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Sam Partridge and Grace Smith

Venue: The Globe
Town: Glossop
Date: 27/2/16

Another diverse night of music at the Globe, this time two young graduates from the acclaimed Newcastle University folk degree, flautist Sam Partridge and violinist Grace Smith, they treat us to a night of incredible instrumental music.

They mix old and new, starting with a sumptuously slow trad tune "Jack Crumpe" before bursting into a blistering "Joseph Boseph" from the pen of acclaimed Scottish English Concertina player Simon Thoumire.

A set of jigs brings together the tunes of Irish musicians Vincent Broderick, Mick O'Brien and Brian Finnegan, it's no worry if you aren't familiar with these as the between song patter led predominately by Sam is warm and friendly, he educates and explains in a humorous way that takes you along with him. They are sharing their love of the music, you feel a part of it, included, wrapped up and welcomed.

Their styles complement each other perfectly. There's an enthusiasm, the sound is crisp and clear, amazing when you consider this is only their second set as a duo - the pair being more familiar as part of the Rachel Hamer Band.

All to soon the first set ends with the Tommy Coen "Christmas Eve Reel" so called because it was broadcast on that day and the presenter didn't know (or couldn't remember) the name of the tune. A title which stayed and it's these stories shared that stick in our minds: before they launch into another set concluded by a hornpipe "The Hawk" from James Hill, a 19th Century North Eastern Fiddler.

After the interval it's more reels including "Barack Obama" which I'd previously associated with Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, Swedish Polksa's, Strathsprey's on which Grace's fiddle adds the accompaniment whilst Sam takes the tune.

Indeed all through the night the interplay between the two instruments is superb, shared and combined, they set perfect scenes in the sometimes haunting, sometimes joyous music. Impeccable interpretations and arrangements that leave you spellbound as part of a packed appreciative audience.

Closing the night is a set of Sam's tunes, fitting as he was brought (we would say "dragged" being from slightly more Souther' Derbyshire) up barely a stone throw away at Padfield. They're cracking.

In football parlage you would say the homecoming "Boy Done Good", in the music world these two are "Ones To Watch" and if you can't get to a gig they do have an EP available, it's a good substitute.

Support at Glossop was from Heather McNeill, a female singer songwriter and (ex) teacher who only found music after a life changing event, her original songs are strong and distinct. She sings with a delicate voice, there's a poignancy here, heartfelt lyrics tug. None more so than in "The Game", a plea about bullying and the effect of looking through others eyes, it should be compulsory for school assemblies everywhere, I confess a tear formed.

Other songs are packed with observational comments such as "The Indian's Head" an imagining of a pub sign. In "Ann Cargill" a tale of a scandalous star expelled from India, becomes a sympathetic rendering of a tragedy and ghosts. Heather, in her own words, is on a journey, it's one that deserves to be long and well supported.

Ian Cripps

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