Furze Cat

by Hekety

WGS319CD
Not Available

Hekety are a dance band, first, last and in the middle too. But they also believe that if the music isn’t good enough and interesting enough to sit & listen to, why should anybody want to dance to it? And it works a treat. A great, big, thumping, wailing, dark chocolate lump of noise that shoves you onto the dance floor, and then keeps you dancing until long after heart, lungs and common sense have told you to stop. It’s not exactly safe music, not foam rubber Stetson & Roy Rogers cap gun stuff. Of the tradition, but unconfined by it; English country dance music for the 21st century and beyond!.......Gordon Potts



The first full length offering from Sheffield’s finest, and well worth waiting for. For those who dont know them, Hekety is a five-piece drumless dance band featuring melodeons, fiddle, viola, cittern, guitars, basses, and clarinet, all of which are featured to full effect on this CD. A fine mix of self-penned and traditional tunes, Furze Cat is a good representation of what you’ll hear at a Hekety gig.

After the initial stately opener Downhill Dream, were into familiar stomping territory with Rice/The Man Tiger. All the band are dancers, be it ritual or social, and it don’t half show on their version of Rambling Sailor. Other favourite tracks are Gavin’s Thank You Letter, which had me scouring the sleeve notes for any mention of a hurdy-gurdy. Failing to find one, I finally worked out it was a combination of melodeon bass end, viola (I think!) and cittern. Jakes Jig comes from the playing of Little Johnny England, but I’m tempted to say that Hekety have made it their own. The CD finishes with another morris tune, Young Collins that eases nicely into the Playford standard Jamaica. Standard it aint! A lovely end to the CD.

Playing throughout is exemplary, as any who’ve danced to Hekety or been lucky enough to share a pub session with them will vouch. Just one minor carp; the accompanying booklet is suitably grainy and industrial in appearance, but the first two pages are virtually impossible to read, at least by these tired old eyes. This is a pity, as Gordon Potts sleeve notes (do we still call them sleeve notes?) tell you all you need to know about the band. Excellent as this recording may be, it’s still a poor substitute for seeing the band live, catch them if you can. (Gav, Rich and Jess, along with Gavs wife Helena, also perform as Crucible, who play equally splendid tunes mixed with some outstanding singing) Oh, and I bet my old mates jockey Mens Morris of Birmingham never thought theyd get a mention on one of the must have CDs of 2004?.................Baz Parkes

Downhill Dream
Sample not available
Rice + The man tiger
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Rambling Sailor
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Thankyou letter
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Elvaston Castle
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Jake’s Jig + Battleswing
Sample not available
The Watergoat March + Scampering Nell
Sample not available
Holtwood reel
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Panache de main + mure sauvage
Sample not available
Isabelle + Trip to the observatory
Sample not available
Furze Cat
Sample not available
Young Collins + Jamaica
Sample not available

Alex Monaghan

Alex Monaghan

This is strong stuff. If I didnt know better, Id have guessed that Hekety were an offshoot of one of the better Central French bands of the 90s. But the sleevenotes insist that this is English music, so lets go with that, leaving aside the vexed question of what counts as English music anyway.

Hekety are first and foremost a dance band, with an unambiguous beat and solid tempo. This makes them particularly good for listening to, because you can tap toes and and drum fingers without annoying other dancers. And make no mistake, this is toe-tapping and finger-drumming music. Never mind that some members of Hekety are self-confessed Morris dancers: the closest they come to the Morris tradition is probably The Man Tiger, a Cotswold tune thats been forged in the Sheffield steel mills and now has an edge on it that would cut through baldricks and bells like a chainsaw. There are hints of John Kirkpatrick on The Rambling Sailor too, but they dont last long in Heketys crucible.

So who are these motley-clad mayhem-merchants? Rich and Jess Arrowsmith provide the basic boxnfiddle groove, although the fiddle turns into a hurdy-gurdy at full moon. Theres a powerful blast of clarinet from Jo Veal, easily mistaken for bagpipes in a certain light. The tried and trusted guitar of Gavin Davenport is joined down below by Nigel Holmes electric bass. Add some sharp haircuts and shades, short skirts for the girls and long dresses for the lads, and there you have it. As seen on www.hekety.co.uk no less.

Arrowsmith and Davenport compositions abound, including the charming waltz Elvaston Castle and the menacing title track which conjures up the sort of barn dance where everyone wears black and carries scythes. Other high points are the dark brooding Panach� de Main and the Breton-influenced Battle Swing. All the material on Furze Cat is played magnificently, with surprising depth for an unadorned 5-piece. Well worth a listen.

Thefolkmag

Bob Taberner

This release by Hekety places them at the forefront of the ceilidh bands in this country. Richard and Jess Arrowsmith and Gavin Davenport are skilled tune writers, laying down good themes that lend themselves to developing variations. Theyve chosen well from other peoples tunes as well as a few traditional tunes. Rambling Sailor, originally a song tune, is one of the tunes that Richard picked up in playing for Jockey Morris in Birmingham, along with the Playford tune Jamaica which they used for Young Collins (Bledington). Several members of this young band have had an early involvement with morris dancing and this has given their playing a very danceable quality.

Hekety are justifiably one of the most popular bands at the moment. Their appearances at festivals this summer should ensure healthy sales for this album as well as many bookings around the country during the autumn and winter.

Dai Woosnam

Dai Woosnam

This is the debut album from a five-piece ceilidh band, based in the Sheffield area of Northern England. Three of the five members also make up three-quarters of the complement of Crucible: a band that has established itself on the UK folk scene, and are rapidly gaining a justified reputation for delivering quality product.

My TLT colleague Gordon Potts says in his thoughtful liner notes that Hekety �believe that if the music isn't good enough and interesting enough to sit and listen to, [then] why should anybody want to dance to it?� A sound point, methinks.

And trust me, speaking as someone with two left feet, this CD happily withstands repeated plays. The tunes are mainly penned by band members, but there is the occasional traditional piece included. The band play with real brio, and can clearly master their instruments. Just as with the Crucible CD, I found myself hoping for a vocal track to add that bit of chiaroscuro to the whole thing: I take the old-fashioned view that the �singing voice� is an instrument too.

But it was not to be.

However, that said, there was a good deal of variety in the choice of material, and this time (unlike with Crucible) we had a fifth member: and one who most assuredly was NOT a �fifth wheel on a wagon! I refer to clarinettist Jo Veal.

Had Gordon Potts not told us in his notes that Jo's �other music is that of the low caste Jewish travelling musicians, the Klezmorim�, one could have immediately guessed. The sheer demented SWING of the girl was quite exhilarating: it sounded like she had been told by the others that no, she could not play a turbo-charged version of �Oi Tate!�, and so, in an effort to get even, she subversively weaved the klezmer sound into all of her contributions on this album.

And by golly, isn't the album all the better for it.

I think I can recommend this CD to all folkies (whether dancers or not) who appreciate fine musicianship that gives the appearance of true spontaneity (even though you a

Dirty Linen

Slightly newer and smaller is Hekety, an innovative acoustic quintet that came together in Sheffield, England, in 1997. Furze Cat [Wild Goose WGS319CD (2004)] is a splendid example of the new music being made in the current English folk?dance scene, a driving collection of mostly original tunes in traditional styles played by musicians whose backgrounds in rock and classical music contribute to their creative senses. Hekety adds a klezmer?seasoned clarinet to the customary fiddle/melodeon/ guitar/bass lineup in swirling improvisational arrangements, in which the instruments pass the lead back and forth like partners in a country dance, on tunes like the mesmerizing medium?tempo jig 'Thankyou Letter', or the graceful waltz Elvaston Castle. The fast, syncopated title track finds guitar and clarinet exchanging bursts while a squeezebox pumps a rhythm that suggests the stopand?go running of a startled hare, as a furze cat is more commonly known.


EDS

Paul Davenport

If the music isnt good enough and interesting enough to sit and listen to, why should anyone want to dance to it?

Its a fair question that opens the extensive sleeve notes on this album. Now the question has been asked, what is the answer?

Hekety play dance music. The statement means that they play music to dance to as distinct from Mozart who wrote dance music for people to ignore completely (Mozart actually remarked on this fact ? not about Hekety obviously) Dance music means that you cant ignore it, I played a track to my mother in the car. There was something about loud music and an old lady of eighty something head banging in the front seat that un?nerved the young lad in the baseball cap at the traffic lights, leaving him stationary and shaking in our exhaust, but then its that kind of music. Good dance music has one thing in common whether Strauss waltz, Bach minuet, rock anthem or Hekety, the dancer has to be able to fall into the groove. This is a place in the music, in your head, somewhere where you dont have to think about the pulse or the timing or anything. The groove is produced by the music and then, once youre in there its timeless and weightless. This is an understanding that Hekety share with the aforementioned luminaries.

The album features 12 tracks. Some of these, although self?penned, have that authentic quality which the Japanese call shin, the sense of being ancient despite the paint still being wet. Here Playford sounds ultra?modern and newly written and lies comfortably alongside song tunes which actually sound like dance melodies, even while youre singing along with them. Rambling Sailor is the proof of this and is characteristic of the bands appropriation of the unusual. The dark Panache de Main set should be unconducive to jollity and danciness but the tunes throb along with the same driving pulse that is the trademark of this band. The title track Furze Cat is driven and then underpinned by a guitar solo which has the same stompi

Folk Monthly

Simon Chillingworth

Hekety are a 5?piece ceilidh band from Sheffield here playing what the sleevenotes call English music. On first hearing this didnt seem an accurate description for the wonderful range of sounds and rhythms provided. All is made clearer when one reads their web sites description of English ceilidh as `more rioutous and eclectic variation on English Folk, Barn or Country Dancing. Simple Folk Dances down with energy to music deriving from Irish to Caribbean. The tunes are mainly composed by the group rather than being strictly traditional but with clear influences from European and Celtic as well as English music overlaid with quite a jazzy fell on many of the tracks. The album fully achieves the bands aim of providing music that is good and interesting enough to sit and listen to as well as being great to dance to. As someone who has previously been separated from a big toe?nail whilst dancing at a festival ceilidh I should approach such events with care but we can look forward to the band appearing at this years Bromyard Festival.

Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

These 5 youngsters from Sheffield are very accomplished players (and dancers) with redhot timekeeping without the use of drums. There is a wealth of instruments - fiddle, viola, clarinet, Cittern guitars, bass and melodeons. The tracks are mostly self-composed but managing to sound very traditional. Theres a gorgeous Klezmer feel to some tracks esp. Furze Cat. Part of the ceilidh revival, theres enthusiasm, energy and charisma in their music. Their belief being that if music isnt good to listen to, why would anyone want to dance to it. It is vibrant listening guaranteed to dispel any gloom. Weve never heard Young Collins like this. The love and enjoyment in their music-making is communicated to their audience - listeners and dancers alike.    

Folk Northwest

Pete Fyfe

Good god - I thought I'd just stumbled upon a long lost recording by the now sadly defunct Pyewackett! But no, this is the English dance band Hekety and make no mistake, they are �English�. Having come up through the Celtic culture (although I'm not quite sure why, maybe it's got something to do with my genes?) I therefore expect my music with something of a 'snap' to it. Unfortunately I find a majority of English dance bands too pedestrian for their own good. But there's none of that here I'm pleased to report. The quintet appear to be having a gas with plenty of swing and punch whilst running through a gamut of styles � a reggae 'Rambling Sailor' anyone? Although I must admit that I'm not sure about the at times over busy bass lines (possibly to make up for the lack of drums?) all of the tunes are ideal for the purpose with which they have set out to achieve � mainly to make everyone get up off their backsides and dance. With plenty of counter melodies and harmonies the combination of melodeon, fiddle and clarinet is quite startling in a positive way. I can honestly say that my dancing feet haven't stopped since I put the recording on and anyone who has seen me dance (!) would say that Hekety have achieved the impossible.  

Shreds and Patches

Baz Parkes

The first full length offering from Sheffields finest, and well worth waiting for. For those who dont know them, Hekety is a five?piece drumless dance band featuring melodeons, fiddle, viola, cittern, guitars, basses, and clarinet, all of which are featured to full effect on this CD.

A fine mix of self?penned and traditional tunes, Furze Cat is a good representation of what youll hear at a Hekety gig. After the initial stately opener Downhill Dream, were into familiar stomping territory with Rice/ The Man Tiger. All the band are dancers, be it ritual or social, and it dont half show on their version of Rambling Sailor. Other favourite tracks are Gavins Thank You Letter, which had me scouring the sleeve notes for any mention of a hurdy?gurdy. Failing to find one, I finally worked out it was a combination of melodeon bass end, viola (I think!) and cittern. Jakes J~g comes from the playing of Little Johnny England, but Im tempted to say that Hekety have made it their own. The CD finishes with another morris tune, Young Collins that eases nicely into the Playford standard Jamaica. Standard it aint lI A lovely end to the CD.

Playing throughout is exemplary, as any whove danced to Hekety or been lucky enough to share a pub session with them will vouch.

Just one minor carp; the accompanying booklet is suitably grainy and industrial in appearance, but the first two pages are virtually impossible to read, at least by these tired old eyes. This is a pity, as Gordon Potts sleeve notes (do we still call them sleeve notes?) tell you all you need to know about the band. Excellent as this recording may be, its still a poor substitute for seeing the band live, catch them if you can. (Gav, Rich and Jess, along with Gavs wife Helena, also perform as Crucible, who play equally splendid tunes mixed with some outstanding singing)

Oh, and I bet my old mates jockey Mens Morris of Birmingham never thought theyd get a mention on one of the must have CDs of 2004?

Whats Afoot

Collin Andrews

Now heres a band of young musicians who are very much in the limelight in the modem folk scene, with Sidmouth Festival and Great Western Ceilidh appearances under their belt in this part of the world. Hailing, now, from Sheffield, three of the band (Richard & Jess Arrowsmith and Gavin Davenport) also perform with the song group, Crucible (reviewed in an earlier W.A.) and have been brought up in a folk music environment.

Their music is not quite so way out or experimental as some other bands doing the ceilidh scene, and to my mind they have achieved a delicate balance between their own contemporary compositions, such as Downhill Dream and Watergoat March (the sleeve notes give an amusing account of the naming of the latter) and traditional sounding offerings ? though the Oddington version of Young Collins is one of the very few actual traditional tunes. The five? piece line up is used very effectively, the bass and guitar/cittern giving the driving rhythm, and the melodeon, clarinet and fiddle/viola intertwining melody and harmonies. By the way, Furze Cat, the title tune, is another name for the hare, an animal associated with the goddess Hecate. As they say on their notes, Hekety are a dance band, but also aim to make music worth listening to. They succeed on both counts.