In this work Dave has taken as his theme the passage of songs and tunes which have crossed the Atlantic and, at times, returned in a different form to their place of origin. The title, Return Journey speaks of this interaction in what are essentially two different cultures sharing a common language.

The actual songs are delivered in a neutral voice, Dave does not make the mistake of using a fake accent but relies rather on some economical but beautifully understated banjo playing to deliver the otherness of much of the material. The singing is, as always, authoritative and yet manages to inject an edge which some might compare with Cordelias Dad . The tunes, on the other hand are imbued with an accent so strongly American that the authenticity shines through. Pete Cooper is here the perfect choice of fiddler whilst Chris Moreton provides equally understated and authentic guitar. For those who have honed their listening skills on the likes of Hobart Smith and Clyde Davenport (no, he isnt ? in case you were thinking of asking) this compares favourably and the three performers sound as homey as Moms apple pie which is what we should expect from players who have gone to the well to drink. It is the strength of this album that it seeks to do for the transatlantic connection what Songlines earlier this year did with greater resources for the Australian link to our traditions. Return Journey lacks many pretensions and there are moments where, despite good studio engineering, or perhaps because of it, the listener might feel that they are listening to a top quality field recording rather than a revival performance. Paul Davenport



Return journey? In a couple of ways. Firstly, a number of the songs here had their origins in the British Isles, before travelling across to America on the lips, in the fingers, and in the hearts of generations of emigrants, who left these shores in search of a better life, or fame and fortune, or perhaps simply for adventure and freedom.

Secondly, several of the tunes I first heard in Britain suffered a sea change by the time they washed up in the Appalachians.

Dave Arthur has been singing, playing, and researching English and Appalachian music for more years than he cares to remember, and has recorded the music and life stories of traditional musicians on both sides of the Atlantic. For a number of years Dave was on the editorial board of the Folk Music Journal, and for over twenty years edited English Dance and Song Magazine.

SHEPHERDS’ HEY / OLD MOLLY HARE
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HARRISON BRADY / WINDER SLIDE
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DAN O’KEEFFE’S No. 2 / DUCKS IN THE POND
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I WISH I HAD SOMEONE TO LOVE ME
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GEORGIA GIRL
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LITTLE MARGARET
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RATTLE ON THE STOVEPIPE / CUCKOO’S NEST
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SHERMAN’S MARCH
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WHEN HE COMETH/ MICHAEL TURNER’S WALTZ
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NAPOLEON CROSSING THE ALPS
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THE TWO SISTERS
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DID-NA-DO
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OH DEATH
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DOWNFALL OF RICHMOND
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PUSHBOAT
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Dia Woosnamn

Dai Woosnam

I'm not going to pad out this review with lots of biographical detail on the performer. It is the usual last refuge of the critic who has nothing to say: he merely trots out all he has read in the liner notes. Sorry, but I do not go down that road.

And that is often to the annoyance of the producers of the CDs. After all, liner notes are often �parti pris�, and occasionally exhibit a hagiographical and self-serving content that blows one away with its chutzpah. So naturally, any reviewer who copies out the liner notes is definitely �playing ball� as far as the record company is concerned: after all, they are helping to disseminate �The Message�. They are �onside� and will thus get more review copies of CDs coming their way.

But such considerations never enter my thinking.

So I am not going to say much about Dave Arthur. But conscious as I am that the majority of people reading this do NOT live in the England that Dave Arthur and myself have in common, I feel I should tell them that he is not to be confused with the DAVEY Arthur of Furey Brothers fame.

Dave goes back a long way. In the 60s and 70s he achieved considerable fame with his wife Toni. They made a real mark on the British folk scene, and became well known as TV presenters. Although he has not been so prominently in the public eye in recent decades, he has if anything INTENSIFIED his efforts, in a wonderfully eclectic way.

He is one of those characters who is Inclusive in his attitudes: just studying his CV, one does not need to be a trick-cyclist to see AT A GLANCE that this is a man constantly attempting to �link things and link people��rather than EXCLUDE them.

And �link� is what he certainly does here. The CD's title �Return Journey� refers to songs that had their origins in the British Isles, left here in the steerage hold of a myriad ships bound for Amerikay�and then  more-often-than-not, died out here in Britain, but thrived in the Appalachians - or wherever - Stateside.

He delivers the songs in a sincere non-embroidered vocal style, and his own fine musicianship is boosted by two pre-eminent British acoustic musicians: Pete Cooper on fiddle, and Chris Moreton on guitar. There are no �stand-out tracks�: indeed were I to pick any out, it would be in a way to go against the whole ETHOS of the album. You see, this is an album to be taken as a WHOLE: a total experience where song builds on song, making one realise the sheer wealth and breadth of material that has made the crossing of the Pond.

Lest you not buy the CD on a false prospectus, Arthur DOES add that a minority of the tracks do not fit the formula: they were not such songs making their �return journey�: but rather he includes them for no better reason than he enjoys doing them! (And there IS no better reason to include anything, it seems to me.)

And there is more! As if to sum up that this is NOT an album where you pay your money for two startling tracks and the rest is made up with aural Polyfilla, the CD arrives with a booklet containing the best set of liner notes I have read in a long while. Frankly, if I bought this album and when I got home found the CD missing, I guess I STILL would think that I'd had my money's worth, just with these GOLD STANDARD liner notes. They are marvellous.

But not so marvellous that Arthur cannot make ONE remark that slightly stuck in my craw. This is it: he is talking about the great sean-nos singer Joe Heaney.

�He left Ireland for America around 1960, where he pursued a career as a doorman in hotels and apartment blocks!�

Now, I find that exclamation mark very telling. Now don't get me wrong: me, of all people cannot point a finger at those who favour the otiose exclamation mark! No, that is not my point. What I am alluding to, is his very USE of it in that sentence. It suggests to me that Dave Arthur thinks that being a �doorman� was a waste of a great man's talent. I am not sure that this was so.

True, I don't know whether Joe Heaney loved or hated the work that put the bread on his table, but I think it entirely possible that Heaney might have shown great pride in his work, and indeed may even have had a real CALLING to do such a job. It is Dave's attitude here which explains why restaurateurs in Britain always bemoan the fact that young Brits are not �good waiter� material, since these young Brits see it as a low-status job, whereas young Frenchmen and Italians see it as a real VOCATION.

And anyway Dave, not all of us can be sponsored by the British Council (that massively wasteful organisation that has now blotted its copybook for ever in my eyes by reportedly just appointing Neil Kinnock as its next supremo) for globetrotting jaunts: some of us need to open the doors FOR you.

But a minor complaint set against this wholly satisfactory album. Worth �13 of anybody's money.

EDS

Paul Davenport

Im on record elsewhere as being a fan of Dave Arthur and when the grapevine whispered that hed just recorded a new album I had to chase it up. Its been a long time since I heard this voice. At first I was thrown by the intonation of what is indisputably an album of American songs and tunes. In this work Dave has taken as his theme the passage of songs and tunes which have crossed the Atlantic and, at times, returned in a different form to their place of origin. The title, Return Journey speaks of this interaction in what are essentially two different cultures sharing a common language. To support Daves thesis the album itself is accompanied by a set of notes on the songs which at once suggests this is not so much a comeback but rather a labour of love. The notes are thorough, scholarly and, most importantly, eminently readable. Provenanceshave been followed and the material updated right up to the final moment of printing. This booklet represents painstaking research and a respect for both the material and the reader and alone is worth possessing. The album sleeve is a quirky piece of artwork which is designed to send out several messages, none of which label the album as homespun folky. This modern design rather sends out the message of modernity continuity and contemporary values.

The actual songs are delivered in a neutral voice, Dave does not make the mistake of using a fake accent but relies rather on some economical but beautifully understated banjo playing to deliver the .otherness of much of the material. The singing is, as always, authoritative and yet manages to inject an edge which some

might compare with Cordelias Dad . The tunes, on the other hand are imbued with an accent so strongly American that the authenticity shines through. Pete Cooper is here the perfect choice of fiddler whilst Chris Moreton provides equally understated and authentic guitar. For those who have honed their listening skills on the likes of Hobart Smith and Clyde Davenport (no, he isnt ? in case you were thinking of asking) this compares favourably and the three performers sound as homey as Moms apple pie which is what we should expect from players who have gone to the well to drink. It is the strength of this album that it seeks to do for the transatlantic connection what Songlines earlier this year did with greater resources for the Australian link to our traditions. Return Journey lacks many pretensions and there are moments where, despite good studio engineering, or perhaps because of it, the listener might feel that they are listening to a top quality field recording rather than a revival performance.

A track listing is superfluous and a detailed listening is needed to form ones own opinion of this album. My own view is that this is a little like buying a house on a rising market, I think an investment in this work is going to gain value in the future. For those who need more convincing read Daves article elsewhere in this issue. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, the last track, stuck in, Dave tells us, as a kind of afterthought. Heres the voice I remember, a stunning, informed and definitive version of American Stranger by a man who knows!


fRoots

Shirley Collins

Dave Arthur has produced a CD thats an entertaining, informed and intelligent look at songs, ballads and tunes that crossed from the British Isles to the United States, `on the lips, in the fingers and in the hearts of generations of emigrants as he says in his excellent and witty sleeve notes. The transformations are fascinating, and sometimes surprising, the first track going straight for it with the Morris tune `Shepherds Hey becoming `Old Molly Hare. Its obvious once youve heard it. Well steeped in both the British and American traditions, Daves made a lively choice of material thats beautifully played by him on 5string banjo and melodeon, and by two master musicians, Pete Cooper on fiddle and viola, and Chris Moreton on guitar. Dave sounds very much at ease singing the American songs.

Theres a wide variety, too: Appalachian ballads including the compelling Harrison Brady (`The Gypsy Laddie), and `Little Margaret with its `Shady Grove tune, a hypnotic performance, and in common with every track on

this album, beautifully paced. I loved the very spooky `Oh Death which Dave says was inspired by Doc Boggs version, and `I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me which he learnt from Jeff Davis who had it from Connemaras Joe Heaney. Thus the songs go back and forth. Theres a couple of fine river boat songs, and a Canadian childrens play party song which may or may not have a more disreputable origin in lumberjack saloons ? and since Dave teams it with `The Cuckoos Nest we know what he thinks is the case!

The tunes are terrific, too, including a very fetching `Georgia Girl. The Irish `Dan OKeefes no.2 linked with the Virginian `Ducks in the Pond, a Civil War tune `Downfall of Richmond, and even one from 19 century Sussex, `Michael Turners Waltz.

If I had to pick a favourite track it would be `The Two Sisters which is quite heartbreakingly beautiful in its simplicity and restraint.

I was put in mind of lines I read recently in Jeffrey Eugenides remarkable novel The Virgin Suicides ` . . ..an occasional fiddle evoked the country the country had once been. Dave Arthur succeeds in doing that with this album.


Green Man

Tim Hoke

Wild Goose Studios is a label dedicated to English music both old and new, with a strong bias toward the traditional. So why release a CD of mostly American old-time music? Dave Arthur explains it in detail in the insert, telling how many of the songs originated in Britain and survived in North America, albeit often with changes. Now, Arthur, living in Sussex, is playing some of the American variants, hence the return journey. On the return, Arthur has combined some of them with British melodies, partly to illustrate the kinship of the traditions, and no doubt partly because they sound good together.

Dave Arthurs voice has a weathered sound that makes it easy to imagine him sitting by a fireplace, singing these ballads of an evening. He accompanies himself on banjo and also plays some melodeon and guitar. Joining him on Return Journey are Pete Cooper on fiddle and viola, and Chris Moreton on guitar. The interplay between the musicians is one of the discs strongest points; it sounds as if these three have been playing together for years.

Arthurs banjo playing is rhythmic and driving. He tends to play simply while singing, letting the song be the focus. The slow Little Margaret is supported by rippling arpeggios, and the jaunty Did-Na-Do is accompanied by a strumming that sounds almost Dixieland in style. A couple of speedier songs, like Harrison Brady and Rattle on the Stovepipe, have the banjo doubling the vocal melody. On the instrumentals he gets more intricate, without sacrificing any drive. His guitar work, too, is driving; listen to the droning, almost drum-like guitar on Downfall of Richmond or the Martin Carthy-esque playing (and singing) on American Stranger.

Coopers fiddle is wild on the fast tunes (Old Molly Hare) and sweet on the slow ones (When He Cometh). He shows considerable sensitivity to the music when playing behind the voice, droning, shuffling, and accenting without drawing attention from the song. Moretons guitar rounds out the sound beautifully; his timing is solid and he embellishes the melody with several tasteful bass-string runs. He gets in some good solos, too; Shermans March and Pushboat are two that stand out.

For reading enjoyment while listening to this disc, Arthur has provided some extensive and well-researched liner notes. Background for the songs and tunes is given in detail; perhaps more detail than some would care for, but for others it makes for fascinating reading.

Return Journey is good music; the sort for sitting back, putting up your feet, and maybe singing along.

Living Tradition

Clive Pownceby

The trip involved here is between Britain and America � many Old Time ballads and tunes collected in the States had their origins in these Isles and Dave, armed with melodeon, guitar but primarily 5-string banjo sets out to explore a selection which were involved in the 2-way traffic.

Winding back 35 years or so, his tenure with then-partner, Toni as one of our most imaginative and energetic duos, scaled down with the advent of electric folk-rock and a diversification into research, and collection as well as storytelling, puppetry, writing and EFDSS academia lay ahead.

Appalachian music has been a constant interest though, and now having achieved a certain ripeness of age Dave has made a genuinely fascinating album which allows him some stuff-strutting against a backdrop of a truly informative package. Studio tweaking is out and I can't imagine many overdubs either - Pete Cooper's fiddle with Chris Moreton's guitar are all that's needed on this stripped down acoustic collection. Not just a banjo picker, Arthur is an exceptionally talented musician � nifty and nimble, and his many trips to North Carolina and Georgia since the early 70s add to the air of authority that makes this, in turn a compelling excursion for the listener.    

There are dark, disturbing tales of the supernatural, (�Little Margaret�) seduction, (�Harrison Brady�) and death (erm, �Oh Death�) along with waltzes, marches and pure sentiment. (�I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me�) The source material is priceless, the selections impeccable

and the scholarly notes testify to a comprehensive knowledge of the genre.

Fresh and vital, I've yet to hear a more inspiring release this year.

'Plus ca change' indeed!  

                                                                         

Sussex Folk News

Vic Smith

Dave finds himself in the very congenial company of fiddler Pete Cooper and guitarist Chris Moreton. In interview, he has stated what great fun it was to make this album and the resultant sound is very much of musicians sounding as though they are having a really good time. But there is much more the album than this. There are some very carefully worked out links between English and American versions of traditional songs and dance tunes.

He sets out his stall in the opening track where his melodeon can heard on the morris tune, Shepherds Hey before he swaps to banjo to offer Molly Hare. The album is full of fine contrasts; we get the soulful

interpretation of Little Margaret before he immediately raises the mood with the spirited Rattle On The Stovepipe. This is a very fine album from a man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional music.

Shreds and Patches

Rees Wesson

A fascinating exploration of tunes and songs which have traveled back and forth between Britain and America. Many of the items will be familiar in one form or another, as at some point in history they were all smash hits on at least one side of the Atlantic.

Dave Arthurs sleeve notes are a joy to read, being full of interesting stuff about the music and the people who played and listened to it.

Featuring Dave Arthur on banjo, melodeon and guitar with Pete Cooper on fiddle and Chris Moreton on guitar the performances are top notch. The CD opens with a full blown version of the Cotswold Morris tune Shepherds Hey with Pete Cooper sounding like the very Walter Bulwer himself. This segues neatly into Old Molly Hare which is an American Old Time version of the same tune. Refer to the sleeve notes and Dave tells us that both appear to have a common ancestry in Neil Gows Fairy Dance published around 1802. Betcha didnt know that?

And theres more ? When He Cometh written in the late 19th century is still a popular American hymn. It shares the same tune as Michael Turners Waltz which is probably the most popular waltz tune at English tune sessions here in the 21st century. Michael Turner was parish clerk and choir leader at Warnham in Sussex also in the late 19th century and latest research shows that the original tune was in fact written by Mozart. Betcha didnt know that either?

And theres more, loads more. All your favourite old songs and tunes given a new lease of life and imbued with new sentiment and tradition.

There are sixteen tracks here and the editor is on the red telephone warning of impending copy date, so Ill be brief. Child ballads feature ghastly murder in The Two Sisters, the supernatural in Little Margaret and a Gypsy lover in Harrison Brady. Theres a great version of Oh Death (a song which turned up recently in the Coen brothers film Oh. Brother, Where art thou) and lots of great fiddle and banjo tunes played in a relaxed and friendly style.

Highly recommended.

Whats on in kent

Colin

For musicians and lovers of frailing banjo, guitar picking and fiddling, whether novice or expert in the field, this collection of ballads and tunes is a sheer delight. A thorough musical exploration, not only in music and song, but in the breadth and depth of the historical background provided. This is Dave Arthurs forte, and his enthusiasm for the material, and deft playing, is a pleasure to the ear.

Traditional Old Time American and English ballads played in the original style, with accompaniment by two of the UKs finest, Pete Cooper on fiddle and ace flat?picker Chris Moreton on guitar.

Weve heard some of these pieces played in live performance, now buy the__ album; not only for the music, but as an addition to the reference library for the next generation of players.

Difficult to name a favourite, but I Wish I had Someone to Love Me is a classic.