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Review: Hickman and Cassidy at The Old Ship Inn, Lowdham

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After their summer recess, Warthog Promotions kicked off their new concert season in The Old Ship Inn with the transatlantic folk duo James Hickman (vocals and guitar) and Dan Cassidy (fiddle), younger brother of Songbird, Eva, writes Mark Salter

The pair first met when Hickman was a child and Cassidy spent some time in the Hickman family home. Although Hickman initially resented the intrusion, over time the two have become not only musical collaborators but also great friends which shone through in the banter shared during this performance.

Whoever said Americans can’t do irony has clearly never met never met Dan Cassidy. The laid back American proved a perfect foil to his upbeat and sparky English musical partner, Hickman. Cassidy demonstrated the driest of wit in between numbers much to the audience’s amusement.

Hickman revealed that his formative years had been spent in a session club in Shrewsbury which specialised in bluegrass and this had informed both his musical development and song writing. This was evident from first number, Hickman penned, Nothing But Dreams bemoaning the banking crisis, through a standard bluegrass, Little Maggie, to Bill Munroe’s Wall Of Time which was particularly apt as Munroe is thought to be the first musician to coin the term ‘bluegrass’. Along the way Hickman introduced us to Little Leo (his clearly angelic young son), taught us about The Battlefields Of Shrewsbury, and entered troubadour mode with a couple of Dylan covers, Girl From The North Country, and Buckets Of Rain. Cassidy’s violin adding a soulful backing all the while.

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Having flown into Edinburgh from his home in Iceland the previous day, Cassidy provided one of the highlights of the night, an Indian influenced fiddle accompaniment on The Happy Little Picture Of You. Hickman confided that the song harked back to the style of The Incredible String Band who had been a favourite band in his youth. However, lyrically, Picture Of You was totally contemporary, lampooning some of the absurdities of Facebook usage. What’s not to like?

Cassidy took the lead on tunes he had written: Lady Arabella’s Lament, The Painter’s Jig, and a reel, The Tempest. These derived from his Celtic ancestry. By contrast, Grappelli-esque, gypsy-jazz permeated Body and Soul, an American standard made famous by ‘sax player’, Coleman.

‘I hope we’ve given value for money as we’re only half the price of the Dylan Project and we are the real James Hickman and Dan Cassidy. I can’t see Bob himself turning up in December!’ drawled Cassidy, before the duo finished with a 1920s style whimsy, My Dearest Fling. Irony personified.

For details of other Warthog Promotions concerts visit: www.warthogpromotions.com.

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