Folktrax-121: A North Country Barn Dance

By The Northumbrian Barnstormers

Eight comments

"FTX-121: A North Country Barn Dance"

Folktrax 121, which appears under several names!?:

"The Barn Dancers: A North Country Rant"
"North Country Barn Dance"
"The Morpeth Ranters: A North Country Barn Dance"

However you mix it, I love this collection of Peter Kennedy’s fieldword. I am particularly fond of the playing of Ned Pearson, a fine fiddler who is featured on several tracks here, but I love the whole thing, softy that I am. I highly recommend it.

FTX-121 - The Morpeth Ranters

"A complete Barn Dance Programme from the Border region of Cumberland and Northumberland - with over 60 tunes used for Country dances, Reels, Quadrilles & Old-time Couple dances ~ Marches, Quadrilles, Country Dances, Reels, Jigs, Schottisches, a Polka-Mazurka, Varsovianas, The Ninepins, Waltzes, Polkas, The Circassian Circle, The Ribbon Dance, Sylph, Strip the Willow ~ etc. ~ played on fiddle, harmonica, jews-harp, melodeon, piccolo, whistle - Jack Armstrong’s Barnstormer’s Barn Dance Band, and soloists like George Armstrong on fiddle, Billy Ballantine and his piccolo, Bob Clarke with the jews harp, Billy Conroy on tin whistle, Tom Edmondson and his accordion, Jimmy & Tom Hunter on harmonica & fiddle, and other fiddlers ~ Jake Hutton, Ned Pearson, Jim Rutherford, and Geordie & George Taylor on fiddle and melodeon…

"The fun began when the MC called for The Grand March leading into the two figures of Circassian Circle - this way you met every single body…"

These recordings were made by Peter Kennedy in 1954, then edited and first published on Folktrax Cassettes in 1975. More on the musicians:

"Geordie", GEORGE ARMSTRONG (61) shepherd of Camp Hill, Barrasford, near Hexham, learned from his uncles (fiddlers) & mother (auto-harp player)

NED PEARSON (78) was a footman to dukes & ambassadors and gamekeeper to Sir Charles Trevelyan, Cambo, near Morpeth (born 1876 & died 1964)

BILLY CONROY miner from Ashington

JACK ARMSTRONG (fiddler & leader of "The Barnstormers Band") Wide Open, Newcastle - featured on FT-122 "Pipes of Northumbria"

GEORGE TAYLOR (62) of Rennington/ BOB CLARKE of Powburn, near Whittingham

JAKE HUTTON (60) of Bewcastle, Cumberland

TOM HUNTER (62) of Gilsland, Cumberland

JIMMY HUNTER (50) of Haydon Bridge, Hexham.

"A North Country Barn Dance" - Brings back memories…

The name Tom Edmondson rings a bell. Someone getting on a bit, box player (melodeon, I think); used to get to a session I went to in the ‘70’s in a pub up in the middle of nowhere. By the English standards of the time its serving hours were quite unusually elastic: again by the English standards of the time (a lot more condoning than now) the drink-driving habits of the patrons were quite conspicuously contemptuous of the possibility of death / mayhem / oncoming cars, on access roads with their share of dark slippery blind Z - bends, etc. Taking a lift was classic Rural Roulette.
Otherwise I recall, inter alia -
- A copper in uniform, knocking back a short at midnight,
- Waking from a doze to see a stuffed hare with roe-deer horns on it,
staring at me…

I like it Nicholas ~ I can relate… 😉

The copper would have come from a nearby town. Coming to that pub, he’d have crossed out of his own district into another, nominally overseen by another set of bobbies. But these didn’t patrol near the pub, which was sundered from the rest of the district by a huge expanse of moorland and a notorious long climb. So (as people used to say a lot in the ‘70’s), what the eye didn’t see, the heart didn’t grieve over.

"The Morpeth Ranters" = "The Northumbrian Barnstormers"

I also seems that Peter Kennedy would confuse other names too…

"Jack Armstrong’s Northumbrian Barnstormers"