Jimmy's Fiddle

Beeswing Productions Presents:

Jimmy's Fiddle


Join us for a night of music, dance, songs and humour as we delve in to a story of Georgian/Victorian Tyneside through the eyes of James Hill, "The Geordie Paganini".

James Hill (c1811 to 1853) was probably the most famous fiddler on Tyneside during the late Georgian and early Victorian period. He wrote more than 40 tunes, mainly for hornpipes, inspired and informed by the places and characters he came to know.

This story is a reflective account of his life, told through ‘Jimmy’s ghost’ and set in and around The Hawk public house, which was owned by his future father-in-law. The narrative unfolds to a back-drop of James Hill’s own compositions, clog dancing and songs from the time.  It also incorporates some newly commissioned pieces.  Featuring two top virtuoso fiddle players Tom McConville (BBC Musician of the Year) and Stewart Hardy, this show provides fantastic entertainment for all the family. Tom and Stewart will be joined by two of the North East’s finest singers Alan Fitzsimmons and Jim Mageean and clog dancing champion Natalie Rae.

The Cast

Tom McConville:  Tom was born on Tyneside and brought up in a pub on the famous Scotswood Road where he first experienced traditional singing and fiddle music; the hornpipes of James Hill being amongst his first influences.  Tom is a world class fiddle player who has packed a lot into his 50 years as a performer.  He has played alongside the likes of The Dubliners, The Chieftains, The Fureys, The Boys of the Lough, Stephan Grapelli, Bob Fox, Kieron Halpin and Richard Thompson to name but a few and in 2009 he was voted BBC Folk Musician of the year.   He also has a great singing voice.  Add in a very engaging dry sense of humour and his magical touch on the fiddle and it is easy why he remains one of the most sought after performers on the UK’s folk festival and club circuits.

Stewart Hardy:  Stewart is an internationally acclaimed fiddle player, composer and teacher with numerous recordings and broadcast credits to his name. Based in the North East of England, his love for the traditional music of Northumberland and Scotland shines through his repertoire and influences his own compositions. Stewart’s teaching is diverse, having covered many projects from international workshops to the Newcastle University folk degree course. He spent six years as an influential member of the very popular John Wright Band and has toured throughout the world playing traditional folk, pop, rock, jazz, country and western swing music.

Jim Mageean:  Jim started his singing career in the1960s in Newcastle where learned his craft under the guidance of Louis Killen and honed his skills under the influence of Stan Hugill.  A powerful singer, his knowledge of sea songs is legendry, however he also has a vast repertoire of traditional songs, particularly relating to working life in the NE, a wealth of 'Geordie' dialect songs and a wonderful array of music hall numbers.  Jim has always performed as a solo artist but he also regularly toured as half of a double act with Johnny Collins, an internationally acclaimed partnership that lasted 25 years until Johnny’s death in 2009.  Jim now performs regularly with The Keelers, Graham Knights and in an increasingly popular trio with Barrie & Ingrid Temple.

Alan Fitzsimmons:  Alan is Tyneside born and bred and sings top harmony in the Keelers group.  Widely known as "Fitzy", he was a professional singer in the 60s and the founder of the legendary Gosforth Folk Club.  A great Tyneside voice and one of the North East's finest interpreters of traditional song, he is also a writer of some note and has a great knack of putting fine tunes to other people’s songs and poems, most notable his splendid musical settings of many of Cicely Fox Smith's sea poems.  Though not widely travelled as a solo singer his fame has spread and many people who have never clapped eyes on him have a "Fitzy" story to tell; most of them are true!

Natalie Rae:  Trained in tap, ballet and modern dance, Natalie was drawn to the otherworldliness of traditional dancing in the summer of 2007, when she met and joined Gaorsach Rapper and Step dancers in Aberdeen.  She also performed for a short time, with Mons Meg Rapper, based in Edinburgh, before relocating to the north east of England.  She now dances regularly with Star and Shadow Rapper, The Newcastle Kingsmen and Four Corner Rapper.  Natalie also teaches clog classes as part of the Folkworks programme at The Sage in Gateshead and with a community group in the village of Etal in Northumberland.  This summer she will be running a series of clog workshops during Whitby Folk Week.

James Hill’s Music

A discussion of the merits of James Hill’s work and a list of many of his tunes can be found on “The Session” website (https://thesession.org/discussions/3050).



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