FolkWorld Issue 33 05/2007

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Mercedes Sosa "Corazón Libre"
Deutsche Grammophon; 2005; Playing time: 59:30 min
Mercedes Sosa was born and lived in Argentina until in 1980 she was banned from live performances by the military regime. She exiled to Spain and only came back when two years later the military reign came to an end. Since her first album in 1965 she has become one of the most popular South American singers not only in her homeland, but also in other parts of the world. Her latest album Corazón Libre is a collection of all-acoustic versions of the most popular classic and contemporary songs, accompanied with guitar, violin, acoustic bass and percussion.
The simple accompaniment emphasizes Sosa’s superb singing and gives it a perfect frame like on “Los nińos de nuestro olvido”, a brilliant Milonga (rural song) accompanied only by guitar and violin. The title song “Corazón libre” is another beautiful Milonga with echoes of various Central American musical types. The more rhythmic Chacarera songs also feature typical South American percussions and bass. Duende Garnica’s “El olvidau” is one of my favourites. The CD also includes other traditional tunes like the Zamba, a very quiet form from the north western part of Argentina, or the Tonada, an equally slow and tender melody, usually with a romantic theme. Teresa Parodi’s “La canción es urgente”, a Chamamé – music from the agrarian northeast, is another interesting sample with simple finger picking and ethnic percussion effects. Last but not least I’d like to mention my absolute favourite song: “Todo cambia” has been written by the Chilean composer Julio Numhauser and “La Negra” (the black haired), as Sosa often is called, has transformed this song in some kind of Latin American hymn.
Corazón Libre is a hauntingly beautiful piece of art that introduces the listener to folk music from Argentina. There’s more than Samba, Rumba or Tango to be heard when you listen to Mercedes Sosa.
Adolf “gorhand” Goriup

Allan Yn Y Fan "Belonging"
Steam Pie; SPCD 1112S; 2006; Playing time: 47:09 min
We paid our first visit to Ireland in 1996, remembers Welsh band Allan Yn Y Fan, which resulted in us believing that our Welsh music could stand up and be counted alongside the better known Irish tradition. Accordingly, five-piece band Allan Yn Y Fan formed in the Gwent town of Newbridge with the intention of bringing traditional and folk music to modern audiences. The group consists of Geoff Cripps (guitar), Chris Jones (accordion, flute), Linda Simmonds (mandolin), Kate Strudwick (flutes), and Emma Trend (violin, clarinet). Their second album "Belonging" features traditional Welsh tunes, their own, some Shetland tunes, and an Irish polka set called "Galloping Hibernianism". Indeed, Allan Yn Y Fan might easily be accused of the creeping hibernianism prevalent in Gwent. The sound reminds me a lot of Irish bands. But who cares when the music is brilliant. One of the original tunes is a klezmerized waltz written for a German hostelry when Allan Yn Y Fan was touring the country. The Welsh town of Caerphilly is twinned with Ludwigsburg, and they met German folk band Die Geyers who wrote the tune "Allan Yn Y Fan" for them. Geoff returned the compliment with the tune "Gorymdaith y Geyers". It might turn out that Allan Yn Y Fan soon also may be accused of creeping teutonism. However, I said it before, if it's brilliant...
Steam Pie
Walkin' T:-)M

Beoga "Mischief"
Compass; 7 4457 2; 2007; Playing time: 41:07 min
The young Northern Irish band Beoga (-> FW#31) is quite unusual when it comes to their line-up: Damian McKee plays the button accordion, Sean Og Graham the accordion and guitar, Liam Bradley the piano, and Eamon Murray the bodhran. Following their celebrated instrumental only album "A Lovely Madness" (2004), the four lads from Counties Antrim and Derry added Limerick lady Niamh Dunne, who is the daughter of uilleann piper Mickey Dunne. A perfect match. Niamh is a beautiful vocalist, she renders traditionals songs such as the "Factory Girl", but also gives rocker Steely Dan's "Dirty Work" and Johnny Duhan's "A Delicate Thing" a try. She is a fiddler too and adds to the overall sound of the band. The traditional and traditional sounding tune sets are thrilling and coloured with blues and jazz shades - from Astor Piazzola jazz to New Orleans jamboree. Further enhanced by guests like The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, some electric guitar, clarinet, saxophon, trumpet and flugelhorn. I can tell you, to get this record is probably no mischief at all.
Compass Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Bonifica Emiliana Veneta "Materiali Tradizionali"
Felmay; fy 8109; 2006; Playing time: 46:35 min
It took Bonifica Emiliana Veneta (-> FW#11, FW#12, FW#14, FW#20, FW#21) five long years for "Materiali Tradizionali". Indeed, B.E.V. recorded only two albums before, "Apotropaica" in 1999 and "Variabile Naturale" in 2001. However, it was worth the wait. The North Italian ensemble did a great choice of Emilian-Venetian songs and dance tunes, gigues and waltzes and the like, a dies irae taken from folklore not from liturgical services, plus a more recent partisan song. The quintet plays all sorts of instruments like viola, accordion, pipes, saxophon, clarinet, guitar and double bass, and it does so in its own unique way. Who heard B.E.V. ever before, will immediately recognise its unmistakable sound. A path B.E.V is travelling for a decade, though it is still sounding fresh and exciting. Thanks again, B.E.V.!
Walkin' T:-)M

Iva Bittová "Superchameleon" [DVD Video]
Indies; MAM320-9; 2006; Playing time: 157:26 min
Iva Bittová is a former Czechian actress, nowadays mostly occupied as a singer and violin player. She is quite special and most original. A musician that knows no boundaries, taking her private folk music from world music to jazz and avant-garde. Iva is scratching the violin, she sings, whispers, cries, yells and wails. Her songs need no intelligible words. The visual experience is essential for her music, not because of her being a beautiful woman (yes she is), but also because of performing with her entire body. (Don't get me wrong, I'm still talking about music.) A superchameleon, and we must be thankful for the DVD video. The disc includes a 90 minute concert with the New York based Bang On A Can All Stars recorded in Prague in March 2006, a one hour selection from Czech TV archives featuring various projects from 1984 until this day, rock, folk, some traditional Moravian tunes, classical music, and, last but not least, a video collage featuring film footage, her background and preparing the concert. Iva's music is not easy to pigeon-hole, however, it's not about pigeons anyway, it's a bright-coloured ladybird.
Indies Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Café Orchestra "The Kilworth Concert"
Label: Fourplay; FPRCD.0005; 2006; Playing time: 68:28 min
The Café Orchestra plays -- surprise, surprise -- café house music. The coffeehouse in question is in the Old World, maybe in Vienna or in Budapest. However, these lads -- violinist Patrick Collins, guitar player John Whelan and accordionist Declan Aungier -- are from Dublin, Ireland, but they can beat any orchestra from continental Europe. Playing together since fourteen years, this is their first album in six years and it is their first live album at all, Recorded in April 2005 in Kilworth Arts Centre in County Cork, we got a first-rate mixture of classic swing and jazz and Gypsy music. Grapelli, Django Reinhardt, some tangos, some waltzes. The traditional Irish slow air "Coolin" (compare the recording by uilleann piper Kevin Rowsome -> FW#21) and the song air "Sally Gardens" are the only hints of the traditional Irish ways. Though with a café house treatment as well.
Fourplay Records / Café Orchestra
Walkin' T:-)M

Cara "In Between Times"
artes; ARCD3040; 2007; Playing time: 64:32 min
Cara (-> FW#32) is the recent German sensation in Irish music. Its individual members are quite well known over here (-> FW#12, FW#24, FW#29). Two expressive voices, first-rate arranged traditional songs such as "Poisoned Peas" (aka "Lord Randal" or "Henry My Son"), "The House Carpenter" and "The Maid of Whitby", both with original tunes, a couple of fiery self-penned tunes, including a Breton fest noz set. Cara is charming and fun to listen to (despite of the almost sad lyrics). Even if "In Between Times" doesn't excite me as the debut album "In Colour" (-> FW#29), it is superb craftmanship by standards of not only German-Irish musicians but Irish music at all. "In Between Times" has a touch of mainstream pop music to it, and I guess Cara will make good friends overseas. The band will tour the States in August 2007. Watch out! Germany has more and better things to offer than Rammstein!
Walkin' T:-)M

Cé "Between Words"
Label: Own label; 2006; Playing time: 45:30 min
is a Milwaukee trio, consisting of flutist Asher Gray, fiddle Devin McCabe and guitar player Randy Gosa. "Between Words", indicating that it is instrumental only, starts off with the traditional English dance tune "Spirit of the Dance", followed by a Breton tune and a contemporary written jig. Afterwards it becomes more Irish. The album has the power of an informal jam session, though it is well arranged and gives every instrument its breathing space. However, this might be because its fast-paced almost from beginning to end, with the exception of "The Old Man Rocking the Cradle," an air which soon becomes a march, and the song tune "Un Ivrogne a Table". And though "Between Words" already is an excellent album, it is even more promising.
Walkin' T:-)M

Céide "Out of their Shell"
Copperplate; CCD 002; 2006; Playing time: 55:59 min
Well I come from the land of the long grass and gorse, I flew with the eagle and I ran with the horse, and I played with the wild wind and whistled its tune... The Irish band Céide (-> FW#21), featuring flautist Brian Lennon of the musical clan (Charlie, Maurice -> FW#23), evolved from a regular session at Matt Molloy's pub in Westport in County Mayo. Their second album "Out of their Shell" features new singer Marianne Knight with a marvellous treatment of Bill Caddick's "John O'Dreams" (with the Tchaikovsky tune), the traditional "Bold Donnelly" and Andy M. Stewart's "Man in the Moon". Guitar player Declan Askin wrote the traditional-like "Western Waves" and turns out to be a fine singer as well. Marianne plays no mean flute either -- she then took out her whistle and she blew it sharp and shrill -- and set out with the boys for a "Tae in the Bog" and swap some other tunes. Tunes such as "Pikeman's" which dates from the 1798 rebellion when it was used for drilling Pikemen. The checks in the tune are the point where they would thrust into the dummy enemy. "Out of their Shell" has been produced by Dervish's Seamie O'Dowd (-> FW#26) who brings in guitar, fiddle and dobro to polish it up. No need to actually, everything's fine.
Walkin' T:-)M

Chumbawamba "Get On With It"
No Masters; NMCD26; 2006; Playing time: 47:50 min
Twenty-five years ago we ran off to join the circus. When we started we were young. Songs full of anger. Still are. In that sense, we didn't get far. Tomorrow some people will, at best, rise to a job that they hate. Some will barely rise at all. But here's us, look at us, tipsy and tired, paid for doing the thing that we love. I'm really delighted to have this one. I tried to catch Chumbawamba (-> FW#24, FW#32) in concert at the Bardentreffen festival in Nuremberg in 2006. They performed in a ruined church, and if you have ever been there, you know that it is a very busy place to be. You guessed it, I didn't get in and had to stay outside the thick walls. Some notes came drifting by from time to time, but this is not really the pure drop. After two years of acoustic concerts, Chumbawamba eventually recorded their act live in concert during 2006. Mixing pop, folk, acapella, politics, humour, four-part harmony and five-part anger, musically lovely and sweet, but with lyrics that bite. Like a sermon on the mountain, hellfire and brimstone, swapped for oil and guns, the acoustic version of "Jacob's Ladder" is a telling statement about the Iraqi-US-war. The traditional "Diggers' Song" from 1649 is about the first attempt of establishing an English commune (the incident is better known from Leon Rosselson's "World Turned Upside Down"). Add some more original songs, the traditional "Hard Times of Old England", an English version of the Italian partisan song "Bella Ciao," and a great finale with Coope Boyes & Simpson (-> FW#20) and Oysterband's John Jones (-> FW#25) joining the quartet on stage. Twenty-five years ago we ran off to join the circus, and still no reason to quit. No wonder. Every time we pause, someone always shouts Get on with it. Yep!
No Masters Co-operative Ltd.
Walkin' T:-)M

Éamonn Coyne & Kris Drever "Honk Toot Suite"
Compass; 7 4448 2; 2006; Playing time: 41:27 min
Kris Drever "Black Water"
Label: Compass; 7 4456 2; 2007; Playing time: 48:52 min
Éamonn Coyne (-> FW#24) is an Irish banjo player from Roscommon/Donegal, who went to Scotland and plays with Salsa Celtica at the time. Kris Drever is from the Orkney Islands and son of ex-Wolfestone singer Ivan Drever (-> FW#29), having performed with Tannas (-> FW#11), Fine Friday (-> FW#23, FW#31), Session A9 (-> FW#28) and new band LAU alongside with Aidan O'Rourke (-> FW#32). Both recorded solo albums to critical acclaim. They met in Edinburgh, the trad music session capital, and played together with Russell's House. On their duo album "Honk Toot Suite" Éamonn and Kris perform traditional music from Ireland, Scotland and Britanny alongside original tunes, Bela Fleck etc. Eamonn plays four-string tenor banjo, tenor guitar and mandolin, Kris guitar, double bass and mandolin; Flook's John Joe Kelly (-> FW#31) joins in on the bodhran. With these two extraordinary artists side by side, the combination of Kris' driving rhythm guitar and Éamonn's bouncing banjo is a rel treat.
Kris is also the vocalist on his fathers "The Viking's Bride", the traditional "Walking in the Dew" and 1920's American "Cock-a-doodle," written by banjo veteran Harry Reser. He already demonstrated on his solo album "Black Water" that he is a fine singer and guitar player. Be it traditional songs such as "Braw Sailin' on the Sea", "Green Grows the Laurel", "Fause Fause", "Patrick Spence" (a good ballad should have politics, power, deceit, action, adventure, heartbreak, fatalities and Aberdeen), contemporary folk songs with some country and pop influences (by Sandy Wright, Boo Hewerdine, Phil Gaston, the latter's "Navigators" has nothing of the Pogues' version -> FW#22, FW#30). But his native Orcadian tongue is always present. A couple of instrumental tracks -- "Honk Toot" -- displays a fiery guitar-guitar duel between Kris Drever and Ian Carr (-> FW#24). Both are winners. "Black Water" has been produced by John McCusker (who also plays fiddle and whistle -> FW#26), featuring Donald Shaw (harmonium, piano, wurlitzer -> FW#31), Eddi Reader and Kate Rusby (harmony vocals -> FW#26), and Andy Cutting (accordion -> FW#16).
Compass Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Brian Kelly "The Plain of Jars"
Label: BK RECORDS CD002; 2006; Playing time: 42:42 min
The Kelly Story continues: "Father Kelly's", "Eddie Kelly's", titles of popular Irish dance tunes. And it's characters probably are no relation to Brian Kelly (-> FW#29). Brian has all of the cliche Irishman: ginger red hair, a pint of Guinness in hand, and an instrument in the other. Looks like he is able to play it. Indeed, it's the banjo and Brian is a masterful player. He is playing Irish music since the age of seven, having won eight All-Ireland Championships on banjo and mandolin. Brian is a familiar face on London's Irish circuit, he can often be found at the Stag's Head in Camden Town and the Return to Camden music festival. With the fusion band "Dance to Tipperary" he scored the Celtic Football Club anthem "The Fields of Athenry" in 2001, later on he joined Shane MacGowan's The Popes (-> FW#22, FW#30). Now Brian is on his own again, with his second solo album already. He plays a lively and powerful tenor banjo, traditional Irish tunes and a few of Brian's own compositions. There is an opportunity to hear him swapping the banjo for the mandolin on a couple of tracks, including the Italian-like "Myra's Tune" with tremolo and everything. All were impressed with his musical finesse, as his digits danced over the fretboard, skidder-e-i twang de dum went the purr from his plectrum as it flew on the spot like a hummingbird, says the poem by Pat Power telling the story how this album came about.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Dixie Bee-Liners "The Dixie Bee-Liners"
Label: Own label; BT-001; 2005; Playing time: 29:04 min
The Dixie Bee-Liners are Brandi Hart (vocals, guitar) and Buddy Woodward (vocals, mandolin, banjo, bass), plus a couple of guests and friends to form a six-piece outfit: guitar player Danny Weiss (of Tony Trischka & Skyline), fiddler Alan Grubner (Astrograss), banjo player Jonah Bruno, and bass player Adam Bernard. The band takes its name from Kentucky Highway 41, the Dixie Bee-Line Highway, leading through the bluegrass state. And that's the state the band is in as well. 8 self-composed songs form the body of their self-titled debut album. Someone called it Bible Belt noir, though it is not too bleak. At least not when it comes to the artistry. A variety of different tunes and lyrics, anything the genre has to offer, great picking, and fantastic vocals. It's only a pity that it's just half an hour and much too short!
Walkin' T:-)M

The Doon Ceili Band "Around the World for Sport"
Shanachie; 23001; 2006; Playing time: 58:14 min
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Paddy O’Brien from County Offaly was digging traditional Irish music. Het met and learned from older players, he was collecting a wide tune repertory and was playing with legendary groups like Ceoltoiri Laighean and the Castle Céilí Band, featuring the likes of John Kelly, Michael Tubridy, Joe Ryan, Bridie Lafferty, John Dwyer, Sean Keane... In 1983 Paddy went overseas and eventually arrived in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Twenty years later he came up with the idea of forming a ceili band, reviving the sound of the 1950s and playing some of the lesser known and neglected tunes. The Doon Ceili Band started with three flutes (Laura MacKenzie, Kate Dowling, Brian Miller) and two fiddles (Jode Dowling, Django Amerson), added a piano (Sean Egan), and is held together by button accordionist Paddy O'Brien. Their debut recording "Around the World for Sport" showcases a band rather than individual players. It is straight, for the dancers, fun, and they are not killing tunes, but perform their sets with feeling, grace and expression. The Doon was kind of an experiment, really, to see if young Americans could play the old tunes with the right kind of feeling and expression, says Paddy O’Brien. I think our experience has proven that they can. By the way, the Doon Reel is not featured ...
Walkin' T:-)M

Gráda "Cloudy Day Navigation" [CD/DVD]
Compass; 7 4451 2; 2007; Spielzeit: 56:10+ min
Alan Doherty is the flutist from the "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack. Add double bass player Andrew Laking, guitar player Gerry Paul, fiddler Colin Farrell and singer (and fiddler) Nicola Joyce, you get traditional Irish band Gráda. After "The Fellowship of the Ring" ("Endeavour" -> FW#23) and "The Two Towers" ("The Landing Step" -> FW#30) comes "The Return of the King", aka "Cloudy Day Navigation". The title is from the original song "Steerer John Begg", the tale of a mysterious navigator lost at sea. Gráda hasn't lost the track, rather on the contrary their third album might be their best to date. The tunes have been mainly self-penned and are performed in a really relaxed manner, with quite some jazzy inflections. I am really enthusiastic about the choice of songs, and even more so about their execution: Suzanne Vega's "The Queen and the Soldier", Susan McKeown's "River" (-> FW#23), ... The bonus DVD features a 30 minute six track video, live in concert in Dublin's Temple Bar Music Centre from August 2006, plus ten selected audio tracks from all three albums. The "Lord of the Rings" movie had only three parts, we're looking for more ...
Compass Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Gráinne Hambly "The Thorn Tree"
Label: Own label; GHCD03; 2006; Playing time: 57:39 min
Rachel Hair "Hubcaps & Potholes"
Label: March Hair; MHRCD 001; 2006; Playing time: 45:39 min
Delyth Jenkins "Aros"
Steam Pie; SPCD 1111S; 2006; Playing time: 51:51 min
Anne Postic "An Delenn Vev"
Label: Own label; 2005; Playing time: 48:52 min
John Brophy recently remarked: You'll know them by their cars. Harp players have large estate cars, normally Volvo's with a sliding shelf at the back, which means a player can single handedly transport even large instruments. So where four or five large Volvo's are parked together, there's probably a harp competition nearby.
Ireland: Gráinne Hambly (-> FW#23, FW#29) hails from nearby Claremorris in County Mayo (the home turf of Raftery the Poet). She studied at Queen's University Belfast and Limerick researching folk music collections and the harp in 18th century Ireland. Gráinne studied harp with Janet Harbison and became a member of the Belfast Harp Orchestra with whom she recorded The Chieftains' (-> FW#22) "The Celtic Harp". Her debut solo album has been published in 1999, and "The Thorn Tree" is her third solo harp CD of traditional Irish dance music, slow airs and harp pieces. The title track is an original composition (she reluctantly does composing from time to time), the lone whitethorn or hawthorn trees feature prominently in Celtic folklore. Many tunes have been taken from the 17th and 18th century wire harp repertoire, a lot of the Neal, Bunting and Gow collections. It features slow airs such as "Port na bPucai" from the Blasket Islands (-> FW#28) and "Fingall's Lamentation", and Carolan pieces ("Sir Arthur Shaen", "Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady"). However this is only half the truth, the other half is spirited dance music which is played more and more today on the harp. "The Thorn Tree" is also available as tune book.
Scotland: Rachel Hair is known to us from her recent St. Patrick's Day Celebration Tour with husband pianist Michael G. Rose (-> FW#33). She is a Scotswoman of Northern Irish ancestry (in the glens of Antrim many a harper dwelled). Her debut solo album features pianist Douglas Millar and flutist Peter Webster and a mixed bag of traditional Scottish and Irish music and her own. There is furthermore a hymn written in the 1920s ("Do Lamh a Chriosda" = "Your hand oh Christ"), and a tune by Berrogüetto fiddler Anxo Pintos (-> FW#21). Rachel's style shows influences from her Irish roots, her upbringing in the Scottish highlands and a lot of time she spent with folk and jazz musicians playing together.
Wales: Veteran harper Delyth Jenkins (-> FW#9) plays traditional Welsh tunes, Carolan pieces ("Loftus Jones"), and some of her own, including music that she performed in an adaptation of George Borrow's "Wild Wales" by the Fluellen theatre company. Borrow's journey through Wales went from long walks, to ghostly encounters, to marvelling at the view from the top of Snowdon. Likewise is the music: of great variety and with splendid views. Harp plus fiddle and flute, and even a darabuka and a tenor saxophon on one track.
Britanny: French Harper Alan Stivell (-> FW#6) put Breton harp music on the map with his "Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique" album in the 1970s. But it didn't stop there. Anne Postic is one of the young harpers and tradition-bearers. Just in her mid twenties, she plays a lively harp. Traditional Breton dance tunes and airs, some have been rarely played on the harp ever before, some tunes from Scotland and Ireland. The booklet is in Breton, French and English, thus enabling even us to get some understanding beyond the musical experience.
Walkin' T:-)M

Iva Nova "Chemodan"
Label: GEO 011 CD; 2006; Playing time: 54:15 min
Iva Nova is an all-female quintet that had been formed in St. Petersburg in Russia in 2002, featuring singer Nastya Postnikova, guitar player Inna Lishenkevich, accordion player Elena Zhornik, bass player Ekaterina Grigoryeva, and drummer Katherina Fyodorova. So there is everything for a rock'n'roll, ska and punk band. On the other side te five young ladies are deeply rooted in their native music. They write original songs based on traditional Russian music. It is fast, fun, rocking - and for the dancers. Lyrics are in Russian as well as in other Slavic languages. One of the most exciting bands coming from Russia in quite some time, the girls probably bring every house down.;
Walkin' T:-)M

Olov Johansson "I Lust och Glöd"
Drone; DROCD044; 2007; Playing time: 68:04 min
The nyckelharpa (key harp) is the national musical instrument of Sweden. It is something inbetween a fiddle and a hurdy gurdy. The oldest indication of nyckelharpa playing is a relief on Gotland from about 1350. Another early picture of a schluesselfiedel is found in Hildesheim in Germany, just a few miles from where I live. Olov Johansson, member of Swedish group Väsen (-> FW#2, FW#13, FW#13, FW#23, FW#28), is playing the instrument since his teens. He has been growing up in Tärnsjö in northern Upland, a stronghold for nyckelharpa music since the late 16th century, and he learned tunes that had been played in that area since that time. Though Olov is a decent composer himself, his second solo album "I Lust och Glöd" features traditional tunes such as polskas and waltzes, a Scottish and a brudmarch. There are solo nyckelharpa performances and a couple of duo recordings with fellow nyckelharpa player Markus Svensson, Väsen fiddle and viola player Mikael Marin, fiddler Kalle Almlöf, and Scottish harpist Catriona McKay.
Solo nyckelharpa playing might not everybody's idea of a great pastime, but at least here's an expert at work. If you are interested, see also the recent Dram album (-> FW#32).
Drone Music AB
Walkin' T:-)M

Garry Shannon "Punctured"
Label: Brick Missing Music; BMM 011; 2006; Playing time: 41:49 min
Nuala Kennedy "The New Shoes"
Compass; 7 4452 2; 2007; Playing time: 53:13 min
Mat Walklate "Cold in April"
Label: Own label; KLATECD 008; 2006; Playing time: 62:50 min
Dave Sheridan "Sheridan's Guesthouse"
Label: Own label; 2006; Playing time: 57:33 min
Come all ye desperadoes, starts the not-too-traditional Flute Song. I listened to tapes of jigs and reels for 30 years or more. I danced a bit around the house and I battered on the floor. But when it came to music, I was particularly mute and that's another reason why I started on the flute. Well the flute it is a timber yoke with 6 holes in a row and another hole that's bigger still - and that's the one you blow. You hold the thing in your two hands and you give it a good oul toot. Tis a simple operation when you're starting on the flute. Well some lads play it gentle and there's other one play it loud. Some concentrate on embouchure while others merely pout. But I've a simple technique that I haven't told a soul: I mime with the latest flute album and pretend that tis my own.
Garry Shannon can be blamed for the Flute Song, however, never to get any bad credits for his recent album "Punctured". Garry is from County Clare in the west of Ireland and the eldest of a family which includes accordion player Sharon Shannon (-> FW#17, FW#28, FW#30) and Mary Shannon (Bumblebees). He is currently playing with the legendary Kilfenora Ceili Band. Garry runs the Meitheal Irish Music Residential Summer School in Limerick and already recorded a series of tapes, vinyls and cd's. Thus being an influential flutist for many young students. His third solo cd features the likes of Kevin Crawford (Lunasa -> FW#32), Fergal Scahill (-> FW#25), and many others. Garry takes no prisoners, purists be warned, and he only gets away with it sometimes because he is such a tremendous player. Apart from the Flute Song cited above, he is back on vocals on the final track with some lilting and messing around.
"The Return of the Whistles" is the title of a jig, and here she comes, singer and flutist Nuala Kennedy. Born in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, she moved to Scotland in 1995 and formed traditional band Fine Friday (-> FW#23, FW#31), alongside guitar player Kris Drever (see review above). Afterwards Nuala played with The Unusual Suspects (-> FW#30), Harem Scarem (-> FW#25) and recently with Anam (-> FW#9). Nuala put on some new shoes, and it's the red ones for dancing. Her new band of the same name features guitar player Marc Clement, melodeon player Julian Sutton and fiddler Claire Mann (-> FW#25, FW#31). Nuala is also a fine singer. She chose the traditional songs "Cáit i nGarráin a Bhile", "The Groves of Donaghmore", "Erin on the Rhine" and "A Bhean Úd Thíos". These shoes fit perfectly tight, and they are not only looking great, but making great sounds too.
Mat Walklate (-> FW#26, FW#29) is no "Narky Fiddler" (that's the title of some polkas written especially for the album), but no mean multi-instrumentalist. He plays flute, whistle, low whistle, uilleann pipes, harmonica, bansuri (a transverse alto flute of India) and bamboo flute. Mat plays traditional and original Irish music and many of his own compositons with a couple of friends: Matt Fahey, Paul Cowham and Paul Bardley on guitar, Pat O'Reilly on bouzouki, Vinnie Short on bodhran, Ben Walker on bass flute, uilleann pipes and cittern, Steafan Hannigan (ex Sin E) on percussion, Andy Dinan and Tony Trundle on fiddle. There are two songs as well, "P Stands for Paddy" and "Come by the Hills", sung by Mat Walklate and Matt Fahey respectively. It hasn't been that cold this April, and likewise Mat Walklate and his friends are no bad start for a promising summer.
Dave Sheridan hails from County Leitrim, now teaching music and religion in Dublin. This young flutist (and button accordionist on one track) gathered sixteen of his friends, including Seamie O'Dowd and Brian McDonagh of Dervish (-> FW#26), fiddler Brian Rooney, and many more. The album presents a wide spectrum, from duets and triplets to a full session sound. Jigs and reels almost exclusively. Imagine a friendly hostelry somewhere in the Irish countryside with the proprietor able to play a tune or two. It is a guesthouse that is sometimes confusing, and not too cleansed. Actually it's a caravan, and if you can imagine the number of musicians who have stayed in it, it's kind of reminiscent of the amount of musicians on the album. Dave's cousin Conor Sheridan delivers the one and only song "Our Beautiful Tradition" about older musicians wondering if traditional music is going to last or going to die. We know the answer, don't we?
Walkin' T:-)M

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 05/2007

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