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VIC GAMMON AND FRIENDS - Early Scottish Ragtime

VIC GAMMON AND FRIENDS - Early Scottish Ragtime
Fellside Recordings FECD276

Vic Gammon has worn many hats during his time on the folk scene, including that of recently retired senior lecturer on Newcastle University's renowned Folk Music course. To some extent, he puts one of those hats back on again for this intriguing CD, which sets out to demonstrate that there could be deeper shared roots linking two quite distinct genres of music than we thought possible.

His thesis is that the precursor of the ragtime craze that swept the world in the last years of the 19th century was (or at least could have been) the syncopated dance tunes of the Scots tradition. Only one way to see whether the theory holds water - get together a team of outstanding musicians and get playing. Those roped in include Sandra Kerr, Irish flute maestro Desi Wilkinson and banjo prodigy Dan Walsh.

There was almost certainly never a transitional brand of music that sounded like this, but if we have to resort to the old Scots verdict of 'not proven', does it really matter? The point is that the music stands up in its own right, with the two strands in question winding around each other beguilingly. It doesn't make you want to bounce off the walls, but it has an unhurried and relaxing charm. If I had to isolate a particular tune, it would be the one entitled In The Woodpile which has one foot in Scotland, one in the USA and one in Andrew

Cronshaw's much anthologised Wasps In The Woodpile.

A thoroughly interesting exercise and some great music emerging from it.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.