Issue 27 02/2004
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Cyril O'Donoghue "Nothing but a Child"
Label: own; Distribution: www.custysmusic.com;
www.redhatmusic.com; CD 001 COD;
2003; Playing time: 68.28 min
Cyril O'Donoghue is very well known among those who are familiar with traditional
Irish music in Clare. In decades until now his bouzouki has been a constant
presence, as an 'accompanist', at the sessions in the area. I heard a fiddler
saying, 'Playing with Cyril makes me feel like I'm carried on his shoulders':
indeed, his rich rhythmical pulse and wise harmony is a perfect sustain for
a solo player. In this role, Cyril appears with some of the best Clare musicians
in many recordings (some of them excellent, including an authentic milestone
like 'Setting Free' with Tola Custy). It's no secret, though, that Cyril is
a fine and sensitive singer too. Yet, until yesterday, his recorded appearances
as a singer had been confined to the ones of the accompanist, who sings a couple
of songs to enrich an instrumental album. Now we have a well deserved album
entirely dedicated to the singing Cyril, a joyous Christmas present for all
those who have appreciated his songs all this time and longed for more.
Cyril O' Donoghue comes from a family well rooted in Irish traditional music,
and as we said before, he has been playing himself for decades. So he is in
no need to demonstrate anything; he's ever felt free to sing simply the songs
that he loves, including contemporary songs and even not Irish ones. His voice
is high-pitched and harsh, powerful in its way and dramatic; and, by the way,
always perfectly in tune. And when he comes to traditional classics, he often
adds his own variations to the melody or the structure, simply the way it most
inspires him. (Tell me another singer who would dare to perform 'The Wild Rover'
when he's not in a tourist pub among drunk enthusiasts craving for some clapping:
well, I heard Cyril singing his own version of it, maybe disappointing for clappers,
but giving back to the song its original dimension).
This album includes seven traditional songs: 'A Blacksmith Courted Me', 'The
Night Visit', 'The Scariff Martyrs', 'The Bonny Light Horseman', 'The Newlyn
Highwayman', 'The Recruited Collier', and Robert Burn's 'Ae Fond Kiss' (all
right, for this last one the term 'traditional' is highly disputable); and four
contemporary ones, 'The Foxy Devil', the American 'Slow Moving Freight Train',
the title track 'Nothing but a Child', 'The Fiddle and the Bow', plus one beautiful
waltz composed by Cyril himself for his granddaughter Aoibhinn, who stands boldly
at his side on the cover and to whom the whole album is dedicated.
One of the most interesting things in the album is that Cyril can sing old songs
like they were contemporary ones; not in the sense that he 'modernises ' them,
but bringing naturally in evidence what he feels is the life in them; what makes
them speak to us still today, although they were written so long ago. Let's
say, simply, that Cyril - discretely but distinctively - sings in his own way
all the songs he loves. Coherently he can sing modern songs with all the wisdom
and depth of perspective we are used to find in traditional ones. The majority
of the songs are arranged quite simply with piano, guitar or bouzouki, and one
instrument or two in the background, in order to reserve to the voice the right
evidence; but for a few of them the choice has been of a full orchestration,
including choir, and the result is equally satisfying. As we could expect, the
singer is joined in by a good bunch of the best musicians of the area, most
of them companions in his musical life; among them Siobhan Peoples is credited
for her relevant contribution to the musical part of the work.
This album is a witness of love for songs, and for the warm light that songs
can give to people's life and experience.
Label: Ars Mundi;
2003; Playing time: 47.36 min
At the moment there are quite a few interesting young bands coming from Poland.
If you are interested in young unconventional music from Europe you should open
your eyes and look over to Poland...
Kontraburger is one of those band. Their first full CD (previously, they only
had a very short demo CD) - directly made it into the FolkWorld top ten of 2003
(editors choice.) Their music is based on tradtional music from Poland and beyond,
but all is composed by various members of the band. The texts are also all self
written apart from fragments from J.R.R. Tolkien (Hobbit) and Ch. Baudelaire
(Les Litanies de Satan). Their sound is very fresh.
The tunes often have quite a different approach and atmosphere, but the album
forms nevertheless an attractive unit. The band's influences are of course roots
music, but also jazz, rock, circus music and much more...
Kontraburger are eight musicians: Maga Górska (voc, classical guitar),
Malgorzata Litwinowicz (flute, vocals), Sylwia Swiatkowska (fiddle, flute, vocals),
Malgorzata Madejska (vocals), Jarek Kaczmarek (guitar), Wojciech Stasiak (guitar),
Tomasz Zur (bass) and Janusz Kossakowski (percussion).
Kontraburger - this funny band name derives from a misunderstanding. Jarek Kaczmarek
talked to an Italian friend in a mixture of Polish, Italian, French and Latin.
"Kontraburger? You said 'Kontraburger'. What does that mean?" - "Kontraburger?
- I haven't said that..." But the word was there - and now it is the name
of a fascinating eightpiece band.
Their live performance is fascinating - but if you do not have the chance to
see them life, why not try their album!
Homepage of the artist: www.kontraburger.prv.pl,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kruzenshtern & Parohod "the craft of primitive
Media; aum001; 2001; Playing time: 54.24 min
Wow - what a band! It is one of my personal favorites of 2003. Kruzenshtern
& Parohod's music is so wonderfully weired, so unconventional and unique...
But be careful - if you are not into very individual free music with long trance
elements (for a long time repeating the same short hook line of music), fast
and unexpected changes of music, bits of crying, shouting and toy elements in
music - then better leave them alone. I know people who love this (like myself)
and people who hate it....
The music of the trio is based on Klezmer music - but has much more unique elements
(some would call them noise...). All music is written by band member Igor Krutogolov
and the arrangements are made by the band. The band from Tel-Aviv consits of:
Igor Krutogolov (bass, vocals, percussion, toys), Russel Gross (clarinet, toys,
percussion, voice) and Yog Schechter (drums, toys, percussion, voice).
The music is based around the clarinet - it is sometimes quite unmelodious -
but always fascinating, and it keeps me smiling...
I love them! Find out if you love - or if you hate them!
Contact to label: email@example.com
Label: own; Fyl 002; 2003; Playing time: 47.26
'A window from Scandinavia to the world' and 'swinging Nordic Folk' - that are
the terms how Fylgja describe themselves in their English press information.
I think it is a quite appropriate description of this young band. Fylgja's music
has a fresh and young approach; it is based on mostly Swedish (but also Norwegian,
and, in the case of one number, Irish) tradition, but has lots of influences,
and there are some selfcomposed numbers as well. You can find folk, Jazz, a
bit of Classic, rock, avant garde, etc.
The band is based in Copenhagen, and features three Danes and two Swedes. The
musical background of the band members is quite diverse - wich can be heard
in Fylgja's music. Fylgja are Christian Coff (flute & melodica), Lucas Scheffold
(guitar, vocals), Kerstin Backlin (violin), Helle Andersen (bass) and Mikkel
Hornnes (drums and trumpet).
Strå is their second album, and consists of 11 tunes and one song (written
by Lucas). Their music is somehow light - it is like a sunny summer's day in
Scandinavia, where your thoughts can wander around and you can relax...
Definitly worth a listen. (Included in the FolkWorld CD top ten of 2003 - editors
Homepage of the artist: www.fylgja.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alamaailman Vasarat "Käärmelauakunta"
Records; SLC014; 2003; Playing time: 44.47 min
If you are into dark heavy music from the north - Alamaailman Vasarat should
be also your cup of tea. Their music is hard, often very dark (with only few
sunny spells) and breathtaking.
This Finnish group consits of Jarno Sarkula (soprano & tenor saxes, bass
clarinet), Tuuka Helminen (cello), Teemu Hänninen (drums & percussion),
Miikka Huttunen (pump organ & grande piano), Erno Haukkala (trombone, slide
trumpet & tuba) and Marko Manninen (cello). It is unbelievable that they
don't have an e-guitar, ifyou listen to the intro of the first track...
So what are they playing: folk music? Not really. Rock music? - mmh. Heavy metal
- well, jazz - ehmm, film music - a bit... It is not possible to pigeonhole
their music. They have lots of influences, but are playing their own distinctive
heavy nordic music.
Fascinating stuff! (Included in the FolkWorld CD top ten of 2003 - editors choice.)
Homepage of the artist: www.vasarat.com,
contact to label: email@example.com
WBM21047; 2003; Playing time: 59.34 min
I have been enjoying innovativ music from Belgium for quite some time now, and
so this is not the first time FolkWorld is talking about (BUB) (review
of their debut album; short introduction
in 1st Tilburg Folkfestival review). So I do not really need to mention
that they are great and their music is an individual eclectic mix of styles
based on Begian/ mostly Flemish traditions...
(BUB)'s head is Kim Delcour (bagpipe, recorder, piano, voice, banjo), he has
composed most of the music and is also in live a focal person on stage. Then
there are Winter Lavigne (guitar), Tim Somers (drums, percussion), Frank van
Overstraeten (sopran & tenor saxes, guitar), Janspieter Delcour (bassguitar,
hommel) and Pierre-Yves Berhin.
Their music is sometimes weired, often focused on bagpipes and brass instruments
- it is highly individual, and some of the tunes are memorable enough to stay
for hours in your head. Most of the music on Bubinca is instrumental - and they
are really good at this. The one song (in English language) - I still have not
made up my mind whether I like it or not... But maybe that is a question of
Homepage of the artist: www.bub-bub.be,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com
Ventu Novu "Dalla Terra dei Briganti"
Label: own; 2003; Playing time: 31.03 min
Ventu Novu hail from southern Italy and they intend to inspire also young people
with their own traditions. So they do a bit of uplifting - and present music
steeped in their traditions, yet very emotional and powerful. Apart from the
last two numbers, all tunes are composed by members of the band, yet the origin
of the music can clearly be heard, in particular the Tarantella...
The band consists today of 7 members: Pasquale Perrone (classical guitar, new
member not on this album), Irene Cantisani (vocals, flute), Fabio Console on
vocals, guitar, violin and mouth organ; Paolo Farace on vocals and guitar; Gianfranco
Errico (bass, vocals); Armando Frangella (accordion) and finally the percussionist
(including tammorre & tamburello) Luigi Sgamba.
For me the most fascinating thing was the the combination of southern Italian
music with mouth organ. Very unusual, but it fits well!
A great energetic band with an excellent album - but why just half an hour long?
Next time a bit more generous please...
Nevertheless - every minute is worth its money...
Homepage of the artist: www.ventunovu.it,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gunnel Mauritzson "Raisu Äut"
XouCD 138; 2003; Playing time: 60.47 min
Gunnel Mauritzson is a great folk and jazz singer from Sweden. She hails from
the island of Gotland in the middle of the baltic sea, and her music describes
the world from that perspective. The title of this album is in Gotland's dialect
(the Swedish version is "Resan ut" - "The Journey Out").
Gunnel has formed her own band with three further band members: Hans Kennemark
on violin and alto violin (member of Bäsk); the well known guitarist Roger
Tallroth (Väsen) and pianist Rickard Aström (Groupa). On this album
are also some guests: Jonas Knutsson (saxes), Kjell Nordeson (percussions) and
several backgound singers.Also in live is this band exceptional - I have had
the luck to see one of their shows last year in Germany - it is worth quite
a distance to catch them...
The songs on this album have different origins, some are trad Swedish or from
Gotland or written by Gunnel or some other songwriter. Gunnel says about this
album: "All songs are in a sense about distance. They are also about searching
and longing. I wanted the songs to be free, and able to travel as freely as
they wanted to. Perhaps they have something to tell about passed times and times
yet to come."
Contact to label: email@example.com
Les Batinses "l' autre monde"
MPCD 3337; 2002; Playing time: 58.27 min
Canda is a big country with lots of diverse music cultures. And even if you
just look at the music scene of the French speaking community you can find lots
of different music. Les Batinses hail from Quebec, Quebec City to be exact.
They have met at the local university in 1994 and formed a band.
These six young people present a highly energetic mix of French Canadian and
some 'Celtic' traditions with lots of other music styles including rock, jazz,
punk, hip hop, ska and funk. Their music is individual and full of diverse atmospheres.
And during their live shows they are really hard working to entertain the audience.
The instruments include: guitars, organ, violin, saxes, bouzouki, feet, harmonica,
drums, percussion, bass, didgeridoo. Les Banrinses will keep you on your feet...
Homepage of the artist: www.lesbatinses.com/,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Pavla Milcova "Appollo 14"
Label: BMG Czech
Republic; 82876539272; 2003; Playing time: 45.11 min
If you want to listen to one of the most interesting sing-songwriters from the
Czech Republic - go for Pavla Milcova. Pavla has her own style somewhere between
roots music and Jazz - where maybe the jazz component is a bit stronger. Pavla
sings mostly self written songs - either in Czech language (most of the material
on this album) or in English. On Apollo 14, ten songs are written by Pavla,
additionaly there are two folk songs and "It's a lovely day today"
by Irving Berlin.
Apart from singing, Pavla plays kazoo. Then there is Stanko Paluch on violin
and viola and her musical partner Peter Binder on all the other instruments,
some of the music compositions and co arrangement and co production.
If you are into songwriting a bit off the beaten track- check Pavla out!
Homepage of the artist: www.milcova.aktualne.cz/,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Tarantula Rubra presenta "Pizzica la Tarantula"
Label: Blond Records; ß6.2157089; 2001;
Playing time: 56.42 min
If you once have experianced the power and energy of southern Italian tarantella
music - you are surely haunted by it. Tarantula Rubra are an group of enthusiasts
who wants to push 'Neotarantismo' to life and to a wider recognicion...
Pizzica la Tarantula is a compilation of 11 tunes of new Tarantella music. It
is fascinationg to listen to the energy and vitality and trance that this band
creates. If you listen to this you have to keep dancing through the night until
you are alive again. There are 9 different groups on the album, some better
known (at least in the scene) some totaly unknown: Lino Cannacacciuolo, Peppe
Barra, Phaleg, Cantodiscanto, Arakne Medterranea, Quataumentata, Kunsertu and
Canzoniere Grecanico Salention. Tarantula Rubra also formed a new group to present
this music, the Tarantula Rubra ensemble - this is featured on 3 tracks of the
If you have never heard of this kind of southern Italian music - maybe you should
start with this album...
Homepage of the artist: www.trantularubra.it,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Label: Radio Popolare/Sensible Records; SSB
018; 2001; Playing time: 63.48 min
Label: ??received promo-CD for review??, 2004;
Playing time: 66.13 min
If you want to hear a bit more modern tarantella and pizzica music - Mascarimiri
are the right path to go. Their music is great - full of power, energy and passion
for the living culture of the Salento region.
Mascarimiri are a quartet: Vito Giannone ( voice, tres, mandolin) - you can
find more about his tamburellis and tamorres at: http://www.vitogtamburelli.com,
Claudio "Cavallo" Giagnotti (voice, fiati, tamburella, cornice), Beppe
Branca (e-bass, grancassa, cori) and Sandro "Moviala" Dell' Anna (percussion).
About half of the songs are traditional - and if you are into pizzica &
tarantella, you surely have heard the one or other of these. The other half
is written by Claudio, in the same style. I like his kind of songwriting (even
though I do not understand most of the texts, as I cannot speak Italian). Mercatu
is great - you can feel the market day in town.
All in all an excellent album, I am looking forward to their next CD!!!
...And there it is already! Few days after writing the first review of the band
Mascarimirì a follow up album was in my post box...
What can I tell you about "festa"? My copy of the CD is a promo copy
without much information - so I cannot tell you much about the booklet or even
on which label it will be published...
It seems that the rhythm section has changed, the two new band members are Antonio
Melegari and Marco Santoro Verri, but this does not effect the sound of the
band too much. It is straight forward energetic modern Tarantella music. I like
their pure energy a lot.
Hopefully there will be a 'festa' of them soon in my region!
Homepage of the artist: www.mascarimiri.com,
Irish Life & Lore "The Mulcahy Family"
CD No : 63; 2003; Playing time: 61.02 min
Irish Life & Lore "Pecker Dunne (No.2)"
CD.94; 2002; Playing time: 65.08 min
This here is different and very special. So let me explain a thing or two what
everything is about. Four years ago, Maurice O'Keeffe, antiquarian from Tralee,
wondered about the great treasure of stories and memories that the older people
of Ireland still possess. Maurice went out to the farms, mainly in counties
Kerry and Clare, talked with the people, and assembled a collection of 120 CDs
altogether. Each containg a one hour interview (a single track which is a bit
unpractical). The shanachais Maurice met share memories of places and areas
and railways, a legendary footballer and a matchmaker, Celtic myth, local belief
and customs. There are also some musicians featured, e.g. sean-nos singer and
dancer Gussie McMahon, concertina player Chris Droney, and the renowned accordionist
Maurice came down to the home of the Mulcahy Family in Abbeyfeale, Co.
Limerick. This is the most northerly part of the musically famed Sliabh Luachra
area, and the Mulcahy home is a house packed up with instruments and full of
the craic. Pater familias Mick Mulcahy learned to play the accordion as a child,
and has passed on the music to his daughters. Mick and his wife Cecilia not
only talk about the music and related things, but practically demonstrate the
jigs and reels, polkas, hornpipes, and a slow air too. Mick himself can be heard
with the melodeon, concertina, and accordeon; his daughter Louise plays flute
and the uilleann pipes, daughter Michelle plays the concertina, fiddle, and
the harp. Both have won numerous competitions, and it was Mick Moloney (-> FW#24)
who has expressed the view that Michelle may well become the finest traditional
harpist Ireland has ever seen.
It's funny but browsing through my notebooks I recognise that I attended the
Joe Cooley & Kieran Collins Traditional Music Festival in Gort way back in 1997.
In O'Donnell's pub the band playing was - guess who - The Michael Mulcahy Family.
-- One musician I never met was The Pecker Dunne (though I once knew a band
in Muenster, Germany, who adopted his name as the group's name).
Stephen "Pecker" Dunne was born into a travelling family in 1933. He
did busk at hurling and football matches and used to play his five string banjo
with a thimble. Pecker came to national attention when he played a few concerts
with the Dubliners (-> FW#23) in the early
1960's. Maurice paid a (second) visit to Pecker's house in Killimer, Co. Clare,
after a recent recovery from illness to hear stories of life as a traveller
and busker. Pecker is not only willing to talk, he plays fiddle and banjo, and
sings his "Ballybunion by the Sea." He also plays some tunes with his 4 teenage
children, Stephen (aged 16, playing the banjo), Tommie (14, pipes), Madeline
(12, melodeon), and Sarah (11, concertina). I learn that the reel "Maid Behind
the Car," a good old traveller's name, written by Pecker's friend Paddy
Barry became "Kiss the Maid Behind the Bar" to put sex into it, but there
is no sex in lovely traditional music. But there still is a chance to
see Pecker. Once it's holiday time and the schools are closed, Pecker and his
family are off again to busk all over the country.
Maurice O'Keeffe, 15 Princes Quay, Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland; www.irishlifeandlore.com;
Colum Sands "The Note That Lingers On"
Label: Spring; SCD 1051; 2003; Playing time:
Just a few days after the CD launch, I had the chance to catch Colum
Sands of the renowned Sands Family (-> FW#7,
live & in colour in Monaghan Town. (Monaghan Folk club meets the last Thursday
every month from September to May at the Market House; drop in, it's a nice
venue.) Colum chatted about his travels near and far that took him from Belfast
to Tel Aviv, and he sang his big hits and a couple of his new songs alike. Colum's
songs are peopled with characters seemingly so fictional but no they are real.
He remembers "Sweeney the Fiddler" from his school days in Newry: Frank loved
to play the fiddle he knew that from the start, but the chemist's shop he ran
as well, it nearly broke his heart. And when a tune came to his head, he'd take
the fiddle down and customers 'above themselves' were soon brought to the ground.
'And of all the shops in Newry, did you have to come to mine? Can't you see
I'm playing the fiddle and I haven't got the time for trying to read prescriptions,
for ills you haven't got. And time will cure you anyway, sure the dogs in the
street know that. Obviously you can still find these people (though one
wonders sometimes when you're driving along a boreen and the Edi Irvines are
behind you). Monaghan is just across the border of his base in County Down,
Northern Ireland, and there's the political comment as well. "Skipping History
Lessons" is the attempt, which failed by six seconds, to distil the official
story of warfare into less than a minute. But Colum is charming and no agitator.
Mind you, the magic of the music's in the note that lingers on and that
made me write this when the music's fresh in the ear.
Colum Sands/Spring Records
Matt & Shannon Heaton "Dearga"
Records; ESL CD 004; 2003; Playing time: 52.51 min
The Gaelic dearga means red or intense, and there is a certain glow as
well in the latest offering from Shannon Heaton (flute, low whistle) and Matt
Heaton (guitar), both members of the trio Siucra
(-> FW#26). A mixed bag of traditional
and original tunes makes an excellent flute/guitar album. Help comes by some
friends, including Aoife Clancy with
whom both worked for a few years. But Aoife isn't singing but only strumming
the guitar. Regretable, because in the vocal compartment Matt and Shannon are
not that muscular compared to their instrumental abilities (and compared to
Siucra-singer Beth Leachman; by the way, I have just been to Knocknarea and
Maeve's Grave in Co. Sligo about which Beth wrote and sang so fine). But this
minor disappointment relates to the three songs only, the traditional Irish
"Keeper of the Game," the reworked Scottish "Fair Jamie", and the original "Heartland."
Otherwise, as I said before, it's of high quality.
Harry Bradley, Jesse Smith & John Blake "The
Tap Room Trio"
SPINCD1007; 2003; Playing time: 43.35 min
Young guns at it again! Flutist Harry Bradley
(-> FW#25), fiddler Jesse
Smith (-> FW#25, FW#25),
and John Blake on guitar and piano, a much sought-after accompanist in recent
times (-> FW#23, FW#25).
But young as they may be, the lads are hunting for a more ancient sound: The
tune that gave the title, The Tap Room, was inspired by a 78 rpm disc featuring
melodeon player P.J. Conlon and fiddler James Morrison. And actually all the
tunes here are from the playing of Killoran, Coleman, Doherty, Morrison, the
Flanagan Brothers and the like. With piano accompaniment on most of the tracks
we get the feeling of the good old days of traditional Irish music. Like having
an old Coleman recrding, but with a better sonic quality and no disturbing cracking.
It's fine to see that the younger generation as well tries to reinvigorate
their tradition by rediscovery of its past, implicitly rejecting any borderline
experimentation with other musical genres and returning to the musical purity
expressed by their illustrious predecessors. Furthermore, it's nice to discover
that "My Aunt Jane"'s polka is nothing else than the Belfast children's song
"I'll Tell Me Ma," and the highland "Music at the Gate" has been used by Percy
French for "Phil the Fluther's Ball."
Seamus Heaney & Liam O'Flynn "The Poet & The
CCT21CD; 2003; Playing time: 58.25 min
When the Norman cleric Giraldus
Cambrensis visited Ireland in 1185, he found the people barbarous,
only music being of commendable diligence. 500 years later, English poet
Edmund Spenser again
praised the bards of this barbarous nation. Over the centuries, the Emerald
Isle has produced an astonishing wealth of writers, from Amergin
to W.B. Yeats. A literary caste flourished
in Gaelic Ireland up to the final destruction of Gaelic society in the 17th
century. The bard (filid) was sitting with the clan chief, and his poetry was
chanted or sung by a reciter (reacaire) accompanied by a harper (cruit). Unfortunatly
there is little evidence concerning the musical delivery. When the old harpers
were re-discovered in the late 18th century, their repertoire consisted mainly
of song airs, rather unlikely to provide dramatic accompaniment to bardic poetry.
That's no criticism for the 21th century bards in question, just to point out
the difference. In any case, it's pipes here anyway, no harp.
Heaney was born in 1939 in Castledawson, South Derry. His first collection
of poetry was published in 1966 culminating in the Nobel Prize for Literature
in 1995 for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday
miracles and the living past. (Christy
Moore's "On The Mainland" denounced the BBC claiming Heaney's achievement
as their own, the winner was a British poet, Seamus Heaney from Londonderry
-> FW#3.) According to Eugene O'Brien the
key aspects of Heaney's writing are aesthetics, politics, language, myth,
ethics, identity and notions of Irishness. Seamus Heaney literally is digging
deep into the boglands of Ireland, its history, Gaelic literature and the Irish
(*1945 -> FW#5) hails from the townland of Kill
in Co. Kildare (home of Fenian campaigner John
Devoy who became a rebel at the age of nine after a teacher smashed a slate
over his head when he refused to sing God Save the Queen). Liam's father
played the fiddle and his mother was a cousin of Junior Crehan (-> FW#21).
Liam learned the uilleann pipes from Leo
Rowsome (-> FW#26) and struck close
friendship with Seamus Ennis.
He co-founded the legendary Planxty, the group being unique for mixing dance
tunes with traditional ballads and contemporary songs. He also was probably
the first piper to play with an orchestra. Though working with artists as diverse
as John Cage, Kate Bush and Mark Knopfler, Liam always remained true to the
great piping tradition.
Liam O'Flynn has performed with Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney since a decade.
Heaney says, I have a strong sense of pleasure and pride in sitting beside
a piper of Liam's mystery. The pipes call and raise the spirit. They also quieten
and open up the daydream part of people. He reads 27 poems, including "Bogland"
and "The Tollund Man," translations of Aodhagán Ó Rathaille's
"Gile na Gile" and "An
Bunnán Buí" (The Yellow Bittern) by Cathal Buí Mac
Giolla Gunna (Yellow Charlie Gunn, 1680-1755). The story goes that Cathal was
coming home from the pub one wintry day and found a dying yellow bittern by
the shores of Lough MacNean. He did believe that the bird was dying because
he could not drink from the lake and he took great pity since his own greatest
concern was the want for the pure drop. Liam O'Flynn performs chiefly slow airs,
occasionally supported by Rod McVey on harmonium and Stephen Cooney on guitar.
It's modern poetry, yet at the same time it evokes archaic images. Since the
sound of the pipes resembles the human voice as probably no other instrument
does, it enhances the impression of the reading. We are back in time at the
court of the Gaelic chieftain. Well, almost.
P.S.: Concerning Liam O'Flynn, Planxty has announced a series of Irish
concerts for January and February 2004, featuring the original 1970's line-up
Donald Lindsay "To the Drum of the Sea"
Records; R2CD 2012; 2002; Playing time: 43.29 min
Donald Lindsay plays the Scottish
pipes, mainly the Scottish smallpipes, the smaller and gentler sibling of the
martial war pipes. This is the proper sound made for the compositions of Alex
Muir, a retired minister, now living in Inverness. Muir composed slow airs,
marches, Old Testament psalms, retreats, strathspeys, reels, jigs, hornpipes,
the entire variety of pipe music. Unhurried tunes, chiefly at mid tempo. Some
of Muir's tunes have been recorded before, and now by the holder of the only
competition trophy for the Scottish Smallpipes, The Colin Ross Trophy. And Donald
Lindsay performs and interpretates it well, with a style of his own. Additionally
Donald wrote some words to "Duncansby Head," originally a bagpipe retreat, that
echo sadness yet resilience in the face of a broken romance. His vocal
delivery is far from broken. Donald is accompanied by Calasaig's
(-> FW#19) Celine Donoghue (fiddle,
see review below), Keith Easdale (cittern, whistle), and Stuart Glasgow (guitar).
Worth to check out.
Celine Donoghue "Something Else"
Records; R2CD 2006; 2003; Playing time: 44.00 min
Calasaig member Celine
Donoghue (-> FW#19) was a finalist
in the inaugural Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year competition
and winner of the All Britain Fleadh for tenor banjo back in 2001. This year
she toured with the 3 Scottish tenors, a well established lady on the trad circuit.
In the liner notes of her debut solo album, Celine wrote: [Man Overboard]
was penned whilst on the ferry going from Stranraer to Larne. Whilst we were
having a session (musical!) in the bar. At the same time someone out on deck,
decided to jump into the Irish Sea - naked! Barely twenty, Celine's everything
but naked, well equipped with banjo and fiddle at least. The tunes are delicate
and fiery. Furthermore two Burns songs,
"Aye Waukin O" sung by Celine herself, and "Hey Ca' Thro'" given by Mick West
and Kirsten Easdale. Further help comes from an illustrious line-up including
Brian McNeill (concertina), Keith Easdale (uilleann pipes, whistles), Stevie
Lawrence (hurdy-gurdy), Wendy Weatherby (cello), and a Russian folk ensemble
(balilika, accordion). At least the latter makes a difference. But is it something
else? Not really, but why being different when you're doing your thing and you're
doing it right.
Whisky Trail "The Great Raid"
Hill; FHME 34; 2002; Playing time: 92.32 min
According to Irish lore, the "Táin
Bó Cúailnge" (Cattle Raid of Cooley) tells the deeds of the
legendary warrior hero Cú Chulainn who defended Ulster and its famous
brown bull Donn against Queen Maeve of Connacht and her white bull Findbenn.
An epic tale that ends in wholesale slaughter (Lord of the Rings for beginners).
The remains of the bulls are scattered all over Ireland, remembered best in
placenames such as Bull's Back, Bull's Forehead, Horny Mountain, and last but
not least Ford of the Loin (Ath Luain = Athlone). The place to be for Whisky
Trail is not as easy to pigeon-hole. The Táin is not the only trail
that the group follows, though the two sides of this double CD are named after
Donn and Findbenn, respectively. The Italian quartet wanders on different tracks,
folkloric stimuli, Irish and Scottish songs, a poem by Seamus Heaney (see above),
and finishing off with the familiar "Auld Lang Syne" (whatever the reason).
The four are not the first Italians spelled by the magic of Irish music. Maybe
one may look back to the Irish missionary and saint Columban (543-615) who made
it to Bobbio writing songs all along the way. In the late 1950s Giula Lorimer
and her husband from the U.S. backpacked Ireland, moreover doing amateur recordings
of traditional music. The couple settled near Florence and founded the Gruppo
Folk Internazionale, later renamed as Whisky Trail. "The Great Raid" is in fact
the 8th album altogether, as the title says a great raid through the
musical trail they traced in 25 years. Today the band consists of Giulia Lorimer
(voc, fid), Vieri Bugli (fid, viol), Stefano Corsi (harp), Pietro Sabatini (guit,
bouz, bodh), and guest Massimo Giuntini (uilleann pipes). Most tunes are original,
call it suites. Like a lot of continental European outfits, they start with
traditional and traditional-minded Celtic tunes and songs to spice it up with
everything from classical features to jazz facets, so to create a unique sound
of its own. Somebody wrote it should more properly be regarded as contemporary
art music rather than folk or roots music. I agree.
Forrest Hill Records/Harmony Music
More English CD Reviews: Page 2 - Page
3 - Page 4 - Page 5 -
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
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