Roving Folk with Ken Hudson 24/05/2020
Jim Eldon and Mossy Christian – Fiddle Duets.
This is an ambitious project by Mossy Christian and Jim Eldon as a fiddle duo, both are experienced players, with Jim – the fiddler of Brid – having other recordings to his name. Both musicians regularly play, sing, and dance with local dance sides, with much of their music originating from Hull and East Yorkshire. The fiddlers play with a whirl of energy and rhythm, I felt some of the numbers in my feet as an invitation to dance. There are inventive harmony parts that weave around some of the well-played tunes, on others, the two musicians include vocals at the start to add variety. Forty Miles is sung unaccompanied by both of them.
We start off in confidant mode with ‘Helmsley Longsword’. Jim and Mossy can give a waltz a good swing, Waltz Vienna is surely an invitation to spin around on a dance floor! The music is announced in unison in the first round, then a lower harmony is introduced, again with warm tone colours. This pattern is repeated for the third and forth rounds of the tune, ending in a flourish in the upper part. There is a steady pace all through the track. I invite you to take a partner, here and now…
I mentioned earlier that there are tracks with vocal parts, in some the verse of a song is used to introduce the tune at the start, such as Cuddle In Cuddle In on track 6. Perhaps there is scope to explore the idea further, and to include more song verses later on – say after a couple of instrumentals. This song is entertaining, so I think the listener might enjoy the extra laugh or two, Jim and Mossy clearly enjoy playing it!
I enjoy the Yorkshire flavour that runs through this album. A number of the tunes are new to me, some with an interesting history attached, such as; William Henry and Mary King, a tune about one of the Bridlington lifeboats, Freddy Archer, a song about a famous jockey, and then there’s Billy Harrison’s Fathers Polka. Billy was a fiddle player from East Yorkshire, who played for much of the last century. Jim recorded him back in the 1980s, and also wrote about him for Musical Traditions. Billy called this tune Father’s Polka, having learnt it from his dad, saying he’d not heard it from any other source. It’s a popular dance tune, and has been recorded by other bands including Brass Monkey in 2004. Have a listen!
Such are the ways of present-day marketing, that you can purchase the full seventeen tracks as a CD, or as a digital album – to suit taste or the preferred mode of listening. Hopefully, Jim and Mossy can be persuaded to produce a follow up…
Essex Folk News 26/05/2020
Jim Eldon & Mossy Christian – Fiddle Duets (ORRCD001)
Jim Eldon has been known for decades for his earthy and idiosyncratic fiddle style; Mossy Christian is, in his mid-teens, an accomplished fiddler and dancer (on occasion simultaneously) and also singer. Putting the two together is something of a collision providing a synthesis that ranges from sublime to distinctly uncomfortable depending on one’s attitude and taste. Jim plays his fiddle from the crook of his arm with all the charming limitations that ensue. Mossy is more conventional although possessed of a deal of flexibility, which he demonstrates at numerous sessions in the Yorkshire region. At times we hear him playing the tune sweetly while Jim provides a low harmony that wanders wittily away from conventional ideas of harmonisation – a bit ‘Marmite’ – I love both! At other times their playing meshes together beautifully. It’s not always strictly in sync but the playing is full of rhythm and very danceable.
They both play for the longsword, particularly at Flamborough and Goathland and sets from both traditions are included on the CD. The content abounds with traditional tunes sourced in East Yorkshire, many well-known although you wouldn’t guess them from the titles. The Girl I Left Behind Me appears as The Battle of the Boiling Water. There are three Jim Eldon compositions included, a waltz and two jigs and Mossy brought in The Zodiac, a lovely waltz from the Joshua Gibbons manuscript, played beautifully. Jim sings Freddy Archer, a horse racing song, they both sing Forty Miles from the Pennock family of Goathland and there are other snatches of song preceding tunes.
In summary, it’s a quirky, traditional sounding collection of music, played with a complete understanding of its origins and with an abundance of charm. If you like Jim Eldon’s act you’ll love it. I do and I do. And Mossy is a welcome addition to the CD shelf.