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BERNIE CHERRY - With Powder, Shot And Gun

BERNIE CHERRY - With Powder, Shot And Gun
Musical Traditions MTCD359

So – what is a traditional singer? Or a revival singer? Does it matter? These are the sorts of questions which keep academics and web forum contributors combatively employed at great length. Personally I think it all depends on the end result. Bernie Cherry was involved in the early days of the Cotswold Liberation Front (which became the Old Swan Band) and Gloucestershire Old Spot Morris Dancers as well as Stroud Morris. So Bernie is a singer brought up in the revival, but who had a long contact and respect for traditional performers (of all sorts), their material and, most importantly, the way they perform their songs.

Having absorbed this performance ethos he puts it in into practice, treating the songs as paramount and leaving the listener to do the work, rather than indulging in histrionics or artifice to tell the listener what they should be thinking. Just how it should be. This is done as a field-recording – no editing, so his voice is slightly reedy and a couple of times struggles for a high note, but it is a great vehicle for delivering the words.

He is helped on a couple of tracks by the melodeons of Roger Grimes or Rod Stradling - but why is there nothing of Bernie’s playing - especially of his occasional line-up with Reg Hall, John Grout & Co? It is unusual to hear a CD of someone who almost negates their own personality to use it as a means of delivering a song and there are some really great songs here. To my mind, this is an object lesson for younger singers in how to perform. I think Rod Stradling’s comment sums it up: “If you value a no-nonsense approach to singing, and find unusual songs interesting, I think you’ll enjoy this CD as much as we do.”

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.