Herrison Hall, Charlton Down

YOU get a great deal more for your money than just carols in this musical feast by the Ridgeway Singers and Band under the leadership of Phil Humphries and Tim Laycock which was presented under the auspices of Artsreach,

Dorset traditions were the cornerstone of the works performed by the 10 piece band and more than 30 singers who told stories, recited poems and recreated old folk songs and told us of past activities of village people from around the Ridgeway area.

West Gallery music originated in country churches before organs took over and the works of Thomas Hardy and William Barnes are fondly remembered in this context as well as introducing us to the weirdly named Humstrum, a home-made string instrument that perhaps should best be forgotten.

Beautiful carols blended nicely with rustic singalong songs that the audience did their best to join in while Phil and Tim kept the music going with their effective leadership and informal charm.

The capacity audience enjoyed the festive production in this magnificent former ballroom which does not appear to have a sound system and that proved to be a problem at times when individual singers read poems or stories which were difficult to hear in the large building.

But this is a time for goodwill and the attractive programme was full of warmth as Christmas spirit shone through the production in what proved to be a homely and happy concert.