FolkWorld #44 03/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Lorne MacDougall "Hello World"
Greentrax Recordings, 2010

Lorne MacDougall is a young Scottish piper from Argyll playing Highland pipes, reelpipes, smallpipes, and last but not least the odd whistle. His debut solo album is a great musical tour de force, placing that ancient instrument and its music firmly into the 2nd decade of the 21st century. All starts with "Hug air a' Bhodach Mor" (which Julie Folwis did as a song under a slightly different title [34]), followed by the popular "Gravel Walk" reel and one of Richard Dwyer's. The melody has been slightly changed to suit the Highland pipes scale, the backing is by Ross Kennedy (bouzouki),[35] Duncan Lyall (bass) and James MacKintosh (percussion). Next is Lorne MacDougall's own "Rebecca Brown's Welcome to Campbeltown," followed by GS MacLennan's "Waltz of Slurs" (which is rather a mazurka than a waltz). Lorne plays both border pipes (made by Fred Morrison)[41] and small pipes (made by Hamish Moore),[16] plus Brian McNeill on bouzouki.[42] The next tracks introduce more guests, namely English guitarist Martin Simpson (guitar),[41] Canadian Troy McGillivray (piano),[39] Andy Thorburn (piano) and Adam Brown (bodhran). It is a nice selection of original compositions and those by others. The staff notes of Lorne's slow reels "Hello World" and "Scalasaig" are both in the booklet. Lorne's reel "Fardach na Pioba" had previously recorded on Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller's debut album,[37] here Siobhan sings John Martyn's "Fisherman's Dream" making a change of pace in this overall solid bagpipe recording.
© Walkin' T:-)M

The Shee "Decadence"
Shee Records, 2010

Now, that's what I call decadent - namely sophisticated and très chic. The Shee are Lillias Kinsman-Blake (flute, whistle), Shona Mooney (fiddle), Rachel Newton (harp, vocals), Olivia Ross (fiddle, vocals), Laura-Beth Salter (mandolin, vocals) and Amy Thatcher (accordion). Even more so than their debut album "A Different Season"[38] this is a romp through different traditions while always coming back to the safe haven of Celtic music. The CD kicks off with a glorious rendition of the traditional folk song "Troubles" sung by Laura and the rest of the girls in harmony, and I'm immediately hooked. This cannot be topped, right, but there is no low point either. More songs such as "Vandy Vandy" by Manly Wade Wellman, the traditional "Eppie Morrie," and a piece of Scottish mouth music (Laura, Rachel and Olivia share vocals). Some instrumental tunes are featured as well, written by Shona, Amy and Rachel, as well as from the pen of Northumbrian piper Andy May[40] and US fiddlers Liz Carroll[39] and Jay Ungar.[27] Well done, ladies!
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NicGaviskey "Home away from Home"
Own label, 2010

NicGaviskey is the transatlantic collaboration between two sisters from the Irish Co. Meath, Bernadette (fiddle) and Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina), and two lads from the other side of the western ocean, Sean Gavin (flute) and Sean McComiskey (button accordion) from Detroit and Baltimore, respectively. (The latter being the son of veteran box player Billy McComiskey.)[40] The four met at the Catskills Irish Arts week in upstate New York in 2009, and this impromptu gathering created such a spark that they decided to give it a go and try for something more, namely a real group. The internet helped a lot. They discovered that they have a fondness for the same kind of tunes, the rest evolved in cyberspace, and recordings took place in sessions on both sides of the Atlantic in early 2010.
Most of the 15 tracks are made up of mostly well-travelled tunes. Let's take as an example just the start with the popular reels "Miss McGuinness" and the "Ravelled Hank of Yarn". Let me just mention the jig "Father Tom's Wager" which is in O'Neill's, but I cannot recall any recent recording. There is a nice pair of barndances, "Chaffpool Post" which I heard from Teada,[23] followed by Ed Reavy's "Dances at Kinvara". "Louie's Waltz" is a fine composition by fiddler Joe Ryan. Everybody gets his solo spot: "Mayes' Cross", which is a version of the "Killavil Reel," on the flute; Caitlin's "Jig for Bernie" on the concertina; one of Martin Wynne's reels on the fiddle; "Na Ceannabhain Bhana," originally a Gaelic song but played as a slip jig here, on the accordion.
The sound is quite special: there is no rhythmic backing instrument, and the blend of accordion and concertina is interesting, to say the least. Well, we'll see if this is a one-off or something's more developing ...
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Robbie O'Connell, Aoife Clancy, Donal Clancy
"The Clancy Legacy"
Own label, 2010

The story of the Clancy Brothers has often been told. Let's skip to the next generation and start with the story of three cousins. Robbie O'Connell (vocals, guitar) is a nephew of the Clancy Brothers, who joined that group in the late 1970s, stood with them in Madison Square Garden for the Dylan tribute, and recorded with various family members on and off. Aoife Clancy (vocals, bodhran) is the daughter of Bobby Clancy.[24] As a teen she was playing with her father the local pubs. In the mid 90s she joined the Irish-American all-female group Cherish the Ladies,[41] and recorded several solo albums. Donal Clancy (vocals, guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, whistle)[32] is the son of Liam Clancy[41] and made a successful career that included stints with Danu[42] and Solas.[32] The three cousins first performed together under the name of "The Clancy Legacy" in 2006. It was supposed to be a one-off, but somehow it was a hit. They got offers and decided to stay together.
Their debut CD, featuring guests such as flutist Shannon Heaton[44] and fiddler Oisin McAuley,[33] displays no cover band celebrating a glorious past. This is novel and fresh from the very start. It is kicking off with "The Jug of Punch," abused in pubs all around the world. Robbie reworked the lyrics and the music, taking the song out of the pub without eliminating its alcoholic content, so to speak. Don't expect any drunken brawl here, even later on with popular stuff such as "Quare Bungle Rye". It can be found in every Irish tune book, and still I know no recording of it. Anyway, Robbie put some new music to it too. Of course, Aoife's selections are more relaxed than rowdy anyway. Donal also plays some tunes on the solo guitar. The first set is a Breton tune, the reel "Lillies In The Field," I only heard once by Harry Bradley",[25] and the more popular "Limestone Rock" reel. The slow air "Sliabh Geal gCua" (Solas did it as a song on their debut album) is followed by the well-known reel "Maud Miller".
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Tattie Jam "Jam"
Own label, 2009

Well, that really is a jam, the combination of Ruaridh Pringle (vocals, guitar, banjo) and Seylan Baxter (vocals, cello). The album kicks off with "Are Ye Sleepin' Maggie?", one of Robert Tannahill's most popular songs.[41] The sleeve notes have the original Scots words plus an English translation. There's nothing eerie with the combination of guitar and cello, it is even very effective on the song selections. For example, there's the traditional "Birken Tree" and they apologize tongue-in-cheek that in the song no babies are stabbed or thrown from castle windows, and no one gets tortured, brutalised or killed at all. Well, that's unusual for a Scottish song. Ruaridh's own "Winch away" about the fishing industry is unusual in so far that it is not lamenting it's decline but talking about causes: The skipper on the TV says: I love my trade, my Mercedes, and my trawler, and the wage I'm paid. My family's fished the North Sea all our days, I don't see why I should have to change my ways. His "Doctor's Dochter" is written to make up for the "Birken Tree", involving stalking, violation, familiacide (by immolation), suicide, and post-mortem ostracisation. Just another day in Stirlingshire then.
The instrumental music is a different breed, and it becomes a bit more of a challenge. At least, I had to get used to it, and it took some spins in the disc player to really appreciate it. Some tunes have been written by Ruaridh; some tunes written by fiddlers Charlie McKerron or John McCusker I haven't really heard before I think. Eventually there is one set with well-known favourites, starting with the "Haughs o' Cromdale" (better known as a song) and three more or less popular reels.
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Matt Seattle Band "Reivers of the Heart"
Dragonfly Music, 2010

First I have to explain that reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border. Piper Matt Seattle[13] focussed on Border music, music with a border heart where Alba and Albion touch shoulders and the friction between Scotland and England gives Border music a particular energy. It wasn't enough and needed an even more eclectic interpretation - Border lamb with Moroccan spice. Hence Frazer Watson on darabuka, tapan and whatever ethnic frame drums joining Matt Seattle (border pipes, mandolin), Lewis Powell-Reid (accordion, mandolin, bouzouki) and Donald Knox (guitar, mandolin). There are some classic border pipe tunes, namely traditional English triple-time hornpipes,[38] or "Cut and Dry Dolly " which I heard from Rob Say.[43] "Keelman Ower Land" is a Northumbrian air, "Holy Halfpenny" the famous Irish jig known under titles such as "Polly...", "Molly..." etc. There also is a march, strathspey and reel set by the band's guitarist Donald Knox and even more tunes by Matt Seattle himself. The cover art shows the quartet on a flying carpet over moonlit hills and fields, and eventually the band takes off with the most exotic track, "Damascus Drums," name after a café in the town of Hawick, and being somewhat of a Scottish pipe reel in an Arabic mode.
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Sophie & Fiachra "Sophie & Fiachra"
Own label, 2010

Sophie Lavoie is a fiddler from Québec, Fiachra O‘Regan is an uilleann piper and whistler from Connemara in the west of Ireland. The idea is quite simple: blend the music of their respective homeland and see what comes out. The difference is not too huge anyway. When the French colonised Quebec in the 17th century, there were already Irish present, and later in the 19th century famine emigrants flocked in thousands. Music knows no borders, and Sophie & Fiachra know how to enjoy themselves with some lively music. Their respective styles fit to each other like a glove and almost needed no adjustments.
Ten tracks, featuring 16 tunes, let's take a glimpse. The tunes are traditional with the exception of Maurice Lennon's "Road to Garrison". With the Quebec tunes I'm not very familiar with. There is the "Reel du Lac-St-Jean" which takes its name from the lake where Sophie comes from. "J'ai fait une maitresse" and "Isabeau s'y Promene" are airs of traditional Quebecoise songs. Then there are popular Irish tunes such as the reel "Down the Broom" or the "Hag with the Money" jig. "Amhran Na Tra Baine" is a slow air, originally a Gaelic song, which is not very often recorded. These two traditions are not exclusive: the Irish "Tripping Up The Stairs," played from Cape Clear to Orkney, and the Quebecoise "Gigue des Capuchons" have one part almost in common with each other. So look out - if this record makes its round there might be a three-part version played very soon in your local session!
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Frankie Gavin & De Dannan
"Jigs, Reels & Rock n' Roll"
Celtic Collective, 2010

De Dannan, well, that was something. The name alone is evoking a magnificent past. Not the dim and distant age of Irish mythology, but the glory days of Irish music in the 1970s and 80s. De Dannan was not the run-of-the-mill Irish trad you could catch on every corner, it was something special. The band worked for quite a while up until the 21st century, then the protagonists went separate ways. Recently fiddler extraordinaire Frankie Gavin,[23][37] Fastest Fiddle Player in the World according to the Guinness Book of Records, waved the flag once again. I don't care if he is using the name of De Dannan just for PR reasons (which certainly is the case as well). The question is if there is something more to it and if there is something to connect to the old De Dannan sound. To cut a long story short, the answer is - yes! Frankie Gavin's current outfit, featuring Damien Mullane (accordion), Eric Cunningham (bodhran, flute, whistle) and Mike Galvin (guitar, bouzouki), is reviving the unmistakeable sound with a selection of jigs and reels, some barndances and Kerry Polkas. Damien Mulhane contributed a fine waltz of his own. As De Dannan did before with "Hey Jude," for example, is continued with instrumental versions of Ron Woods and Rod Stewart's song "Gasoline Alley," Ronnie himself is on lap steel guitar, and George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun". The Beatles song is turning into a hornpipe and reel. Of course, there are songs too, and the singer is Galway born Michelle Lally, a young pretender for the throne defended by Mary Black etc.[44] Besides the traditional "Down the Moor and Across the Heather" the band chose four contemporary songs. Though a bit too much in the middle-of-the-road, there's some nice lyrics.
Frankie Gavin, not known for being shy, boasted that this will reflect a De Dannan of the 21st century. The thing is he could be right.
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Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts
"Up From The Deep"
GR! Records, 2010

Fiddler Katriona Gilmore has once been a member of Tiny Tin Lady,[38] Jamie Roberts is the guitarist of Kerfuffle.[41] But getting together as a duo created a sound that made me gasp. It took only a few spins in my record player and "Up From The Deep" slipped into my Top 10 list of 2010.[44] Their already second album contains mostly original material though based on traditional roots. Jamie's "All I've Known" is a fantastic start, followed by two tunes written by Katriona. Next comes a haunting ghost story song by Katriona, then it gets more traditional with the "Shepherd and his Fife". Furthermore I'd like to mention Katriona's song "Off to California" which is based on the traditional hornpipe of the same name (see for example played by Rattle the Boards).[36] Her "No Rest for the Wicked" could be a song equally for a truck driver or a touring musician. They probably can tell, being on the road as support for Fairport Convention right now. Besides the strong songs and delicate arrangements, fiddle and guitar playing is top-notch with the fiddle more forceful right into the face and the guitar exploring the whole nine yards between subtle patterns and percussive slaps.
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Seána "Traditional Irish Harp"
Own label, 2010

Seána Davey is a young Irish harper from Co. Meath in her mid-twenties, having learned the first few steps of her trade in the small village of Nobber, incidentally the birthplace of the great Irish travelling harper Turlough O'Carolan.[20] Seána went on to study harp and piano with the Royal Irish Academy of Music and, along the way, became a five-times All-Ireland champion. Altogether she covers anything from classical to contemporary music. Her debut recording however is dedicated to the traditional dance music of Ireland, featuring a nice blend of the young and the old. There are traditional tunes such as the slip jig "Kitty Come Down to Limerick," which she plays in a three-part version here. You will recognize that the "Flying Column" reel is nothing else than the well-known "Farewell to Erin". Other tunes come from the pen of flutist John Brady (the setdance "Saint Sinchill's Well"), accordionist Máirtín Ó Connor (the jig "Rocking the Boat"[22] dedicated to filmmaker and author Bob Quinn[43]). Here and there Stephen Doherty (flute, low whistle, bodhran) and Conal Early (piano, bass, nylon guitar) add some nice touches. From the characteristic Irish harp repertoire she chose the popular Carolan tunes "Carolan's Draught" and "Carolan's Concerto," and the air "An Ciarraioch Maollithe", originally a Gaelic song by the pen of Eoin Rua Ó Súilleabháin. In the end Seána put all her skills into her own piece "B'fheidir...," displaying years of practising and a very talented young lady.
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Kate Rusby "Make the Light"
Pure Records, 2010

Kate Rusby[17][20][26][35] always smuggeld a song of her own into her traditional ballad repertoire, this time it is 100% Kate only. There is a gorgeous start with the upbeat-midtempo "The Wishing Wife," the next two songs as well form an altogether felicitous triad. It gets a bit more subdued after that, but there are another highlights such as "Walk the Road" in the second part of the album. The backing - her partner Damien O'Kane[42] or Capercaillie's Donald Shaw[43] - is at most times rather understated, thus never drowning Kate's vocals and the tender melodies. Only occasionally a bigger sound is employed or a colliery brass band used. I have to say that until now I preferred her interpretations of traditional songs much more than her original material. But now she has convinced me.
P.S. Kate Rusby also sang one of Davy Steele's songs on his Greentrax tribute collection.[44]
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Nua "Both Sides"
Own label, 2011

German CD Review Germany has already proven that it is no longer the heimat of pub songs and folk punk of the Dubliners and Pogues type but top quality and state-of-the-art Irish music. German band CARA (with the recent addition of an Irish and a Scots musician) did become a worldwide success.[43] If they last, aptly titled newcomers NUA might only take their first few steps of a long way yet - at least on the German folk circuit.
The quartet presents both sides of Irish music - dance music and songs. First of all, seven out of eleven tracks are instrumental tune sets, led by the fiddle and flute of young Michael Neumaier and Steffen Gabriel, respectively. There's a couple of familiar jigs and reels, including two by Michael himself. "Mrs Casey's" is a hornpipe rarely heard, though it is featured in old tune collections.[24] Very nice is a set of two polkas followed by a slide and a reel, namely the less popular "Upperchurch Polka" and Mick Hanly's "Jessica's Polka" made famous by Kevin Burke. The tunes are driven by the ten string bouzouki of Tobias Kurig, who played many years with the popular German bands Shanachie and Deirin De,[24] and recently recorded with Irish uilleann piper Colman Connolly.[34]
Second, there is the beautiful voice of Michaela Grüß (who also plays the bodhran), which is already mature and confident. "William and Davy" is a song with a traditional feel written by English songstress Kate Rusby.[26] "Thou hast left me ever, Jamie" is a more obscure work from the pen of Robert Burns.[38] Much more popular is "P Stands for Paddy" and "Both Sides the Tweed," the latter with only piano accompaniment being the least impressive cut of the album. But overall, with juicy arrangements (e.g. nice instrumental breaks in the songs) and the fine interplay - that's a start.
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Andy Irvine "Abocurragh"
Own label, 2010

It would be futile to introduce Andy Irvine,[23][35] so let's get straight to the tracks of his first studio album in more than ten years and his only fifth solo album in a musical career of almost 50 years. The recording, named after his current residence in Co. Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, took more than a year whenever he found time in his tour schedule. The CD kicks off with "Three Huntsmen" where Andy put some new music to. Employing uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn, guitarist Donal Lunny and accordionist Mairtin O'Connor there immediately is the characteristic Planxty sound.[30] Next is the Child ballad "Willy of Winsbury," which Andy recorded way back on Sweeney's Men debut album in the late 1960s. Planxty played it on their recent reunion tour. "Emptyhanded," the best song that Greek songwriter George Papavgeris ever wrote,[41] employs a big orchestra again, featuring also Annbjørg Lien on hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa.[42] And so forth. Let me just mention the traditional Ulster song "James Magee," featuring fiddlers Bruce Molsky and Rens van der Zalm from the Mozaik outfit.[36] The Child ballad "The Demon Lover" has Nikola Parov on kaval and nyckelharpa. There also is a great song about the early 20th century union agitator Mother Jones written by Andy.
Andy Irvine, who is approaching seventy, doesn't invent himself again, his voice has matured and seems a bit lower, but it suits him. After all, it is a beautiful selection, sounds fresh and many younger could take an example.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Uxu Kalhus "Ao Vivo - 10 Anos de
Folk em Português" [DVD Video]
Own label, 2010

The Portuguese band Uxu Kalhus is celebrating their 10th anniversary with a concert DVD called "Ao Vivo", i.e. live. The group was founded a decade ago, and already then made their first few steps into fusing traditional Portuguese music with world music. Their debut recording in 2006 was more traditional based, the follow-up in 2009 has been in the group's eyes a revolution bringing Portuguese music in realms never heard of before. One thing for sure, this concert presents a very different line-up from their appearance at the 2008 Rudolstadt festival. In the eye of the storm is the lively singer Joana Margaça, surrounded by Paulo Pereira (transverse flute, recorder, oboe) and Antńio Bexiga (electric guitar), who also perform with the No Mazurka Band,[43] as well as Eddy Slap (electric bass guitar), André Lourenço (keyboards) and Luis Salgado (drums). It is jazz rock and world music with folksy roots, sometimes reminiscing a Portugese version of Jethro Tull. "Saia da Carolina" and "O Velho" are Uxu Kalhus' big hits, and as thus repeated in the encore.
After 95 minutes I'm convinced that Portuguese music is not all about fado, Portuguese music is able to celebrate the joys of life as well.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Susan McKeown "Singing in the Dark"
Own label, 2010

I shall not sing a May song, a May song should be gay. I'll wait until November and sing a song of gray... Gwendolyn Brooks sums up what "Singing in the Dark" is all about. The Irish singer Susan McKeown based in New York is an interpreter of both traditional[11][17][29] and contemporary song.[11][23] Her recent sojourn led her to a collaboration with klezmer singer Lorin Sklamberg.[41] This time Susan McKeown's concept album "Singing in the Dark" is diving deep into melancholic if not outright depressing music. With her entire spectrum of musical prowess she chose writers who hold forth about the state of melancholy. All had severe disturbances in their moods and behavior themselves, many were under medical treatment, some died by their own hands.
It starts with lyrics by Theodore Roethke and Anne Sexton, put to music by Frank London and Lisa Gutkin, respectively. At least musically light though not necessarily the words: dark my light, and darker my desire. 19th century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan's is a rollicking folk song, featuring the haunting pipes of Lunasa's Cillian Vallely.[40] Now comes the above-mentioned Gwendolyn Brooks song, followed by John Dowland (his motto being semper dolens - always mourning). Susan's adaption of the ancient Irish tale of Mad Sweeney is one of the most awesome songs of the album. Violeta Parra's "Gracias a la Vida" is a celebration of life. Nuala ni Dhomhnaill's "Crack in the Stairs" is the most depressing and disturbing in a selection of dark music. But Nuala was probably right with the response to the recommendation by a doctor that a poet friend should stop writing poetry because it was thought it had brought on an episode of mental illness: The only thing that cures it is the poetry. The only thing that keeps us alive is the poetry.
In the end, Susan McKeown is not only addressing the issue, but also delivering songs of healing with much passion. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this album goes to mental health organizations.
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Jadid Ensemble "Sigh of the Moor"
Own label, 2010

The Iberian Peninsula is a striking example for the clash of cultures. The Celtic people of old were conquered and reconquered, first by the Romans, Germanic tribes passed by, then came the Muslim conquest and the Christian reconquista. It left a legacy of Islamic, Carolingian and Celtic art, and became a musical battleground between whatever traditions. In the end, this battle was much more peaceful than the political struggle. And look to the results culminating in something as fine as flamenco music.
With the Jadid Ensemble's "Sigh of the Moor" I rarely heard anything crossing those borders so effortless and making it one, though - or maybe because - the band is more or less English composer Glenn Sharp. He plays guitar, saz and oud; and is helped out by Olivia Moore (violin), Paul Cheneour (flute, ney mizmar) and Adam Warne (riq, darbuka, frame drum). What the quartet creates might not be too authentic. They stay middle-of-the-road with lightbodied though melancholic melodies. Nevertheless, the tracks have a cinematique quality. One wonders what film called "Sigh of the Moor" would be all about? Love and lust in the Emir's harem, knights in shining armour, a beautiful mysterious Gypsy fortune-teller, "Tango Arabe" would be a danced Arabic love poem, "Vandal" a stirring peplum spectacle about the people that were trekking across the peninsula in a rather short episode in the country's history.
"Sigh of the Moor" somehow became one of my favourite albums played over the cold winter season, when staring out of the window to the depressing grey skies.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Colin Grant "Fun for the Whole Family"
Own label, 2009

Colin Grant is a fiddler from Canada's East coast. In an effort to confuse the reviewer the album starts with Colin Grant's composition "Jerry Holland's March," performed by Colin's father John on the Highland pipes. There's more of Colin's song production (and eventually played on the fiddle) as well as tunes written by Cape Breton luminaries such as Glenn Graham or the Beaton family.[28] Colin is changing places, he composed a slip jig for Irish band Beoga's Mischief,[33] shared songwriting credits with English accordionist Martin Green,[40] and explores some Scottish tunes: for example, "Lass o' Corrie Mill" is a traditional strathspey I once heard from Cape Breton multi-instrumentalist Brad Reid.[40] The strathspey "Doctor Keith, Aberdeen" and the following reel "Carnie's Canter" are Scott Skinner tunes I haven't come across yet.[25] "Wha'll Be King but Charlie" is a jig and must be somehow related to the song of the same title celebrating the Jacobean rising of 1745.[43] Back across the Atlantic Colin plays the well-known reel "Down the Broom" in a Cape Breton setting. There's also an An Dro (learned from Kris Drever and Eamonn Coyne)[33] and a Ridee, Colin studied at an university in France, and coming full circle he finishes off with an Acadian and a Quebecois tune. Colin is backed up by a legion of fellow Cape Breton musicians including drums, keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, and his romp is fancy and full of energy. As it says - fun for the whole family!
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"La Guitare Celtique de Soïg Siberil" [DVD Video]
Big Bravo Spectacles, 2010

Soïg Siberil is probably the best known guitar player from Britanny.[12][34][42] Inspired by American blues and folk music he graduated to traditional Breton music and subsequently incorporated different modern elements into the Breton repertoire. In the mid 1970s he met Irish guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill[32] and adopted the open DADGAD tuning. This enriched and partly shaped the sound of bands like Kornog,[19] Gwerz[3] and Pennou Skoulm.[39]
For sure, Soïg Siberil has a highly original and brilliant finger picking technique that is infusing a new life in an ancient tradition. This tutorial DVD presents his techniques in several chapters, using a split-screen for the left and the right hand, respectively. The techniques are broadened by song examples. The bonus DVD contains an 1/2 hour portrait of Soïg Siberil featuring concert clips with artists such as Nolwenn Korbell.
Unfortunatly the DVDs are entirely in French. You soon get lost if you haven't at least some rudimentary French language skills. This is a pity, then why should Soïg Siberil's techniques be limited to the French-speaking world. (See Jean Banwarth's bi-lingual French-English CD/book tutorial as a contrast.)[44]
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Lyy "Lyy"
Dimma Sweden, 2010

Lyy is a Swedish folk music group founded in 2006, featuring Emma Björling (vocals), Anna Lindblad (fiddle), David Eriksson (nyckelharpa), Petrus Johansson (guitar) and Martin Norberg (percussion). Their self-titled debut album is a nice selection of Nordic music. There is a traditional Swedish-Norwegian herding song from Jämtland, traditional folk songs such as "Inte sörjer jag" (I am not mourning), and a love poem by Prins Wilhelm of Sweden (1884-1965). The traditional "Giftasvisan" (Marriage Song) has an additional verse by Ranarim singer Ulrika Bodén[44] asking for the reason getting married: Tar man riker blir man girig, tar man fatig felar mat, tar man gammal så blir man gnarrig, tar man ung så får man barn. -- If you take a rich man, you become greedy; if you take a poor man, you go hungry; if you take an old man, you get weary; if you take a young man, you get pregnant. Ironic advise, much more tragic is the medieval ballad of "Herr Magnus" from Västergötland. Often the traditional lyrics were adapted, completed and put to music , mostly by the band's singer Emma Björling. (The booklet features the Swedish song lyrics and brief explanations in English.) This is straight-forward Swedish folk music with some jazzy overtones, lightbodied, leaving the Nordic melancholy behind. The impression is of a mid summer's night, full of vitality and joie de vivre.
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Gary Miller "Reflections on War"
Whippet Records, 2010

Twa Scots soldiers enlistened frae France, spurred on by Kitchener to take their chance against the Kaiser with a screech and a yell and make him afraid o' the Ladies from Hell. From Mons to Ypres all the way through the Somme would they be left standing when their mates are all gone to look back and wonder how they ever returned hame or will they no' come back again?
Gary Miller had been the mastermind of the folk punk band Whisky Priests, founded in 1985 in Durham in northeast England. The Priests sang in their native dialect, the lyrics and stories firmly rooted in people and places. Unfortunatly the band was constantly struggling with line-up changes and the music biz in general. When the group disbanded in 2002, Gary stepped out of the spot light, apart from a recording with Blyth Power's Joseph Porter.[18]
Looking at the Priests' back catalogue, one notices that the first few songs were about young Geordie Jones ganning to Flanders and the Durham Light Infantry. Gary Miller's step out of retirement drew its inspiration from him developing an exhibition and two books of poetry and stories based on war-themed art and memorabilia (drawings, diaries) at York Art Gallery. "Reflections on War" is kicking off with a reworking of the Scots folk song "Twa Recruiting Sergeants" (see above) and closing with a parody on jingoistic war hymns and the thoughts of a soldier's embarking to Afghanistan: Now don't be alarmed at this state I'm in. I may have ballooned but in time I'll be thin. They've just fattened us up for the trials ahead, like slaughterbound lambs to the abattoir led. So this makes it much more as a historical album about the Great War 1914-18, when the British and other European governments are involved in the War on/of Terror all over the world it becomest an eminent political album. His lyrics are of the same quality as those popular WWI songs from Scotsman-turned-Aussie Eric Bogle.[40]
Musically he is branching out in different directions, there are tracks we're used to know from the Priests, but also covering new ground. Generally the songs are lacking the edge of the Priest recordings, I sometimes feel he is not fully exploring his potential. But the good thing is Gary Miller is back on the track - with a new album and the plan of touring both solo as well as with his new band GM & The Volunteers.
© Walkin' T:-)M

The Wakes "No Irish Need Apply"
Big Hooley Records, 2009

This is a wake-up call from an Irish-Scottish band based in Glasgow. Their motto: we might all be Jock Tamson's Bairns but our mother is Roisin Dubh. On their second album the lads surrounding singer and guitar player Paul Sheridan settled somewhere in the territory between the Pogues[22] and the Paperboys.[20] That's not bad news at all, the even better news is they were able to create their own sonic space. Whereas their original songs are often borrowing lines and expressions from popular Irish songs. They also cut the Italian partisan song "Bella Ciao," David Byrne's "Free the People" and David Rovics "St Patrick's Battalion," making an impressive folk rock ballad of the latter.[44]
Take me out to Germany ... is the first line of "Viva St Pauli", a punk folk hymn for Hamburg's legendary football club. There is a chance to catch them in Germany at the end of July 2011. I guess German folk rockers will like The Wakes.
© Walkin' T:-)M

June Tabor "Ashore"
Topic Records, 2011

What can go wrong with a new June Tabor[35] album? Almost nothing, and that makes a review of the English singer's recent release rather boring. Though there is so much to discover. This time it is a concept album with songs of and about the sea, featuring both traditional ballads and contemporary songs, and sure it is no shanty album. First song is the Oysterband fiddler Ian Telfer's ballad "Finisterre". Just compare the Oysterband and June Tabor's version on the "Freedom and Rain" album from 1989. Back then it was a sunny cape, and I imagine some Spanish music. Now thunder, hail and storm are lashing the coast, June's singing is backed only by Andy Cutting's accordion. The sea is bleak and nothing for the faint-hearted. There are traditional ballads such as the "Bleacher Lass o' Kelvinhaugh" (a girl falling in love with a sailor) and the "Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry" (spellbound seals). The traditional "Brean Lament" I never heard before. June crosses the Channel for the traditional French "Le Vingt-Cinquieme d'Octobre" and "Le Petit Navire". Cyril Tawney's popular "The Grey Funnel Line" and the lesser known "Oggie Man" are featured as well as Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding" about the Falkland War. An instrumental tune from the 17th century is taken from the Playford collection, another instrumental, actually a song, is "I'll Go and Enlist for a Sailor". Excellent vocals, the backing is done by Andy Cutting on accordion, Mark Emerson on violin, Tim Harries on double bass and Huw Warren on the piano. What more can I say? Further success is guaranteed - as long as June Tabor stays ashore and doesn't get lost in the seas.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Peadar Ó Lochlainn & Aggie Whyte
"Seancheol ar an Seannós"
Na Píobairí Uilleann, 1963/2010

Flutist Peadar Ó Lochlainn came from Co. Clare, where he had been a member of the Tulla Céilí Band: Fiddler Aggie Whyte had been from East Galway. Both were significant traditional artists during the 1950's who played the radio and fleadhanna ceoils as a duo, and won together the Oireachtas competition for duets in 1958. There are at least two different reels around that are sometimes called "Aggie Whyte's". (A legacy continued, her nieces and nephews played with Macalla, Reeltime and the Riverdance show.) "Seancheol ar an Seannós" was originally released on the Irish music collector Breandán Breathnach's Spól label in the mid 1960's; actually the only record ever relased by this short-lived label. Now the disc has been remastered and re-released again by the Society of Uilleann Pipers.[44] "Seancheol ar an Seannós" is featuring a selection of six fiddle/flute duets, twelve tunes in total, merely fourteen minutes, certainly much too short for today's demands. They perform reel and jig sets only. With the exception of "Murphy's Reel" and the jig "Cathaoir an Phíobare" (the title Piper's Chair refers to a rock near the Cliffs of Moher) the tunes are quite popular and well recorded today. The performance is excellent, and in the unhurried pace of the times.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Triakel "Ulrikas minne"
Westpark Music, 2011

After a five year sabbatical Sweden's premier trad band Triakel[29] recorded their altogether 5th album. It is undertitled Airs from Frostviken. All songs were collected from Ulrika Lindholm (1886-1977), a farmer's daughter from the mountain village of Raukasjö in the Frostviken district in northern Jämtland. In the late 19th century Raukasjö had been an intersection on the route between northern Sweden and Norway. Here people came together and many a song was sung. Young Ulrika was listening to medievals ballads and the popular songs of the day, sometimes her father Fredrik took out his fiddle. In the 1950s Swedish radio documented around 300 songs, some of them Triakel has already recorded on previous discs. This time a whole album is dedicated to Ulrika's treasure trove. There's still a wealth of lovely Nordic songs well hidden and ready to be taken up. These 14 tracks are the gold at the end of the rainbow. Great singing from Emma Härdelin, restrained backing from Kjell-Erik Eriksson (fiddle) and Janne Strömstedt (harmonium).
© Walkin' T:-)M

Jocelyn Pettit "Jocelyn Pettit"
Own label, 2009

Article: Connecting 100%

Jocelyn Pettit is a young fiddle player from British Columbia in the west of Canada, and being only 15 years old she had already made an impact. In the last twelve months she had been both nominated in the World Music category of the 100% Music Songwriting Contest[44] and for two Canadian Folk Music Awards, where she lost out against singer Dominic Mancuso and accordionist Alexandre Boivin-Caron.[44] But these are only titles, the journey is the reward.
Jocelyn's debut album is kicking off with Cape Breton music, branching out in the wider world of Celtic music of both the Old World and the New. The first three tunes have been written by Jocelyn herself. Next come three contemorary Scottish tunes penned by the likes of fiddlers John McCusker (Battlefield Band), Adam Sutherland (Session A9, Peatbog Faeries) and the late Michael Ferrie (Fiddler's Bid, Drop the Box), respectively. Track no. 3 is the well-known Dougie MacLean song "Caledonia" and a bit of an alien on this album. The following selections are instrumental only once again. "Shades of Mist," for example, turns out to be a delightful groovy piece, again composed by Jocelyn herself. "Farewell to Chernobyl" is from French fiddler Michel Ferry (see the discussion on Most tunes are taken from fiddlers, to name but just a few: Canadian Daniel Lapp of Spirit of the West and the BC Fiddle Orchestra, Scotland's Stuart Morison (ex Tannahill Weavers), James Scott Skinner,[25] and Willie Hunter,[2] Ireland's John Mhosie McGinley and Francie Dearg Byrne. The disc is not complete with the great Neil Gow's "Lament for the Death of his Second Wife" (tongue-in-cheek: some people say his second wife was actually his precious fiddle, which broke when he slipped on some ice and fell on his back ...) and a sojourn in a rather exotic area with "Keidas Oasis" from Petri Prauda, who plays with Scandinavian band Frigg.[35]
Jocelyn is backed up by guitar, piano, cello and bodhran. Overall it's a fine selection. The mix is not 100% perfect and the production might have been a bit more polished, but the fiddle playing is top-notch, and here is a major talent emerging.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Helene Blum "Liden Sol"
Pile House Records, 2010

FolkWorld Xmas

As I'm writing this the winter takes a break, it had been grim for a couple of weeks, now let's see what's still coming. Danish singer Helene Blum's[38][39] latest album is good for taking a break. Unfortunatly there are no lyrics coming with these Danish language songs written from the 16th century until recent times. However, in the end there is no language necessary, the feelings come across anyway. I gather "Liden Sol" (Little Sun), which must be her third album, is a collection of seasonal songs having telling titles such as "Julevise" (Yuletide Air) and "Decembernat" (December Night). Obviously this is more than a guess. The previous album was already a collection of Christmas songs and she had been successfully touring Denmark and Germany every December with a program of hymns and ballads.
The selection is delicate and delightful. The tunes are catchy, Helene's warm vocals drive off the cold and frost. She's shining on a couple of a capella songs. With fiddler Harald Haugaard's[40] band, featuring guitarist Rasmus Zeeberg and the Finnish double bass player Tapani Varis, the arrangements tend to light folk pop music. The CD is finishing off with "Det er Hvidt Herude" (It's White Outside), said to be a well-known Danish winter poem/song, here a kind of mediaeval sounding rock song, though the words are by the 19th century Danish poet Blicher put to music in 1914 but reworked by Harald Haugaard.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Dave Sheridan "Drivin' Leitrim Timber"
Own label, 2010

The Irish flutist Dave Sheridan is a native of Co. Leitrim and Head of Music at St Michael's college Dublin.[33] There is a furious kick off with a set of three popular reels, the "Letterkenny Blacksmith", "Matt Peoples" and the "Famous Ballymote." No big surprise yet, but Dave Sheridan is driving Leitrim timber not with a lorry but rather with a racing car. There is not much time to relax, Ireland has become a motorway. Dave and his assistent drivers Brian Mc Grath (piano), Neill Lyons (bodhran), Kevin Doherty (double bass) and Rick Eping (harmonica) are driving the Irish boreens at a speed which shouldn't be allowed, though staying in firm control and avoiding any accidents. The racing team is only occasionally taking a break, well, actually only twice. First with "Fisher's Hornpipe," which is no real break but a gentle stroll after all. Second, with a fine waltz of his own ("Grey Ridge Breeze," Leitrim or Liath Druim means Grey Ridge), followed by "Tommy People's Mazurka" (I recall Martin Meehan do this one).[32] Then hit it again, this is the formula one of Irish music. The selection is not too exotic apart from a couple of tunes. The "Lough Allen" reel and the jig "Off To the Hunt" are in O'Neill's but I can't recall having it heard recorded.
Eventually, Dave crosses the finishing line with "Speed the Plough" (couldn't have found a tune with a more approbriate title). I'm feeling exhausted, but I'm feeling fine too.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Broom Bezzums "Wine from a Mug"
Steeplejack Music, 2011

All good things come in threes. Andrew Cadie und Mark Bloomer a.k.a. Broom Bezzums are sweeping again.[36][39] Guitarist Mark is from Birmingham, fiddler/piper Andrew from Northumberland, but fate made them end up in the German Pfalz where they met and joined forces.
Okay, here's what I can gather from this bare-naked promotional copy to be released on April 1st: On the first track, "Empires" by Andrew, the duo is striving for a bigger sound, employing a full band plus horn section. (Wasn't the album recorded in Jürgen Treyz' studio and didn't Jürgen's band Deitsch did the same thing?)[39] This is a great atmospheric kick-start, the rest of the album is closer to the duo sound we're used to. There are a couple of instrumental tunes, both original and traditional Northern English. The "Holey Ha'penny" jig (or Molly, Polly etc.) is a popular one, other tracks you can only find on this disc. The title song had been written by Mark, "Lucy Wan" is a traditional English song, the "Columbus Stockade Blues" crosses the ocean. It doesn't sound much of a blues but rather a good old English folk tune, but is somewhat of a country music classic performed by Doc Watson, Bill Monroe etc. Broom Bezzums' high-flying third album finishes off with Andrews "The Liberties" and, sure, is about the 17th century radical 'Freeborn' John Lilburne.[5]
© Walkin' T:-)M

Stewart Hardy & Frank McLaughlin "Root2"
Claytara Records, 2009

Stewart Hardy & Frank McLaughlin "Compass"
Claytara Records, 2009

Stewart Hardy is a North East English fiddler, having been a long-time member of the John Wright Band.[35] Guitarist and piper Frank McLaughlin is based in Edinburgh. He performs with the Mick West Band[41] and recorded on the Robert Tannahill project.[42] Both met - of all places - at a Bavarian festival. But, well, the Bavarians are somewhat the Scots of Germany with a reputation of being stubborn, sturdy and - hardy. Just kidding. However, the collaboration of a Scot and an Englishman might be the same thing as the liaison of a Bavarian and a Franconian.
"Root2" is the more traditional album, mirroring the duo's repertoire when performing live in concert. It is a mix of traditional and original tunes and compositions by luminaries such as Scottish bagpiper Angus MacDonald[44] and Irish fiddler Paddy Fahey. The first three tracks are composed by Stewart Hardy, then traditional fiddle tunes associated with the famous 19th century Tyneside fiddler James Hill (e.g. compare the rendition of the "Earl Grey" strathspey and the "Quayside" hornpipe on Andy May's "Happy Hours".)[40] There's more by Stewart and Frank themselves, more associated with James Hill, more traditional tunes from Scotland and Ireland, e.g. "Bellingham Boat," a Nortumbrian jig I never heard before, but incidentally has been also recorded by the Broom Bezzums (see review above).
"Root2" is more or less a traditional album, but already shows an ability to create complex arrangements and cinematic soundscapes. At the same time Hardy and McLaughlin recorded another album, "Compass" which leads the listener further into other realms. With jazzy inflections and programming it is contemporary folk pop of the McGoldrick type.[41] Most of the tracks have been written by Stewart and Frank, exploring other traditions than the Celtic, with the occasional Carolan tune ("The Clergyman's Lament" being one of his less known tunes) and the traditional Scottish "Balquhiddder Lasses" thrown in for good measure. They are employing flutist Desi Wilkinson and accordionist Angus Lyon to strive for a bigger sound. Harpist Julie-Ann Kay sings the traditional folk song "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and the lullaby "Hush Litle Baby".
Overall, "Root2" and "Compass" are two smart productions which curious and adventurous trad fans should seek out.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Joe Derrane "Grove Lane"
Compass Records, 2010

Joe Derrane can be regarded as one of the masters of the Irish button accordion. The Boston-born son of Irish immigrants (his father came from Inishmore, Aran Islands)[36] used to play the Massachussetts dance halls and cut some classic 78rpm recordings from the mid 1940's to the 1950's. (He left his mark in so far that I overheard the "Fisherman's Lilt" jig sometimes called "Joe Derrane's".) Then from one day to another he disappeared from the traditional music circuit and took a 35 years sabbatical. Since he showed up again in 1994, Joe Derrane released a CD every other year and was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship in 2004.
The 80 year old Derrane recorded his latest and seventh release in his home on Grove Lane in Randolph, Massachussetts, employing John McGann on guitar. 12 tracks featuring 26 tunes. Many tunes are not unfamiliar but often have different names than on this side of the Atlantic. His 7 original compositions include a fine scottishe and a barndance, as well as a nice waltz and an ambitious tango. Besides these selections, it is one of those relaxing, almost effortless albums where there seemingly is nothing to prove. However, that is quite wrong. Here's a virtuoso at work delivering quality Irish music.
Funny how, when I first set my eyes on the cover I read "Groove Lane". It could be really titled like that.
© Walkin' T:-)M

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