Sunday 21st January 2018
What a combination: superb fiddle player and composer Dave Shepherd, probably best known for his playing with the legendary Blowzabella; and Anna Pack, a marvellous player of the diatonic button accordion (and an accomplished dancer, having performed with ‘The Chase’ and ‘Circa Compania’).
With that pedigree it was always going to be a quality performance. More often associated with playing for the dance, Dave and Anna had put together a terrific set of tunes specifically aimed at a listening audience. A really varied and interesting show, including bourrées; jigs, reels and hornpipes; waltzes in several time signatures; mazurkas and gavottes. Each tune set was preceded by short but fascinating snippet of information about the history of that particular style, it’s geographical and cultural origins, or the instruments used. Who knew there were 2-beat, 3-beat and asymmetric bourrées, or that waltzes also come in 5/4 time signature! (Well, I didn’t!).
Also, a revelation was the fact that so many of those European standards we know from dances are actually Dave Shepherd compositions. We heard several, along with a couple of excellent tunes written by Anna after attending a tune-writing course run by Leveret! It wasn’t all European music either: Dave Shepherd’s early career included spells playing and dancing with morris teams in London, and the Grenoside Sword team, so there was a fair sprinkling of English music – but always with Dave’s ‘twist’ (Jack in the Green/The Grinder, Bonny Breast Knot, Jacky Tar, for example). My personal favourite – Rosslyn Castle – gorgeous!
All in all, a night of top-quality musicianship with fascinating and informative highlights! Huge thanks to our ‘one from the floor’ performers who started each half. Our very own melodeon whiz, Claire Halliday, played a lovely ‘Rosa’; while fiddle duo Wil Walker and Ali Bloomfield played a breakneck rapper tune set.
After the concert a nice selection of singers and musicians stayed behind for an excellent little post-concert sing/play. We heard songs from Ian Price, Dave Walters, Julie Palmer, Ally Turner and Juliet Woodin, and Tom Sullivan. With so many melodeon and fiddle players at the concert it was good that so many stayed back to play for us, and we had tunes from Phil Preen, Catherine Soubre, Claire Halliday, Ali Bloomfield and Wil Walker; as well as Dave Shepherd and Anna Pack who also joined us for the session. There were some joyous moments – excellent tune sets!