Ranting and reeling all the way to America

YOUNG musicians are hoping for support from Morpeth to help them live their American dream.

The Northumbrian Ranters youth music group will perform at Morpeth Methodist Church tomorrow to kick-off a fund-raising drive for a trip to the United States.

As part of the bid to raise £20,000 for the trip, the group will also release a new CD, Ranting and Reeling.

The band was formed when 15 students were invited to Ayr to perform. They didn’t even have a name so as they were playing the Morpeth Rant, the title Northumbrian Ranters was born.

Now the band is thought to be the largest traditional group in the UK, with 47 members, aged ten to 18, who have had to audition for their places.

It is led by Northumberland Creative and Performing Arts, the county music service, and instruments include fiddles, flutes, cellos, guitars, Northumbrian pipes, concertina, harp and keyboard, as well as vocals – and a new Northumbrian clog dance demonstration group has just been added.

The band has already toured Shetland, Derbyshire and Ireland, and after hosting the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers from America in 2007, the Ranters made the return trip in 2008 with 24 students.

It has recently hosted the fiddlers again and in March, 37 members hope to fly out to New York and Vermont to perform with the group.

Traditional Music Co-ordinator Richard Johnstone, who directs the band, said: “We hope people buy the CD and come along to support the band in Morpeth because we do need to raise the money for the American trip.

“It will be a cultural experience, as well as a musical one, and will really help to develop the young people’s characters. Some of them have never been out of the country so it will be a great experience.”

The concert takes place at the church in Howard Terrace tomorrow at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 adults, £3 concession and free for children. They are available on the door. Proceeds will go to the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering, as well as the American trip.