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Fate plays a hand in line-up of Hadrian's Union

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CALL it serendipity or perhaps the subconscious yearning of a suddenly solo player, really rather wishing for a new band.

14 November 2016. Submitted pic. Folk rock band Hadrian's Union. L-R: David Pratt (drums), Brian Bell (bass guitar), Robin Jowett (melodeon and keyboards), Malcolm Bushby (violin) and Stew Simpson (guitar and vocals).
14 November 2016. Submitted pic. Folk rock band Hadrian's Union. L-R: David Pratt (drums), Brian Bell (bass guitar), Robin Jowett (melodeon and keyboards), Malcolm Bushby (violin) and Stew Simpson (guitar and vocals).

But whatever it was that brought Hadrian’s Union folk rock band together, there’s no doubt – it was meant to be.

Vocalist and guitarist Stew Simpson had just parted company with the fiddle player who had been the other half of the then Hadrian’s Union duo when fate intervened to take a guiding hand.

“I was going to do a solo project,” he said. “I wanted to take a year out to write an album really, but then I got invited over to do a gig at Twice Brewed (on the Military Road).

“I just went along to play a few songs, but then I met Robin and Brian there. They were playing with somebody else, but we just clicked.”

Hexham already knows those two well enough – Robin Jowett through his many outings with Hexham Amateur Stage Society, the Queen’s Hall Theatre Group and his busking (complete with melodeon) on Fore Street, and Brian Bell through his membership of the highly-acclaimed ceilidh band Whapweasal and Hexham Morrismen.

Stew continued: “Soon afterwards, I was a Christmas member of staff at HMV in Carlisle when the fire alarm went off and low and behold, there was Robin, outside, busking.

“It was the first time he’d ever busked in Carlisle. We hadn’t got each other’s phone numbers at Twice Brewed, but that was it. Done!”

An advert subsequently transmitted over social media for more band members elicited just two replies, but luckily they came from violinist Malcolm Bushby and drummer David Pratt. The other three were more than happy to pipe them aboard.

They had the line-up they wanted, said Robin. “We didn’t want to be just a trio, because some of the songs we play are quite ‘rocky’, so we needed drums.

“Stew also missed the sound of the fiddle, so it was a piece of good luck for us that it was Malcolm and David who replied.”

Robin was also tickled by Malcolm’s credentials.

“He’s a Tasmanian who lives in Newcastle, but plays Scottish fiddle,” he laughed.

Together they plumped for Hadrian’s Union as a name, because they all live at locations somewhere near Hadrian’s Wall.

As you read this, the guys are off on a mini national tour that takes in Northampton, Doncaster, Carlisle and Cockermouth, ending in an almighty Christmas knees-up back at the Twice Brewed.

It’s the least they could do to thank Haltwhistle singer, songwriter and musician – and master of ceremonies at the Twice Brewed – Ian Brown for bringing them together.

And then in the new year? “We’re going to record that album,” said Stew. “Starting in January.

“The thing is, the others are bringing in tunes rather than songs, and I find it harder to play tunes without the words!”

Ho hum. Watch out for Aural Borderalis anyway, folks. Coming from five such accomplished musicians, it will be good.

21.11.2016 14:59
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