If you think accordion and percussion is an uninspiring combination, you haven’t heard The Hut People. With their quirky take on tunes from a range of countries and cultures, their latest CD "Picnic" is guaranteed to grab your attention. A glance down the tracklist will reveal tunes from Denmark, Brazil, Scotland and France to name but a few. All are given the unique Hut People treatment by Sam Pirt (accordion) and Gary Hammond (percussion). Gary even rivals Bellowhead’s Pete Flood in the amount of percussive paraphernalia he uses.
The opening track Shoes in Black is a perfect example of the fusion of styles so beloved of this pair, as it is a traditional Irish tune accompanied by African rhythms. More unusual combinations are to be found in Bok Espok, composed by Basque melodeon maestro Jepa Junkera; one unlikely percussion instrument here is the largerphone, popular with morris side, and in the Danish tune Marvaerk, which features an instrument from Bali called the udu.
Québecois foot percussion is used on a couple of tracks, namely Brenda Stubbert’s Set and Feria de Mangaio (a tune from Brazil!) meaning Sam has to multi-task. Other cross-cultural combinations including skiffle-style washboard on a Cajun tune, and the use of “giggle pens” (answers on a postcard please) on a old tune popular with novice pipers.
Most of the tunes are fairly upbeat - A Travers la Vita is particularly dancey, and the popular Shepherds’ Hey, much beloved of morris dancers, gets a look in, but with Gary’s unique percussion style it is given a new twist - especially as two saucepans are included amongst his battery.
A couple of gentler tunes are also included - one set, rather appropriately, consists of two tunes written by Sam for friends he has met at a Buddhist meditation centre. It is a beautifully uplifting composition.
The tune Waulking (not a mis-spelling) has an interesting history - it originates from Scottish wool production. The women used a repetitive rhythm while beating the wool, and sang while they worked. Sam reproduces the singing on his accordion while Gary provides the rhythm.
There is a definite feel-good factor to this CD and it is sure to get your toes tapping.