The Alternative Hall Brothers    To Contents

Welcome To The Redesigned (User Friendly) Alternative Hall Brothers Web Page, an antidote to serious web sites!

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Picture: Emma Carey

(Contrary to a recent rumour Nick and Dunc have not joined the Catholic priesthood but are seen here drinking pints of Guinness- or so the artist assures)




A Rough Introduction

The Hall Brothers akas Nick and Dunc reside in Otley and Draughton and play often in the Otley area as well as their favourite pub, Hackett's Bar in Schull, West Cork.

The lads have been compared to a latter-day Simon & Garfunkel (without the vocals). Their music combines a lively selection of self-penned and traditional numbers with some very flash guitar playing and over-use of effects pedals (in the John Martyn tradition). Their main musical influences include Fairport Convention, Britney Spears, Motorhead,  and traditional Irish bands such as Boyzone and the Corrs. 

Nick and Duncan are frequent visitors to the Otley Folk Festival  (whether booked or not). Between them they hold the  un-official festival record for ale consumption before falling onto a stage (and then falling off). They have a large following of fans attending most of their gigs and, for  reasons unknown, attract a considerable number of  girls (and their parents).

In between their extensive UK tours Duncan has attained a doctorate at Warwick University where he studied 'The Influence of Substance Abuse Within the British Folk Rock Movement 1969-1973' (what a mouthful). This is now recognised as a leading piece of medical research. Meanwhile, Nick is pursuing a career in  acting in case the musical career doesn't work out. Nick is also the frontman in local transvestite heavy metal band 'The Nick Hall Experience'  a Nick Hall tribute band!

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Nick in his other guise as Britney (and frontman of the Nick Hall Experience)

Picture Emma Carey

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Criminal Records:- 

The Hall Brothers should certainly be locked up for the following:-

Time & Tragedy.jpg (24978 bytes)Time & Tragedy  - February 2002 - CD - Heavy metal without the drums, electric guitars and bass (recorded in Dobly). Please rush out and buy as this could be a collectors item in years to come and a must for all yachting enthusiasts!!


Dark Waters.jpg (18001 bytes)Dark Waters - September 2001 CD - a collection of demos and experimental pieces some of which have been played to death and others which haven't

Ale and Inspiration - 1998 CD - Limited Edition of 3˝ (very useful as a mug mat)

No Place on Earth - 1995 - cassette (reusable as books for the blind) + CD


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Some Useful Equipment Facts

Nick and Duncan play Winfield semi-electro guitars selected for their craftsmanship,  perfect tone characteristics and cheapness. Nick prefers Zog strings as these can be boiled in vinegar thus getting another useful 6 months further playing whilst Duncan uses Nigel Tuffnell ultra heavy gauge strings for that heavy metal-acoustic feel. Nick says that 'leads are an important part of any set up and we use Plasto 'See thro' cables for that special unplugged illusion'. 'For back line amplification we use Marshul stacks specially adapted to turn up to No 11 (one better than anybody else) and usually turned up full'.

As with any professional band it is important to have a selection of quality effects pedals which is why we use Dr Rack distortion and overdrive units to create our unique sound. As for other instruments Nick plays a John Paul Special with extra 'Humbugger' pickups ideal for those tasteful lead breaks and a Bontempi organ with built in rhythm unit. Duncan says 'why bother with an expensive bass guitar for recording sessions when an old tea chest and bit of string will do the job just as well'.

Nick recommends 'Klamp-on' professional elasticated capos which can be a real asset  stretching those three chords to an infinite number of combinations.

The Hall Brothers are proud to announce their association Tetley's Brewery without which their performances would be passable.

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An Interview With Dr Duncan Hall  (taken from the Ilkley Horticulturist)

IH   - And so Nigel, perhaps we can start from the beginningDunc.jpg (2407 bytes)

DH …Actually it’s Duncan

IH - Anyway perhaps you would like to tell the readers how your love of pot plants began

Flower 2.jpg (1836 bytes)DH - Yeah sure.. it all started as I was recovering in hospital from a nasty knock on the head. At that time  we added a large conservatory at home next to the swimming pool and sauna. It really needed brightening up and, as luck would have it I just happened to be reading a copy of 'Pot Plant Weekly' when I realised that you can get all sorts of pot plants; red ones, blue ones, yellow ones and even purple ones with pink spots . I didn’t know that so many colours existed… man.

IH - And how does the music come in to this?

DH - Well, I discovered that pot plants really like to listen to music. IFlower 1.jpg (1833 bytes) usually find that a Britney CD works best. On an evening after the pub I can really see the little green leaves dancing to the music. They love it. I treat my pot plants just like they are part of the family. They like to be loved and cared for otherwise they get very sad and get droopy leaves. It is a pity more people don’t realise the therapeutic effects of pot plants. In fact together with my brother we have started a new scene called ‘Flower Power'

IH - Hasn’t that been done before? But anyway I hear that you are making a comeback onto the local music circuit.

DH - Yeah.. It’s been too long. Me and my brother Nick had only just returned from our national tour of working men's cubs in Accrington when we played a gig at a folk club in a little known place called Otley, UK. We met up with a couple of rough-necks called Country Dave Vermond and Slow Hand Mark Tunicliffe. For a change we decided to plug our guitars in.Flower 3.jpg (1757 bytes)The unplugged thing has been going for a bit now and is old hat. Anyway we stopped the show and brought the roof down. (Ed - not literally) I really think the plugged-in thing will catch on in a big way. Our next album will be called 'The Hall Brothers Plugged-In’

IH - About the new album I hear it’s due for release in 2005?

Flower 4.jpg (1705 bytes)DH - We're working hard on it. Recording is such good fun. We stroll into the studio usually after the night clubs shut and smash up the equipment. The record company is paying us on an hourly basis and so it is better to spin it out a bit. The new album will be a  concept sort of thing in four bits, a fast bit, a slow bit, and two fast bits. We'll get our old mate Wild John Carey to bang on some strings. Nick came back from the pub the other night with an amazing idea. We'll name the tracks Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.....Nick's good like that........I mean always coming up with original ideas. Oh yeah..... and we wont bother with any vocals

IH - Anyway ..thanks for now.


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'Plagiarism And How To Get Away With It' by Nicholas Hall Nick Clip.jpg (21558 bytes)

As trained musicians we soon realised that there are only 13 notes in the scale including the black ones and whichever way you arrange them someone has done it before. This can be a problem when inspiration strikes and a jolly tune comes into the songwriter’s head as there is a real possibility that the notes have been used before. Thus, the possibilities for up and coming songwriters like ourselves can be terribly restricting. Indeed, the songwriter can even hit ‘the wall’ and dry up completely.

But this need not be a problem! We have overcome the difficulty and now have an extensive catalogue of songs which we have successfully passed off as our own. Rather than leave it to pure chance that we may unassumingly stumble across some notes that have been used before and face an expensive court action we do it on purpose and no one knows.

The method is simple. Take a well known song like ‘Fumé Sur L’Eau’ one of my  all time favourite classics. This goes   "Da DA DA     DA DA DA da-da    DA DA DA    DA DA"    ..........We write the notes down on pieces of paper, place in a bag and after having given the bag a jolly good shake we extract the notes one by one so constructing another masterpiece  "DA DA DA DA   DA DA DA DA DA DA   DA DA DA".  It's so easy!

When it comes to writing the words we use a similar process of random selection. Our popular song  A Plane Jet On Leaving’ is an excellent example and no one would ever guess. Other examples are ‘Wind In The Blowing’, ‘Too Learning The Late For A  Lesson 'For Rain  Praying' 'Pat Postman' and  Spain to Highway'.

Using these principles we have been able to establish ourselves as the most successful songwriters on the Otley folk circuit.

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'Health and Safety in the Recording Studio' an article by John Carey

Health and safety in the recording studio is a very important issue. Trips and falls can frequently occur together with short term hearing loss and alcholism to mention but a few problems. However, often overlooked is 'engineer stress syndrome' which can creep up on the unassuming recording engineer with little or no warning.

The condition manifests itself in rapid hair loss, wondering around aimlessly, in a trance-like state together uttering meaningless ramblings and a desire to play the violin (badly). Indeed, the worst cases can render the unfortunate victim into a jibbering idiot.

Whilst the precise causes are the subject of much debate by eminent phsycologists the principal factors appear to be over exposure (on a long term basis) to endless re-takes by would-be folk rock artists,  prima donna singer songwriters, un-accompanied folk singing and bodhran playing.

However, with counselling all is not lost and the patient can be rehabilitated back into society to lead an almost normal existence.

(For further information contact the Clanjamfrie Foundation for Disturbed Recording Engineers)


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What people have said about the Halls:-

"The best thing I've seen since Riverdance"- Dave Galvin formerly of the Galley Inn Schull West Cork

"These lads should go far" - The Ramblers Association

"Nick and Dunc are the best turn we've had in years- by the way we've got Les and the Stratocasters on next week and a raffle" - Keighley Railwayman's Club

"Nick's really cool" - Amy Verity

"Their last disc was   terrif - the best thing I've heard in ages - I particularly liked the violin and the rest of it was all right" - folk music critic 'The Stradivarius'.

"Nicholas and Duncan excelled themselves at our recent garden party- we'll certainly have them back" - Ramsbottom Conservative Association

"These lads demonstrate musical dexterity far beyond their years and it it is difficult to imagine what dizzy heights they could attain  if they bothered to practice"- Mike Flower - music critic 'Ilkley Horticulturist'

"Nicholas and Duncan have demonstrated the benefits of the community service programme and are destined to become model citizens"- Probation Officer

"Dr Duncan Hall has made an outstanding contribution to medical science" -the Lancet

"We'll never have this duo back in our folk club again" Otley Unaccompanied Singers Club

"It's difficult to know how a band could be as good as that ...... we could learn a lot from these guys and some day we might be good enough to play warm up on one of their tours "  Smith and Haggis after watching a recent gig at Otley Civic!!

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Photo Gallery :-

The following are a few pictures of the lads in action (the only ones that could be safely shown without causing offence to anybody-  namely Mr and Mrs Hall!)

  • Otley Folk Festival 2005 including the Civic and Methodist Hall - another good weekend


  • Live at the Otley Folk Festival September 2004 - off to a cracking start on the Friday night opening spot playing to a full house! (pictures taken by Delphine)


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  • Easter 2001 at Hackett's Bar Schull- Despite many requests (not to come back) from the long suffering people of Schull in West Cork, the Hall Brothers embarked upon another legendary tour.  For some unknown reason the band were billed as 'Top  UK Trio' - perhaps a mistake with hindsight as many of the locals came along to see a serious musical offering. Also, due to yet another unfortunate management error, payment was accepted in kind and the intrepid trio were reduced to incoherent ramblings and latterly experienced some difficulty in remaining vertical. Back to Contents

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  • At Otley Festival in 2002 (1)

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  • The Grove Leeds  Easter 1999 -several hours following return from Ireland half dead and not very sober at all - after everything else has failed the lads try a half cooked version of progressive jazz on folk instruments.Back to Contents

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  • The Galley, Schull West Cork Easter 1999 - not quite sober (notice full pints and glazed expressions) - Nick has hidden the neck of his guitar behind the pint glass but it's probably C D or G - Duncan on the other hand appears to have three drinks in front of him and is possible playing in the post-renaissance 'atonal' tradition (i.e using all 12 notes in random selection)Back to Contents

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  • As support to the puppet show - the Hall Brothers play their comedy set - watch out Sid Kipper Back to Contents


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  • One of the 'in between' trips to Ireland - the Galley Inn, Schull- Duncan has a sheet with the chords in front of him. Nick was actually playing a solo gig in Otley that night but we communicated by mobile phone. It would have been really cool if the mobile phone could have been connected to the p.a. in Otley  - just like Live Aid but different.Back to Contents

  • At Otley Festival in 2002 (2)


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  • Otley Folk Festival  September 1996 (not an SS convention but a strangely designed FF for 'folk festival' ) At this point Duncan is leaning across to ask 'what key are we in?' and the sad fact is that it is probably one of his songs! Back to Contents



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  • The Galley Schull West Cork Easter 1999- not quite sober-  Duncan is trying to play bottle neck with a pint of Guinness but he's got the pint glass in the wrong hand - only a true musician could spot this! Back to Contents


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  • At Korks Wine Bar Otley 1996- these cheeky chaps were destined even for pub gigs Back to Contents



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