NORTHUMBRIAN PIPES & WHISTLE
A unique collection of bagpiping and whistle-playing recorded in 1954. One
of the greatest exponents on the Northumbrian small pipes, champion Jack ARMSTRONG,
plays some of his own slow airs, descriptive pieces, dance-tunes and variations
on local airs. On Side B, his friend, Billy CONROY, a miner and a champion tin-
whistler, plays some of his father's old tunes and his own "mine-shaft" variations
on JOHN PEEL & talks about whistle techniques.
Jack ARMSTRONG ( Northumbrian small-pipes)
1. ROTHBURY HILLS (Jack Armstrong)/ WHITTINGHAM GREEN LANE (Alice Ellis)/ THE
COTT (Alice Ellis)/ BORDER FRAY - 4'12"
2. THE KEEL ROW (with variations) - 2'56"
3. MAGGIE'S FOOT/ PETER BAILLIE'S PIG/ LEWIS PROUDLOCK'S HORNPIPE/ SIR SIDNEY
SMITH'S/ JENNY BELL POLKA/ LADS OF ALNWICK/MONEY MUSK - 6'44"
Billy CONROY (tin whistle)
4. Medley:TENPENNY BIT/OPERETTA QUADRILLE/LIVERPOOL & STEAMBOAT HORNPIPES
5. THE HARVEST HOME HORNPIPE - 0'56"
6. FATHER'S OLD MARCH/ NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE'S GRAND MARCH - 2'01"
7. FATHER'S OLD WALTZES - 0'53"
8. JOHN PEEL with variations - 1'40"
9. Jigs: BARBARY BELL/ THE ROLLICKING IRISHMAN - 1'30"
10. THE REDESDALE HORNPIPE - 0'36"
11. Talk about whistle-playing - 2'07"
Tracks #1-3 Jack ARMSTRONG (N-pipes) and #4-11 Bill CONROY (whistle) recorded
by Peter Kennedy in 1954. Edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax
Jack ARMSTRONG was born at Wide Open north of Newcastle. His father, Robert,
also played the Northumbrian pipes. Both worked as colliers at Dinnington Colliery,
but a few years after the First World War Jack managed to get out of the pit
and get a job as a chauffeur. This enabled him to spend more time on his hobbies:
pipes, fiddle and photography. In the late 20's he won many local prizes and
acclaim at piping competitions. In the 40's he started his own folk dance band,
The Northumbrian Barnstormers (FT-121) and in 1948 he became official piper
to the Duke of Northumberland, playing at the annual Shrovetide Football at
Alnwick. THE LADS OF ALNWICK is the tune played for this event. ROTHBURY
HILLS was Jack's first attempt at pipe tune composition.
Alice ELLIS, the composer of WHITTINGHAM GREEN LANE and THE COTT,
accompanied Jack on the Celtic harp on broadcasts and on a number of recordings
for the BBC. MONEY MUSK was his father's best tune and the one always
requested by Jack's mother.
Billy CONROY, was also born in 1904, at Crawcrook in Co. Durham. He started
working in the pits at the age of 14, first at hauling below ground, and then
pony-driving (known as "putting"), coal-cutting and coal-filling. His father
came from Cumberland and his mother from Durham. His tin-whistles were always
home-made and he used hot water in order to get exactly the sound he needed.