The Lads Like Beer: The Fiddle Music of James Hill's Tyneside
The contribution James Hill made to the fiddle repertoire has long required to be properly acknowledged, and although the news given in the notes here that the man known as the Paganini of hornpipe players might have been born in Dalmellington will disappoint those who believed he came from Dundee, this is a very handsome tribute. Hill was active in Newcastle and Gateshead during the first half of the 19th century as a 'turn' who attracted drinkers to beer shops and ale tents at race meetings, and he earned a formidable reputation. He composed numerous classic tunes that are still played today, and his nimbleness and expressive writing are celebrated with, variously, mastery, eloquence and a certain rugged charm by these fiddlers, accordionists, harmonica players and accompanists. Stewart Hardy's opening medley bristles with musicality and passion, setting the standard for waltzes, airs, hornpipes and a song that wonderfully evoke the boozy glow of Gateshead's Bottle Bank.