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Dai Jeffries of Rock n Reel

reviews The Whitchurch Hornpipe by Neil Brookes and Tony Weatherall

The Whitchurch in question is the one in Shropshire from whence this collection of 19th centurytunes comes and all are to be found in handwritten manuscripts by local musicians of the period. Neil (fiddle and flute) and Tony (melodeons) are both from that quarter of England but with very different backgrounds. Neil began playing Irish music in Manchester while Tony was a founder member of Cajun band, The Crayfish Five.

The seventeen tracks are recorded In a straightforward fashion making this a rather scholarly exercise, perfect for musicians looking for new material, and several of these fine tunes deserve wder exposure. Neil and Tony have followed the compilers' playing instructions so the third part of 'The Whitchurch Hornpipe', marked "bass solo", goes as low as a melodeon can while the marches are played with a military jauntiness, likewise the 'bugle' part of 'Old Kiss My Lady'.

I get the feeling that the tunes were perhaps written for village bands and in its simplicity this set lacks sufficient variety to sustain the interest of the casual listener. It will, I think, be a specialist's purchase.