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Sleeve Notes for Sideways by Moirai

SidewaysMoirai is a meeting of the musical minds of: Jo Freya (Blowzabella, Token Women, Fraser Sisters), Sarah Matthews (Cupola, Cupola:Ward) and Melanie Biggs (All Blacked Up).


Having played together many a tune in sessions throughout the country, it was decided to knit together their various talents by forming Moirai.


Moirai means 'Spinners of Destiny' and performances weave the trio's instrumental talents with haunting vocals. The result: enchanting musical arrangements delivered with skill and a healthy dollop of humour.


(Please note: Neither knitting nor spinning form part of the performances!)

Track Notes


1 Chassepain / Baudimic


Two lively 2/4 bourrées written by hurdy-gurdy player Gilles Chabenat.

2 Twiddles


In this wonderful chorus song, Janie Meneely has possibly created the antidote to the antics of Jolly Jack Tar, or perhaps the inevitable corollary thereof. Followed swiftly by the best of traditional hornpipes, the Rites of Man, and a touch of Roll the Old Chariot (Drop of Nelson’s Blood); it seemed only fitting!

3 Kusnacht / La Chapka


The first tune arrived in Mel’s repertoire along an aural journey across Europe. Upon doing a little research, we found that the tune was written by a fiddle/flute player Johnny McCarthy from Cork, who now lives in Switzerland. The second is an elegant, romantic Mazurka from French music collective Le Gop. Mel learned this from the playing of Dave Shepherd at a continental dance music workshop in Wantage.

4 Sideways


Jo says – “it’s funny what enters your mind when in the middle of chemotherapy.” This memory of a real event came back so strong that Jo had to put it immediately into a song. She says “it explains the woman I am today.”

5 Half Maid/Italian Mix


Jo: The first tune was a reflection of a bitter sweet mood that I only had half of so it was ‘half made’ which is how I stored it but spelt it wrong. I kept the alternative spelling as an interesting concept. Italian Mix is my idea of Sicilian music. All wrong of course.

6 Peter’s Pub / Pull Me Another Pint (Please)


Mel: Peter is the exceedingly hospitable landlord of a multi CAMRA award winning pub which serves hearty vegetarian and vegan food. The pub is called The Shoulder of Mutton. How ironic!

7 Magpie Sitting on a Broken Chair


This charming song came to me whilst touring in Canada in 2007 from the composer himself. Simon Mayor was playing at the Goderich Celtic Festival with Hillary James, and performed this children’s song as part of their set that summer. A tale of how we should pay heed to nature, find beauty in everything and not spoil it for others

8 Ufton Court Schottische / All Saints


The tithe barn at Ufton Court in Berkshire hosted the unconventional wedding of two of Mel’s friends in 2014. This is the tune Mel wrote to bring the bride down the aisle to; in clogs and polkaing her heart out. The second of the set is a composition by Sarah from 2010 inspired by the patterns contained within the stained glass window named All Saints in Derby Cathedral Derby

9 Garden of Love


Dedicated to the memory of Ralph Jordan Jo originally did a version of this with Ralph as part of the Fraser Sisters. A William Blake poem set to music by Dave Walters.

10 Muriel’s Waltz / Cellar Door Key


Brian Pickell’s beautiful composition dedicated to his mother flows seamlessly into this lovely 16th century English 3/2 hornpipe which Jo learned from a manuscript provided by fiddler Stewart Hardy

11 Bed and Breakfast


I have had the best of times and the worst. This song comes from some of the worst and everything in it is true. Lyrics by Jo, tune by Sarah.

12 Poppy’s Reel /A Laxity of Morals


Poppy’s was written and brought to us by Nicky Pound and we loved it. A Laxity of Morals was written by a friend of Jo’s, Jan Lucas and is also an unusual and cracking good tune.

13 Candlelight


Sarah: Originally written in 2008 for use within a stage performance of Robin of Sherwood, I rediscovered this song when I wanted to sing something as a gift to a friend in times of difficulty. This is dedicated to Maggie Boyle and her family with love.