this on Billy Pigg's L.P. The Border Minstrel issued by Leader in 1971. For some time I struggled with it on the oboe, and after a long rest I came back to it with the dulcimer on which it is a real delight to play.

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