Andy Cutting, Turners Hill House Concert (Sussex, UK March 29th 2014)
Andy Cutting is a leading exponent of the diatonic button accordion better known as a melodeon (despite his long standing campaign to give it its correct name) and is in constant demand as a session player. He’s collaborated with, amongst others, June Tabor, Kate Rusby, Sting and is perhaps best known for his work with folk singer Chris Wood. The pair played and toured together for a number of years and were (and still are) very influential in the British folk movement. Cutting is self-taught and has his own individual style of playing which younger musicians are now seeking to emulate.
Such is Cutting’s busy schedule that this house concert was some three years in gestation and I’m sure that everyone who filled the room to capacity, would agree with me when I say it was worth the wait. He is a musician’s musician and has twice won the BBC Folk Musician of the Year award. However, he’s very down to earth and has a wonderfully self-deprecating wit, which was in evidence as he chatted easily between tunes.
His repertoire of dance music from many points on the map – England, Scotland, Sweden, and Canada showed off not only his mastery of the melodeons he played (he switched between two Castagnaris and a hand made instrument which he built himself about a year ago) but also his encyclopaedic knowledge of this musical genre. Giving us ‘polksas’, jigs, slip reels and Morris dancing tunes, the show was completely instrumental and he had the audience toe tapping along with the music.
His playing is not in the least bit showy; he’s on record as saying ‘I’m not into the bull worker melodeon loudest is right, thing at all. Volume is easy. Subtlety is not’ and subtlety is what he gave us. He drew us gently into his world with delicacy and refinement. Watching and listening to him for two sets (we had a dessert break!) it’s easy to see why he’s held up as a key influencer and if you think that an evening of music without any vocal accompaniment is not for you, then go see Andy Cutting and he will change your mind! Jela Webb
Photo credit: Richard Webb 2014