NEWS

FIRST PRACTICE OF 2021


BY MARTIN MOYES

Holt musicians stand outside The Mount Pleasant Social Club, Bradford-on Avon.

A turnout of 19 +1 was fantastic, but the arrival of these three – who we might possibly not have ever seen again – was very special . . .

SATURDAY NIGHT LOCKDOWN


BY JONATHAN NIBBS

As you can see, we have not been entirely idle during these straightened times.

Jack Slack, our highly-motivated new squire, not wishing this year to pass by without some kind of authoratative input, cajoled us into having a go at Zoom dancing, the results of which were a mish-mash of unco-ordinated, latency-issue-dominated, unpublishable embarassments.

Bryan Baker, to the rescue. He has a friend...

Chris Churchouse is his friend, who is tech-savvy and software-loaded.

After much discussion over Zoom pints, a rejigged interpretation of "Saturday Night", originally taught us by our much-loved member no longer with us, Dennis Brown (see below), was agreed and after individual hard work in our back gardens, ably assisted by camera-toting partners and friends, multitudinous megabytes were sent off to Bryan, for his good friend Chris to co-ordinate and interpret under Bryan’s burgeoning powers of skilled directorial instruction.

The result of all this you see above, and though we says it as shouldn’t, we sort of think it ain’t half bad, especially for a first attempt!

Huge thanks to Bryan and Chris... Maybe it’s a little late in life for a career in film, Bry... But, in the slightly boudlerised words of Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, "who knows what tomorrow may bring?!?"

DENNIS BROWN


BY PETE SMITH

It is with great sadness that we learn of Dennis Brown’s departing. The following is a letter that Pete Smith sent to Stephanie, his wife, herself a long-time supporter of Holt Morris, on our behalf.

Dear Stephanie,

Our Dennis

We are desperately sad to learn that Dennis moved from this world to whatever follows. We were so very fond of our Dennis, and the huge contribution he made to this side. Wherever it is that he is gone, music, dance, conviviality and real ale consumption will be the better for it.

We can’t quite imagine how you are feeling at the moment. It will be very difficult to share the pain with your family, because of the Covid restrictions. But somehow or other, virtual or otherwise, David, Andrew and wee Genevieve plus close family and close friends will be there for you.

You will know that Dennis made a huge contribution to Holt Morris, from 1990 for almost 20 years. He massively expanded our dance repertoire. He tried (unsuccessfully) to help us dance more cleanly, but he never minded much. He was a super dance tutor. Like us he wanted good dancing and good music.

He taught us Shepherd’s Hey, Fieldtown, better known as "Signposts" which, since the early 1990’s to date, remains our signature and best dance. Our top performance of any dance, ever, came at the Kirtlington Lamb Ale in 1996, when we danced "Signposts" at the show spot in the school playground. In 31 years of existence, it was our only 9.5 out of 10 performance, with Dennis perfectly paced and clean on the pipe, and the rest of us inspired. Tubby Reynolds and others in Sherborne were in tears (but in a good way!).

Now we will always think of Dennis when we do that dance.

Dennis was a good fit for Holt because after the dancing he, like us, enjoyed music, banter and real ale in any bar, anywhere. He did have the biggest beer glass in the side, which occasionally bemused barmen and left us facing a larger bill when we bought him a drink.

As well as being a good, precise dancer, Dennis was an amazingly versatile musician. It seemed he could pick up pretty well any musical kit and make it work. There were one or two teething problems when it came to early efforts on the Northumbrian pipes, but that all came good too. But we never did manage to persuade him to wear a bowler!

We loved him, Stephanie, and we hold dear his time with us.

With our love to you and your family,

Holt Morris.

Catch a prominent glimpse or two of Dennis by crossing to the website "Gallery" where you will find him playing, typically, piratically attired, on "Hammersmith Hop" in the Summer Solstice, 2008 video at Avebury. Play through to the end and he arrives in full resplendency, alongside an infant Bertie Wright. (Ed).

EVENTS

BRADFORD ROOTS FESTIVAL, WILTSHIRE MUSIC CENTRE

Well here we are ladies and gents at the start of a new dancing year. And as has been traditional over the last 10 years, our first gig is at The Bradford-on-Avon Roots Festival. In previous years we have processed with children, danced and performed our near-legendary wassail ritual, to almost overwhelming acclaim. This year as a consequence of Covid, the festival is somewhat truncated, and our performance in the foyer is one of pure, exuberant dance at 2.30 pm. till 3.15 pm. in the absence of the processional and wassailing elements. Nevertheless, our enthusiasm as we undertake this dance commitment with buoyant New Year’s Covid-slaughtering optimism,will be unbounded. As will be, we hope, your encouraging response. Here’s to 2022! Cheers.