Sidmouth FolkWeek Review: Dipper Malkin and the Melrose Quartet

Melrose Quartet

Melrose Quartet - Credit: Archant

John Dipper, one of the UK’s best fiddle players, has recently teamed up with guitarist and singer Dave Malkin, and the duo opened this excellent lunchtime show at the Ham Marquee.

The set included several numbers from their CD Tricks of the Trade, and included marches and hornpipes from the Playford collection, Quebecois tunes, traditional songs such as All Things Are Quite Silent, and Dave Malkin’s original song for his baby niece based on the ballad King Storm. John played the viola de amore which created a beautiful sound and made the set into something quite special.

The Melrose Quartet, based in Sheffield, are Nancy Kerr and James Fagan and Jess and Richard Arrowsmith. Together they create stunning harmonies and play and sing together with infectious enthusiasm.

They opened with Santa Georgia, a song written by Nancy to celebrate the cultural diversity of Sheffield: later they sang another of Nancy’s songs, Hand Me Down, a moving expression of the idea that wherever song and music are to be found – such as at Sidmouth! – we feel as if we have come home.

Jess introduced and led the haunting Ballad of Davy Cross, which tells the story of a young fisherman lost off the north east coast who was recognised by the pattern of his woollen jersey – or gansey – knitted by his mother so that he could be ‘brought home’ if lost at sea. Their a capella rendition of Jean Richie’s Maria’s Gone, and James’ playing of a Dave Swarbrick tune were other brilliant elements of this concert.


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Nicola King

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