Pulling strings for good causes

Tom McConville, playing at Club Chesterfield.
Tom McConville, playing at Club Chesterfield.

Derbyshire folk can always be counted on to support a good cause, whatever the time of year.

Just a few days before Christmas, music lovers backed a concert in aid of the terminally ill and cancer sufferers, raising a bumper £700.

The money will go to Chesterfield’s Ashgate Hospice and Sheffield’s Cavendish Centre for Cancer Care, where concert organiser Martin Sumpton’s late wife was treated.

Martin has organised seven such fundraisers, aided by volunteers from Chesterfield Folk Club and sponsors donating services, cash and time.

This year’s Pulling Strings concert saw a fair-sized audience brave an icy night to watch headliners Tom McConville - otherwise known as The Newcastle Fiddle Player - and guitarist David Newey perform at Club Chesterfield.

Tom and David make an unlikely-looking musical partnership, the former poking fun at his baldness the latter sporting lustrous locks and there must be at least a 30-year age difference between them.

But there’s none of the master and his apprentice about this act. As a musical duo, they are a cohesive force, matching each other skill for skill, note for note and pace for pace - much to the delight of the audience.

Tom’s digits were on fire as they danced up and down the fingerbar and his right arm worked that bow like a master carpenter sawing wood at lightning speed.

Equally accomplished David, a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year finalist, impressed with his beautiful and sensitive playing of intricate solos.

Highlights of their two sets included Patrick Pearse, Slip Jigs & Reels and the beautiful ballad When I’m Gone.

They even threw in a bit of American country which defied the audience not to dance on the chilly evening.

The auspicious occasion saw concert organiser Martin Sumpton accompany himself on a new guitar as he sang a handful of folk compositions including Black Jack Davy and Mary and the Soldier.

He amused the audience with a reflection on his choice of material, commenting: “Practically every song I do is about an unsavoury character - I must identify with that character.” An earlier incident in a nearby shop where he was muffled up against the elements, pacing around the aisles looking for an ATM before leaning over the counter to ask the assistant “Where’s the cash till?” can only have enhanced his reputation!

Master of ceremonies Jim Clarke summed up the fundraising concert when he said: “It is a great to buy a ticket, give money to two charities and be entertained like this.”

@ Chesterfield Folk Club are continuing to raise money for Ashgate Hospice through the sale of The Cutthorpe Festival CD, which includes 14 tracks from musicians such as Penny Bun, Aarf Aarted, Backyard Busker, Old Peculier and Mondegreen. The CD costs £5 and can be ordered via the website,www.chesterfieldfolkclub.org

@ The folk club kicks off its fourth year of concerts on January 13, 2012, with a show headlined by Dave Burland at Club Chesterfield.