BIG RIVER BIG SONGS - Featuring Sting, Jimmy Nail, Mark Knopfler, Joe McElderry, Jill Halfpenny, Lindisfarne, Claire Rutter and many more.

BIG RIVER BIG SONGS - Featuring Sting, Jimmy Nail, Mark Knopfler, Joe McElderry, Jill Halfpenny, Lindisfarne, Claire Rutter and many more.

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Presented by Charlie Hardwick and Eric Robson.

Take the top Tyneside songs and the cream of North East talent, put them together in a variety of regional locations and then link the unforgettable performances with background to the songs and songwriters plus spectacular aerial footage. Big River Big Songs is the ultimate DVD collection of Tyneside singers, songs and songwriters.

Featuring Sting, Jimmy Nail, Mark Knopfler, Joe McElderry, Jill Halfpenny, Lindisfarne, Tim Healy, Alun Armstrong, Kevin Whately, Brian Johnson, Billy Mitchell, Denise Welch, Angie Lonsdale, Chelsea Halfpenny and many more.

'Up in the North East we're very proud of our musical heritage so I'm absolutely sure that this will be a DVD you'll play again and again.' Kevin Whately.

75% of the profits from this DVD will be donated to the following Not for Profit company and Charities: the Northumbria Anthology, the Sunday for Sammy, the Bobby Robson Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation.

Water of Tyne Sting and Jimmy Nail
Fog on the Tyne Lindisfarne
Hughie the Graeme Judy Dinning
Chevy Chase Johnny Handle
Still I Love Him Chelsea Halfpenny
Doon the Wagon Way Claire Rutter with the English Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Haslam
Why Aye Man Billy Mitchell
Eastern Allen Runs Terry Conway
The Hexhamshire Lass Sir Thomas Allen with Northumbria Concert Orchestra conducted by David Haslam and Graeme Danby with the Brown Ale Brass Band
The Shoe Makker Charlie Hardwick and Chelsea Halfpenny
Derwentwater Judy Dinning
Blaydon Races Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail and Kevin Whately
Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny Sir Thomas Allen, Graeme Danby and Claire Rutter with the English Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Haslam
Mally Didn't Come Pete Scott
Gallowgate Lad Judy Dinning
Ne Work Pete Scott and Charlie Hardwick
The Row upon the Stairs Alun Armstrong and Tim Healy
Sandgate Dandling Song Charlie Hardwick and Lucy Hoile
The Pitman and the Blackin' Billy Mitchell
Guard Yer Man Weel Bob Fox with the English Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Haslam
Wor Geordie's Lost His Liggie Brian Johnson and Billy Mitchell
Hev Ye Seen Wor Jimmy Denise Welch with Northern Sinfonia conducted by David Haslam
The Toon Improvement Bill Geoff Wonfor and Billy Mitchell
Canny Tyneside Jimmy Nail and Val McLane
Cullercoats Fish Lass Angie Lonsdale
Meet Me on the Corner Lindisfarne
Blow the Wind Southerly Jill Halfpenny with the English Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Haslam
Dance Ti Th Daddy Alex Glasgow with members of Northern Sinfonia
Big River Joe McElderry. Joe appears by kind permission of Decca Records
Going Home - Theme from 'Local Hero' Mark Knopfler


PETE FYFE - 05/02/2012
Perhaps this tremendous DVD should be re-titled 'Big Hearts, Big Soul' such is the impact it's had on me! It goes without saying that Geordie-land has spawned some of this country's best musicians and actors and (as if you needed any) here is proof that artists the calibre of Kevin Whately, Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail, Lindisfarne, Billy Mitchell, Sting and Mark Knopfler are as welcoming as a freshly pulled pint of 'Newky' Brown.

Produced with consummate skill by Lindisfarne's Ray Laidlaw and with commentary jointly provided by Emmerdale's Charlie Hardwick and Eric Robson they segue between the stunning visual landscapes of the Northumberland region with musical and thespian contributions (apart from those already credited) from Alun Armstrong and a particularly nice rendition of 'Still I Love Him' performed by current Emmerdale favourite Chelsea Halfpenny. For any Newcastle football supporters there's a roaring version of 'Blaydon Races' courtesy of Whatley, Healy & Nail (worth purchasing the DVD on its own merits) and Sting joined by Nail on a striking duet of 'The Waters Of Tyne'.

My one reservation...and it's only a minor that Joe McElderry performs the glorious 'Big River' where personally I think it should have been handed to the more mature Nail or Mitchell to give it the gravitas it really deserves. There's plenty here for the 'folk' music enthusiast and, while you're at it 70% of the profits go towards some very deserving charities. Mawson & Wareham have provided us with some great DVDs in recent years and this one certainly wears its heart on its sleeve. Highly recommended!
PETE FYFE - 05/02/2012

Mike Kelly - Culture Magazine, NCJ Media - 21/11/2011
It seems odd but in the long history of traditional folksongs of the North East, and in particular Newcastle, there is one thing not represented. Acclaimed film-maker Geoff Wonfor says: 'Funnily enough there doesn't seem to have been one song written about the Tyne Bridge.' And he should know. For the past10 years Geoff, along with Ray Laidlaw and the help of knowledgeable researchers like local folk legend Johnny Handle, have gone through the region's music archives and come up empty-handed. Maybe one day someone will meet the challenge, however the oversight does not harm Big River Big Songs – The Tyne as the team behind it have hit pay dirt with the 31 songs they did find. It took some editing down to that figure, such was the wealth of material.

The songs are as much the stars as the stellar line-up of North East names, old and young, who perform them on the DVD. It includes Sting, Mark Knopfler, Brian Johnson, Jimmy Nail, Joe McElderry, Jill Halfpenny, Lindisfarne, Tim Healy, Alun Armstrong, Kevin Whately, Billy Mitchell, Denise Welch, Angie Lonsdale, Chelsea Halfpenny, Sir Thomas Allen and Graeme Danby. The songs include favourites by George Ridley and the so-called bard of Newcastle, Joe Wilson, in a variety of styles, from traditional to opera, right up to the modern era.

Geoff, famous for his work on cult TV show The Tube and the critically acclaimed The Beatles Anthology, says: 'We got a group of mates together. Ray pulled in his friends and I did mine too.' The idea for it came from Brian Mawson, a local music stalwart from the 1960s whose first job was working the door at the old New Orleans Jazz Club on Forth Banks, Newcastle, now home to Sachins Indian restaurant, before going on to manage Windows music shop and launch perhaps the city's first record label, Rubber Records.

He now owns and runs Mawson & Wareham (Music) Ltd which is heavily involved with the Northumbria Anthology project, a not-for-profit company supported by a Heritage Lottery grant sourcing music and poems from the region between North Yorkshire and the Scottish borders. He asked Geoff and Ray to put visuals to the whole project which they did through footage provided by the likes of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and the Northern Region Film and Television Archive, as well as coming up with new footage of their own and combining the two.

Around a year ago they produced a version of the DVD and handed it over to Brian. Ray says: 'He wanted it to be more informative and we went back to the drawing board. We decided to base it on songs involving the River Tyne and writing a background to those songs. We ditched quite a few tunes and found some more.' They then approached Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick and veteran North East TV presenter Eric Robson to narrate it. Charlie also performs on two of the songs. Eric, however, does not. 'I was hiding under a blanket when musical talent was handed out,' he laughs.

Eric explains how he came to the project: 'I got a call from Geoff from the depths of rural France saying, 'I'd like you to be involved in this important project'. 'When?' says I. 'Tomorrow,' says he. Which is typical.' He added: 'It's such a great idea and one of those which makes you wonder why it hasn't been done before.' And Eric is delighted with the end result and the cultural significance it represents. 'It's like a friend said to me a while ago about why we do local TV, it's for doing the warp and weft of the region. 'When you're making cloth, the warp is the thread that goes one way and the weft goes through all of the threads to make a tapestry. This to me is what this project is. It takes a whole range of musical styles and whole range of ages and weaves them together.'

The DVD boasts a series of high points including Healy, Nail and Whately's version of Blaydon Races with the added verse dedicated to Sir Bobby penned by Billy Mitchell. Brian Johnson and Billy again doing an amusing version of Wor Geordie's Lost His Liggie complete with 'posh' translation, a moving rendition of Canny Tyneside by Nail and his sister Val McLane, Healy and Armstrong in drag singing The Row upon The Stairs and Geoff Wonfor singing The Toon Improvement Bill with Billy. Eric's co narrator Charlie says: 'You can feel the history in the songs. The characters had such hard lives but the wit and the vigour of the music shines though.'
Mike Kelly - Culture Magazine, NCJ Media - 21/11/2011

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