FolkWorld Issue 34 11/2007
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Kieran Fahy "Man from the West"
EUCD 2081; 2007; Playing time: 55:04 min
Charlie Lennon "Turning the Tune"
CICD 166; 2007; Playing time: 48:03 + 45:31 min
Diarmuid O'Brien "Cairde Cairdin"
Own label; DOB1979; Playing time: 55:16 min
Athena Tergis "A Letter Home"
7 4463 2; 2007; Playing time: 56:31 min
Gregor Borland "Bowstroke"
Ness Records 001; 2007; Playing time: 57:38 min
It's fiddle time again! From Tuam in the Irish County Galway
comes Kieran Fahy.
Sligo is closer, but Kieran had been strongly influenced by the more
lyrical East Galway and Clare traditions. In 1983 he went to
Belgium where he lived ever since. Kieran
played with Pat Kilbride (-> FW#23) and
formed the group Sean Talamh in 1992 which eventually became Shantalla (->
Kieran left the band in 2005. Rather by chance, he met accordion player
Dave Munnelly (-> FW#27,
who toured Belgium and had guitar player Philip Masure in tow.
They put down a few tracks which eventually resulted in the full
album "Man from the West". Jigs and reels, slides and polkas,
plus Galician muineiras, mazurkas and a Canadian waltz.
But Kieran's speciality being slow airs, namely
"Molly Saint George" (by Sligo harpist Thomas Connellan, ~ 1640),
"Port na bPucai" and Carolan's "Hewlett".
It suits my temperament. Being Irish people we have a natural affinity with
melancholy and sadness as an intrinsic part of our nature fundamental to our identity.
The turn is the high or B part of a dance tune, following
the low or A part. Turning the Tune simply means having
the second eight bars, which isn't always that simple and may drive a musician crazy.
An Irish fiddle player who knows his tunes und turns is Charlie Lennon.
Being a double CD, CD 1 features tried and trusted old tunes, including a couple of barn dances
and the set dance "The Blackbird". The latter had been recorded by Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman
in 1927, and indeed many tracks are inspired by old 78 rpm recordings.
CD 2 features new original music written by Charlie.
Charlie plays the standards of traditional Irish and Scottish music:
jigs, reels, airs, strathspey, hornpipes,
but also a musette waltz, a Cape Breton reel and the
lament "Taken by the Fairies" which had been written as part of the theme music
for a short animated film. The story is based on an old Irish folk tale in which
a daughter is taken away by the fairies. Her father tries to rescue her by the
entrancing music he plays on his fiddle. Entrancing it is, indeed.
Charlie plays fiddle, supported by
Brian McGrath (piano, banjo), Frank Kilkelly (guitar),
Éilís Lennon (fiddle)
Brian Lennon (flute), Johnny Óg Connolly (accordion),
Johnny Connolly (melodeon), Steve Simmons (guitar) and
Emmet Gill (uilleann pipes).
At the same time looking back and forward, Charlie Lennon is turning
the tune, and the musical legacy is passed on and on and ...
"Cairde Cairdin" is the debut album from
Diarmuid hails from West Limerick, growing up in the townland of Glenagragra
in the parish of Glin. Diarmuid is a relative to the late Martin Mulvihill
who not only gathered an enourmous repertoire of West Limerick music
before emigrating to the USA, but was a prolific composer as well.
Mulvihill tunes featured are: "Mick Moloney's Rambles" (after -> FW#32), the
set "The High Road to Glin / The Low Road to Glin / The Tarbert Ferry"
(after the ferry which crosses the Shannon Estuary to County Clare).
Many tunes are from the area, peculiar from playing sets of quadrilles,
mostly slides and polkas followed by marches, jigs, hornpipes and occasionally reels,
for weddings, parties, crossroads dancing and Wren festivities.
The West Limerick style of playing is also special, the area
sandwiched between Clare and Sliabh Luachra and thus influenced by both (or vice versa). The accordion being especially popular, it had the necessary volume both
for ceili bands and to lead out the Wrenboys. So a good deal of "Cairde Cairdin"
consists of a number of fiddle-accordion duets, featuring Diarmuid on fiddle
and well known accordion players from the West Limerick region, including
Dónal Murphy (Four Men and a Dog, Sliabh Notes, Dervish),
Mick Mulcahy (he recorded two albums with his daughters before) and
Derek Hickey (Arcady, De Dannan). This is music for the dancers, lively and energetic.
Athena Tergis hails from
San Francisco, having no apparent Irish or Scottish background.
She started with classical violin lessons, then
went to Alasdair Fraser’s annual "Valley of the Moon" fiddle camp,
studying with fiddlers Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh (Altan),
Tommy Peoples and Buddy MacMaster, and
winning the National Scottish Fiddling Championship in Virginia three years in a row.
When Athena Tergis was just sixteen,
she recorded an album of original music with childhood friend and fellow
fiddler Laura Risk. She went to Ireland and became quickly involved with
accordion player Sharon Shannon, the "Lord of the Dance" production in Las Vegas,
and the Broadway run of "Riverdance". Athena is living in Tuscany, Italy since 2004, where she just completed the Terra Linda
recording studios in the middle of a vineyard. Athena’s solo debut
"A Letter Home" features contributions from Liz Carroll,
John Doyle, Natalie Haas, Chico Huff, Billy McComiskey, Sharon Shannon and Ben Wittman.
From jigs and reels to strathspeys and barndances, box player
Paddy O'Brien arranged Carolan's "O'Reilly from Aithcairne" as a set dance.
Athena Tergis is familiar with many fiddle styles and languages, from
Cape Breton to Sliabh Luachra, with an emphasis on the North
(including a couple of Ed Reavy tunes).
Last but not least, Scottish gutscraper
made himself a name performing with
The Kathryn Tickell Band (-> FW#29),
Burach (-> FW#19),
the Sandy Brechin Band and Caledon (with Davy Steele).
With many Scottish Fiddle Championship titles to his credits, Gregor Borland has
been taught by both Hector MacAndrew of Cults (whose grandfather was a pupil of
James Macintosh of Dunkeld, the last pupil of the famous Niel Gow) and
Donald Riddell of Clunes (who was the leader of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society and also a prolific teacher in the Inverness area).
Both legendary figures in Scottish traditional fiddle music,
and Gregor is an outstanding character too. His solo album "Bowstroke",
featuring Julian Sutton on melodeon and a tight backing band,
is a grand collection of airs, marches, reels, taken from Scottish pipers and fiddlers (Neil and Nathaniel Gow, William Marshall, JS Skinner), plus
new tunes by Gavin Penicuik, Gerry O'Connor, Charlie Mckerron and Gregor Borland himself.
Gregor is currently living in Biar in the mountains north of Alicante,
Spain where he has started making fiddles and founded
a Traditional Scottish Fiddle School. Spread the gospel, lad!
Kevin Henderson, Jenna Reid, Kevin Mackenzie "Da Hömin"
Own label; HRMCD001; Playing time: 36:40 min
Fiddlers Kevin Henderson
and Jenna Reid
grew up with the living tradition of the Shetland islands off the Scottish coast.
Two young and lively fiddlers known from Fiddlers' Bid & Boys of the Lough
and Filska & Dochas, respectively,
who studied with some of Shetlands finest fiddle players,
including the late Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter.
"Da Hömin", meaning twilight, starts with three Scott Skinner tunes and finishes with a traditional Swedish Bear Dance,
inbetween traditional and contemporary music from Scotland and Scandinavia,
Shetland reels, a reinländer and a polska.
Furthermore, Jenna Reid sings Robert Burns' "Afton Water" and the
traditional "Fareweel tae Fiunary".
Fiddle music of the Shetlands is naked and bare without guitar accompaniment,
legendary guitar player Peerie Johnson has just passed away (see News & Gossip).
Kevin Henderson and Jenna Reid found their resourceful backing
in Kevin Mackenzie
from Edinburgh. His guitar playing is effortless and to the point.
"Da Hömin" makes clear that the Shetland tradition is alive and kicking,
though the old masters are dead and gone, there is a new generation.
Terri Hendrix "The Spiritual Kind"
Wilory Records; WR30008; 2007; Playing time: 45:17 min
is the daughter of a man called Jim, but not the one though it's the right age.
Terri Hendrix's music is no purple haze,
she is a folk and country performer rooted in but not restricted to her native Texas.
"The Spiritual Kind" is Terri's nineth album altogether,
produced by Lloyd Maines, father of Natalie of the Dixie Chicks,
for whom Terri had written a Grammy winning tune.
She didn't worry about being too loud for folk, too pop for country, too
country for jazz. I like all style of music, and that's what we did. The end
result is what I'm calling a folk record.
Her own songs sit well alongside John Hadley's "Life's a Song",
Jimmy Driftwood's "What Is the Colour of the Soul", and
Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty".
Terri says: I wish it was mandatory that before you could hold public office
you had to learn how to play guitar and learn a Woody Guthrie song. Yes,
life's a song, and the acoustic-driven and playful song cycle
about spirituality, friendship and love is a jolly good one.
"If I Had A Daugther" is especially touching, and
everybody could be glad and proud to have Terri Hendrix as a mother.
She has no daugther yet, but as a songsmith she is a birthing machine.
(Sorry for the misogynic diction.)
Peter Horan & Gerry Harrington "The Merry Love to Play"
CICD 167; 2007; Playing time: 51:00 min
John Wynne & John McEvoy "Pride of the West"
CICD 165; 2007; Playing time: 50:20 min
Fiddle and flute - the royal pair when it comes to instrumental Irish music.
At least, that's my personal opinion. Fiddle and flute are also the predominant
instruments of the Sligo style of North Connaught.
Peter Horan and Gerry Harrington
seem to be an unlikely pairing at first sight.
Peter Horan is an 81 year old flute player from County Sligo and the last in a
line of flute players who adapted the Sligo style of fiddling to the flute.
Fiddler Gerry Harrington from Kenmare, County Kerry, on the other hand
displays Sliabh Luachra tendencies (->
However, on the follow up of their first album "Fortune Favours the Merry",
they complement each other (music is a common language anyway),
and both are in fine form. No accompaniment at all, Peter Horan and Gerry Harrington
canvass the decades and centuries. Perhaps it is true that the slow air "The Coolin"
(An Chúilleann = the fair-haired one) dates from the late 13th century,
when Edward I forbade the Anglo-Irish to grow their locks in the Irish hairstyle.
Peter Horan comes from the town of Killavil, and he has some peculiar tunes from the area:
"The Killavil Bucks" is an unusual version of the well-known reel
"The Bucks of Oranmore", and "The Killavil Waltz" has been
handed down to Peter from his mother.
Indeed, it is a merry love to play - and listen.
Flutist John Wynne from County Roscommon is a former member of the traditional
Irish group Providence. He recorded a solo album in 2000 ("With Every Breath")
and produced "The Flute Players of Roscommon" in 2004.
Fiddler John McEvoy hails from Birmingham by Roscommon parents.
In the 1970s he played with Josie McDermott,
recorded with the band Bakerswell in the late 1980s as well as
a solo cd in 1998 and one with his flute playing sister Catherine in 2004.
The Pride of the (North)West,
featuring Arty McGlynn on guitar and Paddy McEvoy on piano,
is music of North Connacht, namely counties Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim.
The jig "Pride of the West" starts the album.
There is "An Súisín Bán", a set dance collected by Roscommon's
Douglas Hyde, who became Ireland's first president.
"My Love Is But a Lassie" (recorded by John McKenna and James Morrison) and
"The Lakes of Sligo" are popular polkas in north Connacht.
Donegal fiddler John Doherty made up the march "The Balmoral Highlanders"
from two tunes, Skinner's "The Queens Welcome to Inverclaud" and "Angus Mackay's".
Both Johns can be proud of their latest effort.
By the way, both albums have been recorded at Soell's Bar in Ballaghaderreen,
which is a pub downstairs and a gig venue upstairs. Perhaps this makes
both so relaxed and sound warm and cosy.
Horses Brawl "Dindirin"
Own label; BRAWL003; 2007; Playing time: 42:35 min
In the morning I arose, and I walked among the meadows.
There I met a nightingale who was singing in the treetops:
Dindirin dindirin dindirin dana dindirindin.
"Dindirin", the song of the nightingale passing messages between two lovers,
sets the stage for English, Spanish and Italian music from the 12th to the
19th century, including an excerpt from the "Carmina Burana" and the
well known medieval estampie "La Rotta".
is a Norfolk based instrumental duo which had been formed in 2003.
Laura Cannell and Adrian Lever play (bowed) guitar, recorder, crumhorn and fiddle,
their second album "Dindirin" again is a collection of early and traditional music.
At times experimental and virtuosic, they fuse
folk, traditional and baroque music with a contemporary feel.
Laura and Adrian take no prisoners, e.g. the traditional East Anglian fiddle tune
"Shave the Donkey" sounds like a Scandinavian nyckelharpa piece. Thus
Horses Brawl and "Dindirin" never get boring. Search it out!
Sharon Hussey "Inisheer"
Own label; SHAZBAGCD1; 2006; Playing time: 41:35 min
another Dubliner who fell in love with the West of Ireland,
or, at least, fell for the classic air "Inisheer"
that had been written a quarter of a century ago by
Dubliner Thomas Walsh (-> FW#33).
Sharon wasn't even born when the tune had been written.
Despite her young age, she plays flute, whistle and fiddle with equal aplomb.
Sharon made some unusual choices with Sean O'Riada's "Ag Criost and Siol" and
Lennon/McCartney's "Here, There and Everywhere",
she typically performs the spectrum of traditional Irish dance tunes with
great skill. Listen only to her breathtaking performance of the "Independence" hornpipe. Great!
Sofia Karlsson "Visor från Vinden"
AMCD 759D; 2007; Playing time: 53:56 min
had been a member of the successful Swedish group
Groupa between 1998-2002 (->
Going solo, she dedicated her craft
to the visa, the Swedish variant of the chanson.
With a sense for a strong melody and a good story, the
singer from Stockholm soon became a star in Sweden.
"Visor från Vinden" (i.e. songs from the loft)
is literally taken from the vinyl collection found in her grandma's loft.
Featuring songs by Swedish lyricists
Evert Taube, Carl Michael Bellman ("Fredmans epistel nr 81"), Alf Hambe,
Fred Åkerström and Finn Kalvik, as well as translations of
Boris Vian's "Le Deserteur" and Charles Baudelaire "Le Vin des Amants"
and "Moesta et errabunda". The visor från vinden are as serious and intense
as the svarta ballader (black ballads), but
much more easygoing with many sunny moments for heart and soul.
It is never overproduced but kept simple and clear,
accompanied by guitarist Roger Tallroth (Väsen, see review below) and
singers Sara Isaksson and Lena Willemark.
Great in its simplicity, simply great.
Kasír "Reel Irish"
GO0106; 2006; Playing time: 36:52 min
In days of yore the Danish seafarers and buccaneers went across the North Sea
to plunder and pillage in Britain and Irland.
The Vikings brought ginger hair to the Celtic fringe, and they were tradesmen
too, laying the foundation of towns like Dublin. We do not know about the
cultural impact, we do not know much about the music of medieval times, neither
in Ireland nor in Scandinavia. A millennium later the Irish people took revenge
and spread their music across the globe. It came to Denmark too, where
Drones & Bellows took it up.
Kasír is the next generation
successfully challenging the gamle dansk.
Rune Cygan Barslund (accordion and whistles),
Aske Fuglsang Ruhe (guitar and mandolin) and alibi Irishman
Oisin Walsh (who learned his bodhran playing from Sven Kjeldsen)
started the group after a chance meeting at a jam session at
the Aarhus Folk Festival in 2004. "Reel Irish" features
traditional tunes, some contemporary (McCusker, Moynihan) and
some of their own, played effortlessly and spirited.
A promising start, indeed.
GO' Danish Folk Music Production
LAU "Lightweights & Gentlemen"
7 4458 2; 2007; Playing time: 58:39 min
LAU is the new playground,
if not supergroup, of traditional Celtic music in the British islands.
Orcadian singer-guitarist Kris Drever
(plus banjo and double bass -> FW#33)
only recently made a name as a traditional singer and accompanist.
Scottish fiddle player Aidan O'Rourke
growing up in Oban on the West Coast of Scotland of Irish Donegal parents,
is a highly respected instrumentalist as well as composer in both traditional and
contemporary veins. Southern English accordionist Martin Green makes the trio
complete. He played with everyone from Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson to
Kathryn Tickell and Eliza Carthy, and
recently performed with The Unusual Suspects and Salsa Celtica
"Lightweights & Gentlemen" is a kitchen sessions that went wild and
crazy. It is amazing what sound only three people may produce,
even without any technical tricks.
Almost all tunes have been written by the three of them, however,
their performance highlighting spontaneous and improvising elements.
Though it still is strictly folksy and traditional,
not really folk jazz or free folk. Furthermore,
Kris Drever gives us a couple of songs ("Butcher Boy",
"Unquiet Grave" with new music by Kris, Ewan MacColl's "Freeborn Man").
You may like it or not, but at least you should give LAU a try
to form an opinion. Before having done this, you better keep silent.
Leahy "Live from Gatineau, Quebec" [CD]
2006; Playing time: 61:51 min
Leahy "Live from Gatineau, Quebec" [DVD Video]
2006; Playing time: ca. 91 min
Leahy are a
8 piece family group from Lakefield, Ontario.
Daddy is of Irish descent, whereas mum is Cape Breton Scottish.
They handed down their music, and the kids grew up in a culture of house
parties, fiddle and step dance conventions. Eventually they quit
playing at rural fairs and weddings and became pop stars.
Leahy means fiddle, fiddle and once again fiddle,
plus piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar, bass and drums.
Don't forget the stepdancing being an essential part of their show.
"Live from Gatineau, Quebec", recorded on cd and dvd in
April 2006 at Casino du Lac Leamy, is the Leahy family and some guests
(e.g. Natalie McMaster, who is the wife of fiddler Donnell Leahy)
doing their best. Perfect music and show, the fastest fiddling you can get in Canada.
Besides Celtic trademark tunes, you get
Hungarian Czardas, the "Orange Blossom Special",
ragtime music on twin piano, and a couple of folk pop songs
(the latter being the least memorable part).
The dvd contains the one hour long concert plus 30 minutes special features,
including interviews, commented videos (one with pop singer Shania Twain),
and an account what a home party really is like.
It shows that the Leahy family is still connected to the roots of the music,
even after taking it onto big theatrical stages.
Though purists might be warned, the Leahy's approach is quite commercial and
aims for an mainstream audience.
Stuart Liddell "Inveroran"
SKYECD 43; 2006; Playing time: 57:23 min
Stuart Liddell's grandfather, Ronald (Ronnie) McCallum, had been the piper
to the Duke of Argyll, and Stuart is following in his footsteps becoming
a great bagpiper of his own. He is based in Inveraray, Argyll, and had been
playing with the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.
Stuart had been brought up in Inveroran Inn near Bridge of Orchy in Argyll,
where his parents were the proprietors.
The place is connected to the tune "Mairi Bhan Og" (Fair-haired Young Mary),
a song composed by Duncan Ban Macintyre (1724-1812) about his bride and the
innkeepers daughter. Fittingly, the Gaelic song air is featured here, as well as
jigs, reels, strathspeys, marches and classical piobaireachd music.
From pipe majors old and new, including the late great Gordun Duncan.
It is solid piping, and not too puristic, e.g. it gets quite
unusual when the jig "Troy's Wedding"
is played as a waltz and then slips into a traditional Viennese waltz.
Stuart Liddell is on a new road
taking bagpipe music from Inveroran out into the world.
Jenny McCormick "English Country Garden"
SPRCD03; 2007; Playing time: 43:15 min
Mancunian singer Jenny McCormick
is a new force to be reckoned with.
Four traditional songs ("Go from My Window", "House Carpenter",
"Blackwater Side", and "My Sweet William" rewritten and set to a new tune)
sit alongside 7 of her own traditional inspired originals.
Jenny McCormick loves a good story. It is melancholic, she is
rather whispering than singing.
The scenery is essentially English, though
banjo, harmonica and acoustic bass add a certain country music influenced
twang, hence the title "English Country Garden" I suppose.
There are hints of Kate Rusby and Eliza Carthy,
but Jenny McCormick has something unique and special about her.
Not better or worse than the aforementioned, it's simply different.
I recommend to search out her website and listen to some sound samples.
It's definitely worth the effort.
Square Peg Records
Joe Burke, Brian Conway & Felix Dolan "A Tribute to Andy McGann"
CICD 168; 2007; Playing time: 60:13 min
American-Irish musician Andy McGann (1928-2004) was born and raised in
New York to Sligo parents. Andy began playing the fiddle at the age of seven
and he was tutored by Michael Coleman, who established the expressive and elegant
Sligo-American fiddle style in the 1920s by his 78 rpm recordings.
In 1965 Andy McGann together with two good friends, Joe Burke (accordion) and
Felix Dolan (piano), recorded the album "A Tribute to Michael Coleman".
Only 500 copies had been pressed, but the album was re-released on cd in 1994.
Forty years after, Joe Burke and Felix Dolan performed in the Irish American
Heritage Center in Chicago honouring the great musician and friend who had
passed away in 2004. Brian Conway
was chosen as the fiddler, being the protégé of Andy McGann and the leading
player of the Sligo-American style. Brian Conway is connected to the
roots of the music by his teachers Martin Mulvihil and Martin Wynne, the latter
had been taught by Philip O'Beirne who in turn had been the teacher of
Michael Coleman. When Brian was ten he met Andy McGann who said: Well, he plays
in tune. Years later they became close friends; Andy was never a teacher
because he did not have the patience. "A Tribute to Andy McGann" includes 4
live tracks from the concert, complemented by studio recordings of Joe Burke,
Brian Conway and Felix Dolan, chosen to commemorate and celebrate Andy McGann
and his music. The sources can be easily identified as recordings by Sligo
musicians Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran and John McKenna,
as well as the O'Neill and Ryan's Mammoth collections of Irish dance tunes.
That is what traditional music is about, passing it on and on,
and we're looking forward to the Brian Conway tribute album forty years from now.
McDermott's 2 Hours "Goodbye to the Madhouse"
On The Fiddle;
OTFCD002; 2007; Playing time: 51:58 min
Goodbye to the madhouse, Crazy Jane's out and away,
she'll cry this whole world is a whorehouse, but every dog has its day ...
certainly has its day with his band McDermott's 2 Hours'
"Goodbye to the Madhouse" probably being his best effort since his classic debut album
"The Enemy Within", and arguably the pick of the bunch in 2007
when it comes to folk rock albums.
Nick's lyrics and passionate delivery succeeds once again on rockers and ballads
about the crude-eyed crusader whose battle-cry rings like a hymn.
It still isn't time to sing of tender days when
in every story, song and tune the old ways breathe with you.
Nick Burbridge is a unique artist who hasn't got the recognition he truely
deserves. So let me leave but keep my song, my song will not die...
On The Fiddle Recordings
Christy McNamara "The House I was Reared In"
Own label; CMCD001; 2007; Playing time: 54:50 min
is best known as a black and white photographer of
musicians and landscapes. I know his evocative photography
since reading Peter Woods' beautiful book
"The Living Note - the Heartbeat of Irish Music" (1996),
a fictional narrative of a traditional Irish musician.
But Christy’s a musician, too.
Christy's grandfather and grandmother had been concertina players,
his father Joe played accordion with the Tulla Ceili Band, so
their homestead in Crusheen alongside the main road through County
Clare into Galway had been a gathering place where he could
absorb the soulful music of the west of Ireland. He says,
Walking through this landscape is like learning music,
your feet stumbling like your fingers in search of notes of meaning.
Christy plays the two-row button accordion and the concertina,
Dennis Cahill is on bouzouki and guitar,
cousin Martin Hayes and Peadar O'Loughlin on fiddle,
and Eamonn Cotter on flute.
The CD comes with a 24 page booklet with some magnificent
photographs, depicting his family and other musicians, young and old.
Both as a traditional musician and a photographer,
Christy states that there's more than packaging.
He takes a deep look behind things, be it an image or a tune,
to capture what traditional Irish music really is like.
Mimi Burns Band "I know you're out there..."
Own label; Playing time: 52:08 min
The Northern Californian Mimi Burns Band
remembers me of the style of Celtic German bands such as Galahad or Goo Birds Flight
(see reviews in the German FW issue).
Sometimes folk pop and folk rock songs in the mid Atlantic mode,
at other times drawing from the Celtic heritage. Fiddle and electric guitar,
drums and harp. However, Mimi Burns can be quite intense and emotional.
On bagpipe driven rock numbers the vocal delivery is sad and dreary.
"I know you're out there" is the third album of the Mimi Burns Band,
and they live to tell the tale. A good story is the essence of a song.
Music that should touch not only the lover of contemporary folk rock music.
Linde Nijland "Sings Sandy Danny"
RRECD 16; 2007; Playing time: 47:29 min
No need to tell you about Sandy Denny
(1947-78), isn't it? She is probably the best known English singer and songwriter,
touching stardom during her sojourn with British folk rock legend Fairport Convention.
In the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, her song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes"
had been voted the Favourite Folk Track of All Time.
Phil Lynott did record a tribute for Sandy, both the Ocean Colour Scene and
Mark Olson (Jayhawks) have a song about her, and Kate Bush mentions Sandy in a
song where she contemplates about the existence of an afterlife and recalls departed
friends and musicians. There is on afterlife for sure for Sandy Denny,
her music has never died.
One might argue if it is wise to record an entire album of Sandy Denny songs,
however, Dutch singer Linde Nijland,
who performed with the folk band Ygdrassil
for 13 years and played the odd Sandy Denny song here and there, is neither
a foolish singer nor a soulless clone.
This is the music Linde Nijland grew up with while listening to her parents'
record collection, and she gives it a new meaning. This is about respect but
also about passing on the flame not worshipping the ashes.
Next year is the 30th anniversary that Sandy Denny passed away.
Linde Nijland will celebrate the occasion with taking her music to the people.
Germany is said to be on the agenda in April 2008.
Padraic O'Reilly "Highly Strung!"
Rath Records; RRCD004; 2007; Playing time: 51:28 min
Padraic O'Reilly from Corofin in County
Clare is a jack-of-all-trades. Only in his mid twenties, Padraic O'Reilly
has already developed a reputation being one of Ireland's foremost traditional
piano players. He has recorded with accordion player James Keane and many more,
he has played with the Kilfenora and Tulla Céilí Bands, and currently is
the leader of the Ennis Céilí Band, All-Ireland two-in-a-row champions,
with whom he has recently recorded an album.
He is also director of the Corofin Traditional Festival (see the Cruinniú review above).
The piano is usually providing rhythmic and chordal accompaniment in traditional Irish music.
There has been change in recent years with players becoming more adventurous.
Padraic O'Reilly is one of a couple of young musicians for whom the piano is a main
melody instrument, and his second solo album "Highly Strung!" shows him both as an
accompanist and a soloist.
Occasionally the piano falls back into its supportive role, e.g. when Padraic's
brother Damien plays the button accordion at the haunting slow air "Sliabh Geal Gua na Féile".
Mainly Padraic let the piano take the lead on the entire spectrum of Irish rhythms and dances,
backed by guitar players such as Graham Dunne (-> FW#31), bouzouki and bodhran. He plays
jigs and reels, as well as two Percy French songs as barndances
("Darling Girl from Clare" and "Phil the Fluter's Ball"), and two planxties,
however, not from Carolan, but Michael Rooney and Padraic himself, respectively.
Half of the tracks employ a string quartet and the Corofin Chamber Orchestra,
the full orchestral treatment reminiscing Sean Ó Riada (see below).
Whereas Riada had yet to invent a genre way back in the 1950s, so to speak,
Padraic O'Reilly stands on the firm ground of a tradition fully re-established
and thus he is even able to top it.
The Outside Track "The Outside Track"
BOING 0701; 2007; Playing time: 57:50 min
The Outside Track
has been formed in 2005 at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick,
Ireland, all band members being students or graduates.
Norah Rendell (vocals, flute, whistle) hails from Vancouver, Canada,
Patricia Clark (Fiddle, bouzouki) from Derbyshire, England,
Aillie Robertson (harp) from Edinburgh, and Fiona Black (accordion) from Easter Ross, Scotland,
Alan Jordan (guitar) from County Mayo being the only Irish member.
The Outside Track's debut album is half instrumental, half vocal.
The dance tunes are of Irish and Scottish origin, plus the Galician "Anxo Pintos"
(learned via harpist Laoise Kelly) and a Cape Breton set.
The songs are classic ballads and contemporary songwriting, delivered with
five part harmony singing: the traditional Irish "Cailin Rua" (English lyrics despite its title),
"Do Thugas Gra Cleibh Duit" (courtesy of Elizabeth Cronin),
"Kiss in the Morning Early" (haven't heard for a while), Karine Polwart's "Thaney",
Canadian Maria Dunn's "Poor Lonesome Hen" (inspired by Scots waulking songs),
Dar William's "Fishing in the Morning", and last but not least
Tricia's "Smugglers of Strangford".
After listening a couple of times to the cd I simply have to say that
the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is the birthplace of grandeur and proficiency.
The Sensational Jimi Shandrix Experience "Electric Landlady"
Brechin All Records;
CDBAR002; 2007; Playing time: 50:28 min
Jimmie Shand is Scotland's most popular accordionist during the 1940s and 1950s,
Jimi Hendrix is ... I guess you got the idea.
Another genius on his chosen instrument, the piano accordion, is
Sandy Brechin from Kirkliston near Edinburgh.
Sandy strapped into the squeezebox in the 1970s and played in various ceilidh bands.
In the late 1980s he formed Ceilidh Minogue & The Fierce Bad Rabbits,
all woolly jumpers, jeans and long hair,
from its ashes in the early 1990s arose The Sensational Jimi Shandrix Experience,
a box and fiddle led ceilidh band with bass, drums and electric guitar.
Sandy Brechin is the tribal chief over a hundred clansmen that
played in the band over the last fifteen years.
Eventually the debut album had been recorded, featuring among others
Burach bass player Chris Agnew (also Tartan Amoebas),
fiddler Greg Borland (see review above),
fiddler Gavin Marwick (ex Burach, Iron Horse, Cantrip, Unusual Suspects),
pianist John Sikorski (Scottish Step Dance Company),
drummer Jim Walker (Seelyhoo, Ceolbeg), and
bass player Aaron Jones (Seelyhoo, Old Blind Dogs, Craobh Rua).
The Jimi Shandrix Experience is a cross between a ceilidh band and a folk rock band,
Burach without songs (-> FW#19) if you like,
but rather it is an outfit that emerges today the same way as the ceilidh bands
came into life in the age of jazz and swing.
Despite being an electric ceilidh band with rock attitudes
one is able to perform the classic dances such as
the "Gay Gordons", the "Dashing White Sergeant", "Strip the Willow", the
"Eightsome Reel" and the "Virginia Reel" to the music.
But it is no simple stomp, the musical arrangements are clever and even a joy
if only listening. Hey Sandy, where're you going with the box in your hand ...
Brechin All Records
Show of Hands "Witness"
Hands on Music; HMCD23; 2006; Playing time: 55:01 min
Now it's been twenty-five years or more
I've roamed this land from shore to shore,
from Tyne to Tamar, Severn to Thames,
from moor to vale from peak to fen,
played in cafes and pubs and bars,
I've stood in the street with my old guitar,
but I'd be richer than all the rest
if I had a pound for each request for "Duelling Banjos", "American Pie",
"Rule Britannia" or "Swing Low".
Premier English duo Show of Hands
may frown if asked why do British bands and singers sing American songs about American
places in American accents?
Steve Knightley and Phil Beer are singing British, no, English, no, West County
ballads, from the south west peninsula in particular.
However, without being overly nationalistic.
It is a Britain without romance and heroism,
that hasn't changed that much since Thatcher times.
Apart from a cover of George Harrison's "If I Needed Someone"
and the traditional sea shanty "Haul Away Joe", all folk-influenced songs have
been written by Steve Knightley.
Seth Lakeman plays tenor guitar and Miranda Sykes double bass.
"Witness" is the ninth studio album by Show of Hands,
and the duo is in their prime.
The songs are fantastic, very lively and powerful,
telling stories of everyday life in today's Britain.
Some tracks are reminiscing the early 1980s when Knightley played in a pub rock band,
others will perhaps slip into the tradition and still be played in a hundred years or more.
Martin Simpson "Prodigal Son"
TSCD567; 2007; Playing time: 65:20 min
Since his first album in 1976, Lincolnshire born guitarist and vocalist
Martin Simpson is
performing both English ballads and American folk songs
as well as genuine originals that fall inbetween all places.
Since those days, he became one of the finest fingerstyle and
slide guitarist connecting the European Celtic folk scene
with the American country and blues scene.
"Prodigal Son" is his twenty-somethingth album,
and I'm glad he didn't stop somewhere along the road,
for it might be Martin Simpson finest hour.
Martin heard "The Granemore Hare" from Dick Gaughan and he always wanted to sing it,
but he didn't dare and played it only as an instrumental.
Thanks heaven Martin finally gives the song a try and got it out of the closet.
"Little Musgrave" is one of the big British ballads,
and getting even bigger and better under the Martin Simpson treatment.
"Pretty Crowing Chicken" is a version of "The Lover's Ghost", and the
"Lakes of Champlain" an American variant of "Lakes of Coolfinn".
The musical support includes Kate Rusby (backing vocals),
Danny Thompson (bass) and Andy Cutting (accordion).
Jackson Browne adds harmonies to Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927".
Own label; SED003; 2007; Playing time: 46:09 min
Irish band Slide's
third release "Overneath" marks a change of direction. Well, almost.
The quartet of flutist Éamonn de Barra, fiddler Daire Bracken,
concertina player Aogán Lynch and string accompanist Mick Broderick
added contemporary singer Andrew Murray. He toured with the Dave Munnelly Band
and De Danann, and lets his deep tenor voice flourish
on his own "Shooting Star", Mick's "Just So Far Away", Daire's "See Thru Blue",
"Strut to Spanish Point" and "Over'neath the Moon".
Who would have thought that this band has some fine songwriters?
Slide is still at its best with some beautifully played instrumental dance music,
starting with a couple of slides, of course.
Afterwards it's reels, reels, reels, polkas and old time music.
With "Overneath", Slide eventually became a force to be reckoned with.
Stockholm Lisboa Project "Sol"
Nomis Musik; NMCD04; 2007; Playing time: 58:19 min
Liana (lead vocals), Luis Peixoto (mandolin, bouzouki), Sérgio Crisóstomo (violin)
and Simon Stålspets (mandola, harmonica) are the
Stockholm Lisboa Project.
One wonders what that means. It simply means
traditional and contemporary Swedish polskas, schottis and vals on one hand, and
traditional and contemporary fado songs in Lisboa style on the other hand.
It is most interesting that Portugal's and Sweden´s traditions shake hands.
Both Swedish spelmansmusik, which is instrumental music for dancing,
and Portuguese fado, which is blues-like vocal music,
have meaning, display emotions and passion, and are melancholical and powerful
at the very same time. Northern mandola and southern mandolin blend very well
together. The musicians are excellent, Liana has a gorgeous voice
(her being a Portuguese National Fado Award Winner twice).
Urban Trad "Erbalunga"
Universal; 172 4531; 2007; Playing time: 65:52 min
is at it again. Since 2000 Belgian Yves Barbieux (bagpipes, flutes) takes up
traditional European music forms to perform it in an
contemporary and ambient setting with drums and bass, loops and effects.
In 2003 Urban Trad got second place at the Eurovision Song Contest,
a winning team ever since. Sometimes I think Urban Trad haven't got the credits they deserve,
shun by musical purists. Certainly Urban Trad are mainstream,
but at the same time it is hard to pigeonhole their music.
They are an ethnic dance band, for sure,
delivering songs in French, Arabic and Galego.
Besides Yves Barbieux, who penned most music and wrote most of the lyrics,
the band features singers Veronica Codesal and Soetkin Collier (Lais),
fiddler Dirk Naessens, accordionist Sophie Cavez, guitarist Philip Masure,
drummer Michel Morvan and bass player Cédric Waterschoot.
Urban Trad appeal to a mass audience, however, never let down
their superb musicianship and their brilliant arrangements.
Just listen to some samples, and you know why Yves Barbieux and his Urban Trad project was listed
among FolkWorld's Best of 1997-2007.
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2007
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