Ben the Hoose is a duo featuring fiddler Kenny Ritch from Orkney and guitarist and songwriter Bob McNeill from Glasgow. They are based in New Zealand. Their music is a spirited interpretation of the dance music of Scotland; uniquely rhythmic and energetic, they embody the modern Scots tradition.
The idea for Ben the Hoose came at the beginning of 2005 when Kenny and Bob discovered their shared passion for the music of Scotland, and a common desire to play it to audiences in a modern, accessible style. Kenny's fluid, vibrant fiddle playing and Bob's rhythmic chording and precise counterpoint are a perfect marriage of styles. Their live performances feature a wealth of traditional Scottish tunes as well as modern compositions, music from movies, and Bob’s original songs. Bob has won two New Zealand Music Awards for his solo albums, most recently 2004’s Turn the Diesels.
Ben the Hoose released their debut album The Little Cascade in October 2006. It has since won Best Folk Album of 2006 at the New Zealand Music Awards. The album is a collection of the passionate playing and inventive arrangements that has made Ben the Hoose such a live success. It features modern and traditional dance tunes from all over Scotland, two original songs by Bob, and a haunting, New Zealand-inspired version of Robert Tannahill's Gloomy Winter’s noo awa. The title track is a six-part reel written for Highland pipes by Pipe Major George S. McLennan during the First World War. McLennan, a prisoner of war in Germany at the time, is said to have composed the tune while unable to sleep because of a dripping tap.
The Little Cascade was recorded in Kenny’s adopted hometown of Rangiora in Canterbury, between June and September 2006. It was mixed in Wellington, where Bob now lives. The album is dedicated to Kenny’s daughter Evie, who arrived halfway through the recording, with several of the noisiest, most demanding sets still to be played. Evie encouraged the lads to finish the recording, provided her name appeared prominently in the sleeve notes.