Pete Hawkes – The DADGAD Files


CD Review by Tony Smith

There are eleven tracks on this 2004 album.

‘Prelude’ and ‘Endings’ are quite brief.

The others are ‘Matilda from St Kilda’, ‘Merlin’s March’, ‘No Whisky for Paddy’, ‘Melody for the Memory of Cass’, ‘The Leprechaun’s Dance’, ‘Shebeg and Shemore (also known as Si Beag Si Mor, literally small fairy mound and large fairy mound), ‘The Irish Ladies Dream’ (Version 3), ‘Jemima’s Lullaby’ and ‘Reuben’s Fancy’.

All tracks are arranged by Hawkes and all except the O’Carolan are composed by Hawkes.

Pete Hawkes is a prolific Newcastle musician with a string of albums to his name.

He is a great collaborator which shows how well respected he is among his peers.

On this CD he is joined by several fiddlers – Michael McClintock who also plays cello, Sandy Gibbney, Dave Swarbrick and Pip Thomson.

Ian Blake contributes tin whistle.

The guitar provides a solid ground from which these musicians launch the tunes, which are all sweet and gentle and very pleasant listening.

If you are familiar with the O’Carolan you will be pleased to know that it is in good company here.

Often the guitar has a harp like quality with some unusual arpeggios running notes together in nice harmonies.

Then a bass note or two kicks in and the richness of the guitar is obvious.

There is however, nothing flashy about either the compositions or arrangements or Hawkes’ playing style.

Although there are several Irish references in the track titles, the overall impression is of the Scottish tradition.

For those who are unfamiliar with any but the standard guitar tuning of EADGBE, Hawkes’ approach could be a liberating revelation.

Just as clawhammer banjo players and Dobro slide guitarists tune their instruments to an open chord, usually G or D, DADGAD players take advantage of the ready availability of some short open chords.

The tuning suggests new avenues for improvisation.

This tuning is sometimes called Celtic tuning because some strings can be used as drones.

This echoes the centrality of the pipes in Irish and Scottish music.

While fiddle players find the traditional tuning suitable to their GDAE open strings, Pete Hawkes makes his DADGAD tuning perfectly at home with the bowed strings and whistle.

The superb playing by his collaborators makes this clear.

They carry the melodies beautifully.

For me, ‘Melody for the Memory of Cass’ carries true emotion and the ‘Leprechaun’s Dance’ is also a winner.

It would not be out of place in a cheeky Stravinsky ballet scene.

The album is relatively short with two tracks under a minute and only one exceeding three minutes.

There is an old show biz maxim: leave the audience wanting more.

Pete Hawkes does this on the DADGAD files.

You will want more.

4 in stock (can be backordered)

SKU: TN438-29 Category:

Additional information

Weight .200 kg
Dimensions 21 × 15 × 1.00 cm


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