Jocelyn Pettit and Ellen Gira | Bishop’s House, Sheffield | 18.02.23
Bishop’s House is an old yeoman’s house with a history that stretches back to the mid-16th century, to the times of Mary Tudor, its ancient stone floors and beamed roof a preserve for many stories and secrets. Once you step into the house, it feels like you have stepped directly into history. One imagines this experience to be even more enchanting to visitors from abroad, and in this case, Jocelyn Pettit (pronounced Peddit) from the west coast of Canada, and Ellen Gira from the east coast of the USA respectively. A small but enthusiastic audience gathered under these creaky old oak beams in the dimly-lit ground floor concert room, illuminated by a corner standard lamp and a smaller table lamp placed upon an old carved chair. Jocelyn and Ellen met in Glasgow back in 2018, the city where Ellen now resides, almost immediately forming this musical partnership. If the centuries appear to be etched into the stone walls of this fine old building, then youthfulness is etched into the faces of tonight’s two guests, as they walk into the room for tonight’s concert, Jocelyn carrying her fiddle, whilst Ellen carries her cello. The two musicians are a long way from home, yet their confidence as first rate musicians is immediately felt as they launch into “Fleur Reels”, the opening tune from their debut album All it Brings. The stone slabs beneath Jocelyn’s feet can feel the weight of her clogs as they provide the highly rhythmic and percussive taps, reminiscent of those in Quebecois music. I imagine, if there had been a little more floor space, one or two step dances may have ensued from both Jocelyn and the audience alike. Much of the set is centred around the duo’s debut record together, notably “Powder Room Jigs”, which demonstrates the duo’s musical telepathy, something Ellen jokingly refers to as Cellopathy, a new word for the relationship between these two significant instruments. During the evening there’s plenty of whoops and hollers from the audience, courtesy of one person in particular, who clearly enjoys the more uptempo numbers. The duo must feel very much at home as the room swells with love. It’s not difficult to warm to this duo, whose infectious smiles remain on their faces throughout each of the two sets. The songs are occasionally borrowed, Dougie Maclean’s timeless “Ready for the Storm” for instance, together with Kate McGarrigles’ gorgeous “Cheminant a La Ville”, delivered in French, two songs that appear on Jocelyn’s current solo album Wind Rose. Two full sets featuring both songs and tunes, together with some fun between-song interplay, makes for a hugely enjoyable evening and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to see them in these parts again.