Four Across

by English Rebellion

A very varied selection of dance tunes from The ceilidh band English Rebellion, some traditional, some more lately written, some foreign and two songs, all performed with a wonderful infectious exuberance

Anahata: melodeon, cello, anglo concertina

Mary Barber: fiddle, viola

Nick Barber: melodeon, horn, soprano recorder, baritone

Mary Humphreys: piano, English concertina, banjo, vocals



1 Merry Month / Squirrel in a Tree 
John Sommerville /unknown 

The first of these jigs was written by John Sommerville for his wife May as a birthday present. It is published in his tunebook Tadpoles on Telephone Wires. John lives in Maidenhead and is a resident at the folk club there. The second tune's origins eludes our researches, but Mary Humphreys and Anahata heard it first from Carol Schaessens, a talented recorder player. 

2 Tricky Dicky / Liberation Polka 
Colin Cater 

The creation of Colin Cater, these two polkas have been favourites of the band from day one. 

3 Harry Enfield's Waltz / String Quartet 
Nick Barber 

These tunes form part of Nick’s Musical Diary – a collection of tunes related to everyday thoughts and events…in this case watching TV with his teenage son Tom, and listening to Mary playing string quartets in the next room. If you listen closely you can hear a bit of Dvorak in there!! 

4 Gypsy's Wedding (The Gypsy Girl) 
Trad 

Mary Humphreys heard this sung by Joseph Taylor of Saxby-All-Saints, Lincolnshire on a very scratchy old wax cylinder recording made by Percy Grainger on 28th July 1906 at Brigg. Joseph Taylor is her favourite singer from the past. By extending it to make a refrain it becomes a good song to involve an audience and we have thrown every instrument that the band plays into the recording at some point! Mary Barber contributes to the chorus line too. 

5 Spanish Patriots / Duke of York's Hornpipe 
Lawrence Leadley 

Two slower hornpipes from Lawrence Leadley. The North Yorkshire clog side, Clogarhythm, dance to this tune – playing melodeons and concertinas as they dance – once you’ve seen this, you can never see the tune in the same light… 

6 The Cream Pot / Bang Upp 
Trad ? 

The Cream Pot can be found in the William Vickers manuscript of 1770 and was published in Aird’s Airs in 1782. It was commonly known as The Kern Staff. Bang Upp is to be found in the manuscript of William Docker. 

7 Will You Patch My Pants for Me? 
Trad ? 

Originally a Swedish song, this tune came to us via Bob and Becky Wernerehl of Wisconsin, USA – formerly of the band Wiscandia. English Rebellion enjoy playing this tune as a relaxing interlude and breather for dancers. 

8 La Fete de Village / Hornpipe 
PD 

Two very popular tunes from the manuscript of William Mittell and published by Dave Roberts as Wm. Mittell His Book. English Rebellion like to use these as a warm-up tune…partly because our arrangement uses all the instruments!! The first half of Mittell’s Hornpipe is part of Symphony in C by Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787). 

9 S-M Hornpipe / Red Lion / Tumblers Hornpipe 
Dave Roberts /Trad /PD 

Three examples of the near-extinct triple-time hornpipe. S-M Hornpipe was composed by the late English melodeon player Dave Roberts, named for his son, Sam Michael. Red Lion occurs in several English manuscripts…and Nick discovered the Tumblers Hornpipe in a manuscript located in Leeds Reference Library entitled James Biggins – His Book. 

10 Bath Hornpipe / Miss Gayton's 
PD 

From the manuscript of Lawrence Leadley, published by James Merryweather and Matt Seattle as The Fiddler of Helperby. The Bath Hornpipe is untitled in Leadley. 

11 Said Too Much Already / Wals voor Polle 
Nick Barber / Wim Poesen 

Said Too Much Already was composed by Nick Barber. The band find it fits the Circle Waltz nicely, so it remains in the band’s repertoire. Wals voor Polle was written by the Belgian composer and musician, Wim Poesen – and is dedicated to the piper and box player, Polle Ranson. 

12 Chatsworth House / Dummy Head 
PD / John Kirkpatrick 

Chatsworth House is printed in Jamie Knowles’ A Northern Lass – the original source is Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 200 Country Dances. Dummy Head was composed by John Kirkpatrick. 

13 The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O! / Last of June 
Trad / Trad 

The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O! was found by Mary Humphreys in Marrowbones, a collection of songs edited by Frank Purslow and published by the EFDSS in 1965. It uses the Bampton Morris tune - The Rose Tree. The song is in the H. Gardiner collection, the source being Chas Windebank of Lyndhurst, Hants. The Last of June is a closely related to the well-known Jenny Lind. This version is from the playing of Rose Murphy, born in Galway but resident in Maltby, South Yorkshire. 

14 Angela Mary Lee 
Nick Barber 

Nick wrote this tune for Angela Lee, who died in 2008. Angela - clog-dancer, step-dancer, concertina player and artist - learned to play Nick’s mazurka Like a Bee to the Honeypot and always said that the mazurka was her favourite type of tune. Nick wrote Angela Mary Lee as he travelled up to the funeral, which was attended by dancers and musicians from all over the country. It turned out to be a glorious celebration, in dance and music, of Angela’s life. 

15 Uncle Jim's Barn Dance / The Prince Albert Jig 
Bob Cann / Flos Headford 

Uncle Jim’s Barn Dance is from the playing of Bob Cann, recordings of which have been released by John Howson on the Veteran label. The Prince Albert Jig was written by Flos Headford and we learned it from his playing. 
Merry Month / Squirrel in a Tree
The first of these jigs was written by John Sommerville for his wife May as a birthday present. It is published in his tunebook Tadpoles on Telephone Wires. John lives in Maidenhead and is a resident at the folk club there. The second tune's origins eludes our researches
Tricky Dicky / Liberation Polka
The creation of Colin Cater
Harry Enfield's Waltz / String Quartet
These tunes form part of Nick’s Musical Diary – a collection of tunes related to everyday thoughts and events…in this case watching TV with his teenage son Tom
Sample not available
Gypsy's Wedding (The Gypsy Girl)
Mary Humphreys heard this sung by Joseph Taylor of Saxby-All-Saints
Spanish Patriots / Duke of York's Hornpipe
Two slower hornpipes from Lawrence Leadley. The North Yorkshire clog side
Sample not available
The Cream Pot / Bang Upp
The Cream Pot can be found in the William Vickers manuscript of 1770 and was published in Aird’s Airs in 1782. It was commonly known as The Kern Staff. Bang Upp is to be found in the manuscript of William Docker.
Sample not available
Will You Patch My Pants for Me?
Originally a Swedish song
Sample not available
La Fete de Village / Hornpipe
Two very popular tunes from the manuscript of William Mittell and published by Dave Roberts as Wm. Mittell His Book. English Rebellion like to use these as a warm-up tune…partly because our arrangement uses all the instruments!! The first half of Mittell’s Hornpipe is part of Symphony in C by Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787).
Sample not available
S-M Hornpipe / Red Lion / Tumblers Hornpipe
Three examples of the near-extinct triple-time hornpipe. S-M Hornpipe was composed by the late English melodeon player Dave Roberts
Sample not available
Bath Hornpipe / Miss Gayton's
From the manuscript of Lawrence Leadley
Sample not available
Said Too Much Already / Wals voor Polle
Said Too Much Already was composed by Nick Barber. The band find it fits the Circle Waltz nicely
Sample not available
Chatsworth House / Dummy Head
Chatsworth House is printed in Jamie Knowles’ A Northern Lass – the original source is Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 200 Country Dances. Dummy Head was composed by John Kirkpatrick.
Sample not available
The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O! / Last of June
The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O! was found by Mary Humphreys in Marrowbones
Sample not available
Angela Mary Lee
Nick wrote this tune for Angela Lee
Sample not available
Uncle Jim's Barn Dance / The Prince Albert Jig
Uncle Jim’s Barn Dance is from the playing of Bob Cann
Sample not available

Mardles

David Dolby

In the absence of a blank crossword grid the easy way to solve Four Across is to stick the CD in player, press start, turn up the volume, and listen. For a glorious 58 minutes, and I wish it could have been longer, let the tunes and harmonies and counter-melodies fill your being, and share the joy that is obvious in this beautifully played and produced disc.

With this careful selection of traditional and modern tunes, of jigs, hornpipes, triple hornpipes, waltzes, mazurkas and a couple of songs, English Rebellion - Nick and Mary Barber, Mary Humphreys and Anahata -shows it is more that just a fine ceilidh band or a group of excellent session players. The whole, as they say, is greater than the sum of the parts.

Each player can take a tune, develop it, and sit back to let another take centre stage. Nick's French horn can be lead instrument, bass, and harmony, though not necessarily at the same time, and he's loving it; Mary B.'s fiddle playing is crisp, and is a perfect foil for the free-reed instruments; in Anahata'a hands, the melodeon seems to defy all the usual restrictions associated with it; and Mary H.'s piano forms the solid base upon which a most joyous sound is built. And then there are the other instruments: for example, Nick's compositions Harry Enfield's Waltz and String Quartet are just right for what eventually sounds like, well, a string quartet, and the banjo on Red Lion and Miss Gayton's Hornpipe feels as though it should always been there. Mary H.'s singing is as powerful and sensitive as ever, and Mary B. has made her recorded vocal debut in the chorus of Gypsy's Wedding, helping to produce a harmony reminiscent of the early Watersons. It's delicious.

This is not just a disc from which you can learn the tunes - though I'll know I'll try - or to play along with accomplished musicians, but one which rewards careful listening. Again and again. Each time I've played it I've heard something different, some new combination of instruments, some new sound. It could be the perfect vehicle to combat the onset of the long dark nights and the short dark days. Simply, it's a happy and life-affirming CD.

Finally, it may be worth noting that on this CD is the second version of Tricky Dicky and Liberation Polka to be issued in as many weeks, the first coming from their composer Colin Cater in his book/CD A Penny for the Ploughboys. Listen to both. And, not to be missed, on the back of the inset notes, is a picture of four happy-looking people - Four Across - sitting below a Suffolk Folk banner. Someone has an eye for good publicity.

Folk London

PCW

English Rebellion are a ceilidh band consisting of Mary Barber (fiddle), Nick Barber (french horn, melodeon and recorders), Mary Humpreys (piano, English concertina, banjo, vocals) and Anahata (melodeon, cello, anglo concertina). At this point anybody who recognises the names will be skipping straight to the bottom for purchasing details.

The CD itself consists of 15 tracks including two songs by Mary. These are Gypsy's Wedding and Bonny Bunch of Roses, the latter sung to the tune of the Bampton dance Rose Tree at a solid dance tempo. It surprised me the first time through but it really works If you haven't heard Mary sing then you are in for a treat. Her voice is rich and full and the arrangements are superb.

The instrumentals come from a variety of sources ranging from old manuscripts to Nick's own compositions although very few are standards that you will hear around the sessions. The style of course very redolent of the English Country Music Weekends, slow and strongly rhythmic with plenty of room for stepping in the dances although they can't quite loose that Dartmoor swing from Bob Cann's Untie Jim's Barn Dance.

There are comprehensive notes on each track but despite being played in strict tempo and; as far as I can judge, with the correct number of repeats they seem to have forgotten the dance club market. The one thing that is missing is a simple note against each track giving the tempo and the number of bars.

The CD can be purchased on?line through www.folklondon.co.uk

Taplas

Mike Greenwood

ENGLISH Rebellion is a collaboration between session and workshop leaders, Nick and Mary Barber and the better-known duo, Mary Humphreys and Anahata. Here, they meld together into a tidy little ceilidh band to which Mary H adds a couple of songs.

Free reed and fiddle establish themselves as dominant leads, but Nick's French horn, whether punching out a baritone descant or a high staccato, or meandering lazily around the melody, generally defines the Rebellion sound, whilst Anahata's cello underscores the mix and Mary H adds vamping piano on occasions.

The material includes jigs, slow hornpipes and triple-time hornpipes and is selected from the less familiar areas of the English traditional spectrum, including a few new compositions. In particular, Nick contributes a couple of attractive waltzes. Mary's songs, Gypsy's Wedding and Bonny Bunch of Roses appear in unusual settings, the latter wed wittily to the tune The Rose Tree.  

Shreds and Patches

Flos Headford

This is an unalloyed delight. All the band are known to club-Boers and denizens of English music sessions. Anahata and Mary Humphries join forces with Nick and Mary Barber to form a formidable outfit.

As much as any other talents, they each also possess a wonderful ear for a cracking good tune, and this album is stuffed to creaking point with the very best. It's the only time I've been tempted to list every single track on a CD. But I owe it to those who don't know these performers (where have you been?) to give some idea of what the music is like. No surprise that it's very English - clarity of melody, plenty of bounce and careful use of harmony. Anahata plays melodeon, cello and anglo concertina, Mary Barber the fiddle, Nick plays French horn, melodeon, soprano recorder and Baritone horn, and Mary Humphries adds piano, English concertina and banjo to her inimitable vocals.

It's the quality of playing, added to the care taken in blending the varied lines and tones, which makes this stand apart from and above most other recordings we come across.

It's so nice to hear good new tunes along with the old, as well. They have paired up two of Colin Cater's best tunes, Tricky Dicky and Liberation Polka (I do hope those get taken up by session musicians), and they use some of Nick's tunes (including Harry Enfield's Waltz). Alongside this Mary H treats us to a classic rendering of Joseph Taylor's version of The Gypsy Girl. And what a wonderful idea to pair The Cream Pot with Bang UPP!

As you can probably tell by now, I'm having trouble focussing on the sheer quality of the performance and recording, because of the superb selection of material. Of course, you could simply take my word for it and go out and buy it, thus saving me from embarrassment.

EDS

Baz Parkes

English Rebellion features the combined talents of two of the most talented duos playing dance music and song today. Nick and Mary Barber are perhaps best known as leaders of Sidmouth's Sidmouth Big Band workshop, whilst Mary Humphreys and Anahata are well known for their many club and festival appearances and, latterly, as members of Pig Dyke Molly's big band (although you'll not recognise them because they'll be in disguise!).

Formed to play for ceilidhs, English Rebellion has a distinctive sound, underpinned by Nick's French horn playing. I've been a long-time fan of Anahata's melodeon playing; he manages to combine a precision and crispness with a rhythmic attack that few other players master. Mary Humphreys adds to that rhythm with either piano or banjo, while Mary Barber's fiddle weaves in, out and over tunes in a more than satisfactory manner.  But that's not all; as those who've been in sessions with them can testify, all can add other instruments to the mix. Nick has a very different melodeon style to Anahata, and the two complement each other well. Not content with that, he also adds soprano and baritone recorder. Anahata's cello adds another layer to the sound, as does his Angloconcertina playing, whilst Mary Humphreys' English concertina proves that the blokes in the band can't have it all their own way in free reed matters.

All can be heard to fine effect on 'La Fete de Village/Hornpipe', apparently used by the band 'as a warm up tune ... partly because our arrangement uses all the instruments!' I'm particularly fond of the hornpipe sets 'Spanish Patriots/Duke of York's Hornpipe' and 'Bath Hornpipe/Miss Gayton's Hornpipe', and 'The Cream Pot/Bang Upp' drives along nicely.

Mary Humphreys, ably supported by the rest of the company, offers up two songs; a fine version of 'Gypsy's Wedding (The Gypsy Girl)', collected from a wax cylinder recording made by Percy Grainger, and 'The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O!' Sung to the Bampton Morris tune 'The Rose Tree' and coupled with Rose Murphy's 'Last of June', it's a lovely version.

Fine tunes, both well and lesser known, unusual versions of songs and exemplary execution throughout. Next uncle by ale (anag).

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

Of all the crop of good albums I received for review in this issue, Four Across is undoubtedly my favourite.

But I would not have expected the music from a group made up of Nick & Mary Barber, Mary Humphreys and Anahata to be anything less than inspirational.  

At Sidmouth, when they are not running big band workshops, Nick and Mary can often be found playing french horn, melodeon and fiddle at the Radway English music sessions. Mary and Anahata, with banjo, English concertina, melodeon, cello & anglo, are popular at folk clubs and festivals across the country for sympathetic performance of traditional song and music.  The CD gets off to a cracking, foot-tapping start with Merrry Month and Squirrel in a Tree, two jigs which sound traditional even if the first one, at least, is a recent composition.The brass really adds bounce to this, and many other tracks, not just with rhythm but taking the tune and counter melodies.

Although the album includes several modern tunes, it has very much a traditional Englishness about it, even the delightful instrumental Will You Patch My Pants For Me (my favourite track!) which is Swedish tune acquired by way of the U.S.A. Mary Humphreys sings Gypsy's Wedding and Bonny Bunch of Roses-O but with the band accompanying in full swing, you could easily dance to these tracks too !

Marvellous !

Unicorn

Theo

Ceilidh band English Rebellion are Anahata (melodeon, 'cello, anglo concertina), Mary Barber (fiddle, viola), Nick Barber (melodeon, horn, soprano recorder, baritone) and Mary Humphreys (piano, English concertina, banjo, vocals), and this album is a glorious compilation of traditional, recently-written and 'foreign' tunes, plus a couple of songs.

It's unashamedly dance music, in a style recognised as typically English -bouncy, measured and infectious - exactly what you'd get at an English Rebellion ceilidh; jigs, reels, polkas and hornpipes. The musicianship here is impeccable, with subtle interplay between the melody instruments as each takes the lead, whilst the 'cello, horn and piano add depth and rhythm. There are some of my very favourite tunes here too -'Merry Month', 'The Duke of York's Hornpipe', and 'La Fete du Village'. The material is gleaned from a number of traditional sources, from Yorkshire to Devon and beyond, and these sit easily alongside compositions from John Kirkpatrick, Nick Barber and Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787)!

This is a delightful collection of wonderful dance music from a truly exciting band. I urge you to seek them out live, to dance to as well as listen to! Available from Wild Goose Studios or from any member of the band.

The Living Tradition

Dave Tuxford

It would have been remiss if English Rebellion's latest CD hadn't found space for a couple of songs from band member Mary Humphreys (fine versions of Gypsy's Wedding � which I'd not heard since Lincolnshire's Broadside recorded it many years ago - and The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O, unusually set to Bampton Morris tune The Rose Tree).

Apart from these interludes Four Across comprises the sprightly mix of jigs, hornpipes and polkas, some from sources such as the Lawrence Leadley manuscript, some penned by the band's Nick Barber (also responsible for the elegant, informative inlay notes), John Kirkpatrick or other contemporaries, which make this four-piece so in demand for ceilidhs and other social dances.  Of course, this isn't the bass-heavy, brass-driven sound of Whapweasel or Hekety so familiar from Sidmouth Late Night Extras, more the sort of Flowers-blurred sun-drenched ambience of that same festival's Anchor Gardens lunchtime ceilidhs.  

It's always slightly difficult to assess music primarily intended for dancing divorced from the physical activity, but it helps that Humphreys, Anahata, Nick and Mary Barber have between them around a century of playing traditional instruments in various bands (fiddler Mary is also Deputy Leader of the Huddersfield Philharmonic).  It therefore scarcely needs comment that the technical aspects of their performance are (as far as I can tell) impeccable.  Doug Bailey of Wild Goose does his usual excellent job on balance and instrumental separation.  

It's all gloriously English (in the best possible way) and a delight even if you don't play melodeon, fiddle or concertina yourself. Or, possibly, even dance.