Ed Heslam Classical Guitar Concert – Saturday 4th June 2016

A JOURNEY IN TIME AND PLACE THROUGH THE TRADITIONAL MUSIC OF CUMBERLAND AND WESTMORLAND

On a delightful balmy summer evening at the beginning of June, an audience at Lamplugh Village Hall was given a rare treat. A guitar master-class combined with a potted social history of the two counties – a beautiful musical journey through our landscape’s history and geography.

Ed Heslam, a native Wigtonian, returned to West Cumberland some years ago determined to unearth the traditional music of his ancestral landscape. His researches in several local archives has revealed a rich treasury spanning 300 years, predominantly of fiddle music – some of which he has compiled into a book and is also available on CD.

We were entranced by a selection of these dance tunes – jigs, reel, hornpipes and airs transcribed for classical guitar. Ed introduced many of the tunes with an explanation of the personal, historical or social event it commemorated; such as The New Road to Alston, Miss Greenop’s Strathspey or Appleby Election Hornpipe. These titles, which otherwise might seem quite random, suddenly had unexpected depth and meaning. A bit of a case of ‘hey tune tha’s not just a pretty melody tha’s got sense in thee an ‘all!’

Ed also gave us short biographies of the composers; a colourful and varied bunch of men and women, industrial and agricultural, aristocrat and commoner. By chance I found a photograph of one of these – Jimmy Dyer, ‘The Cumberland Bard’ – an itinerant fiddle player born at Carlisle in 1841. It is said that at best ‘he produced clever verse barbed with malice’ and that ‘for a time no gathering or fair was complete without him’.

If there was one tiny disappointment, it was that when one of the audience asked Ed to play our local tune ‘All the Way to Lamplugh’, he had to confess that it wasn’t in his current repertoire! Maybe next time…!


Note from Lamplugh Village Hall Committee:
We look forward to welcoming Ed back for another concert, hopefully in the autumn. Please look out for details nearer the time.