VARIOUS ARTISTS – Big River Big Songs (Mawson-Wareham Music MWMDVD78)

Perhaps this tremendous DVD should be re-titled “Big Hearts, Big Soul” such is the impact it’s had on me! It goes without saying that Geordie-land has spawned some of this country’s best musicians and actors and (as if you needed any) here is proof that artists the calibre of Kevin Whately, Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail, Lindisfarne, Billy Mitchell, Sting and Mark Knopfler are as welcoming as a freshly pulled pint of ‘Newky’ Brown. Produced with consummate skill by Lindisfarne’s Ray Laidlaw and with commentary jointly provided by Emmerdale’s Charlie Hardwick and Eric Robson they segue between the stunning visual landscapes of the Northumberland region with musical and thespian contributions (apart from those already credited) from Alun Armstrong and a particularly nice rendition of “Still I Love Him” performed by current Emmerdale favourite Chelsea Halfpenny.

For any Newcastle football supporters there’s a roaring version of “Blaydon Races” courtesy of Whatley, Healy & Nail (worth purchasing the DVD on its own merits) and Sting joined by Nail on a striking duet of “The Waters Of Tyne”. My one reservation…and it’s only a minor one…is that Joe McElderry performs the glorious “Big River” where personally I think it should have been handed to the more mature Nail or Mitchell to give it the gravitas it really deserves. There’s plenty here for the ‘folk’ music enthusiast and, while you’re at it 70% of the profits go towards some very deserving charities. Mawson & Wareham have provided us with some great DVDs in recent years and this one certainly wears its heart on its sleeve. Highly recommended!

Pete Fyfe

75% of the profits from this DVD will be donated to the following Not for Profit company and Charities: the Northumbria Anthology, the Sunday for Sammy, the Bobby Robson Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation.

Up in the North East we’re very proud of our musical heritage so I’m absolutely sure that this will be a DVD you’ll play again and again.’ Kevin Whately.

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