Old Bridge Music

Fiddler’s Fancy

Fiddler’s Fancy


This 1994 recording is, as far as we know, the first to feature only the music of James Hill, the early nineteenth-century fiddle-player and composer who, although born in Scotland, spent most of his life on Tyneside. It fulfils Tom’s long-time ambition to make an album devoted to Hill’s music, so much associated with his native city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The nineteen tracks include most of his best-known pieces, as well as a few of the lesser known tunes. DOWNLOAD ONLY.

Click to read Tom’s biography.

Scroll down for tracklist and reviews.

SKU: OBMDD04 Categories: ,


The Quayside
The Champion Hornpipe
The Cliff
Hill’s No 8
The Gateshead Hornpipe
The Pear Tree
The Cage
The High Level Hornpipe
Flight of Fancy
The Hawk Polka
The Barber’s Pole
The Lads Like Beer/The Marquis of Waterford
The Hawk
Proudlock’s Fancy
Fiddler’s Fancy
Bottle Bank
Blaydon Flats
Earl Grey

Review Extracts

“In the mid-nineteenth century, Scottish-born James Hill was a familiar figure at the markets, fairs, pubs and race meetings of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. A virtuoso fiddler, many of his tunes are still popular today.

Here we have the well-established McConville/Newman team (with Jane Pogson on viola and, I think, just one appearance by Máire Ní Chathasaigh on whistle) rattling through some eighteen of Hill’s tunes. Most are hornpipes, but the speed varies from stately to breakneck, preventing monotony from setting in. The more up-tempo numbers are given an up-front treatment with a no-nonsense bass line, punctuated by guitar/mandolin breaks in Chris Newman’s characteristically masterly, positive style.

Except for the different and nicely arranged Hill-inspired jig by Chris Newman, these are straightforward, strong tunes. But this doesn’t prevent some of them being fiendishly difficult to play: plenty of tours de force here for musicians who like a challenge: a useful service has been rendered by making them available on one recording..”



“Fiddler James Hill was born sometime in the early 19th century; it is thought he died young, possibly in the early 1860s. He was Scottish by birth, although he spent most of his life in and around Newcastle-upon-Tyne. A popular man, he was employed to play at fairs, markets, race courses and public houses – most of them immortalised in the titles of his tunes. Tom McConville, also born in Newcastle, has achieved a longtime ambition to make an album devoted to the music of James Hill. And quite right too! Excellent fiddler Tom plays tribute to James Hill by playing his tunes with immense technical skill and feeling, helped along the way by the amazing guitar playing of Chris Newman, with Jane Pogson (viola) and Máire Ní Chathasaigh (tin whistle).

That all important factor on any album – the first track – has been chose with great care; the music explodes into the air with Tom’s rendering of The Quayside, a tune commemorating the Sunday morning market on the quayside in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Two particular hornpipes, Beeswing and Proudlock’s Fancy make me (once again!) recall the recordings of concertina player Tom Prince, who first brought these tunes to my notice. Very few instrumentalists, in my mind, give these hornpipes the correct ‘lilt’; Tom McConville gives them the same treatment as fellow Northerner Tom Prince – a wonderful ‘danceable’ style. Mention must be made of the sleeve notes; well-informed, well-written – and thanks to the album I now know that Beeswing was a racehorse! For those of you who would like to explore the music of James Hill, a publication is available The Lads Like Beer: The Fiddle Music of James Hill, by Graham Dixon. An excellent album throughout; produced and arranged by Chris Newman. If you like your fiddle music with a bit of sparkle – buy it!”