Gill Redmond & Dave Townsend
Songs & Tunes with Concertina and Cello
Dave and Gill have been performing together for some years now, and have recorded one album as a duo. At the core of their repertoire are forgotten treasures from English tradition performed with verve, passion and originality. Their fiery improvisations carry English music into new realms, with excursions to Scandinavia, America and Wales.
Gill Redmond studied cello at the Royal Manchester College of Music, and has been developing her individual style of playing for traditional music since the 1980s, combining a beautiful tone with amazing versatility and inventiveness. She has performed and recorded with a wide spectrum of early and classical ensembles, folk bands and theatre companies.
New Road to Alston – Trip to Cartmel
New Road to Alston
Reviews of their album New Road to Alston (WildGoose Records WGS392CD)
Every track stands out for a different reason because of subtly varied presentation and arrangements: gentle, solemn, bouncy, melancholy, lively, contemplative, mysterious . . . Intellectually satisfying, musically stimulating, eminently danceable; totally stunning. Jenny Coxon, English Dance & Song, Summer 2013
**** The utterly thrilling combination of ‘cello and English concertina is encapsulated on the debut album by Redmond and Townsend, who have been playing together for some years now. Their brilliant interpretation is strongly reminiscent of the Scottish-American fiddle and ‘cello pair, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, although I would beat a path to any festival who had the programming ingenuity to stage these great duos.
Gill and Dave’s mission is to carry English music into new realms, taking in Scandinavian, American and Welsh tradition along the way. The title track and ‘Trip To Cartmel’ blend in deliciously to give the album a flying start, while Dave’s voice lights the story of ‘The Lousy Tailor’ like a fuse, sparkling Shaker tunes and the ‘Banks Of The Sweet Primroses’ set and memorable Swedish schottis and Engelska. Their reading of the beautiful ‘Ffarwel Marian’ and the tripping, dancing ‘Aberdaugleddau’ is just inspirational. If their debut is this good, I’m certainly looking forward to the appearance of their second.
English dance music as she is meant to be played – with gusto, minimal fuss, and a great respect for the sources and the channels through which the material has passed.
– Taplas, No 176, 2013 http://www.taplas.co.uk/feature3.html
Dave Townsend and Gill Redmond have performed together for years, but New Road to Alston is their first album together. Townsend and Redmond are both talented players – sharing drone and melodic duties between them equally. Folkies will perhaps expect some dextrous concertina work, and Townsend doesn’t disappoint: his playing is perky and bright on the album’s opening track, and lyrical and soothing on Father James’s Tune.
Redmond, a member of ceilidh band Jigfoot, is more of a surprise – if only because the cello pops up rather less often in folk music. She extracts everything her instrument is capable of: sometimes playing tunes as if it were an enormous fiddle, sometimes bowing those big, resonant low notes to satisfying effect, as on the sonorous Farewell to the Shore.
The album is dominated by tunes, but Townsend takes the lead on a selection of songs. Lousy Tailor is a classic tale of an “ineffectual” tailor (it never seems to work out for them in folk songs), while The Banks of the Sweet Primroses is a fresh, bright and bouncy reading. Perhaps best of all is The Captain’s Apprentice, a grim tale that suits Townsend’s soft, conversational delivery. The Chinese Dance, which follows, is appropriately tumultuous. Variations on Johnny Cope is dazzlingly complex, Redmond backing Townsend’s theatrical playing with subtle, plucked cello. New Road to Alston is a very likeable album indeed.
Mark Dishman, the bright young folk review
It’s nice to see that Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas don’t have sole rights when it comes to ‘cello’ based projects for here we have the equally entertaining duo Townsend & Redmond.
Now, concertina and cello may not be on the lips of every self-respecting ‘folk’ musician when it comes to musical bedfellows but in the hands of these two the quality is almost mercurial in its presentation if the opening track “New Road To Alston” is anything to by.
Upping the ante played at a speed more often associated with its cousin the fiddle the segue (in the almost “It’s A Knock Out” presented handover) certainly drives “Trip To Cartmel” at a good pace and that, if you’re like me will be totally unexpected.
The following track “The Lousy Tailor” is one of those jovial ‘too-ral-oo’ type songs that you’d expect to hear from the likes of John Kirkpatrick and very suited to Townsend’s warm tones.
Here we have a well researched choice of material including jaunty versions of “Banks Of The Sweet Primroses” and “Rolling In The Dew” performed with plenty bonhomie and all expertly played with that certain sparkle as if having been kissed by an effervescent fizz of champagne…or at least a bottle of Asti Spumanti.