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They draw on everyday, accessible topics, but own living-room a typical set from Jim, more
present them in new and interesting ways. or less alternating spirited renditions of songs
– mostly humorous, often Irish or music-hall in
This album is a brilliant album, not just for a origin, but also plenty from his native Tyneside
debut solo album, but for any singer-songwriter – with brilliantly managed tunes or tune-sets
at any point in their career. It will appeal to a played on his trusty melodeon (and what a
much broader audience that the standard folk fine player he is!), with (on many of them)
and trad people, but would be a great addition the clattery spoons of his equally trusty wife
to any collection for those days when you want Francie keeping joyously and steadfastly to
something engaging and thoughtful. A well every nuance of the rhythm. Jim clearly loves
constructed and written album. all this music deeply, and his enthusiasm for
sharing it is more infectious than any virus (or
should I say contagious?!).
To give you a taster, the parade of songs is
launched in style with John Watt’s celebrated
The Factory Turn
Kelty Clippie, the kind of song, which suits Jim
Copperplate COPP008
down to the ground (and his audience, as you
can hear). Few of the songs are massively well instance, sounds as if James Hill could have
known – I’ve not heard anyone else sing Ed written it (the dots for this and other tunes are
Pickford’s brilliant ode to old age Nee Bliddy available for download on his website).
Good, for instance – and it’s so good to be
able (for a change!) to penetrate the dialect of The arrangements vary from solo pipes to the
Woor Nanny’s A Mazer due to Jim’s precise nearly orchestral Zoë Cansdale of Hartburn.
(and relatively unhurried) delivery. The latter This last was commissioned as a memorial
is one of two contrasted Tommy Armstrong piece and it is absolutely stunning. A simple
songs here, the other being a perfectly poised waltz-like melody with a Scottish lilt is played
account of Durham Strike (this being a clear first on harp, and then the small pipes. The
demonstration of Jim’s sure touch with a more sound builds with strings, guitar and flute
serious song). Jim also turns in an affectionate embellishing and harmonizing the melody.
rendition of Gallowa’ Hills (which he learnt from Sweet, without being schmaltzy. A personal
Davie Stewart’s brother John forty years ago) favourite is the solo, My Ain Kind Dearie
and a passionate My Pittenweem Jo. On the with several variations, mostly composed
other hand, I miss the Fenian Record Player by Hensold. At nearly nine minutes, this is a
(normally a staple of Jim’s sets), and it’s a track to chew on, and Hensold’s variations
shame that on this occasion he cuts short bear up well under repeated listening. The
Micky McConnell’s priceless Politician’s Song. Hartburn Hornpipe is a charming confection
As for the tunes – well I’m not a hardcore tune for a trio of smallpipes – a glorious sound, all
Damian O’Brien and Oliver Loughlin have
specialist, but I could listen to Jim all night, for bubbly and bright. Big Music refers to the way
been playing together since they were twelve.
his winning combination of lively spring and Nicholson pushes the envelope of smallpipes
Their early influences include Michael O’Brien
attack, forward drive and innate musicality performance and repertoire. His inclusion of a
(Damian’s Father) and the renowned fiddle
is just the job to hold my attention, here Cambodian pop tune is evidence of his forays
player Seamus Horan. They have played pub
particularly on the two sets of barndances, the into unexplored territory. He uses the exotic
sessions for many years and are both members
central set of jigs and the pair of waltzes “from melody to exploit the expressive abilities of the
of the Irish Free Ceili Band. The Factory Turn is
an Alabama Fiddler”. instrument to the fullest. If I haven’t convinced
their first CD as a duo and has justly received
you to acquire this CD by now, I never will.
considerable critical acclaim. This is robust,
So, here’s the paradox: you know more or Enjoy!
enthusiastic music that shows a deep respect
less what you’re going to get with Jim (in that
and understanding of the tradition, they have
there’ll be little in the way of repertoire surprises E. Bradtke
learned their craft well.
if you’ve seen him before), but somehow it’s
all a fresh delight every time – and therein lies
Damian plays fiddle, Oliver piano accordion. the secret, I suspect. In a nutshell, Jim’s a true
They are joined by Arty McGlynn on guitar, entertainer with good-humoured, unpretentious
The Folker/Frollicks
Kevin Brehony on piano and on two tracks by and timeless appeal. Although the cynical
James Blennerhassett on double bass. Their might say that the disc’s so close to the actual
Village Thing VTS 207(2CD)
repertoire is firmly from the Irish Tradition that experience of Jim’s live act (OK, minus the
includes tunes of known origin as well as craic!) that Jim might find less folks coming
traditional material. If straightforward, no- to his gigs as a result (only joking – I hope!)…
nonsense, vibrant, and exciting playing is your Irresistible!
thing I cannot recommend The Factory Turn
too highly. David Kidman
Danny Saunders
JIM BAINBRIDGE Big Music for Northumbrian
Galloway House Smallpipes
Furzemusic MCD004 Ten Thousand Lakes SC127
This an absolute gem. A joyful, heartwarming Dick Hensold wanted to explore the use of
69 minutes spent in the most convivial of drones, harmony and chromatic notes, while
company – that of the perennially entertaining being able to blend in with other instruments.
Jim Bainbridge – in his own “local”, the House Once equipped with a set of Northumbrian
o’Hill, a pub in the Galloway Forest. (Most smallpipes, he was soon composing for
of the 22 tracks were recorded there, the the instrument. Despite living in Minnesota, Thirty years ago, people used to call Fred
remainder at a nearby bookshop and the final his self-penned tunes are quite at home in Wedlock a Bristolian version of Billy Connolly. I
track in London). The CD brings right into your the traditional idiom. Dad’s Fantastic Jig for could never see it. I suppose it was that Fred
Sponsored by BIrnam CD The Living Tradition - Page 
Issue80.indd 45 14/7/08 14:54:45
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