New Road to Alston

by Dave Townsend and Gill Redmond

A collection of tunes and songs with very exciting arrangements



Dave Townsend is a virtuoso concertina player and is probably best known for his work with The Mellstock Band.

Gill Redmond has played with many bands over the years but this duo of unlikely instruments is a very well matched pair.

1 New Road to Alston & Trip to Cartmel 


Two stalwart dance tunes from Northern England. The first comes from a manuscript dated 1816, possibly Darlington area, once owned by the Victorian musicologist Frank Kidson, who thought it was a piper’s book. Kidson wrote ‘Alston is a wild and remote district of Cumberland’. The inventor of modern road-building, John Macadam, made a road to Alston from Penrith in the early 1800s. This pennine market town now has five roads going there, from Penrith, Carlisle, Hexham, Durham & Barnard Castle. Trip to Cartmel is from the Browne family manuscripts, compiled from 1778 onwards. Like John Peel, the Browne family were from Troutbeck in Cumbria. 

2 The Lousy Tailor 


As always, the woman is beautiful, the butcher is lustful, and the tailor is ineffectual. Married men will be reminded of those moments when their wives say ‘I’ve had this really good idea . . .’ The tune was collected by Vaughan Williams from Mr. Gothard of Wilburton, Cambs., in 1906, and Roy Palmer very conveniently matched it to a broadside text printed by Harkness. 

3 Shaker Tunes - Father James’s Tune, Mother Anne’s Tune & Encouragement 


The Shakers were a religious movement founded in Manchester by Mother Anne and her brothers Father James and Father William. Among other extraordinary beliefs, they held that Mother Anne was the reincarnation of Christ in female form. They were hounded out of England and settled in America, where they suffered more persecution – the first tune bears the chilling epigraph ‘this tune was made by Father James after he was whipped at Harvard’. They danced as part of their worship, to the accompaniment of songs, as they believed instrumental music was the Devil’s work (true). 

4 Banks of the Sweet Primroses, Country Stepdance & The Monkey Hornpipe 


Phil Tanner ‘The Gower Nightingale’ sang this vital rhythmic version of the song more familiar in the Copper family’s Sussex rendition. Favourite line – ‘and don’t be so deceitful!’ We have tagged on a couple of step-dance tunes from the Sussex concertina player Lewis ‘Scan’ Tester. 

5 Schottis, Engelska efter Captain Lindholm & Chokela och Bullar 


Three Swedish tunes. Gill learnt the Schottis from Thomas Steenweg, a Dutch sackpipa player, the Engelska (“English”, therefore a hornpipe) from Goran Premberg, Riksspelman, from Gothenberg, and has known the schottis Chocolate and Buns for years. 

6 The Captain’s Apprentice & The Chinese Dance 


This Dorset song tells again the tragic consequences of a man who abuses his power over those under him, in a version collected by Henry Hammond from Mrs. Sartin of Corscombe, Dorset, in 1906. In this version he remains to the end a pitiless uncomprehending bastard whose only concern is his own neck. The following tune seems to capture the mood of an angry restless sea. It comes from the book of Lakeland fiddler Matthew Betham (1815), and its odd title may refer to a long-forgotten stage play, or steps taught by one of the Lakeland dancing-masters. Special thanks to Carolyn Francis for spotting what a great tune it is. 

7 Washington Hornpipe & William Irwin’s 


Two hornpipes found in the manuscripts of William Irwin ‘The Elterwater Fiddler’, a composer and teacher (1822- 1889) – for more on him take a look at Greg Stephens’ excellent article at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/irwin.htm. 

8 The Shepherds’ Song 


The fiddler and collector Chris Bartram reports that this familiar text, a sort of national anthem for shepherds, was sung to the tune ‘Dives and Lazarus’ in West Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse. 

9 Boroughbridge Rant, Berwick Lasses & Love for Ever 


Tunes from Yorkshire fiddlers’ books. The first is from Joshua Jackson of Burton Leonard (about six miles north of Harrogate), dated 1798, and the other two from Lawrence Leadley of Helperby (about twelve miles north-east of Harrogate), compiled around 1840 - 1850, which has some tunes with concertina notation. Thanks to Geoff Bowen, Robin Shepherd, James Merryweather & Matt Seattle for making this music available in modern editions. 

10 Old Age and Young & Variations on Johnny Cope 


More Cumbrian tune - the first is a triple-time hornpipe from the Browne Mss. (see track 1), and Dave has collated variations on the well-known Scottish air from three different Cumbrian sources, Matthew Betham’s book (see track 6), the William Irwin Mss. (see track 7) and the manuscript book of Henry Stables of Walthwaite, 1881, a pupil of William Irwin. 

11 Rolling in the Dew 


A hesitant lover, a compliant milkmaid - and another bun (in the oven this time)! Rural frolics from Sussex, collected by Francis Jekyll. 

12 Ffarwel Marian (Farewell to the Shore) & Aberdaugleddau (Milford Haven) 


Music from the vast repertoire of traditional Welsh harp and dance tunes, culled from the collection Blodau’r Grug published by the Welsh Folk Dance Society. 

13 The Banks of the Nile 


The soldier goes away and leaves the one he loves behind, hoping for the time when they will be reuinted and all wars will be ended. The story and the hope are as true today as when it was first written. From Keith Summers’ recording of Suffolk singer Jumbo Brightwell. 

14 I’ll Touzle Your Kerchie, All Around the World & Whip Her and Gird Her 


Rounding off with three more tunes from Joshua Jackson (see track 9). Is the ‘kerchie(f)’ to be ‘touzled’ worn on the young lady’s head or her bosom? We hope the last title refers to a horse and not the young lady. 
New Road to Alston & Trip to Cartmel
Two stalwart dance tunes from Northern England. The first comes from a manuscript dated 1816
Sample not available
The Lousy Tailor
As always
Sample not available
Shaker Tunes - Father James’s Tune
Sample not available
Banks of the Sweet Primroses
Sample not available
Schottis
Sample not available
The Captain’s Apprentice & The Chinese Dance
This Dorset song tells again the tragic consequences of a man who abuses his power over those under him
Sample not available
Washington Hornpipe & William Irwin’s
Two hornpipes found in the manuscripts of William Irwin ‘The Elterwater Fiddler’
Sample not available
The Shepherds’ Song
The fiddler and collector Chris Bartram reports that this familiar text
Sample not available
Boroughbridge Rant
Sample not available
Old Age and Young & Variations on Johnny Cope
More Cumbrian tune - the first is a triple-time hornpipe from the Browne Mss. (see track 1)
Sample not available
Rolling in the Dew
A hesitant lover
Sample not available
Ffarwel Marian (Farewell to the Shore) & Aberdaugleddau (Milford Haven)
Music from the vast repertoire of traditional Welsh harp and dance tunes
Sample not available
The Banks of the Nile
The soldier goes away and leaves the one he loves behind
Sample not available
I’ll Touzle Your Kerchie
Sample not available

Pete Fyfe

Pete Fyfe

It's nice to see that Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas don't have sole rights when it comes to 'cello' based projects for here we have the equally entertaining duo Townsend & Redmond. Now, concertina and cello may not be on the lips of every self-respecting 'folk' musician when it comes to musical bedfellows but in the hands of these two the quality is almost mercurial in its presentation if the opening track �New Road To Alston� is anything to go by. Upping the ante played at a speed more often associated with its cousin the fiddle the segue (in the almost �It's A Knock Out� presented handover) certainly drives �Trip To Cartmel� at a good pace and that, if you're like me will be totally unexpected. The following track �The Lousy Tailor� is one of those jovial 'too-ral-oo' type songs that you'd expect to hear from the likes of John Kirkpatrick and very suited to Townsend's warm tones. Here we have a well researched choice of material including jaunty versions of �Banks Of The Sweet Primroses� and �Rolling In The Dew� performed with plenty bonhomie and all expertly played with that certain sparkle as if having been kissed by an effervescent fizz of champagne�or at least a bottle of Asti Spumanti.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

This is the first album by this duo who have been playing together for some years. Dave Townsend is well known for his expertise on the English concertina. In fact, I think he is one of the best exponents of this instrument in the country. In the words of my old mate and also expert concertina player Keith Kendrick, Dave is 'A complete musician.' Likewise, Gill Redmond is a classically trained and experienced player of the cello. They have both, at different times, been  members of various folk bands and been involved in many musical projects.

I must admit that, before I started to play this CD, I had reservations as to how a concertina and a cello would blend instrumentally. Actually, it works - very well indeed!

They open with two of the jolly tunes featured on the album which are called 'New Road to Alston' (the title track, of course) and 'Trip to Cartmel'. The latter is from Cumbria and it sounded familiar to me so I looked it up on the song and tune notes in the CD's sleeve. Further reading of the sleeve notes revealed that Carolyn Francis is mentioned as one of the revivalist musicians who inspired Dave and Gill to play some of the tunes. Then it all fell into place; Carolyn works as a fiddle tutor for the Folkus music workshops and where I've heard her play these tunes with some of the pupils.

The tunes are wide ranging in their choice including ones from the Shaker tradition, Swedish tunes, Yorkshire tunes and other tunes from Cumbria. Nearly all the tunes are up tempo which contrasts nicely with the songs of death, torture, infidelity, sex and general mayhem that makes up part of our wonderful traditional song heritage!

Having said that, the first song on the album is a version of  'The Lousy Tailor' which actually is darkly amusing. One song that really took my fancy was 'The Shepherds' Song' from Oxfordshire set to the tune 'Dives and Lazarus'. This sounds lovely with the cello accompaniment nicely complimenting the concertina. The song ends in the ale house which probably is why I like it so much!  There's an interesting version of 'The Banks of the Nile' too and 'Rolling in the Dew' is as suggestive as it sounds.

This album is a real treat to listen to and a must for all you who love traditional songs and tunes. Another Wild Goose triumph in recording and production available from their web site or through their distributors Proper Music.

EDS

Jenny Coxon

Being familiar with some of both Dave and Gill's work, I anticipated enjoying this, their first recording as a duo. English concertina and cello is an uncommon combination, but in the hands of such inspired musicians, each instrument can express its own character without either one dominating. Every track stands out for a different reason because of subtly varied presentation and arrangements: gentle, solemn, bouncy, melancholy, lively, contemplative, mysterious.

I was delighted that sixteen of the 23 tunes had assorted north-country origins, and that the work of Greg Stephens and Carolyn Francis in particular was highlighted in both notes and acknowledgments, plus Geoff Bowen, Robin Shepherd, Matt Seattle and James Merryweather; I'd add the Old Friends Band to that list! These wonderful tunes from 18th and 19th century fiddlers' manuscripts are becoming well established in the contemporary repertoire.  Additionally, three tunes were Swedish, two were Welsh, and the remainder (and the six songs) were from southern English sources.

Dave's concertina playing is fluid, gentle, chordal, intricate � he enjoys challenging tunes like the 'Washington Hornpipe', although 'William Irwin's' ('Barbara Allen') felt slightly rushed; his singing is straightforward and suits the songs. Gill's cello has a personality of its own � it almost speaks; her playing is understated, sprightly, syncopated, thoughtful, with a huge range of sounds, dynamics and effects. Together they are wonderfully inventive; each instrument taking the lead, accompanying, or intertwining with the other. I enjoyed 'New Road to Alston/Trip to Cartmel', which suited Edwin Irwin's description � 'Shining tunes� weirdly fine'; also the sparkling 'Aberdaugleddau', dazzling in its complexity; the chunky 'I'll Touzle Your Kerchie' with chordal concertina and a wonderful cello line; and the magical 'Variations on Johnny Cope' � beautiful concertina with intricate variations and perfect cello counterpoint. Intellectually satisfying, musically stimulating, eminently danceable; totally stunning.

Bright Young Folk

Mark Dishman

Dave Townsend and Gill Redmond have performed together for years, but New Road to Alston is their first album together. The pair are inspired by the traditions of Cumbria and the Lake District in particular, but also explore music from Wales, America and Scandinavia.

Townsend and Redmond are both talented players - sharing drone and melodic duties between them equally. Folkies will perhaps expect some dextrous concertina work, and Townsend doesn't disappoint: his playing is perky and bright on the album's opening track, and lyrical and soothing on Father James's Tune.

Redmond, a member of ceilidh band Jigfoot, is more of a surprise - if only because the cello pops up rather less often in folk music. She extracts everything her instrument is capable of: sometimes playing tunes as if it were an enormous fiddle, sometimes bowing those big, resonant low notes to satisfying effect, as on the sonorous Farewell to the Shore.

The album is dominated by tunes, but Townsend takes the lead on a selection of songs. Lousy Tailor is a classic tale of an �ineffectual� tailor (it never seems to work out for them in folk songs), while The Banks of the Sweet Primroses is a fresh, bright and bouncy reading. Perhaps best of all is The Captain's Apprentice, a grim tale that suits Townsend's soft, conversational delivery. The Chinese Dance, which follows, is appropriately tumultuous.

There is an interesting and varied selection, including three nicely paced Swedish tunes, and the sprightly Washington Hornpipe/William Irwin's combination. Variations on Johnny Cope is dazzlingly complex, Redmond backing Townsend's theatrical playing with subtle, plucked cello. The rather lumbering backing to Rolling in the Dew is a rare misfire, however.

Some will tire of the sheer number of instrumental tunes - there are at least 24 across the album's 14 tracks, and all stick to the concertina/cello formula - but they are played with enthusiasm and no small amount of verve. New Road to Alston is a very likeable album indeed.

Around Kent Folk

Kathy Drage

Dave & Gill have performed together for several years but this is their first CD as a duo. The core of their repertoire are forgotten treasures from the English tradition performed with verve, passion and originality on Dave's concertina and Gill's cello. Their fiery improvisations carry English music to new realms with occasional excursions to Scandinavia, America and Wales. Four tracks are from Cumbria/Lake District which once had a vibrant tradition equal to anywhere  luckily many manuscripts survive   'New Road to Alston/Trip to Cartmel', 'The Chinese Dance', 'Washington Hornpipe/William Irwins' and 'Old Age & Young/Variations on Johnny Cope' are all grand tunes. Songs include 'Lousy Tailor', 'Banks of Sweet Primroses', 'Captains Apprentice', 'Shepherds Song', 'Rolling in the Dew', and 'Banks of the Nile'. Shaker tunes are 'Father James Tune, Mother Annes Tune and Encouragement.' Three Swedish tunes 'Schottis', 'Engelska efter Captain Lindholm' and 'Chokela och Bullar' and 'Ffarwel Marian' and' Aberdaugleddau are Welsh.

The notes on source collections are informative and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Folk London

Frank Chester

There are albums that breathe quality and there are albums that breathe tradition. Just occasionally a real winner comes along that manages to do both.

The combination of English concertina and cello is one that goes back to the roots of the nation's folk heritage, and when combined with the excellent vocal quality of Redmond and Townsend   and added to their choice of material   the traditional

atmosphere is complete.

Redmond is a classical and folk cellist of the highest order, and Townsend is well known as a member of The Mellstock Band. Together they breathe new life into a whole string of tunes familiar to us all in the album's 14 tracks. The Banks Of The Nile, Banks Of Sweet Primroses, and The Washington Hornpipe all get their racy and exciting upbeat treatment, but for me the prize goes to The Shepherd's Song, which uses the Child ballad tune Dives And Lazarus.

The tone throughout is rather that of the expertly studied pub session, with the sounds light yet expertly honed. Believe me, you can practically hear the rain on the window and the log fire crackling in the background on this one.

Mardles

David Dolby

Two musicians who have worked together for some years, according to the booklet, and who must by now have reached near perfection in their performances, have produced a disc that is well worth listening to, to say the least, and which is quite difficult to fault. "New Road to Alston" is a mixture of songs and tunes with concertina and 'cello, played by Dave Townsend and Gill Redmond respectively, a cornucopia of music gathered in the main from old manuscripts which are becoming increasingly popular.

The songs range from the downright desolate Captain's Apprentice to the relatively jovial, if not desperate, Rolling in the Dew, and they all have sensitively constructed and not overpowering accompaniment. The Shepherd's Song is sung to the tune Dives and Lazarus   a shepherd's anthem in praise of sheep tending or drinking, or both. The Vaughan Williams collected tune for The Lousy Tailor has here been matched to a broadside text printed by Harkness, and is worth comparing with the version sung by Mary Humphreys on "A Baker's Dozen" (Treewind TWD014) to see how the folk process is alive and well. Here are examples of familiar tunes with different words, and they are none the worse for it.

And then there are the tunes. There is some sort of magic going on here. The playing is precise and exciting, there are some very interesting arrangements and the "fiery improvisations" must have been carefully practised and polished. But it's more than that. Listen, for example, to the track Boroughbridge Rant, Berwick Lasses & Love

Forever to hear how these two play for and with and off each other. It's not all high octave antics: the three Swedish tunes and the slightly strange Shaker tunes display control and thoughtfulness. Sometimes the transition between tunes in a set feels somewhat forced, as between the two Irwin tunes (played in the keys found in the manuscript, I believe) and between the title track and Trip to Cartmel.

It's a criticism that can be forgotten when taking in the whole disc, for it's almost as though we are being treated to master classes in the arts of English concertina playing   articulate fingers, phrasing, harmonies   and how the 'cello can and should be used for more than mere accompaniment down at the deep end. This is a production that is robust, delicate, flyaway, solid, but not necessarily all at the same time, and, above all, delightful.

March 2013.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

Dave will need no introduction as founder of the Mellstock Band and the Hands On Music Weekends, while Gill has performed on cello with a wide spectrum of classical ensembles, folk bands and theatre companies. They have been playing together for several years but this WildGoose album is their first, as a duo.

In some ways there are similarities with the `Out of Reach' album with some really great tunes, drawn mostly from traditional sources and some cracking good songs. And yes, there's Swedish Schottis and an Engelska hornpipe, and the Welsh waltz Ffarwel Marian and Aberdaugleddau. The musical arrangements, too, with cello and English concertina are absolutely delightful and inspirational.

The difference is that the material, certainly with respect to the tunes, is generally unfamiliar, and draws on a number of manuscript sources, in particular some from Cumbria. I suspect, however, that by the time this CD has done the rounds, there will be a number of its tunes being introduced into sessions. The title tune comes from an 1816 manuscript once owned by Frank Kidson, and is paired with Trip to Cartmel from the Browne Family of Troutbeck. A Lakeland fiddler, Matthew Betham (1815) is the source of the Chinese Dance, a tune which seems to capture the mood of the tragic song, The Captain's Apprentice, which it follows. Other Cumbrian tunes include Washington Hornpipe, William Irwin's Hornpipe, Old Age & Young, and Variations on Johnny Cope, while the Yorkshire manuscript of Joshua Jackson is represented by the Boroughbridge Rant and a set of jigs, and a couple Scan Tester's step dance tunes from Sussex also get an airing.

The songs are also well chosen   familiar in some respects, but versions perhaps less well known, such as Phil Tanner's Banks of the Sweet Primroses and The Shepherds' Song, sung to the Dives & Lazarus tune.

I enjoyed listening to this CD and I am sure you will too. Oh, and by the way, the cover was designed by our own Hilary Bix.

EFN

It's nice to see that Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas don't have sole rights when it comes to 'cello' based projects for here we have the equally entertaining duo Townsend & Redmond.

Now, concertina and cello may not be on the lips of every selfrespecting 'folk' musician when it comes to musical bedfellows but in the hands of these two the quality is almost mercurial in its presentation if the opening track "New Road To Alston" is anything to by. Upping the ante played at a speed more often associated with its cousin the fiddle the segue (in the almost "It's A Knock Out" presented handover) certainly drives "Trip To Cartmel" at a good pace and that, if you're like me will be totally unexpected. The following track "The Lousy Tailor" is one of those jovial 'too ral oo' type songs that you'd expect to hear from the likes of John Kirkpatrick and very suited to Townsend's warm tones. Here we have a well researched choice of material including jaunty versions of "Banks Of The Sweet Primroses" and "Rolling In The Dew" performed with plenty bonhomie and all expertly played with that certain sparkle as if having been kissed by an effervescent fizz of champagne