WORDS OF A FIDDLER’S DAUGHTER – Ironstone Tales (Under The Eaves UTE 005)

Ironstone TalesWords Of A Fiddler’s Daughter are The Ciderhouse Rebellion – Adam Summerhayes and Murray Grainger – and Jessie Summerhayes, she who provides and speaks the words. This is not a conventional band and Ironstone Tales is not a conventional record. It is part of a bigger project encompassing short films, a book of the words contained herein and a second album of music by The Ciderhouse Rebellion inspired by and recorded, like Ironstone Tales, in Rosedale. Rosedale is a valley in North Yorkshire where iron ore was mined between 1857 and 1928, refined on-site and taken away on a dedicated railway line.

The iron ore was eventually exhausted and the mine, the furnaces and the railway were abandoned. Now only ruins remain, characterised by Jessie as monuments to ambition and failure, a harsh judgement, I would have thought. Certainly, the early industrialists didn’t go in for making good and left things as they stood but to my mind the real failure is the fact that the village that grew up there, Rosedale Priory, now consists largely of holiday homes.

Jessie’s poetry stems from her knowledge of the area and its industrial history but spirals off into folkloric fantasy. The perfect example is ‘Asleep In My Hat’. The miners were plagued by rats which would bite their legs if they could gain access; remember that the men sometimes slept where they worked. From that beginning, Jessie spins a tale of goblins in the mine who would eat the rats and the story of one that escaped. ‘Castle’ is based on the kilns which become the centre of a child’s kingdom, shared with an imaginary friend. Much more poetically told, of course.

Adam and Murray improvise their music on the ground and I’d be fascinated to see how the words and music are put together so tightly. There are echoes of traditional tunes that emerge now and then – improvised it may be but Words Of A Fiddler’s Daughter don’t just wing it.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.fiddlersdaughter.com

‘Joy’ – live in Rosedale

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