Well here we were again, Mrs H-C and I, in the pleasingly local Ruskin Mill near Horsley, the venue of two school-night outings for us in a few short weeks, this time to see Andy Cutting. Last time around John McCusker encouraged us all to come and hear this ‘musician’s musician’ and to provoke him to play some McCusker material – I suspect a running joke between them.
But first an unexpected support slot from a trio called Boldwood made up of Becky Price onpiano accordion, Miranda Rutter on fiddle and viola and Matthew Coatsworth also on fiddle. The three were clearly already known to some of the cognoscenti present but were new to me. They played a short but sweet set of 18th century tunes, as is their mission. Much rescued from the obscurity of dusty and forgotten tomes, here is music, as Price says, that represents a period when what we now call folk and classical morphed the one onto the other. This isn’t the twee and fey jiggerty-jig sort of folk music but, as the entire evening showed, music of substance and enduring qualities. Anyone at all interested in the is sort of music should be encouraged to catch them if they can. (apologies for the under-the-armpit quality of the pic – its a very ‘intimate’ venue)
The downstairs space at Ruskin Mill is not conducive to a grand entrance and so after listening to Boldwood from around the corner, Andy Cutting picked his way between the chairs to take his lonely spot. My ignorance is substantial and I hadn’t really appreciated Cutting’s pedigree – of course connection with John McCusker was known but not so his contribution to Blowzabella and his long recording and performing partnership with Chris Wood, his sundry other works with the likes of Nigel Eaton, Kate Rusby et al. Nor too did I realise that Cutting has twice been BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year in 2008 and 2011 -well now I know.
Apparently this was only his ninth or tenth solo show and provided the Richard Valentine memorial concert in the Nailsworth Festival 2011. Not surprisingly the set was drawn largely from his eponymous 2010 CD released through, what I assume is his own label, Lane Records.
He makes much of the fact that he doesn’t write or compose music but just ‘makes it up’ but this rather plays down the extraordinary skill required to just ‘make it up’, and remember it, and play it with the level of virtuosity that he employs. In my rather romanticised view of folk music, Cutting seems to embody my personal caricature of the typical folk troubadour but with a proficiency that must have been rare even in my confection of the past.
Invidious to highlight specific tunes but I was struck by the remarkable quality of both the French Bourées (one of which Chasse Pin is in the vid below and a couple more vids from the evening are on my YouTube space) and the old Morris tunes -how sad that so often this sort of music is not recognised for the beauty and complexity of its tunes. This is not to say that his own are not fine as well, and the well judged banter and conversation between songs both added welcome background and also forged a link between artist and audience – pretty essential when the furthest corner of the room can be no more than 20 feet or so away.
I have to admit to wondering how an evening of solo accordion music would be, but the richness and variety of the sounds from his two beautiful Castagnari accordions, combined with Cuttings personal charm and his abundant skills, make it a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Andy Cutting – Chasse Pin