The Askew Sisters
Sunday 15th February 2015
Celebrating their tenth year as a duo, sisters Emily and Hazel Askew have come a long way since they had to fit in their bookings around School commitments. These days they have to fit in their bookings around teaching! That’s how we ended up booking them as an ‘Extra’ concert in February … it was the start of half term so they didn’t have to rush back to work!
Playing fiddle, melodeon and concertina, they have a repertoire of mostly traditional songs and tunes. Emily’s fiddle playing is superb, with a full range of styles and tones to complement the mood of each piece. Hazel moves between melodeons and her McCann concertina to ring the changes, and sings with a voice that won her the Spiral Earth ‘Best Female Singer’ Award in 2011.
Tonight, their two forty-five minute sets were well put together, with a lovely mix of fast and slow tunes, traditional ballads and chorus songs. Several morris tunes were included, including very unusual arrangements of ‘Room for the Cuckold’ and ‘Saturday Night’. An arrangement of the Unquiet Grave featured particularly beautiful violin accompaniment to Hazel’s lovely singing; and the same could be said of their ‘Wife of Usher’s Well’. But my favourite of the night was ‘Sweet Lemany’, which featured plucked violin accompaniment by both sisters.
More upbeat songs, getting the audience joining in enthusiastically, included ‘I Wish the Wars Were Over’; ‘Three Drunken Maidens’ and their finishing song (by request) – ‘If I Were a Blackbird’. A lovely way to end the concert!
Many thanks to the small but select band of singers and musicians who stayed behind for a very pleasant sing-around session for the last part of the evening, and to those who stayed just to listen! We heard songs from Phil, Dave and Julie; Marc, Ian, Martin and Sue, and another song from Hazel; and lovely tunes from Claire. Finally, a special thank you to Claire and to Julie for starting the two halves of the concert with ‘one from the floor’.