Hey, a whole week, and it’s not over yet. I’m no fan of the RSCDS, and I have been known to tell horror stories about Miss Milligan and her cronies. That said, while I’m no fan, I wouldna deny another their choice of pleasures. But for me, and my wife in agreement, while we’ve enjoyed a dance now and then, there’s just too much starch for our comfort. I’m especially ill at ease when someone is looking at my feet instead of being social in the dance, and neither of us like iron-on transfer smiles… Sorry, we have met nice folks in the stiff of it, but we prefer Irish and country, the rural take on it all, not citified or ‘balls’…and definitely not ‘Royal’…
But, after getting that off my chest ~ I really like the Adam Rennie Quartet. It has a spark and lift much RSCDS music tends to lack. Maybe in part it is Bobby Brown’s button accordion. I am also partial to Jimmy Shand, memories of youth. There seems to be a humour in the band and in the tunes Adam Rennie is given credit for, like this one. It makes me smile. It hasn’t the irritation of starch that much of what the RSCDS seems to create. I can recognize the musicianship, but it generally doesn’t speak to my heart. It doesn’t make me smile. Adam Rennie’s music does…
Here is some more taken from the notes for these two recordings:
"Adam Rennie was born in Kemnay in Aberdeenshire in 1897. When he was five years old his father, an agricultural worker, moved the family to live near the little Perthshire village of Coupar Angus. Adam went to school here, learned to play the fiddle and on leaving school, fee’d to work on the land, first as a hand then later as a horseman.
Adam was a talented musician and soon became a student to the famous ‘Dancie Reid’ of Newtyle who taught many young fiddlers from the surrounding area.
When the great war broke out Adam joined the Gordons, but in the last months of the war suffered a serious wound which was eventually to lead to his losing a leg.
The war over, Adam opened a Newsagents shop in Coupar Angus. He returned to the fiddle having not played for many years, entered and won competitions against the likes of Angus Fitchet and the Cameron family from Kirriemuir. He was later to join many of these friends in ‘The Angus Occasionals’, a group well liked and known in the area as ‘purveyors of strathspeys, reels and lilting country airs’. In 1932 in recognition of his distinctive service to Scottish music Adam was presented with Niel Gow’s fiddle, possibly the finest recognition which could be given to any Scottish fiddler.
Most people will remember Adam not for these early years but for the radio broadcasts and recordings with his ‘Scottish Country Dance Quartet’. The strict tempo band was formed in 1949 and consisted of a young Bobby Brown on accordion, pianist George Robertson and Jock White on double bass. Ed Robb later took over from Jock.
Like all top bands of their era they played throughout Scotland, frequently in England, and on several occasions at Balmoral for the royal family. (The Quartet provided the music at Balmoral Castle for the Gillies Dances, twice in 1953, twice in 1954, and again in 1956)
In 1958 Adam retired from his paper shop and from performing (The quartet’s final performance was at the Coupar Angus Scottish Country Dance Club in March 1958.), moving to Muirton House in Blairgowrie. He died there two years later.
During his career he composed at least twenty three tunes for fiddle, possibly more. ~ "
"~ Adam was a stickler for tempo, Alex said, and if he felt it needed adjustment after the opening chord he would stamp his ‘wooden leg’ on the stage until the band modified the speed to his liking." ~ Charlie Todd
I remember reading somewhere that the quartet would travel miles and hours for a dance. I’ve been there, they have my respect and understanding…and appreciation too…
It’s borrowed some from The Silver Wings Polka, or vice versa - maybe one or both tunes are part of a "work in progress". But Rennie definitely has class as a composer, judging by these two.