Mudcat Café message #3465352 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149019   Message #3465352
Posted By: GUEST,Fred McCormick
13-Jan-13 - 06:24 AM
Thread Name: Ducie Arms, Manchester
Subject: RE: Ducie Arms, Manchester
I knew Danny Shovlin, to give him his full name, extremely well. This being from the days when I lived in Manchester in the early 1980s. He was resident fiddler at the Ducie, as far as I remember, on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday lunch times.

One of nature's gentlemen, he hailed from Killybegs, Donegal and migrated to Manchester (I think around 1940), where he did indeed work on building sites in the Manchester area. I presume most of his early days would have been spent on the shovel, although by the time I knew him, he'd become a digger driver.

I don't know where or when Danny learned the fiddle, although I presume it would have been back in Donegal. I can only observe that he played with a fierce drive of the bow, and a very strong rhythm, with practically nothing in the way of decoration.

He was musically literate, and most of his tunes came from tune books, although which ones I've no idea. I remember him saying to me once "O'Neill's tunes are no good". By which I think he meant he didn't find the settings very interesting.

I did once witness an object lesson in Danny's musical literacy. Somebody once asked him if he knew a reel called The Templehouse. Danny said, "I know it, but I haven't played it in years". From somewhere or other, a copy of the tune was produced. Danny's eyesight wasn't so good, so he perched it right across the other side of the table. Then like Rolf in the muppets, played the whole thing right the way through while squinting like mad at the notes!

I presume he must be dead by now. If so, I can only hope that he's gone where all the good folks go, for he surely was one of the nicest and most warm hearted people I ever met.

BTW., I was too poor and broke to afford a recording machine in those days. But did anyone have the good sense to record him?