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ANDREW CADIE - Half-Witted, Merry & Mad  

ANDREW CADIE - Half-Witted, Merry & Mad  
Steeplejack Music SJCD022  

Andrew Cadie is an interesting fellow: fiddler, busker, student, researcher and professional musician since his teens. Born in Berwick, he grew up with Northumbrian and other music, and has returned to Northumberland and the Vickers Manuscript of 1770 for the material on this recording. Cadie makes his solo fiddle sing like a small orchestra, using all the tricks from street musicians and dance troupes: his instrument furnishes melody, harmony, rhythm and more. Few fiddlers can hold the attention like this, with constantly varying technique and dynamics.

The interest of Half-Witted, Merry & Mad is increased by the eclectic nature of the Vickers manuscript. Its 580 tunes range from folk to classical, local to international, whatever passing musicians were playing 250 years ago. Old Northumbrian tunes such as Sunderland Lasses and The West Indian Hornpipe are joined here by Scots melodies The Deil's Awa and Cam Ye Oer Frae France as well as versions of the Irish reels Drowsy Maggie and Hand Me Down The Tackle - all with very different names of course. There are also many pieces rarely played, or played in unusual rhythms and tempos revealing a new aspect of a familiar tune.

There's a lot to absorb on this album: the melodies, the variations, the fiddle style. As pure entertainment, Half-Witted, Merry & Mad is raw and unpolished, but as brain food and inspiration it is full of nutrients. If you're a fiddler, or you like your music with the husk left on, Andrew Cadie is well worth a listen. He's currently based near Mannheim in the Rheinland, and touring with his duo Broom Bezzums, so he may be hard to track down in person, but he does have a useful website. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.