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David Kidman of David Kidman

reviews Beer and Black Pudding by Dave Bordewey & Dave Young

Both of these Daves have their roots in traditional music: Dave Bordewey, after forming his first folk group with Tim Laycock while at university, was then a resident singer at Cecil Sharp House and other London folk clubs, and subsequently multi-instrumentalist with the band Crows throughout the 1980s, whereas Dave Young’s background is firmly in dance, having followed his practical dancing experience with stints in several dance-bands in the south-east before moving to Malvern in 2000. The two musicians came together as an “act” in early 2004, although they’ve been playing together in their own ceilidh band almost since meeting in a local pub a few years previous. You can tell the closeness of their musical rapport right from the outset on this CD, with the energetically nifty strains of Dave Young’s anglo-concertina calling us in with the Cotswold morris tune Happy Man which introduces the opening set. Indeed, both an enviable instrumental dexterity (without feeling the need to show off) and a goodly, intuitive feel for the impact of rhythm and melody are hallmarks of the duo’s playing throughout. It’s hard to get bored with their playing anyway, but they score additional points engaging plenty of variety in texture by swopping instruments around – Dave Y alternates between anglo and melodeon, while Dave B proves more than proficient on fiddle, guitar and mandola (and even beats a bodhrán or bass drum from time to time) – and the sound they conjure is always full and interesting, with judicious and ever-thoughtful use of multitracking on several tracks. Of the three tracks involving Dave B’s able vocal performance (pity there aren’t more!), I particularly liked the duo’s approach to Just As The Tide was Flowing, with its unusual rhythmic stress. The tune-sets, which make up the bulk of the CD, are well contrasted, with original sources ranging from morris (quite a few of those, naturally!) to Liam O’Flynn and the Chieftains, while their performance of the Pete Coe 3 set (tunes learnt from Pete & Chris Coe) conjures up distinct images of our Pete bouncing up and down onstage! Yet Dave Y’s own tunes (of which there’s a healthy contingent here) make for especially stimulating listening, notably the Kentra Bay set near the end of the CD (which also includes its title tune, a wayward and strangely earthy concoction indeed!). Even the duo’s renditions of well-worn dance repertoire, like their spirited closing medley of two versions of Princess Royal, have something to say in view of the ever-lengthening list of available versions including many we know and love – indeed, it speaks much for the duo’s musicianship that this is the case. That track provides an invigorating end to a consistently invigorating 57 minutes’ listening.