Every year, the weekend after Easter, an annual celebration is held in the sleepy market town of Morpeth to appreciate Northumbrian culture, dialect, music and tradition. The Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the social calendar. In the depths of winter, a concert is held in Morpeth Town Hall to help raise funds for the Gathering weekend. It is an opportunity for people to escape the cold, chase away those winter blues and generally lift spirits. It is always a fantastic evening of entertainment. This year I was very grateful to be given the opportunity to photograph the occasion. It was a challenge I really enjoyed. Here are some of the highlights from the evening.
Colin Bradford and his as yet untitled band (this may have been their debut performance together)
Anita James and Ernie Gordon (harmonica, guitar, and vocals – not all at the same time!)
M.C. Alex Swailes M.B.E. introduces Bob Bolam (ukulele and vocals)
Border Directors – Our own Morpeth lot! (John Bibby, bass; Kim Bibby-Wilson; accordion and mandolin; Matt Seattle, border smallpipes and fiddle; Derek Poxton, guitar)
The Mayor of Morpeth, Cllr Andrew Tebbutt, enjoying the concert
Robin Dunn and Fiddler’s Elbow
Ann Wilkinson (guitar and vocals), Alistair Anderson (concertina and Northumberland smallpipes)
What are the Northumbrian Smallpipes do I hear you ask? Well, they are similar to the Scottish Highland Bagpipes. However, they are substantially smaller and are bellows-blown rather than mouth-blown (far more hygienic!). They also produce a much softer and sweeter tone than their Scottish cousins.
Here is the great man in action.