By Iain Bell
LEONARD Brown and Malcolm Ross topped the bill at the November meeting of the Langholm accordion and fiddle club.
It was plain for all to see why these lads have been voted guest artists of the year.
I have, at times, been wary of players with superior technical ability because the music of some can come across as being a wee bit clinical. Not this time.
Drummer Malcolm, who hails from Arbroath, really impressed me with precision timing and graceful use of the ‘light and shade’ which brings music to life.
Nothing intrusive but ‘bang on’, with the right measure and accent to complement the melody of his co-star.
Leonard, on accordion, or two thirds of him, anyway, he’s lost about three stone in a fitness drive, gave a display of sheer excellence akin to that of the late Will Starr.
Reels such as Miss Monaghan, Jeans Reel and the more modern composition Moving Cloud, now popular with the massed pipes and drums at the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo, were played with precision..
The duo’s repertoire included marches such as Robbie Shepherd MBE, The William Tell Overture, hornpipes, Teddy Bears Picnic and an Orange Blossom Special, to which the audience were cajoled into a processional train dance around the room.
Leonard kindly presented each youngster who had taken to the dance floor with one of his CD records a piece. Nice touch.
We were delighted to see Mr and Mrs Jake MacKay all the way from Inveraray, Argyll.
Jake performed some very tight and melodic pipe marches on mouth organ. 6/8s Kiloran Bay and Jean Mauchline followed by 2/4s Sprig of Ivy and Miss Elspeth Campbell.
The ‘moothie’ is not an easy instrument to play well and the third part of Elspeth’s tune is just a wee bit tricky but, credit due, Jake never missed a beat. Marvellous.
Other supporting musicians included Norman Swainson on accordion. He gave us some great tunes from the Emerald Isle, including The Irish Rover.
Ian Woods, who appeared strapped to an accordion rather than his usual fiddle, acquitted himself most admirably.
Eric Goodfellow’s rendition of Waltz for Sarah, accompanied by Leonard Brown on second box was, in the words of Parahandy, ‘just sublime’.
Eric followed this with the 6/8 Bonawe Highlanders, giving it some real west coast swing.
A change of tempo was given by Roger Dobson on Shand Morino with slow airs My Home and By My Ain Fireside, also known as The Cradle Song.
Newby Park played one of his own tunes Francesca and that lovely tribute to those lads lost at sea The Boys of the Marie L.
Barbara Fisher stepped away from Scotland’s music with Memories Are Made Of This.
Lyne Valley Dance Band members Davie Bell and Ros Snaith played pipe marches, including one of my own tunes The
I was further humbled when whistle player Willie Little played another of mine The Shores of Lough Neagh, together with Battle of the Somme.
Willie’s rendition of The Falls o’ Chatto Linn, by Bob Liddle, was enchanting.
Tam Riddell and Keith Lauder gave great drum backing to all players. Leonard kindly helped with second box and Ros gave superb piano backing, as did the evergreen Iain Wilson of Crawford.
On a sad note, I’m told that Tommy Herdman, accordionist, singer and teller of grand stories, who played with us recently, has died. Rest in peace, Tommy, and thank you for the joy you brought to us all.
The next event is at 1pm on Sunday, December 29 when we will have a Roger Dobson five-piece band.
For enquiries contact Iain Anderson 07530 916 938.