Taking its name from the residence of James Hill, Tyneside’s most famous fiddler, Bottle Bank Band is firmly rooted in, but by no means limited to, the traditions of the North East of England. It brings together the talents of four Tyneside fiddlers – Sophy Ball, Chloe Jones, David Jones and Stewart Hardy. Their exciting and exhilarating musical landscape explores rich harmonies and captivating arrangements.
Bottle Bank Band
Scots Fiddle Festival @ Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 20 Nov 2015
Bottle Bank Band takes its name from an area of Gateshead where fiddlers thrived two hundred years ago and some of its inspiration from the greatest of those fiddlers, James Hill. Sometimes sounding like a very well-tempered string quartet and at other times taking on a much rawer aspect, the four fiddlers created a vivid sound peppered with wit, gorgeous harmonies, rhythmical drive and a great sense of adventure. Theirs was a programme full of stark and very effective contrasts, with the dizzying, swirling, swerving melody of Wonder Factory and the beautifully just-so waltz, Iles De La Madeleine, sandwiching a robust set of jigs and Stewart Hardy’s lovely, expressively atmospheric Waking Moment preceding, first, some exuberant ragtime in Temptation Rag and then a well-named The Crisis, again from Hardy, with its challenging contour negotiated splendidly. Great stuff all round.
Rob Adams – Herald Scotland
Bottle Bank Band
Gateshead Heritage @ St Mary’s, 17 June 2010
“What sort of name is Bottle Bank Band?” asked a skeptical friend to which the best reply is probably that it is one that will stick around in the minds of knowledgeable musicians for many years to come. In my view this new Tyneside ensemble appears to mean business. I understand that they have been in rehearsal for the best part of nine months despite all being highly experienced musicians. Such is the meticulous nature of Stewart Hardy, ever the perfectionist as anyone who has heard any of his solo CDs will testify (Tod’s Assembly or more recently Compass). Now he brings together Sophy Ball and David Jones, both BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners in separate bands (422 and Last Orders respectively) to complement the beautiful fiddle playing of Hinny Pawsey. Together, on a warm June evening high above the River Tyne, they took a sell out audience by storm. Favourite tunes included Stewart’s fine composition, Waking Moments, which drew audible sighs from the audience and a driving and innovative set entitled Bombay Dog. I confess to prior doubts as to whether four fiddles, no matter how talented, could hold the attention for a full concert. I must now concede to feeling quite stupid ever to have harboured such thoughts. This was a highly professional, intricately arranged and well-crafted performance of the highest standard that for me really did do the business.
Liam Gladstone – The Crack Magazine
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