03 March 2021

Geordie - from Alec Somerville

Foreground (l-r): Alec Somerville (bjo), Geordie McAdam (fdl), 
Barney Bowes (gtr)

Many thanks to Alec Somerville (of northern England, Canada, and Co. Donegal) for these photos and his own memories of playing with Geordie McAdam:

I guess I knew him for a long time, because I met him when Ronnie Crutchley was playing guitar with him - and Ronnie's been dead these many years... they were Appalachian Strings in those days, a big band for old-time music. So I would see Geordie at times when we were playing the same places, and when that happened we would always try to get a few minutes sitting down some place to play a few tunes. He usually said 'What's that thing in A that we do?' This, of course, being 'Boatman' a real opener... and I think he liked the rhythmic 'knock-down' style I play, with 'impeccable' timing, a fan once said!

But I want to tell you something more recent...

I was booked to play at the first Dunfanaghy BAND Festival, got there early, checked in, and we were walking about the town. We were outside the tourist office when I saw Geordie and Wilson [Davies] heading across the car park. Soon as he saw me, he ducked back to their car, and when he reappeared, he had this daft-looking banjo with him which, when he handed it to me, I could see was made of thousands of glued-together matchsticks. 'I made it', he said, 'and you're going to be the first to play it.'

So I tuned it, and off he went to the car, returning with a fiddle of the same construction. Now, in my time I've seen lots of things made from matchsticks - models of Tower Bridge or Spanish galleons - but never had I seen two full-sized playable stringed instruments before, but here they were, tuned up and ready to go... so off we went and played for a crowd of twenty or thirty people for a half-hour or more. The banjo was made a bit like what poor folks used to make in the mountains, from a biscuit or cookie tin, and sounded like a cross between all sorts of instruments, but cool...

That same festival, my gig on the last day was to play as a trio with him and Wilson, upstairs in a donut shop; and we packed them in, I remember Niall Toner stopped by, probably as we were doing 'Black Mountain Rag', which Geordie 'cross-tuned' for and which went on for ever. Have a video of part of it... Niall might remember...

So that's about it. I think I'll pour myself a shot, grab a banjo and play 'that thing we do in A', for him...

It will no doubt turn out to be 'Boatman'...


© Richard Hawkins

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1 Comments:

At 6:38 pm, Blogger Unknown said...

We all have great memories of Geordie and that weekend in Dunfanaghy was one of many , we certainly had a fun time Alec . I hope you are well my friend and I hope we can have a tune together soon 👏🏻🙏🏻

 

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