FolkWorld Issue 36 07/2008

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Margaret Bennett "Take the Road to Aberfeldy"
Grace Note; GNPCD0001; 2007; Playing time: 39:08 min
Margaret Bennett "Love and Loss - Remembering Martyn in Scotland's Music"
Label: Grace Note; GNPCD0002; 2007; Playing time: 12:49 min
The sleeve notes read as: If there's anything more satisfying at a ceilidh, concert or session than hearing everyone join in the chorus then I'm yet to find it. Scottish singer Margaret Bennett has been singing from the cradle, and it came natural to her. However, "Take the Road to Aberfeldy" is not just an endless singalong. Most selected songs are Gaelic, from waulking songs (Gaol ise gaol i - She's My Beloved One) to laments (Tuireadh Iain Ruaidh - Lament for John Roy) and lullabies (Gur Milis Morag - Sweet is Morag). There also is a number of traditional Scots/English songs, including "The Singing Bird" and "My Bonnie Light Horseman", as well as the wordplay of Mary Mac's mother making Mary Mac marry me. Margaret is singing a capella on half of the tracks, only accompanied by the Aberfeldy and District Gaelic Choir, on the other half by understated harp, fiddle, piano and Border pipes, respectively.
Margaret's rendition is so delicate and fragile that it makes me shiver and feel that live is not infinite and all so endangered. Margaret is the mother of the late Martyn Bennett, who was very keen in the fusion of traditional and contemporary music (-> FW#6, FW#30). "Love and Loss" is a three track album in memory of her talented son, who passed away much to early. "Fhir an Fhuilt Dhuinn" is a piobaireachd, composed by Martyn's grandmother to the 17th century piping tune from Padraig Mor MacCrimmon's "Lament for the Children". The EP is completed with the Robert Burns song "Laddie Lie Near Me" and the lament "John MacLeod of Raasay". The benefits will be used to set up a scholarship for a student at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Walkin' T:-)M

Sarah McQuaid "When Two Lovers Meet"
Label: Own label; SMQCD001; 1997/2007; Playing time: 47:39 min
Dáithí Sproule "The Crow in the Sun"
New Folk Records; NFR0122; 2007; Playing time: 44:34 min

The DADGAD tuning on the guitar had been popularised by English guitar player Davey Graham, who employed it with great effect to traditional Irish instrumental music. Today it is probably the most common tuning with Irish guitarists, because it facilitates the use of moveable chords which retain open strings and act as a drone. And, of course, it has to be a Martin guitar.

Sarah McQuaid has been born in Madrid, raised in Chicago, and discovered traditional music while in France. She moved to Ireland in 1994, now she lives in Cornwall as a base to tour mainly the UK folk circuit. Sarah came across traditional Irish music as a teenager and began playing jigs and reels on the guitar. She is best known as the author of "The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book". In 2007 Sarah re-released her album "When Two Lovers Meet" from 1997. As they say, it's never too late, especially when it's good. And indeed it is excellent. There are instrumental tunes featured, but it mainly is a song album. Songs are from the Irish, Scottish and English tradition, such as "Sprig of Thyme" and "Johnny Lad". "The Parting Glass" is a duet with Niamh Parsons (-> FW#34). "Taim Cortha o Beith im' Aona im' Lui" from the Elizabeth Cronin collection is sung a capella. It is a macaronic song, i.e. with alternating Gaelic and English verses. There are a couple of interesting differences - in the Irish version the woman is 29 years old, whereas in the English translation she's only 19. What does that tell us about the Irish and the English race? Sarah's voice is smooth and warm, she is furthermore helped out by such luminaries as Trevor Hutchinson and John McSherry, both playing with Lunasa in 1997 (-> FW#5). "When Two Lovers Meet" is still worth seeking out, and good news is she already recorded a new solo album, due to release somewhere later in 2008.

Probably the first guitar players who used the DADGAD tuning in traditional Irish music were Mícheál Ó Domhnaill (-> FW#25, FW#32) and Dáithí Sproule. Dáithí spent most of his musical career playing accompaniment, but he did always compose intrumental music. Now he showcases his ability and talents on a solo album titled "The Crow in the Sun". All tunes are originals, except the traditional song tune "Johnny Seoighe" (he once did a vocal version on a Trian CD) and Carolan's (-> FW#20) air "Young Catherine". Dáithí's tunes are named after people he played with, such as Altan's Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh or Ciaran Tourish (-> FW#31, FW#31), or places where he lived, things that happened to him. Some tunes have been played before, such as "The Lady from York/Angela's Jig" performed with Skara Brae (-> FW#5). "The Crow in the Sun" is featured on Liz Carroll's (-> FW#24) "Lost in the Loop" album. The cover reads file under: Celtic / New Age. New Age? Well, damn it ... nonsense ... It is traditional and folk music to the core, earthy and unpretentious. It is damn good to listen to, but not to meditate.,
Walkin' T:-)M

Éamonn Ó Faogáin "Mo Chamán Bán - Songs of Hurlers and Hurling"
Label: Own label; EOFCD 01; 2007; Playing time: 72:40 min
Thainig Mac Cleirigh Og ann a leagfadh na sloite ... There came O Cleirigh, who would knock down hundreds like Samson tearing apart the lions, or like Hercules in combat with the giant of Cremona, or like Hector or Troilus in danger, like Cadmus bravely tearing the dargon apart, or clever Atlas alone; so were Seoirse and the boys of the Boyne defeating the scoundrels. Lyrics from "Iomain na Boinne" (The Hurling at the Boyne), a 17th century poem by Seamas Dall Mac Cuarta. Hurling (iomáint) is an ancient Gaelic team sport, played with a small ball called sliotar and a wooden axe-shaped stick called camán to establish tribal rankings, to settle differences, to generate potent symbols of superiority and power. The game, played almost exclusively in Ireland, may have prehistoric origins. The tale of the "Táin Bó Cuailgne" (-> FW#27) describes the hero Cúchulainn playing hurling - when young Cuchulainn on his track drove the wild goal-ball forth and back, when on the wide Tailteann plain great champions strove with might and main. Ireland's second most popular sport after Gaelic Football is reputedly the world's fastest field team sport. Hurling is special, the body and soul of a people surviving to speak of a past that is noble, distinctive and proud, with a game that is surely unique.
The first solo album of Belfast singer Éamonn Ó Faogáin is dedicated to the wild game played in Erin go brath: seven Gaelic and thirteen English songs from the 17th century to the present day. From 20 tracks only a few have a familiar ring to me: the well-known "Aird a' Cuain" (recorded on -> FW#5, FW#27) features the (Gaelic) lines about many's a Christmas I would be in Cushendun, hurling on the white strand. There also is a reference in "An Buachaill Caol Dubh" (The Dark Slender Boy, the tune has been recorded as instrumental by FW#24) about the boy, with his hurl readied in his grasp for sport, and "Priosun Chluain Meala." The rest is a journey into the unknown. But what about Éamonn's singing and arrangements, well, faith they made hurling music, the best you could hear. The digipack comes with two illustrated booklets with notes, song lyrics and English translations. When at last the whistle is blown, and I stand 'neath God's great judgment throne, May the Great Referee, when He calls out my name, say You hurled like a man, you played the game.
Walkin' T:-)M

Pigyn Clust "Enaid"
fflach:tradd; CD309H; 2008; Playing time: 48:32 min
Sild "Tro"
Label: fflach:tradd; CD307H; 2008; Playing time: 48:19 min

Welsh musician Ceri Rhys Mattews is a piper (-> FW#33). He also is known for his production skills, as in these two excellent albums from the fflach:tradd label. Pigyn Clust is featuring singer Ffion Haf, fiddler Idris Morris Jones, Cass Meurig on the crwth (-> FW#28, FW#28, FW#31) and guitar players Endaf ap Ieuan and Wyn Williams. Their music is according to the words of the church hymn "Ar fore dydd nadolig awn i fethlem," which says to Bethlehem leaping with joy, dancing and singing, we'll go. It is first-rate music, skillfully played, more joyful than the average Welsh traditional music, but yet with a characteristic medieval feel. Some Welsh language songs have been written by guitarist Endaf ap Ieuan, "Neges Gabriel" is a traditional song from the Basque country.

Sild is a young folk duo presenting their second album. Sille Ilves from Estonia plays the fiddle and the traditional Estonian instrument called hiiu-kanndled, a bowed harp. Martin Leamon from Wales, formerly with Boys From The Hill, plays the guitar. They both sing. Sild is Estonian for bridge, tro means journey in Welsh. This is a marriage of both musical cultures, featuring both 16th century Welsh poetry and Estonian invocations. a song in the extinct language of Livonia and Shakespearean sonnet. The outcome is both Welsh and Estonian, and it is not. Maybe it is best compared with Scandinavian music: dark, magical and spellbinding. Martin and Sille are both excellent musicians, I should emphasize Sille's fascinating voice. Once and for all it must be said that East and West are not too far away, at least when building bridges like this.,
Walkin' T:-)M

Hunter Robertson "Sings Songs for the Masses"
Label: Own label; 2001-2007; Playing time: 49:31 min
Banjo player Hunter Robertson's debut album "Sings Songs for the Masses" has been recorded over the course of a couple of years, though only released yet. It is firmly rooted in traditional Appalachian music. Old-time music for the body & soul, says Hunter, made in the spirit of the early days of wax cylinder recordings, when each released cylinder was a unique performance. Half of it is traditional, the other half original. It is just Hunter Robertson, his instrument, and his voice. He plays old-time clawhammer banjo on traditional pieces such as "Soldier's Joy," and a medley that leads from "Bonaparte's Retreat" to the Greek "Milo mou Kokkino". He plays three-finger style on "Pretty Polly" and "Red Wing," the latter on a fretless gut-strung banjo made by Hunter's father. There is one tune performed on a two-stringed banjo made out of a tin can, others on a 12-string guitar, and eventually an original song, "You Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond," played as a one-man-band with slide banjo, kazoo and drum. Quite contrary to prejudice and cliché, banjos are fitting into a lot of different music. Hunter's delivery is raw and archaic. I don't know what the masses say, I guess they take it rather indifferently, but so mustn't we.
Walkin' T:-)M

Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick "Both Ears and the Tail"
Topic; TSCD572; 1966/2007; Playing time: 48:00 min
The Watersons "For Pence and Spicy Ale"
Label: Topic; TSCD574; 1975/2008; Playing time: 45:00 min

What's next?, he yells near the end of the Leitrim Fancy. I don't know, he shouts back, then remembers: Drowsy Maggie! The key is agreed and both musicians turn into the next tune. Who's drowsy? At least not the music of English singer and guitar player Martin Carthy (-> FW#18, FW#20) and fiddler Dave Swarbrick (-> FW#26, FW#29). Their live recording at the Folkus club in Newark from June 1966 has eventually been re-released. Their program then was based on Dave's tune repertory and the songs that Martin had recorded on his self-titled debut album, such as "High Germany" and "The Wind That Shakes The Barley," plus new material recorded some time after ("Fair Maid on the Shore," "Newlyn Town"). It is an honest and unadulterated representation of what we did and how we sounded back then, says Martin. They did enjoy themselves for sure. Martin again: I'm reminded by this of what an exciting time it was altogether and what a good time we had when we were on stage. Some of the music is great, I think. You're right.

Another very welcome re-release is The Watersons' (-> FW#23) "For Pence and Spicy Ale" from 1975. Several years after their last recording siblings Mike, Lal and Norma Waterson teamed up with Martin Carthy, replacing original member and the Watersons' cousin John Harrison. "For Pence and Spicy Ale" had been English folk album of the year then. Now it is on CD for the first time. Starting with the high-spirited "Country Life" until the closing hymn "The Good Old Way", the Watersons make a time trip through rural England. Their a capella singing is strong, the harmonies are gorgeous. Indeed, they became the role model for a generation of English folk singers. And not only English, but all across the world. "For Pence and Spicy Ale" has been maybe their best effort ever, and still it is a great album. It is pure joy, even 33 years after.
Walkin' T:-)M

Svanevit "Rikedom och gåvor"
Nordic Tradition/Westpark; NTCD11/WP87156; 2008; Playing time: 53:28 min
The title "Rikedom och gåvor" means Wealth and Gifts. It is a bitter love song: Rikedom och gåvor kan jag inte ge dig, därför föraktar du mig ... I cannot offer you wealth or gifts, that's why you despise me. The song is from the vast collections of fiddler John Enninger (died 1908) of Höör in Skåne in the South of Sweden. It is said that his playing found its most irresistible shape after some schnapps and boiled eel. Swedish roots band Svanevit (-> FW#32) discovered Enninger when searching for new tunes and recipes. What once was a duo plus support, has been grown into a full band and a tight outfit indeed. Svanevit consists of Anna Rynefors (nyckelharpa, bagpipes) and Erik Ask-Upmark (harp, bagpipes -> FW#32, FW#32, FW#35), fiddler Maria Larsson and mandola player and singer Anders Larsson. The band is deeply rooted in the traditions of Swedish music, yet has their fingers in the present and always an eye on the future. "Rikedom och gåvor" features love songs, most of them are sad, though the merriest unhappy love song has it that I have had my pick of girls - three hundred and seventy five. Svanevit plays polskas and sings chorals, including the Easter hymn "Upp min tunga" (Rise Up, My Tongue) which has roots in the 7th century, and furthermore Carl Michael Bellman's epistle #25 "Blåsen nu alla" (All Blow the Horns). The booklet has detailed notes in Swedish, English and German, and short notes in some other languages. This is praiseworthy, but so is the Svanevit band and the "Rikedom och gåvor" album anyway.
Walkin' T:-)M

3 Daft Monkeys "Social Vertigo"
Label: Own label; 3DM6; 2008; Playing time: 54:01 min
These 3 Daft Monkeys in question are a folk rock trio from Cornwall. I suppose from their powerful sound that they honed their skills by the hard way: busking on any street corner they could find (actually they look like), touring the folk club circuit and every stage possible to reach the crowd. Well, meanwhile they became regular supporters of the Levellers (-> FW#33) and played the big festivals in Britain and mainland Europe. The Monkeys are singer and guitar player Tim Ashton, singer and fiddler Athene Roberts and bass player Jamie Waters. They go with the craic and draw on Balkan and Latin music, and maybe reggae and punk for their particular brand of acoustic music. Athene fiddles in both Gypsy and Celtic styles. The songwriting is also strong, often with a topical and socio-political edge. Contrary to those other three monkeys who are blind, deaf and dumb. Well, having said this, I am urging you to risk an ear, at least for a song or two, then you may decide again ...
Walkin' T:-)M

Roy Mette "Pirates"
Label: Own label; 2008; Playing time: 54:06 min
Did pirates and buccaneers have their own songs? Probably not. They sang the songs every sailor sang, and the snippet of a song from "Treasure Island" was possibly made up by Robert Louis Stevenson himself. Hence, compilations of pirate music, which became popular since the sucessful "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie trilogy, feature only the odd shanty. So "Pirates" is not supposed to feature songs that pirates sang, but songs about pirates, and Roy Mette just wrote them entirely himself. There are the famed names: Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Jean Lafitte ... The Essex based singer-songwriter wrote some dashing lyrics and some animated tunes to go with it. Bright are the stars above, soft is the sand, blue is the sea, I have peace where I stand. However, the Caribbean also is Captain Kidd's playground with 16 men on a dead man's chest. 16 souls did I lay to rest, with 16 holes in each dead man's vest. "Pirates" is both fact and fun, and does the pirate thing not become topical from time to time? Mark Twain already proposed to replace the Star Spangled Banner with the Jolly Roger, and Gore Vidal envisaged today's politics as: Now here it is again, old Skull and Bones at twilight's last gleaming, snapping in the breeze.
Walkin' T:-)M

Krama "Heptagrama"
Marmita; MMV-005; 2007; Playing time: 55:22 min
Guitar player Spyros Kaniaris obviously is a Greek, or has Greek ancestors to say the least. However, he lives in Valencia and is a member of the sextet Krama. "Heptagrama" features seven songs - of course, hepta means seven - plus some instrumental tracks. It draws on Greek traditional music, Spanish flamenco, as well as Indian classcial music and North African rhythm. Most music is original, but including traditional material, such as the tune "Tas" from the Caucasus blended with the flamenco "Solea por buleria". Also featured is the 13th century Cantiga #100 by Alfonso X el Sabio, and "Saranda mila" from the Black Sea, considerably slowed down here. At the very same time I was writing this, Greece fought Spain in the European Football Championship. Spain eventually beat Greece 2 to 1. Yet Krama shows that the best results are obtained when celebrating the Greek-Spanish friendship. Well, perhaps music is different than football ...
Walkin' T:-)M

Whiskey Trail "San Frediano" [CD+DVD&Book]
Amiata; ARNR 0108; 2008; Playing time: 77:33 min
In the 6th century, the Irish missionary and later saint San Frediano came from Ireland to Tuscany and left his name to a famous quarter of Florence. (Maybe he was called Frigdianus, the man who came from the cold). The Irish brought their music: The fact that in the traditional melodies we can find a marked use of the characteristic modes of Gregorian chant, leads us to think that it was Irish monks who had a primary role in its birth. North Italian Celtic band Whiskey Trail (-> FW#27, FW#33) celebrates the Irish heritage in Italy with a CD and DVD recorded at a concert at the Saschall theatre in Florence. The book(let) has almost 100 pages in Italian and English, and it is not the only amazing thing. Eight musicians plus one guest means that no instrument of the traditional Irish canon is left out. There are 14 tracks, half of it traditional, half of it original music. Whiskey Trail has a knack for suite-like pieces, most of the tracks are no less than five minutes. We should be thankful: this Italian group spreads the gospel, it saves ancient music from oblivion, and sets new music into the world ... for the praise and glory of ... whoever.
Walkin' T:-)M

Skyhook "Skyhook"
Label: Own label; SHMCD01; 2008; Playing time: 52:06 min
Skyhook can refer to any of the following things: a basketball shot, a type of unmanned balloon for atmospheric research, a device used in climbing or for quickly extracting reserve parachutes, and a lot of things more, but especially Skyhook is an English/Scots trio based in Sheffield that has been formed in 2005 and that is meant to go up and don't come down. Fiddler Cath James, BBC Young Tradition Award finalist of 1995 and featured on the first Evolving Tradition albums, fiddler and guitar player Martin Harwood and vocalist and guitarist Eoin Teather play traditional music from the Celtic regions, plus some original stuff. Tunes are from Scotland to Cape Breton, including some slow airs and strathspeys, some beardy faces and a couple of turbo ducks. Two fine reels were penned by Cath James. The song selection includes the traditional "Arthur McBride" and "Green Grass Grows Bonny", Ewan McColl's (-> FW#35) "The Father's Song" - only Ewan MacColl could write a lullaby about the dangers of corporate greed and get away with it. After listening some time to the powerful sound of Skyhook's twin fiddles, you certainly get hooked. However, there are worse addictions.
Walkin' T:-)M

Luka Bloom "The Man Is Alive" [DVDs + CD]
Label: Union Station; USP001; 2008; Playing time: 93:35 + 65:44 + 63:52 min
Irish singer-songwriter Barry Moore, the younger brother of Christy, brandname Luka Bloom, penned a series of great songs and recorded a string of successful albums in his lifetime (-> FW#13, FW#29, FW#34). Thanks heaven, The Man Is Alive. Luka grew up in Newbridge in County Kildare. He lives again in the locality, in a country house just five miles from where it all started, and 25 years after he left Dublin for America. This DVD features two 45 minutes gigs, an afternoon concert in Luka's living-room in Kildare and a night event in a Dublin venue. Luka displays his two sides, the percussive straight-in-your-face guitar sound and the nylon-strung, finger-picked guitar. The music is on a CD too, and the DVD also features a Q&A with the audience and a documentary. It shows an artist at the crossroads, he's fifty now, who holds his breath and looks back. Luka has no more interest in songs that entertain and have nothing to say (actually he never had), Luka wants to say something or stay silent forever. His intentions are not to change the world, but to touch people and transform individual lives. And yes, I believe, he's capable of anything. One of the great artists of our time!
Walkin' T:-)M

Haugaard & Høirup "Rejsedage / Travelling" [CD + DVD]
GO' Folk; GO0308; 2008; Playing time: 44:22 + 79:00 min
After put together at the European Broadcasting Union Folk Festival in Slovenia 1998, after 6 CDs, 7 Danish Music awards and more than 850 concerts all over the world, Danish fiddle/guitar duo Harald Haugaard & Morten A. Høirup (-> FW#15, #15, #20, #20, #24, #24, #27, #31, #32) is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and doing so with a joint CD/DVD release. The CD features new studio recordings, 9 instrumental tracks and 2 songs, both traditional Danish music and original music in a traditional vein. As always, it is concert music to listen to, not dance music, though the duo's music draws on traditional dance forms. As before, it is a fine selection of tunes and masterly performed. The DVD features a half an hour concert at Bartof Cafe, Copenhagen, from August 2007. Haugaard & Høirup play some older tunes of their repertory. There are English subtitles both of the announcements and the song lyrics, which is great giving an idea for non-native speakers. A 40 minutes documentary and interview by journalist and filmmaker Jørgen Flindt Pedersen gives a glimpse into the world and the history of Haugaard & Høirup. If there is any impression it is this: here are two artists that are not tired of the road, and many adventures lie ahead. Please be thankful.
Please read Morten's essays about Danish bands in English and German.
Walkin' T:-)M

Baltic Crossing "Baltic Crossing"
GO' Folk; GO0508; 2008; Playing time: 40:09 min
Danish Kristian Bugge (fiddle) and Englishman Ian Stephenson (guitar, melodeon) met at a Finish festival in 2002. They employed Antti Järvelä (double bass, mandolin, banjo, guitar), Esko Järvelä (fiddle) and furthermore Andy May (Northumbrian & uilleann pipes) to make ready for a Baltic Crossing. The band's name is exactly the best description for their music. They play Nordic music such as the slängpolska, polska and schottish, plus the odd English hornpipe. Sometimes not one after another, but at the very same time. For example, the band members couldn't agree if Andy May's original "Vänkärin Polska" (Shotgun Polska) is a Northumbrian hornpipe 3/2 time or a polska. It got a Finnish tune title anyway. Another Finnish quadrille was titled "Space Cowboys," because they felt that the chords just sounded like Steven Miller's classic pop song "The Joker". The band's crossing over the Baltic Sea is one that is quite turbulent at times, but it is a pleasant journey anyway.
Walkin' T:-)M

Gabriel Yacoub "De la nature des choses"
Le Roseau; 2008; Playing time: 45:51 min
Gabriel Yacoub (-> FW#14, FW#21, FW#30) is the great character of the French folk and indigenous music scene. He was born in Paris, started as a guitarist and singer with the Alan Stivell group (-> FW#19) in the early 1970s, then founded the influential French folk rock band Malicorne. When the group folded in 1986, Gabriel Yacoub recorded his first solo album, followed by many others featuring different kinds of music along the years. His new album "De la nature des choses" is in the style of the chanson nouvelle. It features thirteen songs and one instrumental track, he is accompanied by Gilles Chabenat and others. Given that the French music scene is strong and powerful, "De la nature des choses" is even a rose among the thorns. It is warm and emotional, mostly relaxed, with a hurdy gurdy here and there, and a banjo for more dramatic moments. As an artist, Gabriel Yacoub is at a high in his life, and "De la nature des choses" is his best effort in many years.
Walkin' T:-)M

David Pasquet "Sa différence"
Coop Breizh; CD 998; 2007; Playing time: 43:35 min
David Pasquet plays bombarde and clarinette, formerly with the Breton band Ar re Yaouank from 1987 to 1998. Ar re Yaouank renewed traditional Breton music and fest-noz and inspired young kids with their juicy bass playing and electronic amplification. Afterwards David played with the singer Denez Prigent, before forming his own band. Ar re Yaouank means someting like adolescent or immature; in fact, David Pasquet always was a fully grown and mature instrumentalist, aptly demonstrated on "Sa différence." His debut solo album features original compositions by David, plus two songs written by Anne Pasquet. One is a recitation by herself, the other a rap song sung - is singing the right term here? - by Loic Pasquier. David is backed up by a straight rock band, drums and electric guitars and all, plus some gaita and biniou by Mickael Cozien. The music is starting from Breton music developing into jazzy, almost oriental sounding pieces. My favourite track is the rather slow and hypnotic track #9 though. "Sa différence" is a fine album that works both on the dance floor and in the car stereo.
Walkin' T:-)M

Flukt "Stille før stormen"
Etnisk Musikklubb; EM45; 2008; Playing time: 44:33 min
Sturla Eide "Murru"
Label: NORCD; 0768; 2007; Playing time: 36:57 min

Sturla Eide (fiddle and hardanger fiddle), Øvind Farmen (accordion) and Håvard Sterten (percussion) are Flukt (-> FW#26, FW#30). Four years after their last CD, all the while touring and bringing their music to the public, they release their third album "Stille før stormen" (calm before the storm), featuring three traditional tracks, four written by Sturla Eide and two by Øvind Farmen. They blend traditional Scandinavian music - halling dances, pols and polkas - with the rhythmic power of world and rock music, being remarkable performer deeply rooted in the music of the past. "Stille før stormen" reaches from tranquil waters to swinging waves into raging storm. Sometimes it seems to get lost in experimentation and improvisation, but always finding back into navigable waters.

Sturla Eide is playing the fiddle for 25 years, he's being a member of Flukt for 10 years, now he also set out on his own. "Murru" features a bit accompaniment of guitar, accordion, piano, and - yes - electronics. This indicates it is not too traditional in a puristic sense. Indeed, from fourteen tracks only four are traditional tunes, the rest are original compositions. However, "Murru" is a straight-forward Scandinavian fiddle album. Sturla is a mature and confident performer, not antsy and fussed, though "Murru" translates as "Ants in Your Pants". It rather refers to the high energy that Nordic music may have. You are facing a daunting challenge, but you go for it, says Sturla, you succeed, and you feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Well said, well done.
Walkin' T:-)M

Emily Smith "Too Long Away"
Shoeshine; SPIT035; 2008; Playing time: 42:21 min
Audience of souls, I'll sit here before you and I'll sing to you a song. Absent of words, I'll learn from the birds... Scottish singer Emily Smith had been Too Long Away on the road, so to speak. She eventually returned to the studio to continue recording (-> FW#24, FW#27, FW#31). By Gosh, she's back with a killer of an album. Six original songs, Rabbie Burns' "As I Was Wand'ring," three traditionals including the great "Caledonia" (don't confuse it with the sentimental Dougie MacLean song), "May Coven" and "The Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh". Besides the excellent song selection and her fine songwriting, Emily's vocals are in top form. "Too Long Away" at last makes Emily Smith a capable ambassador for Scottish culture in general and her local Burns Country in particular. So don't dare to tell me: Oh I missed your pretty song...
Walkin' T:-)M

Carmel Gunning "Corran Hill"
Label: Own label; CG5; 2008; Playing time: 45:41 min
Carmel Gunning (-> FW#24) is a tin whistle and flute player and traditional singer from Geevagh in South Sligo, Ireland. She has taught music and song over the years, among her pupils were Liam Kelly of Dervish (-> FW#35) and Damien Stenson of Teada (-> FW#32). Carmel runs two annual summer schools, one of which is the Queen Maeve International Summer School. She also has written a book of Irish music tunes of South Sligo entitled "The Mountain Top". You can imagine that she also is a more than apt performer. Indeed, Carmel went repeatedly into the recording studio. Her fifth album "Corran Hill" is a mix of traditional and newly written tunes and songs. There are five instrumental tracks including a fling, a slow air, a barn dance, reels and jigs. The title tune is an original composition, Corran Hill is the highest peak in the Geevagh Mountains. There are seven traditional songs in English and Irish, the English ones are "Erin Gra Mo Chroi", "Around St James Well", "Katie Daly", "The Exile Far Away" and "The Geevagh Prisoners," the Gaelic are "An Greasai Brog" and "Donal Og". Carmel Gunning seems to have anything, a commanding voice, strong lungs and quick fingers, and a taste for great songs and tunes.,
Walkin' T:-)M

Kries "Kocijani"
Label: Kopito; KR 006 CD; 2008; Playing time: 53:16 min
I would sing, not sure if I can, my friend will you help me then? ... Croatia takes me by surprise, but so did the Croatian football team at the Euro 2008. Kries is a Croatian folk rock band who take up traditional words and music, polished up by singer Mojmir Novakovic (the lyrics are partially translated in the booklet). Kries is an old Croatian word for a bonfire, Kocijani is a small village in north west Croatia by the river Kupa. They are building a bonfire to gather round and sing and dance. Indeed, "Lepi Juro kries nalaze" is a song for St George's Eve when bonfires are lit up. Kries is quite passionate, the rock backing is supported with the tapan drum (played by Kresimir Oreski), laying the foundation for the gajde bagpipe and the kaval flute (Andor Vegh) and the lijerica knee violin (Ivo Letunic) to shine. By the way, on a couple of tracks the fiddle is played by the band's producer, Scotsman Martin Swan. In concert Kries should be a real killer. However, the band is not too war-like and martial. While singing O meadow, dewy grass, maple tree, who is watching the herd, my dear one, a young girl is watching the herd, watching it and singing, my dear one, the band thinks about the landmine problem all over the world (1 million landmines are said to be in Croatia and Bosnia alone). Who said that traditional music has no contemporary edge? Well, I wouldn't say that Kries is too traditional at all!
Walkin' T:-)M

John Graham Leslie "The Land The River The Sea"
Javelin; JAV-A0108; 2008; Playing time: 39:00 min
Here comes the Sugarman, come see his show today ... The sugarman in question is Northern Irish singer-songwriter John Graham Leslie, and he brings some delicious candy. "The Land The River The Sea" was introduced by a four track EP (-> FW#35) which was nice stuff, but I have to realize that the best had yet to come. Though it might be my personal taste that my favourite songs, such as "Cool Rain," have not been featured before. John Graham Leslie plays guitar, mandolin and melodeon; add drums, bass, keyboards, the occasional fiddle and some tablas to give some texture here and there. The music is folk rock and country rock, John is more into Americana than old world styles. With the cool vocal delivery of a Mark Knopfler, John Leslie Graham evokes images, just as the album title suggests (e.g. "The River"). But he is also able to bring a story to the point ("The Ballad of Vincent Rose"). Give it a try, genre fans shouldn't be diappointed.
Walkin' T:-)M

Griogair "Dail-riata"
Label: Dunach Records; DUN 0701; 2007; Playing time: 49:38 min
Griogair Labhruidh is a Scottish singer-songwriter from Argyll, from a long line of South West Highland pipers. Thus his debut album "Dail-riata" showcases his vocal skills and his songwriting, as well as his guitar work and abilities on Highland and small pipes. Griogair plays two instrumental tunes - as the traditional song "Marbhrann do dh' Uilleam Labhruidh, Baile Chaolais" (Lament for William Lawrie of Ballachullish) states: Grainne-mullaich nam piobair' 's flath rioghail luchd ciuil thu ... you were best of the pipers and a prince amongst musicians. The song selection includes the Irish "Airde Chuain" adapted to Scottish Gaelic, the waulking song "Cairistiona," sung in a slower tempo (which he says is common amongst male traditional singers opposed to the faster female tempo). Griogair is deeply rooted in the land of his forefathers, displayed by his original song "Dail-riata": Tha mo chridh'-sa a' seinn gu treun ... My heart sings out strongly of the beautiful land frequented by the Fingalians, the gorgeous land from which I rose, land of the true Highland heroes. He is a fine ambassador of Highland traditions, music and song. The booklet notes are bilingual in Gaelic and English, there are English translations of the Gaelic song lyrics, and I will not forget to mention guest musicians such as flutist Iain MacDonald (-> FW#24), fiddler Allan Henderson (-> FW#29) and singer Kathleen MacInnes.
Walkin' T:-)M

Dick Gaughan "At The Trades Club"
Greentrax; CDTRAX322; 2008; Playing time: 65:25 min
Dick Gaughan (-> FW#9, FW#23, FW#25, FW#32) has just turned 60 (-> FW#36), which didn't stop his wanderlust and his passion to present Scots song to the rest of the world. One of his favourite places to perform is the Trades Club in Hebdon Bridge in West Yorkshire, where he usually spends the final night of his annual November/December English tour. The place has been built in 1924 to serve as trades union headquarters and as a centre for education, recreation and organisation. It fell in disuse and was overtaken by the Labour Party. Eventually, in 1982 the two upper floors were turned into an independent socialist club, which since then developed into an internationally renowned music venue, staging two or three live gigs any week. Dick says, the place is a solidly working class venue and is one of the few venues where the idea of a performer having to explain why their work contains commentary on political and social issues would be absurd - it is not only taken for granted, but expected, that working class art and politics are inseparable. "Live at The Trades Club" is just Dick Gaughan and his acoustic guitar, featuring his current best of list, the usual starting song, Si Khan's "What You Do With What You've Got," Brian McNeill's "No Gods And Precious Few Heroes," the traditional "Erin Go Bragh," Robert Burns' "Now Westlin Winds," and his own "Outlaws And Dreamers" and "Both Sides the Tweed." Additionally there are two instrumental tracks played on the guitar. Yep, sometimes it only needs a voice and a guitar, so that the red folk are in the sunset too (Geronimo's Cadillac).
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "Songs of the Irish Travellers"
Pavee Point Travellers Centre; PPCD004; 1983/2007; Playing time: 52:32 min
Until his recent death, Tom Munnelly (1944-2007) travelled the highways and byways of Ireland to collect songs. He early had realised that the Irish Travellers played an important role in the preservation of traditional song and music (indeed, best known are musicians such as the Fureys (-> FW#35, FW#35) and Keenans (-> FW#23). "Songs of the Irish Travellers" has been originally released in 1983, a selection of Travellers' songs recorded at campsites and kitchen tables from 1967 to 1975. Now it is digitally restored and remastered, featuring thirteen tracks - ballads ancient and modern, songs merry and sad. It includes False Lankum" (Child #93) and "Johnny Barden" (a version of "Willie of Winsbury," Child #100), as well as "The Crabfish" which had been refused by Child and has been described as having the longest unbroken genealogy of any bawdy song in English. "Bernie Reilly's Cant Song" is the only one in gammon, a language mixed of Irish-Gaelic, English and Romani: I misplayed to a grippa and the gloak he got so gammy, the shades they had a torry to me ..., meaning: I went into a pub and the barman got so abusive, the police had a talk with me then ... The CD booklet has all the lyrics fortunatly. With the exception of John Reilly of Boyle, none of the singers has figured on published recordings before. We should be thankful for the re-release, the more so since with the recent introduction of portable televisions and radios to the campsite, a noticeable erosion of own entertainment has taken place as happened to settled folk decades earlier.
Walkin' T:-)M

Paddy Murphy "In Good Hands"
Celtic Crossings; CC2007; 2007; Playing time: 59:01 min
Cathal Goan from RTE on the CD launch: It is music that comes from our kitchens and our hearts, from the way we've been brought up over the centuries. It is the music that people handed down to one another over many, many generations, music given to people in a context of making their own entertainment, making their own music. The concertina had been popular in Irish music since a 12-year-old Italian gave a performance in 1834 in Dublin. Since the 1850s mass-produced German concertinas swept the country, it found a special home in County Clare replacing the uilleann pipes. Paddy Murphy (1913-1992) has been one of the pioneers of the Irish concertina. He was born in the townland of Bealgragga in west Clare, where he lived ever since. Paddy learned the music from his uncles, later novelty tunes from 78 rpm records (including William J Mullaly's concertina recordings of the mid 1920s), and one Hughdie Doohan, the local postman, who possessed a copy of O'Neill's 1001 dance tunes. Paddy pioneered a system of cross-row fingering that has now become a benchmark of concertina music, perfected by players such as Noel Hill, Micheal O Raghallaigh (Providence -> FW#31) and Edel Fox (-> FW#36). He perpetually sought out new tunes and settings, he experimented with alternative scales and ornamentations, many derived from fiddle, flute and pipes. Paddy played with the Fiach Roe Ceili Band from 1940 to 1958 featuring fiddler Joe Ryan and flutist Peadar O'Loughlin, and became the first concertina player to win an All Ireland title in 1954. He did this three times, plus two titles duetting with Peadar O'Loughlin. Both travelled to Germany in 1977, probably with the Irish Folk Festival tour. In the 1970s Paddy Murphy made the only commercial recording in his lifetime. This memorial CD features 28 tracks of tunes and field interviews recorded during 1958 and 1986, plus an extensive booklet with anecdotes, photos and biography by Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, author of "A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music": It shows an Irish musician with a lively rhythm which in the old days was required by the dancers. The concertina certainly was in good hands with Paddy, and this CD should be in yours.
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy – Ceol agus Foinn"
Label: RTE 280CD; 2008; Playing time: 63:09 + 60:18 min
Irish concertina player Paddy Murphy (see review above) recalled the travelling piper Johnny Doran at the Miltown Malbay races in the 1930s/40s: Every time you saw Johnny Doran at the Miltown races, you saw a young sandy-haired fellow standing behind him. The young lad in question was Willie Clancy (1918-1973) who would go on to become one of the most celebrated uilleann pipers. After his death the Willie Clancy Summer School (Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy) was established in his honour, today Ireland's largest traditional music summer school. Every July hundreds of Irish music students from all over the world flock to Miltown Malbay for lessons, lectures, dances, concerts and sessions. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta celebrates the 35th anniversary of the Willie Clancy Summer School with the first ever CD of school recordings - "Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy – Ceol agus Foinn." RTÉ has been recording in Miltown Malbay since its foundation in 1973. Executive producer Seán Ó hÉanaigh searched hundreds of hours of archival material for the best quality recordings. The selection process alone took over eight months. The result is a 40 track double CD, featuring a cross section of musicians and singers who came to Miltown Malbay each summer. Recorded at various concerts in the village hall, there is a mixture of the old and the young. You can listen to the various styles of music that were played during the last three decades. Some of the musicians on the album are now deceased. Besides Willie Clancy himself, there are fiddlers Junior and Tony Crehan (-> FW#21), Paul O'Shaughnessy (-> FW#31, FW#31), PJ Hayes, Zoe Conway (-> FW#24), flutist PJ Crotty, tin whistlers Micko Russell and Brid O'Donohue (-> FW#32), piper Peter Browne, and many more unfamiliar but no less talented musicians.
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "10 Years of European World of Bluegrass"
Strictly Country; SCR-66; 2008; Playing Time: 67:29 + 64:53 min
Scots-Irish music turned into old-time music in the Appalachian mountains, Jimmie Rodgers picked up bis blue yodels from a Czech family, Bill Munro developed his own particular brand called bluegrass - music eventually brought back to Europa. So every year in May dozens of bluegrass bands from the US and all over Europe from Paris to Prague come down to turn the Dutch town of Voorthuizen into the European World of Bluegrass. Their motto: America and Europe join hands, hands across the Atlantic while political bonds slip away more and more. A decade of the EWOB festival has hosted 182 different groups from 24 countries. These two discs include 48 tracks, recorded live between 1998 and 2007, starting with a marvelous bluegrass version of "Fields of Gold" by Fragment. Other personal favourites are Czech Jiri Kralik & The Rowdy Rascals' "Ida Red" and Kreni's "Cool Night", Belgian Blue Cartel's Norah Jones song "Sunrise", Finnish Jussi Syren & The Groundbreakers' "Life of a Steel Driving Man", and Slovakian Meantime's "Say That You Are Wrong". There are fiery instrumental sets by the Slovakian Tomas Pesko Band, Belgian Louvat Brothers, Czech Petr Brandejs Band, Italian Bononia Grass and the German Looping Brothers (featuring An Rinn's Matthias Malcher -> FW#32), plus, for the sake of completeness, recordings of Blueland, Footprints, Fifty Fingers, Nugget, Sunny Side, 4-Wheel Drive, Downhill, Relief, Mideando String Quartet, Zbynek Buresz, Monogram, Red Wine, Carmel Sheerin, Springfield, Roll's Boys, Lonesome Mountaineers, Album, Stroatklinkers, Blackjack, Goodwill, Rawhide, Skyland, and from American guests such as Bill Clifton, Hunger Mountain Boys, Hickory Project, Randy Waller, Mike Stevens & Raymong McLain, Kate MacKenzie, Dan Paisley, New England Bluegrass Band, Claire Lynch, Sally Jones' Sidewinders, John Reischman (-> FW#29), Laurie Lewis, and, last but not least, EWOB's Liz Meyer herself (see CD review above). Perhaps she is right: maybe world peace can start with a banjo intro.
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A "John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica"
Cold Spring; CSR84CD; 2007; Playing time: 76:54 + 79:23 min
Over here in Germany the Middle Ages, medieval markets and role-playing games have become quite popular. So did medieval music and newly-composed music in the same vein. I don't know if there is anything similar in Britain, e.g. do young people flock to mumming (-> FW#35)? "John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica" is a 2 CD set, featuring 33 artists from another musical strand than the popular acoustic music of the British folk revival and those today devotees of acoustic music who sometimes have no real conncection to traditional music at all. This here is a dark sound, and often an experimental one, at times folk and folk rock music from the 1960/70s British folk revival, but much much more is quite unfamiliar in musical terms. The best known song is the 16th century "John Barleycorn," which is not only the story of the conversion of grain into ale, but possibly pointing to ancient customs and rituals. Other well-known songs include "North Country Maid," "Twa Corbies," "Dives and Lazarus" (if only for being the source of the tune for "Star of the Country Down"), "The Burning of Auchindoun," "Nottamun Town," "Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom." The only artists that came to my attention before are the folk rock band Mary Jane (-> FW#23) and singer Sharron Kraus (-> FW#22, FW#29, FW#34). Most of them I never heard of before. Is there a separation of folk and medieval scenes?, it rather is over here. Unfortunatly there is not much information about the artists and their songs in the CD notes. So please visit or, where you also can download a complimentary set of further 33 tracks of Dark Britannica music.
Walkin' T:-)M

V/A [Samplers, EP's & Demo CD's]

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band "Dear Honey" (EP): Three track single EP. Dusty Rhodes and the River Band is a septet from Southern California, blending folk rock and surf pop, cabaret and progressive rock. Rather bizarre than straight-forward.,

V/A "Experience the Nordic Tradition!" (Sampler): Compilation of Swedish Nordic Tradition Records, featuring the Mattias Pérez Trio, Maria Röjås, Anders och Patrik, Anna Rynefors (FW#32), Jonas Simonson (see review above), Erik Up-Askmark (-> FW#35), Röjås Jonas, Maria Jonsson, Ian Carr & Mikael Marin (-> FW#35), Jeanette Eriksson, Svanevit (-> FW#32). This is what Sweden sounds like beyond ABBAmania.

V/A "Indies Scope 2007" (Sampler): Compilation of the Czech Indies Scope label, featuring, among others, Czech and Slovakian artists such as Tara Fuki (-> FW#33), Hradistan (-> FW#33), Yellow Sisters (-> FW#33), Taliesyn (see review above), Prosti dumi (see above), Jaromir 99 (see above), Kocko Tomas (-> FW#32), and Iva Bittova (-> FW#33).

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German Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3

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