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Hoppits HOP009CD

Oh lore, where to start…well, if you like punch, bounce, impeccable pulse control, stunning note separation and real musicality with your country dance music – from wherever it may originate (and I do), then this collection is for you. Roger Digby is, of course, well known to followers of English dance music from his founder membership of the legendary 70’s Flowers & Frolics as the Anglo concertina of their shared squeezebox front line with Mike Bettison and Dan Quinn (melodeons). All those years ago and likely unrealised by him, even then he was somewhat of a guru to many aspiring players – always pushing the boundaries for everyone (including me) and this CD just rams it home to me that he is still ahead of the game!

Liz Giddings I have known for much less time but every time we bump into each other at various events and sessions she does something new and special to remind me that here, also, is no ordinary musician. Liz clearly has an extraordinary sensitivity toward not only the playing of her instruments (fiddle and melodeon), but also an intuitive sense of application toward the music genre itself – for one so young and relatively new to the game – I mean, she really gets it.

Even more extraordinary is the tightness with which the two of them produce their meticulously clean playing together. There are oodles of spirit and lyrical and kind of ‘sixth sense’ musical acrobatics going on the whole time which appears to be virtually unconscious and natural but never once do they lose sight of melody and pace or what they’re playing the music for.

Versatility in repertoire and style, also, is a clear hallmark of this inspired coupling. You will find herein well researched English, Celtic and Newfoundland tunes all played as they should be played but all with that characteristic lift that runs through their music like the message through a stick of Blackpool rock!

All this is done with a minimum of (admittedly) the best session contributors they could have picked in Ted Stevens, Ken & Susan Lees and Martin Appleby, who all put stunningly good supportive performances in on percussion, piano and banjo.

Last but not least to mention are four amazing vocal offerings from arguably the most prominent of all male vernacular singers from England – Bobby Davenport – and at his classic best. Listen particularly to The Old Changing Way from Richard Thompson’s pen – just delightful…and definitive – as is the entire CD.

Go and get this….PLEASE, go and get this.

Keith Kendrick

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.