Rattle on the Stovepipe Albums Reviews Listen Articles

8 More Miles, WildGoose Records WGS 333 CD
Rattle On the Stovepipe

Shirley Collins writes on the sleeve, "Dave, Pete and Chris are all master musicians, but there is no sense of ego, no promotion of themselves as stars, although they certainly can dazzle. They are completely at home with the music they love, and can switch comfortably from American to English songs and tunes... Both Dave and Pete have that rare gift of drawing you into a song. And Chris, who charms us all, will make you gasp in amazement and laugh out loud with delight when he plays something next to impossible on his guitar.
As you’ll have gathered, I love them..."

‘Shirley Collins MBE is one of their biggest fans, apparently, and she knows a thing or two about American old timey music... Particularly enjoyable is the pairing of the English country dance tune ‘The New Rigged Ship’ with its transatlantic cousin ‘Green Willis’ and Tom Clough’s Northumbrian pipe tune ‘Nancy Clough’ with its Appalachian clawhammer banjo derivative ‘Nancy’. Arthur’s relaxed singing on ‘The Light Dragoon’ and ‘Willie’s Ghost’ creates a pleasing contrast, while guitarist Moreton shines on ‘Over The Waterfall’... fiddler Cooper shines throughout, taking lead vocals on ‘The Lakes of Pontchartrain’.

- Nick Passmore, Taplas

‘They’ve been together for some years but this is the first recording under the band’s official name. In these days of too clever-clever Americana, it’s immensely refreshing to hear real old time music played with such verve and melodic nous, by musicians at the very top of their game... Here are tales from the dark side - supernatural, mysterious, compelling. Of death, true love and false lovers. Sentiment in spades... Add to this polkas, waltzes and downright breathless fox-chasing and you have an exhilarating roller-coaster of an album for the discerning listener...’

- Clive Pownceby

Paul Burgess, however, sounds a note of caution:

‘I’m always wary of people who play the folk music of countries other than their own, especially US music. What’s wrong with their own stuff? What about the vocals: do you sing them in your normal accent or try an “authentic” American dialect. It’s a rocky road, on which many have come to grief.’

He continues :

‘No such problems here though; the unaccented English of the vocals serves to highlight the connections between the American, English and Irish material presented. (phew!) All three band members are master instrumentalists and play some rousing tunes: I have described Pete Cooper elsewhere as “a bit of a chameleon” and he continues this here, sounding as stylish and authentic an old-time fiddler as you could wish for, then swapping to another persona and doing exactly the same for English fiddle. Chris Moreton is one of these Island’s finest flat-pick guitarists and is also an excellent accompanist. Dave Arthur plays guitar and banjo and takes the lion’s share of the lead vocals. His vocal style is unusual. He is a very percussive singer, hitting the beginning of notes very hard and then letting the tone taper away; couple with this his penchant for ‘sprechtstimme’, a sort of pitched/unpitched speaking of some of the lyrics and you get a performance which ought not to work, but in fact is just what is needed and really spruces up the songs, although the longer Willie’s Ghost stretches this a little. The others chip in for vocals as well. Chris Moreton sings the sentimental Footmarks In The Snow straight – no overacting, and it works perfectly. And then there are the booklet notes: 12 pages of fascinating information about the history of the tunes written with Dave Arthur’s customary light touch, brilliant! Shirley Collins describes this album as “A Perfect Pleasure”: Hear! hear!’

- Paul Burgess, Shreds and Patches (January 2006)

‘Rattle on the Stovepipe are an occasional band that got together at Whitby Folk Week in 2004. They have since appeared together in a host of clubs to general acclaim. This is their debut album (a strange word is that word debut, to apply to a trio of musicians with such a lot of recording time under their belts), and it comes with the imprimatur of Shirley Collins, no less...

... I am enamoured of Dave’s vocal gifts: nothing flash, just an honest delivery in the clearest diction. And Dave handles most of the vocals here. Really shines with an Appalachian version of the Child Ballad ‘Sweet William’s Ghost’. But I was less familiar of late with Pete Cooper’s vocals. Yes of course, his fiddle playing will long be in the memory, even after he departs this vale, but he is backward about coming forward, vocals-wise. However, that said, what a solid job he does on ‘The Lakes of Pontchartrain’. A voice a bit like Mike Harding’s on steroids. But the standout track has neither of them on lead vocals. Chris Moreton goes back to his bluegrass past for the old Bill Monroe 1945 classic ‘Footmarks In The Snow’. I had not heard it in ages. This track was a total triumph and soon had me singing along...’

- Dai Woosnam, Celtic & Folk Reviews (September 2006)

Return Journey, WildGoose Records WGS313CD
Dave Arthur with Pete Cooper and Chris Moreton.

FolkRoots December 2003
Dave Arthur has produced a CD that’s an entertaining, informed and intelligent look at songs, ballads and tunes that crossed from the British Isles to the United States, ‘on the lips, in the fingers and in the hearts of generations of emigrants’ as he says in his excellent and witty sleeve notes.

…..Well steeped in both the British and American traditions Dave’s made a lively choice of material that’s beautifully played by him on 5-string banjo, guitar and melodeon, and by two master musicians, Pete Cooper on fiddle and viola and Chris Moreton on guitar…..If I had to pick a favourite track it would be The Two Sisters which is quite achingly beautiful in its simplicity and restraint.

I was put in mind of lines in Jeffrey Eugenides’ remarkable novel The Virgin Suicides: …’an occasional fiddle evoked the country the country had once been.’ Dave Arthur succeeds in doing that with this album.
Shirley Collins

Dave Arthur, Return Journey (Wild Goose Records WGS 313 CD)

Wild Goose Studios is a label dedicated to English music "both old and new, with a strong bias toward the traditional." So why release a CD of mostly American old-time music? Dave Arthur explains it in detail in the insert, telling how many of the songs originated in Britain and survived in North America, albeit often with changes. Now, Arthur, living in Sussex, is playing some of the American variants, hence the return journey. On the return, Arthur has combined some of them with British melodies, partly to illustrate the kinship of the traditions, and no doubt partly because they sound good together.

Dave Arthur's voice has a weathered sound that makes it easy to imagine him sitting by a fireplace, singing these ballads of an evening. He accompanies himself on banjo and also plays some melodeon and guitar. Joining him on Return Journey are Pete Cooper on fiddle and viola, and Chris Moreton on guitar. The interplay between the musicians is one of the disc's strongest points; it sounds as if these three have been playing together for years.

Arthur's banjo playing is rhythmic and driving. He tends to play simply while singing, letting the song be the focus. The slow "Little Margaret" is supported by rippling arpeggios, and the jaunty "Did-Na-Do" is accompanied by a strumming that sounds almost Dixieland in style. A couple of speedier songs, like "Harrison Brady" and "Rattle on the Stovepipe," have the banjo doubling the vocal melody. On the instrumentals he gets more intricate, without sacrificing any drive. His guitar work, too, is driving; listen to the droning, almost drum-like guitar on "Downfall of Richmond" or the Martin Carthy-esque playing (and singing) on "American Stranger."

Cooper's fiddle is wild on the fast tunes ("Old Molly Hare") and sweet on the slow ones ("When He Cometh"). He shows considerable sensitivity to the music when playing behind the voice, droning, shuffling, and accenting without drawing attention from the song. Moreton's guitar rounds out the sound beautifully; his timing is solid and he embellishes the melody with several tasteful bass-string runs. He gets in some good solos, too; "Sherman's March" and "Pushboat" are two that stand out.

For reading enjoyment while listening to this disc, Arthur has provided some extensive and well-researched liner notes. Background for the songs and tunes is given in detail; perhaps more detail than some would care for, but for others it makes for fascinating reading.

Return Journey is good music; the sort for sitting back, putting up your feet, and maybe singing along.
Tim Hoke
Copyright 2003 The Green Man Review

Internet ‘thefolkmag’ October 2003
Dave Arthur has a nice fluid style of banjo playing and Chris Moreton supplies some tasty guitar work. There is a subtlety here that underpins such songs as The Two Sisters and Harrison Brady, a lovely version of The Gypsy Laddie. On Oh Death the fiddle supplies an underlying pulse to the dialogue. Building from simple drones and shuffles Cooper moves on to a chromatic structure and chords that both Britten and Vaughan Williams would surely have chosen for their own string compositions….it displays a level of subtlety and invention that raises the CD above the ordinary.
Dave Clarke

Folk North West October 2003
A lovely work that oozes with experience and maturity…the overall feel is that Dave and his two fine accompanying musicians are simply enjoying themselves in the foot-tapping renditions of English and American tunes.

The album is accompanied by extensive notes on the songs, which in themselves are a work of dedication and enlightenment. This is an album you can use for research, resource, or just enjoy listening to.
Derek Gifford

What’s on Folks –Kent October 2003
For musicians and lovers of frailing banjo, guitar picking and fiddling, whether novice or expert, this collection of ballads and tunes is a sheer delight. This is Dave Arthur’s forte, and his enthusiasm for the material, and deft playing, is a pleasure to the ear.

Difficult to name a favourite, but I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me is a classic.
Colin @ Dartford Folk Club

English Dance and Song Autumn 2003
……a labour of love..The notes are thorough, scholarly and, most importantly, eminently readable. This booklet represents painstaking research and a respect for both the material and the reader and alone is worth possessing.
The singing is, as always, authoritative and yet manages to inject an ‘edge’ which some might compare with Cordelia’s Dad….Return Journey lacks many pretensions and there are moments where, despite good studio engineering, or perhaps because of it, the listener might be listening to a top quality field recording rather than a revival performance.
A track listing is superfluous, but the last track…is a stunning, informed and definitive version of American Stranger by a man who knows!
Paul Davenport

The Rufus Crisp Experience - Chickens Are A-Crowing
Fellside FECD 113

Old Time Herald
In This Ring Two Ladies Fair-Betty Lickens/Green Beds/Needle Case/Omie Wise/Train On the Island-June Apple/Sherman's March/Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss/Sandy River Belles/Cold Rain and Snow/Old Grey Mare/Chickens Are A-Crowing/Angeline the Baker/I'm Going to Join the Army/Sadie at the Backdoor/Cluck Old Hen/Going Over the Mountain.
What is The Rufus Crisp Experience, you ask? So did I when I received this new release. A dessert recipe of some sort? Religious conversion triggered by listening to the old banjo recordings of Rufus Crisp? No, it's actually Dave Arthur and Barry Murphy who play old-time music and only mention Crisp once in their liner notes as having recorded one of the songs. No explanation of the name choice is offered.

Dave Arthur and Barry Murphy are veterans of the British folk scene. Both grew up hanging around the same coffeehouses in London in the 1960s and being influenced then by American musicians Jack Elliott, Derroll Adams, and Peggy Seeger. Barry came to the U.S. and visited traditional players like Wade Ward and Doc Watson. He served as a "roadie" for Clarence Ashley, too! Meanwhile, Arthur was carving out a successful career performing traditional English material with his wife Toni.

Somehow Arthur and Murphy never managed to meet until a few years ago, discovering when they did meet their mutual musical influences and tastes. They commenced to play together whenever possible and this CD is the first recorded result. Banjo is apparently the special passion of these two players, though both are also proficient guitarists. All cuts on the recording feature banjo and more than half are with two banjos. Fiddle is added by Peter Cooper on most numbers, but, in general, the banjo and guitar are mixed out front so that the fiddle is often relatively buried.

It's obvious that these fellows have a deep love for old-time music. They have listened to lots of the old recordings, met some of the finest older players, as well as picking up tunes from contemporary American old-time players they've met, like Art Rosenbaum, Sara Grey, and Jeff Davis. For "Sherman's March" ("Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine") they credit Norman Blake for inspiration. And, indeed, the "parlor style" (my own appellation) of old-time music that Blake often performs is similar to the way Arthur and Murphy treat these numbers, playing them in a more mesmerizing or meditative rather than a raw, breakneck manner. There's also an English sensibility to their versions reflecting the influence of the 1960s-70s folk scene. Certainly it's heard in their singing, but also in Arthur's guitar stylings on several cuts and the fiddle intro and backup on the title tune.

There are some unusual selections here mixed in with a good dose of standard tunes like "Angeline," "Cluck Old Hen," and "Needlecase." The "Old Gray Mare" is not the common one who "ain't what she used to be," but Buell Kazee's version (also similar to Bascom Lunsford's). "Green Bed" and "Chickens Are A-Crowing" are fine songs they got from Art Rosenbaum.
Bob Bovee

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