Wednesday 12 April 2017


CD review

Ceri Ridge Trading Company

There is something refreshingly honest and unadorned about Ceri Ridge Trading Company (CRTC) which is transmitted in their eponymously named first album.

Chris Brown, Linda Rowe and Paul Cashmore
Emanating from Ceri in Mid Wales, hence the name, the band is made up of Linda Rowe, Paul Cashmore, Chris Brown and newest recruit, Linda’s son Jack.

They seem to have taken a back-to-basics approach to where you could almost see them playing on someone’s porch regardless of anyone being there to hear them, they play because it’s what they do.

Their version of L&N introduces Rowe’s feminine and gentle tones which are laid over Brown’s banjo and J Rowe’s fiddle.
Whether by accident or design the style of the song has a retro feel as though it’s a really old recording which has been restored but not to perfection which gives it a refreshing quality.
L Rowe’s singing continues with Waiting Around To Die which is again accented by Brown’s gentle picking. They are joined this time by Sarah Barnwell on fiddle. There is also a slightly off kilter undertone which gives it a teasingly deranged quality.

The traditional and well-known Cindy gets their treatment this time with its jug-band tempo and Cashmore taking over the vocals. It has a riding rhythm which gets under your skin and at some stage your head is going to start bobbing or your foot tapping.

Even more so than the last track Barnwell’s rasping strings add real character to proceedings.
Little Sadie has a real understated mountain sound with L Rowe’s carefree and almost sleepy vocals giving the song a definite laid back feel. This track epitomises what seems to be CRTC style of keep it simple and make every note count.

J Rowe takes lead fiddle on Soldier’s Joy and the tune creates an image of the barn dance or the locals gathering in the village hall to have a good time. You can almost smell the oil the lamps and hear the swirling of the apron covered dresses as the track progresses.

Sarah Barnwell
One’s again it’s J Rowe’s fiddle which pumps some life into Cluck Old Hen. This is a great fun piece. The two Rowes on vocals create the cadence of The Clapping Song in what is a real bit of indulgence.

A staple of so many bands’ set lists, Shady Grove is given CRTC’s understated treatment with Brown’s banjo keeping time; Barnwell’s strings adding colour to L Rowe’s vocals and there is even the occasional gem of the jaw harp thrown in for good measure.

J Rowe’s rasping fiddle brings in Like A Songbird and the undulating cadence is kept going with Brown’s banjo and matched by the soft tones of L Rowe’s vocals.

Hank Williams’ original of Ramblin’ Man was a solid country blues ballad but here CRTC have given it a slightly bizarre twist with Brown’s gobiron overlaying a smidgen of the eerie with something of a fairground sound.
L Rowe’s deeper and clipped lyrics add to the theatrics of the piece. Barnwell’s fiddle keeps in the background and Cashmore’s occasional but effective percussion adds to the unnerving quality of the song.

Hard Times is a thoughtful ballad with L Rowe bringing an almost spiritual feel to her vocals. The plodding beat of the banjo keeps time until it’s lightened by the guitar insert.

Go To Sleep is a fantastic track from the Coen Brothers’ film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? so to take that on is a brave move.
The debut album
Thankfully L Rowe’s voice proves perfect in tone and softness and with Brown on lap steel it is a great track to end what is a thoroughly enjoyable first album.

More than anything what this album proves is that to produce great folk or roots music you don’t need all the electronic gadgetry and musical sophistry which is so often employed sometimes to good effect and sometimes not.

CRTC are honest, unfettered musicians who have produced a stripped back, down to earth sound which is traditional enough to please almost anyone who is into folk and yet have still found room to put their own distinctive brand on.

This album of covers is a great introduction to the musicians which you have to admit, after listening to the album, whets your appetite for when they start putting together their own compositions many of which are hopefully already lying around waiting to see the light of day.

Ceri Ridge Trading Company is available from  the band's facebook page at

If you want to see them in action for yourself then on May 1 they play as part of the Clun Green Man Festival at The Sun, High Street, Clun, South Shropshire. Then on May 20 they play Reet Petite, 18 West Street, Leominster.
They move on to Tamworth Bluegrass & Old Time festival on June 25. There are a range of tickets on offer so check the website for the options which best suit you.
Later in the year, September 15, you can catch them at The Sun Inn, 49 Regent Street, Llangollen. Show starts 9pm.

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