FolkWorld #46 11/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Luke Daniels "The Mighty Box"
Wren Records, 2011

A double CD of button accordion music from England's foremost exponent of the Irish style: can't be bad, and indeed it isn't. Mr Daniels squeezes out seventy-one tunes from his wide repretoire, spanning everything from the Scots influenced heavyweight highland South of the Grampians to the much lighter Frankie Gavin jig The Doberman's Wallet. In between is a cross-section of Irish music inspiringly played: Rogha an Ghabhan and Dinkie Dorian's from the Donegal foddle tradition, If I Had a Wife and Return to Burton Road from Munster box players Johnny O'Leary and Richard Dwyer respectively, plus many widely-played tunes and some fascinating rarities.
Two things which set this collection apart from other button-box recordings are the open style which Luke has adopted and the instrument which he plays. I don't know if the two are related. The instrument is a Doug Briggs two-row box in A and Bb, a most unusual tuning suggested by Luke, which completely changes the fingering for all these tunes. Last time I spoke to Luke, he was convinced that this A/Bb tuning made much more sense for Irish music, and I suppose this album is his proof. The tunes certainly flow, and there is an "opened-out" character to the playing which is both appealing and instructive, laying bare the ornamentation which differentiates between Irish music on the page and a living breathing performance. This is most apparent on the slower tunes, The New Century Hornpipe or The Factory Smoke for instance, but also colours the jigs and reels.
Luke Daniels recorded these two dozen tracks together with Junior Davey on the Irish frame drum. Guitars and other accompaniment were added by Seamie O'Dowd and Dennis Cahill. The sound is full and powerful throughout, fully justifying the title. There are three selections of Luke's own tunes, plus several from other modern composers in the Irish idiom. There's also a large proportion of Scots tunes, both from the Ulster tradition and from the wider Scottish diaspora: The Iron Man, Lucy Campbell, Little Johnny's Hame, Gladstone's Reel and Milton are among these tartan interlopers, fine tunes all, which have been or are being absorbed into Irish music. Even though the pace never drops below strathspey speed. there's no shortage of variety here, and almost two hours pass sweetly enough. With excellent notes, some fine artwork and a good solid case, The Mighty Box is a top quality package.
© Alex Monaghan

Qristina & Quinn Bachand "Family"
Own label, 2011

This CD is a revelation. We're all familiar with young whippersnapper fiddlers from Atlantic Canada playing Scots and Stateside music with skill and soul, but here's a teenage prodigy from the other side of Canada who plays Irish fiddle as though she was born to it, with strong French roots and a bit of Americana thrown in. I'd never heard of Qristina Bachand, with or without a Q, or her cadet brother Quinn who accompanies on guitars and plays a mean tenor banjo, until this album appeared. Apparently they've toured in Ireland and elsewhere, and are to be seen on YouTube as well as their own website Their brand of Qanadian music embraces a few Scots and Cape Breton tunes - a slightly slow version of Fred Morrison's composition The Lochaber Badger and a lovely waltz by Jerry Holland - as well as the old-time fiddle classic Cumberland Gap in a version inspired by bleeding-edge bluegrass bow-wielding Casey Driessen and a front-porch tune by Qristina, but the vast majority of the material here is traditional Irish, expertly played and excitingly arranged.
The opening jig Scatter the Mud slips into a 6/8 version of The Noonday Feast before switching to more usual reel time for this great old melody. Track 1 ends with a reel learnt from Blake Ritter, the source of several tunes on Family. A set of jigs starting with Emer Mayock's Kalyana is a definite highlight, lovely lyrical playing on fiddle and flute (Zac Leger) before a powerful shift into Jim Ward's with Zac on uilleann pipes and Quinn on tenor banjo. The slow air Inisheer is beautifully bowed, contrasting perfectly with the fiery wildness of Paddy Keenan's Toss the Feathers and the old favourite Gravel Walks. An eerie rendition of The Rights of Man precedes a trio of big reels in showpiece style, before Qristina gives us the first of two songs: Smile or Cry is a composition by Edinburgh couple Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis, also known as The Cast, and Qristina sings it sweetly. Her other vocal sortie is the final track, Red Rocking Chair, an old-time standard which seems to suit her alto range and slightly earthy tone. Both songs feature fine fiddle breaks.
The Mountain Road, Lough Mountain, The Lark in the Morning: those Irish reels and jigs keep pouring out in first class fashion. There's a bit of a wobble on The Flowing Bowl, but otherwise it's hard to fault the fiddling on this CD. Quinn's accompaniment and duets are equally impressive. The Penguin Cafe Orchestra favourite Music for a Found Harmonium is despatched with flair, and there are a couple of other unexpected treats in the reel Elzick's Farewell and the jig October from Blake Ritter's repertoire. Like I said, a revelation: great music old and new from two fresh young talents, well worth seeking out.
© Alex Monaghan

Carlos Nuñez "Alborada do Brasil"
Sony Music, 2009

Of three Brazilian albums I have reviewed recently, this is the one I enjoyed most. It's lively, varied, polished, and very high quality - as you'd expect from Nuñez and Sony. Galician piper and recorder virtuoso Carlos Nuñez is joined by numerous stars, as is his wont, including musicians and singers from Brazil as well as Kerry concertinist and fiddler Niamh Ní Charra. The music ranges from almost straight Galician to atmospheric Amazonia, via modern Brazilian pop. The opening track provides a good sample: the traditional Alborada de Rosalia mixed with rainforest sounds and Brazilian techno rap, plus stunning vocals from Fernanda Takai on the main melody. Nuñez fans may be surprised that there are five vocal tracks on this CD, and more recorder than pipes on the instrumentals, but overall it's a great musical mix.
The idea behind this almost-concept album is to explore connections between Galician and Brazilian music. Not such a strange idea: many Galicians emigrated to Brazil, and the languages are very similar. Also, it turns out that both Galicia and Brazil have alboradas, musical tributes to the dawn, or songs to be sung at dawn. Alvorada de Cartola is a Brazilian example, with a modern Latin beat, preceded by the more traditional choro dance Vou Vivendo. The pipes finally make an entrance on Nau Bretoa , a big descriptive piece combining European and Amazonian influences, another microcosm of this album. Gaita features the delightful vocals of Adriana Calcahotto - not a hint of bagpipes - and the following two tracks are rich Brazilian soundscapes. Y-Brazil adds The Chieftains to Niamh's concertina for a jaunty Brazilian hornpipe, a tune well worth learning. Next, Paddy Moloney and his crew interpret the air Ponta de Areia beautifully, pulling it at least as far east as Tristan Da Cunha. The final four tracks attempt to span the immense range of Brazilian music, from modern electric fads to more ancient European roots, and everything in between. Alborada do Brasil ends with the anthem Asa Branca on accordion and gaita, a marriage of Brazilian and Galician music, rounding off a highly enjoyable recording.
© Alex Monaghan

Chris Stout's Brazilian Theory "Live in Concert"
Own Label, 2011

I attended the concert at Celtic Connections 2011 where this recording was made. The theory wasn't clearly explained then, and it's no clearer now, but the music is practically perfect. Take an outstanding Shetland fiddler and composer, plus his usual excellent collaborators. Add a trio of Brazilian musicians (actually one of them is Swiss, but who's counting?). The result is seven tracks of original music based around fiddles and guitars, with strong Latin rhythms and cadences. Stout plays fiddle alongside Thomas Rohrer's rabeca - a Brazilian folk version of the renaissance rebec or small fiddle popular in southern Europe. The two instruments contrast and complement each other on the opening Latina, and later through Rohrer and Stout's own tunes. Guitarist Carlinhos Antunes is responsible for three of the pieces here, including Latina, and for some very distinctive vocal accompaniment. His Maria Rosa is a guitar masterclass, slightly detuned but full of power and vitality. The mind-bending rhythms of Xaxados y Perdidos challenge even such accomplished musicians as Catriona McKay and Ian Stephenson, on harp and melodeon respectively, while Martin O'Neill's bodhrán taps away effortlessly on the beat. This combination of strings, fiddles and percussion produces a sound comparable to Reinhardt and Grappelli in both tone and quality. Chris Stout's own compositions are familiar from his Devil's Advocate CD: the haunting slow bowing of Fisherman's Prayer, the driving melody of Devil's Advocate itself with Thomas Rohrer on saxophone. When fiddle and sax work together, we're not far from the pumping Salsa Celtica sound. The distinctive character of Chris Stout's Brazilian Theory is perhaps clearest on the final Pé Quebrado by Rohrer, a mix of Moorish guitar and jungle fiddle which makes no compromises for western ears. This is primal music, ancient rhythms, swirling and soaring, intoxicating stuff. It certainly went down well with the Glasgow audience, and I think you'll like it too.
© Alex Monaghan

Calum Stewart & Heikki Bourgault "Legba"
Own label, 2011

After his dazzling debut CD Earlywood, Edinburgh flute phenomenon Calum Stewart has teamed up with guitarist Heikki Bourgault for an album of mostly original compositions with a distinct Breton flavour: dark, modal, soaring and challenging pieces influenced by Scottish, French and other traditions. In fact, you'd need to check carefully to be sure that some of these melodies were not traditional: Retour à Ty-Anna has the exuberance and swing of a Montreal masterpiece, while One Fine Day seems too familiar to be new. On the other hand, Scottishe Bihan and La Bouche en Coeur are new pieces which will soon join the tradition.
Calum's wooden flute is endlessly expressive, with wondrously flexible intonation and a driving rhythmic style. Add flawless technique in three octaves, and a composing talent to boot: this is a rare and precious combination. Heikki's guitar plays along mainly as accompaniment, but occasionally steps front and centre as on his composition Flight to Bogota, a haunting primal melody deftly picked with full tone: shades of Pierre Bensusan at his best. There are some imperfections - Joan MacDonald Boes' beautiful strathspey The Sweetness of Mary is taken a tad too fast, and one or two notes go astray on Calum's very fine Cherry Tree Waltz - but overall this is captivating music from two young masters. The version I have is printed in French, so I'm not sure how widely available this CD will be - click over to for samples and more information.
© Alex Monaghan

Niamh Ní Charra & Ibon Koteron "Euskéirea"
Imeartas Records, 2011

In 2009, one of Kerry's most exciting young performers teamed up with a Basque musician and singer for a Music Network tour. Two tours, in fact, plus a follow-up recording session for those of us who missed the concerts. The result is this album: a fascinating mix of Munster fiddle and concertina, Basque whistles and alboka (a sort of proto clarinet), vocals in two of the world's rarest and most fascinating languages, and good old Gavin Ralston on modern guitar. The similarities between Basque and Irish music don't end with their rarity and charm: both cultures cling to the Western edge of Europe, with songs of the sea and festivals of the sun. Euskéirea - a name which combines Basque and Irish - is filled with dances, lullabies, airs, hymns and more. Reels and jigs are a small minority, although there is a fine version of The Shetland Fiddler. The Irish input includes polkas, slides, hornpipes and the like: The Hare in the Corn, The Rights of Man, Jamesy Gannon's Barndance and some less well-known names. Niamh also sings Cailleach an Airgid, a reprise from her second solo CD.
Ibon has a strong, warm voice, somewhere between a muezzin and a fado singer. He sings four songs here, ranging from the gentle lullaby Lo Hadi where Niamh contributes a verse in Irish, to the stirring drinkers' song Bilbora Naioak which closes the album. In between are various Basque dance forms, including the porrusalda which comes closest to an Irish reel. Ibon includes a porrusalda of his own which was inspired by celtic reels: to my ear there's an old-time Appalachian feel to the cadences of this tune, but it certainly gets the toes tapping. One of my favourite tracks on Euskéirea is the porrusalda Eguzkie Joan Da with treble and tenor albokas. Another is the set of three ezpatadantzas, each with a subtly different rhythm, but all in the southern European 12/8 metre which drives the dancers on. Extra tones and harmonies are added by guests from Ireland and the Basque country on several tracks: bass, drums, flute, pipes, a wee touch of electronics, and second parts on whistle and alboka. The whole thing is very pleasant and stimulating, with the emphasis on expression rather than speed, and if you're looking to broaden your musical horizons at all I'd heartily recommend this CD as a great place to start.
© Alex Monaghan

Shantalla "Turas"
Appel Rekords, 2011

A third CD from these Belgian-based exiles, now a 6-piece with the addition of Simon Donnelly on guitars and bouzouki. The band took a 5-year break from 2005, but the previous line-up of vocals, flute, pipes, fiddle, whistles, accordion and guitars is unchanged: the new Shantalla just has a bit more power in the rhythm section. Actually, this causes a problem or two on the vocal tracks, as Helen Flaherty's voice is slightly obscured by the backing at times, reducing the impact of The Braemar Poacher and Gloomy Winter in particular. I could rant on about the importance of the lyrics in traditional songs, the place of the rhythm section in a folk band, and the naivety of mixing all channels at the same level - but I won't!
There are five songs and five instrumentals on Turas. A tune is tacked onto the end of most songs: I particularly liked the use of Randal Bays' reel The First Hard Rain. Helen's voice is as good as ever, and she makes a fine job of ballads ancient and modern. You can tell these are ballads, because every one is either cautionary or downright miserable. Fair and Tender Maidens is probably the most upbeat, followed by a Si Kahn classic which Helen delivers well without approaching Dick Gaughan's standard. Pairing this hard-hitting song with Gerry Murray's sparky polka The Choice is Yours doesn't really work for me, despite the similarity of titles. The Karine Polwart composition Whaur Dae Ye Lie? was inspired by the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, but it's hard to relate that to the strong Scots dialect in which this song is written. Arrangements are varied and imaginative, with a very plain treatment of Whaur Dae ye Lie? contrasting with more elaborate backing for The Braemar Poacher.
Instrumentally, Shantalla can be jaw-droppingly good. Whenever Michael Horgan fires up the pipes, we're in for a treat. The combination of clan marches and classic jigs on track 4 is a clear winner, as is the medley which ends with Joe Liddy's great reel The Red Bee. Kieran Fahy's fiddle is superb on The Boy and the Princess, an atmospheric pair of tunes which will surely prove popular. I don't think the lads quite get the best out of Waterman's, or Cunningham's Hut on Staffin Island, but the final version of Garret Barry's shows Shantalla at their tightest, wringing every drop of energy from a fantastic tune. Turas marks the welcome return of this Belgian band in cracking form, and you can sample it yourself at or on YouTube.
© Alex Monaghan

Shantalla "Turas"
Appel Rekords, 2011

The Irish/Scottish band Shantalla is back. After a break of six years the Belgium based musicians recorded their third CD "Turas" together with their new member Simon Donnelly (guitars, bouzouki).
They start off with a breathtaking interpretation of the traditional Scottish song "The Braemer Poacher". Helen Flaherty's beautiful singing and Michael Horgan's virtuoso uilleann pipes and flute playing are driven by an intoxicating guitar-bodhràn rhythm. Karine Polwart's melancholic ballad "Whaur dae ye lie?" is brought forward by Flaherty with much emotion and accompanied by Kieran Fahy on fiddle, Gerry Murray on accordion and Joe Hennon on guitar. Another perfect showcase for Flaherty's hauntingly beautiful voice is the traditional "Fair & tender Maidens"; bouzouki rhythm, brilliant whistle playing, accordion, fiddle and pipes join in to create an incredible sound. But the band also play some fantastic instrumental sets. "John Doherty's" starts off as a slow reel, accelerates the pace and finishes with awesome playing together of pipes, fiddle, accordion and whistle and "Marching in jig time" is a striking combination of the two dance rhythms. Another highlight is the final set "The Hut". Beginning with the accordion leading the tune, the other instruments join in and play their solos by turns, you can't but move to the rhythm.
Shantalla are some of the finest musicians in the traditional folk scene and the fans will adore their new album.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Susan Cattaneo "Heaven to Heartache"
Jersey Girl Music, 2011

Boston Singer/Songwriter Susan Cattaneo reads at Berklee College of Music songwriting lectures and on her second album "Heaven to Heartache" she practices what she preaches. She recorded most of her 12 new songs in two different sessions with a bunch of brilliant guest musicians under session leader Jeff King (electric guitar) in Nashville TN.
Two songs were produced by Bobby Lee Rodgers (guitars) and recorded in Middleton MA and with her Boston band she produced "Little big Sky", a passionate song about her longing to the southern skies of Arizona.
Susan starts off with the bluesy "Gotta get gone", featuring a first class line-up with Pat Buchanan, Patrick McGrath and some of the finest Nashville musicians. Twangy guitar, pedal steel and dobro accompany the intoxicating rhythm and Susan's hauntingly beautiful singing. Paul Ellis, singer/songwriter from Boston as well, sings a wonderful duet with Susan on the rocking and souling "On again off again" and with heartfelt passion she pleads "Put that Bottle down". Another highlight is the up-beat "Country is the State I'm in", a perfect showcase for Susan's powerful and virtuoso singing. She finally sings the melancholic rock ballad "Handle with Care" with a beautiful guitar solo by Andy Pinkham.
Susan Cattaneo's new album is one of the best Blues-Rock CDs I've ever heard. Her songs as well as her singing are breathtaking, the arrangements perfect and with these fine musicians Cattaneo will certainly climb the charts.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Gwendolyn "Bright Light"
Whispersquish, 2011

In addition to her band featuring Brandon Jay (drums, percussion, harmonica), Douglas Lee (musical glasses, jaw harp, saw) and Robert Petersen (upright bass) singer/songwriter and acoustic guitar player Gwendolyn invited a bunch of local musicians and singers including I see Hawks in LA, one of LA's brilliant country bands, to record the 13 songs for "Bright Light"; Ethan Allen produced and mixed the album.
Her music is a brilliant mix of Country, songwriter style, Blues, Indie and old time. On the title track Gwendolyn's soprano is accompanied by the mystic sound of the musical glasses, acoustic and steel guitar while bass and drums take the lead when the rhythm accelerates. Fiddle, mandolin and banjo join in when Gwendolyn invites to "Shake a Leg", an intoxicating country polka. Galloping percussion rhythm on "American Gothic" is followed by the incredible Blues-rock "Plants"; Gwendolyn rocks with her guitar before drums, bass, steel guitar and blues harp pick up the pace. "I see hawks in LA" sings Gwendolyn on "Songbird", a beautiful Country-Blues, and the guys answer promptly with harmonic choir singing. Finally the hauntingly beautiful piano ballad "Let the Light" brings Gwendolyn's new CD to the end.
"Bright Light" is her fourth album and a perfect showcase for Gwendolyn's authentic style, a must for any Americana CD collection.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Meagan Tubb & Shady People "Cast your Shadow"
Imaginary Box Productions, 2010

Meagan Tubb (vocals, guitars) hails from Austin, Texas, and together with Shady People Jason Nunnenkamp (guitars, back-up vocals), Wilson Carr (bass, back-up vocals), John Duran (drums) and Gavin Tabone (keyboards) she inspires friends of good old Western rock music. The ten self-crafted songs of her latest CD were recorded and mixed at EAR studio in Austin and produced by Stephen Doster.
Starting off with the intriguing slide guitar groove of "Rock & Roll Séance" and Meagan's powerful singing the listener is instantly captured by the sound. Meagan and her people sing the Blues on "Giving Tree", Tubb and Nunnenkamp add a brilliant guitar solo. "Fly" is a beautiful rock ballad with piano and Nunnenkamp on lead guitar and on "Damn good Man" Meagan's breathtaking voice is accompanied by an intoxicating soul groove. "The Hoax" is an acoustic country rock with slide/acoustic guitar, banjo, piano and Jews harp. Another highlight is the final song "Sweet Dream", Meagan starts with hauntingly beautiful singing and a great guitar solo the guys join in and Jason takes his turn to take the lead later when they start to rock.
Meagan Tubb certainly casts her shadow on the Austin rock scene and hopefully she will also tour Europe again, unfortunately I missed her gig in Berne this summer.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Mairi Campbell "Mairi Campbell"
Greengold Music, 2011

Together with her long time musical partner David Francis Edinburgh based singer/songwriter and gifted violin player Mairi Campbell has written 11 songs for her new self-titled album. She invited Tia Files on guitar and bass, Mhairi Hall on piano and keyboards, Donald Hay on drums and Ada Grace Francis on clarsach to record a brilliant CD.
The piano and Mairi's hauntingly beautiful singing mesmerize the tender ballad "Home is not what I've left behind", the violin joins in and Mairi raises her voice to the powerful refrain while the band plays a soft rhythm. The following "Portobello Sands" increases the pace to a jazzy folk song and "Goodbye grey" is a bluesy song with terrific singing by Mairi and Ada Grace. The band accompanies Mairi's breathtaking voice on "i pod wii play" with an incredible rhythmic groove and "Paperweight" is pure acoustic jazz. One highlight is followed by the next, "Haul away" stands out with brilliant improvisations by the singer as well as the band and the final "Recession Song" fades away in a lazy mood accompanied by cool and relaxed playing of the guys.
Mairi Campbell's first solo album is certainly one of my favourite albums of the year. Her song writing is brilliant and the first-class musicians bring them forward perfectly.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Once "Row upon row of the people they know"
Borealis Records, 2011

Geraldine Hollet (vocals, bodhràn), Phil Churchill (vocals, bodhràn, mandolin, guitar) and Andrew Dale (vocals, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, banjo) have recorded ten striking songs for their second album. The three actors and singers from Newfoundland named their Trio for a unique phrase of their homeland meaning imminently.
James Robertson plays guitar on the hauntingly beautiful original ballad "Cradle Hill" mesmerized by Geraldine's brilliant lead vocals and the wonderful choir with a bunch of great singers. John Deacon (Queen) wrote "You're my best Friend", The Once arranged it as a bluesy Americana and Newfoundland singer/songwriter Wince Coles's "By the Glow of the Kerosene Light" is brought forward by the three brilliant singers with solemn virtuosity. My favourite is the traditional "My Husband's got no Courage", mandolin, bouzouki, percussion rhythm and piano shots create the intoxicating pace to accompany Geraldine's powerful Blues. The original song "A round again" combines Pop, Blues and Americana; strings, piano, rhythm and song. Emilia Bartellas adds her melancholic violin playing on the anthem-like "Song for Memory" quoting Canadian poet George Murray: Row upon row of the people they know.
A masterpiece of acoustic folk, featuring breathtaking vocal parts as well as extraordinary musical arrangements. Certainly one of my favourite CDs of the year.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Mary Flower "Misery Loves Company"
Yellow Dog Records, 2011

Mary Flower is an accomplished guitar and lap slide player; the Indiana born singer/songwriter developed a remarkable acoustic finger style and she sings the blues with a warm and rich voice. 2004 she moved to Portland, Oregon, where she recorded her new album together with some of the best jazz, blues and folk musicians, most of the tracks were performed as a duet.
Curtis Salgado on harmonica and Mary on guitar start the musical walk with the classic Muddy Waters song "Hard day blues". Their playing together is awesome and Mary's cool singing captures the listener instantly. Mary's subtle guitar playing allows her musical partners to join in with his own improvisations. Brian Oberlin's mandolin dances with Mary to her self-crafted "Recession Rag" and Alan Hager takes the guitar part when Mary switches to the lap slide guitar on Son House's "Death letter blues", a brilliant performance. "Jitters", another original track, features Mark Vehrencamp on tuba and Colin Linden plays electric Dobro on Mary's hauntingly beautiful song "Way down in the bottom". Then LaRhonda Steele sings the virtuoso harmony vocals on the Rev. Gary Davis song "Goin' to sit down on the banks of the river". Tampa Red's "Boogie Woogie dance" is brought forward by Mary on lap slide and Jesse Withers on bass and Dave Frishberg plays the piano when Mary swings the blues on her original "I'm dreaming of your demise". James Mason adds his fine violin playing on "Miss Delta", a terrific self-crafted Delta blues, and Gideon Freudmann on cello accompanies Mary's intoxicating performance on "Devil's punchbowl". Elizabeth Cotten's melancholic blues "Shake sugaree" features Johnny B. Connolly on button accordion and with a laid down solo performance on Scrapper Blackwell's "Scrapper's blues" Mary's musical walk comes to an end.
Mary Flower's fourth album is a masterpiece of acoustic guitar music. Her incredible finger-style and lap slide playing, her beautiful singing and the first class guest musicians invite the listener to a breathtaking musical journey. Visit and enjoy!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Rapparees "Wrapped up"
Own label, 2011

The Rapparees are five young Irish musicians based in Belfast, who present their second album "Wrapped up". Damien McErlean, Gerard McNeill, Kevin Hawdsley, Conor McCaffrey and Joe McKeague are all very good singers and multi-instrumentalists. Their line-up includes all kind of string instruments (acoustic guitar, bass, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and fiddles) as well as Hawdsley's whistle and with Eamon Murray on percussion , producer Liam Bradley on piano and some great guest musicians they recorded eleven songs and three instrumental tracks.
They sing three cover versions five traditional and three self-crafted songs, starting off with the up-beat Scottish folk song "Twa recruiting sergeants", Sean Óg Graham plays the box and the guys sing and play the intoxicating rhythm. My absolute favourite track is the reel set "Lampies": Shuffling banjo and percussion rhythm, fine fiddling and piano dominate McCaffrey's first tune, then they accelerate the pace, Barry Kerr joins in on flute and Graham on box and guitar and the guys play a breathtaking finale. Another highlight is Peter Livingston's Bluegrass song "Mission hall" featuring Mel Corry on 5-string banjo, a brilliant performance of the whole band. Hawdsley wrote the hauntingly beautiful slow air "Can't reach an old dog to live longer", brought forward on whistle together with McErlean on guitar. Bradley's piano and McNeill's warm voice dominate the romantic hymn to the "Mountains of Pomeroy" and McNeill composed the melancholic "Our own way" featuring Scott Heron on cello. Finally McKeague sings McCaffrey's brilliant folk song "Never came back", accompanied by two fiddles, piano, guitar, bouzouki and bass, a mesmerizing sound.
"Wrapped up" is a wonderful folk album with carefully selected songs and tunes. The guys are first-class musicians and great singers, a new star on the Irish folk scene.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Talabarte "Talabarte"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2011

Talabarte is a joint musical project from three members of the great generation of folk musicians that blossomed in Galicia (NW Spain) in the 1990s : Quim Farinha (from the bands Dhais, Xorima, Fia Na Roca and Berrogüetto), Pedro Pascual (from Xosé Manuel Budiño´s band, Laio, Nuke Trio, Marful,...) and Kin Garcia (Alberto Conde Grupo, Susana Seivane’s band,...). These three (still young, although well experienced) folk & jazz musicians present here a collection of 13 self-composed songs that take several popular melodies of the Galician folk music of the last 2 or 3 decades, but this time with all instrumental tunes deeply blended with many elements & languages of styles such as tango, jazz or central/northern/eastern European trad music . Talabarte (an old word with multiple meanings: lanyard, sword belt, big spender,..) : Made in Galicia, but with ‘multicultural’ flavours. This first CD of these 3 talented musicians succeeds in enchanting songs such as: ‘Visteme amodo...’, ‘Ghotheando’, ‘Pasacorredoiras Gorantoso’, ‘Sara’, Vl’a l’printemps’, ‘Santiagreb’,..... Galician but “non-gaitaholic” (0.0% bagpipes), just : double bass (Kin Garcia), fiddle, viola, (self made) nyckelharpa (Quim Farinha), diatonic accordion & accordina (Pedro Pascual).
© Pío Fernández

Folk on Crest "Calle de la Botica"
Several Records, 2011

Folk on Crest is a band from the province of Salamanca (Castilla y León community, central north Spain), that have been playing together for 4 years already, and that now in 2011 are presenting their project: A fusion between the songs from the folklore of Castile (mostly from Salamanca) and the sonorities from other places (mostly ‘Celtic’ : Ireland, Galicia, Asturias). One of the central instruments that you can hear in their CD ‘Calle de la Botica’ (‘Pharmacy Street’) is the ‘gaita charra’ (3 holed flute) typical from Salamanca, played here by the ‘tamborilero’ (drummer) Berna (a.k.a. Bernardo Pérez). In the trad music of Salamanca (and also in the neighbour community of Extremadura), the name tamborilero is assigned to the local musician that plays simultaneously both: the gaita charra with the left hand and the tambor (drum, tabor) with the right hand. The other members of Folk on Crest are: Sergio Grande (Asturian gaita bagpipe, low whistle, lyrics), Daniel González (acoustic guitar), Yolanda Rio (tambourine, lyrics), Oscar Sancho (electric bass guitar, lyrics), José Luis González ‘Kaos’ (cajón, flamenco, platos, cortinillas). But there is a list of up to 7 guest musicians that contribute with instruments such as: accordion (David M. Garcia), zanfona/hurdy-gurdy (Juan Manuel Rivero), bodhran and udu (José Benito ‘Petín’), etc... Folk on Crest truly succeeds in this peculiar fusion where the songs start with melodies and instruments so typical in the music from Salamanca, but they are smoothly followed by those others more characteristic in regions of northern Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria). This is the case in songs such as ‘La Zorra’ (‘The She-Fox’), a very popular ‘ajechao’ rhythm from Salamanca (usually played with the squared frame drum form the village of Peñaparda), followed by the Asturian gaita with the traditional ‘Alborada de Amandi’ and ‘Muiñeira de Casu’) from Asturias. There are also the ‘Muiñeiras Charras’, 3 religious songs from Salamanca translated here to the 6/8 rhythm typical in the jigs or the muiñeiras from Galicia & Asturias. One of my favourite songs is the ‘Muiñeira de Escurial’, a perfect blend between the gaita charra and the gaita Asturiana, composed by the guitarist Sergio Grande. It is very clear that Folk on Crest shows a devotional love to the music from both parts of Spain: the Castilian province of Salamanca ( in songs such as: Charrada del Cristo, Las Molineras, Charrada de Bercimuelle, Campeño), but also from the N Spanish Asturias (Verme y Ser, inspired by the music from the Asturian band Felpeyu), and also Galicia (Quere, written & sung in Galician language by Yolanda Rio).
© Pío Fernández

Anxo Lorenzo "Tirán"
Zouma Records, 2009

The Galician gaita piper Anxo Lorenzo belongs to the generation of gaiteiros that became popular following the great success of Carlos Núñez in the mid-late 1990s. But Anxo’s style is quite different from Carlos’s, even more ‘aggressive’ if you like. He performs with the gaita more as a rock & roll guitarist than a traditional gaiteiro. It is probably closer to the style of Xosé Manuel Budiño. Another coincidence: Anxo’s home town, Tirán, belongs to the same council as Budiño’s: Moaña. The 12 songs in Tirán belong to the Galician tradition (polka dos Areeiras, Pasacorredoiras 439, Aires Hindús de Pontevedra,...), but also to the Irish (The Ivory Lady,...) and the Scottish (Road to Errogie, Suite de Reels). Anxo’s band in Tirán has prominent members such as Eoghan Neff, the Irish fiddler living in Spain since 2007 that has played in Riverdance and with his brother Flaithrí (uilleann pipes) in the duo Neff Bros (later he also played in Madrid with the local uilleann piper Cesar Pastor in Duo Nua). There are also: Xosé Liz (guitar, banjo, bouzouki) who has played in numerous Galician folk music projects (Sondeseu, Lizgairo, Riobó), and Begoña Riobó (Carlos Nuñez’s band, Sondeseu). Not to forget the participation of the great Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell in the song ‘The Very First Fish’.
© Pío Fernández

Candeal "Toca una que sepamos todos"
Several Records, 2011

The band Candeal is from the province of Valladolid (Castilla y León region, central north Spain) and they have been playing together since 1978. This time Candeal has released a CD with a very simple but very well performed approach : a collection of 13 of the most popular songs of the central Spanish trad music. Those that all kids have learnt at school such as: ‘Ahora que vamos despacio’, ‘La Tarara’, ‘Las tres hojitas’, ‘El burro de la vinagre’, ‘El mandil’, etc... Often they are known by different names: ‘Vamos a contar mentiras’, ‘Tres hojitas madre’, ‘Ya se ha muerto el burro’, ‘La Carolina’,... After 33 years and 20 records, today’s members in Candeal are: José Antonio Ortega, Félix Pérez, Alfonso Gato, Nicolás Falagán and Antonio Campomanes. Besides the leading voices of José Antonio Ortega and Félix Pérez, you can hear instruments such as: guitar, lute, bandurria, accordion, tambourine, drum set, hurdy-gurdy, ....
© Pío Fernández

Riobó "Riobó"
Zouma Records, 2010

We know Begoña RIOBÓ from her previous work as a fiddler in the respective bands of the Galician gaita pipers: Carlos Nuñez,[31] Susana Seivane[16] & Anxo Lorenzo, as well as the folk orquestra SonDeSeu.[35] This time Begoña is leading a band where the other distinguished members are: Xose Liz (bouzouki, mandolin), Fernando Pérez (flutes), Marcos Campos (bagpipes, whistles, accordion) and Fernando Barroso (acoustic guitar) . In this her first CD, Begoña develops a classic Galician traditional repertoire where the music flows in a sequence of 10 songs full of happy melodies mostly based on the sound of fiddle, bouzouki, mandolin and flutes. The major rhythms are muiñeira (jig), jota, pasodoble, march,... Will you find in Riobó sounds that remind you of the music from other Galician artists (Milladoiro, Carlos Núñez, SonDeSeu,...)? Probably, yes, and that is for sure a very positive aspect since Begoña demonstrates that it is possible to continue working in that same noble style of Galician folk ( maybe more conservative and not specially interested in experimenting sophisticated & innovative fusions ), but just to enjoy doing this trad music with refined instruments & playing techniques, and still perfectly respectful with the melodic & rhythmic essences of the rural music from this green NW corner of Spain. Specially beautiful songs to recommend? : O Pico do Grelo, Fox-trot, Pasodobre dos 30 (with some country or bluegrass influences), Foliada 85, O San Campio, O Bardo,... It also has to be highlighted that one of the artistic producers in Riobó is Anxo Pintos (multi-instrumentalist in bands such as Matto Congrio, Berrogüetto, SonDeSeu, Lizgairo,...), and the recording, mastering & mixing is lead by Suso Ramallo.
© Pío Fernández

Paco Díez & Jaime Vidal "Romanceando"
Several Records, 2011

Article: Traditional Music in Castilla y León

Paco Diez is an experienced and very active folklorist & folk singer from the Spanish province of Valladolid (Castilla y León, central north Spain) . He started his career as a musician in the mid 1970s, and in 1980 he created the folk band La Bazanca . Although his initial target was the preservation of the traditional music from Castilla y León , he also developed a special interest in researching the music of the Sephardic peoples (Spanish Jews), and along the years Paco has become an internationally recognized top singer for this kind of traditional music . In this CD "Romanceando", Paco takes 12 traditional 'romances' ( a style of poems very popular in Spain since the Middle Ages equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon ballads), and plays them together with the pianist Jaime Vidal, from the band Zambaruja. These are old poems from several places in the Iberian peninsula : Extremadura (Caceres), Castilla y Leon (Zamora, Valladolid), Valencia, Basque Country (Guipuzcoa), Portugal (Tras Os Montes),... Paco sings them with his powerful voice while playing also a number of different instruments : guitar, mandola, zanfona (hurdy-gurdy), rabel (rebec), palillos (bones), pandero cuadrado (squared frame drum),... This great musician combines his skills of traditional singing & instrument playing in a wisely balanced contrast with the exquisite piano performed by Jaime Vidal . This joint effort is dedicated to the development of this compilation of romances, that since the Medieval times of the 'juglares' (minstrels, gauklers) tell a number of stories (some of them based on historical events), which have been transmitted by verbal tradition during centuries until modern days . The first poem is the classic 'La Loba Parda' ('The Brown She-Wolfe'), sung by Paco while playing his rebec . This version of 'La Loba Parda' is based on an ancient romance recuperated and published in written form in 1944 by the folklorist Manuel Garcia-Matos (1912-1974), but this time it is extended with the contributions of the young researcher Juanma Sanchez. It is followed by the Portuguese 'La Bela Infanta', original from Tras Os Montes and whose main subject and metric could relate them with poems derived from the 3d Crusade that was participated by Richard I of England "The Lionheart" (1957 - 1199) . Paco also includes romances that are traditional in other Spanish communities : Andalussia ('Bernal Frances' : a story dated back in the Medieval days of the war between Christians and Muslims in the city of Granada), Valencia/Catalonia ('El Testament' : in a version from Toni Torregrossa from the band Urbalia Rurana© Pío Fernández

Assembly Point "Assembly Point"
Zouma Records, 2011

The cover of this CD is printed with a sketch of the Tower of Babel painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (circa 1563). The introductory text inside says : “When the tower began to crumble, a Portuguese mandolin player, a Galician bouzouki player, and an Irish fiddle player met at the Assembly Point, and did not speak. But they played Music”. What is the meaning of this apocalyptic (even ‘Titanic’?) message given in 2011 by these three musicians from Portugal, Spain & Ireland? Is the mention to “Babel’s tower” referring to the collapse of the Eurozone, or even of the world’s financial system? Not to be ignored that the Galician (Fernando Barroso) plays an instrument with two nationalities: Greek & Irish . Is it just a coincidence that the countries of origin of these musicians are of the ‘Suidae’ family, according to certain humorous economists? Who cares!! The music in this album sounds so beautiful,...and for the moment things are only turning real serious (but not extremely ugly yet) in some parts of this old continent, & other places... Assembly Point’s music is all instrumental (all strings) and it is played by: Luís Peixoto (Portuguese cavaquinho & bandolim. Formerly playing in the Stockholm-Lisboa Project and Dazkarieh), Fernando Barroso (bouzouki L&R, octave pedal bass. Playing with the bands Xerfa, Xaiva, Ártabra, Begoña Riobó’s), and Eoghan Neff (acoustic fiddle. Playing in Riverdance, The London Metropolitan Orchestra, NeffBros & Anxo Lorenzo’s band). The songs are a smooth blend of the traditional dance rhythms from those lands in the periphery of the West Atlantic Europe: jigs, muiñeiras, reels, corridinhos, polkas,...played by three excellent musicians that today in their young age are demonstrating that this old traditional music can sound as modern, fresh & calling for dancing as it was decades ago. Music from old times that was carried along by sailors and travelling musicians, going in circular voyages on ships sailing from Galway’s harbour down to Vigo, to Lisbon and to God knows where else across the seven seas, until returning home. Most songs are composed by each of the musicians, like: Jumping Bits and Terra Nova by Luís Peixoto, Muiñeiras do Cuarto Baleiro, Espiral and Lodairo by Fernando Barroso, Reels of a Tinker and A Plate Broke by Eoghan Neff. But others are traditional or from different composers : the Portuguese Dona Infanta, Chula & Cana Verde das Fiadas, Sevens by Liz Carroll, or Sweeney’s Buttermilk by the fiddler Brendan McGlinchey. There are also beautiful slow tunes, such as One Way Road Hotel Girl written by Fernando Barroso, or Terra Nova and Azul Escuro by Luís Peixoto. We’ll see what happens in the end with the ‘united Europe’ dream (or nightmare?), but you tend to believe that at least its artistic side was worthy when listening to joint projects as inspiring as this Assembly Point.
© Pío Fernández

Rafa Martín "La serpiente Dormida"
Own label, 2011

Rafa Martín is one of the great zanfonistas (hurdy-gurdy players) in central Spain. FolkWorld introduced him back in 2005 in the article ‘The Hurdy Gurdy in Spain’.[30] We also presented his biography in the article ‘Folk & The City, Madrid: Part 3’.[41] In the past decade, Rafa had released his first CD ‘En la Espalda del Gigante’ (with songs mostly based on traditional dance rhythms from central Spain), while playing in the folk band from Madrid La Bruja Gata, and co-operating with a large number of musicians such as: Eduardo Paniagua, Kepa Junkera, Luis Delgado or Paco Díez. He has also been in the folk-jazz project Silva Carpetana, playing his zanfona together with Miguel Nava (albogues) and Javier Nava (double bass). Now in 2011, he comes back with this solo album ‘La Serpiente Dormida’ (‘The Sleeping Snake’), where he performs a set of 12 songs, mostly self-composed except for: Na Maria (from the French hurdy-gurdy performer Pascal Lefeuvre), Escualo (from the Argentine bandoneon performer Astor Piazzola), Audi Pontus, Audi Tellus (Códice de las Huelgas) and Danza del Molinero (from the Spanish classical composer Manuel de Falla). it folk music that Rafa Martín plays in this album? Do we really need to immediately categorize as trad, folk or medieval music any kind of tune that is performed with bagpipes or hurdy gurdy? This time, Rafa just allows his creativity to run freely and to develop songs with titles as suggestive as: Pasaje en Invierno (Winter Passage), El Jinete Azul (The Blue Horse Rider), or La Serpiente Dormida. The happy song ‘Bajo los Tilos’ (Under the Lime Trees /Unter den Linden) is inspired by his long walks in one of Rafa’s favourite cities: Berlin. There is also ‘Capitanes Intrepidos’, dedicated to the 1937 film from Victor Fleming: ‘Captains Courageous’ (based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling), where the actor Spencer Tracy had the role of an American-Portuguese fisherman who played hurdy-gurdy in his spare time. You can definitely recognize a few traditional rhythms in this CD, but you will mostly find a set of tunes played in a skilled & modern style with top class hurdy gurdy, two of them in fact: an Alto electroacoustic one made by Denis Siorat, and a Tenor one built by Wolfgang Weichselbaumer. The percussions are played by Antonio Melero, another member of the band La Bruja Gata.
© Pío Fernández

Quempallou "Once Anos Mallando"
Zouma Records, 2010

FolkWorld has already introduced the band from Galicia (NW Spain) Quempallou with their 2007 album ‘Polo Aire!!!’.[42] This new CD is a compilation of their 15 greatest hits, intended to celebrate their eleven-year-journey (1999-2010) in the world of Galician folk music, where they have participated intensively with a style that combines energetic dance rhythms, thoughtful social & political messages and beautiful melodies performed with high musicianship. The 13 musicians participating in this CD play the classic instruments in this kind of typical Galician village fair bands: gaita bagpipes (Guillerme Ignacio, Mui Novas, Guillermo Lamos, Xulio Coira), accordion (Roi Maceda), pandeireta tambourine (Anxo Novas), drums & bass drums (David Campos, Bernardo Pena, Xosé Maceda, Roi Adrio), clarinet (Xulio Coira). But there are also others coming from the ‘Celtic’ & Irish music influences: bouzouki (Álex Torresquesana, Isaac Millán) and harp (Isaac Millán, Xulio Alba). Songs specially enjoyable in this CD are : the typical Muiñeira dance rhythms in Do Incio and En que Terra me Botaches, the pasodobres Quen Teña Viño and Que Chova!!, and The folk-rap/hip-hop (Quempa-hop, hip-folk) song: ‘Ninguén!!’, played with Celtic harp, pandeireta, bass, guitar, traditional drums,... The lyrics complain about the damages that oil spillages and careless construction projects have done to the Galician landscapes & wildlife.
© Pío Fernández

Mielotxin "Empápate"
Own Label, 2004

Mielotxin "Almadierra"
Own Label, 2007

These are the first two CDs from today’s probably top folk band from the Spanish community of Navarre.[44] We had the chance to see the band lead by Iñigo Aguerri (accordion & vocals) playing live in Madrid Retiro’s Park in a still warm & sunny early October 2011. And I can swear that their show is just as energetic and yet traditionally Basque-Navarre as they sound in their records. They do not have anymore the violin that used to play Mónica Sánchez in their first ‘Empápate’. In that CD, Mielotxin fused a bit the sounds of the typical instruments from their region with a few Caribbean rhythms (la Fillie de la Boulangerie, Piel Oscura), although there were also truly nice melodic slow songs (Loxue, Bailando con Mielotxin, Pulccinela, Nostalgia, Bagarelako, C’Est Ma Vie), and yet some traditional Basque sonorities (Jota, Baja Nabarra, Bixente Inocente) also using the typical txistu (3 holed flute) and the txalaparta (percussion on large pieces of wood ). In Mielotxin’s second CD ‘Almadierra’, the Basque sonorities of the alboka (the local type of hornpipe) and the accordion start becoming more dominant. They also incorporate the strings drum so typical in the Pyrenees that in Navarre it is called ttun-ttun, and that the musician plays at the same time with the 3 holed flute named txirula. In any case, at least in Almadierra you cannot say that Mielotxin’s style of music is too focussed on their local traditions, significantly influenced by the music of the Basque Country and the valleys in the Pyrenees of Navarre. There are jotas, arin-arin, mutildantzas, zortzikos, but they are mixed with lively & also easy going sonorities that make several of their songs also accessible to audiences more familiar with rock, pop or even jazz styles. In that CD they even had a strings quartet with two violins, viola & cello. Their third CD is published in 2010: ‘Cuando la Beharra Obliga’.[44] In this one, Mielotxin only keeps three members from the previous bands: the leader, Iñigo Aguerri, Javier Marco (electric bass guitar & double bass), and Ismael Yagüe whose skills with the three holed flutes (txitus & txirulas) are remarkable.
© Pío Fernández

Malvela "Raianas"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2011

In Galicia (NW Spain), malvela is the plant known in English as ground ivy, or by its scientific name in Latin : glechoma hederacea. Since 2001, it is also the name of a folk music band whose members are 12 women with ages ranging from 32 up to 86 y.o., that in the last decade have worked on the recuperation of the traditional vocal repertoire in the region of Mos-Porriño, in the southern part of the province of Pontevedra that has borders with the northern part of Portugal (Viana do Castelo, Região Norte) . The group was created following a seminar given by the singer Uxía Senlle in her village of Sanguiñeda. Malvela recorded their first CD in 2002, and now in 2011 have released their fourth album ‘Raianas’, a name that makes reference to the very essence of their origin & their music : A group of women from Galicia that live by the ‘raia’, the borderline with Portugal, and that sing the melodies that unite the cultures and the peoples from both riversides of the Rio Miño. The vocal group is lead by Uxía’s sister, Ana Senlle, and some of the musicians are known names in today’s Galician folk scene : Gustavo Domínguez (accordion), Sérgio Tannus (guitar, cavaquiño e viola caipira), Raquel Domínguez (flutes & gaita bagpipes tuned in C, D & Bb), Anxo Pardo (drum, tambourine, bones) and Pablo Ces (bass drum & cymbals). The CD was recorded live in May 2011 in the town of Mos, and the event was also joined by several guest artists, such as : Nuria Freiría, Oli Xiraldez-Rio, Uxía, Carlos Blanco and the local poet from Mos María Magdalena. The CD contains 18 songs (plus a kind & humorous speech by the Galician theatre actor, director & writer Carlos Blanco), full of the happy moods (sometimes also melancholic) and the optimistic attitudes of this nice group of veteran & experienced musicians. Some of them are mostly knowledgeable by their studies, their talent & their professional careers. Others, like the Malvela lady singers, have kept the valuable knowledge of the traditional music transmitted for generations, by women that created & shared their songs while doing their daily tasks : in the house, the farm, the washing place, the cereal field, the mill,... The tunes have the traditional rhythms from these regions in the NW corner of the Iberian peninsula : muiñeira, mazurka, pasodobre, vals, corridinho, polka, rumba,...The Brazilian string player Sérgio Tannus contributes to the enhancement of the Portuguese & Brazilian sonorities with his cavaquinho and his viola caipira. The CD comes with a very colourful booklet that includes the lyrics and the descriptive texts, all written in Galician although you might find some more info on their website.
© Pío Fernández

FolkWorld Homepage German Content English Content Editorial & Commentary News & Gossip Letters to the Editors CD & DVD Reviews Book Reviews Folk for Children Folk & Roots Online Guide - Archives & External Links Info & Contact

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Homepage
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld