FolkWorld #45 07/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Bob Wayne "Outlaw Carnie"
People Like You Record, 2011

This is outlaw country music, maybe it's even more outlaw than Nelson and Cash. At least Bob Wayne is pretending so, when he tells his story on his "Blood to Dust". Might be true, maybe it's not. Though I'm inclined to believe this autobiography: I was born in 1977, the year that Elvis died and went to heaven ... Broken hearted, sick, and alone I was going to kill myself just like my old man. Well something happened, I ain't sure what it was, best I can figure out it was the lord up above, because I'm sitting here stone cold sober, singing these fucked up songs. The songs featured on "Outlaw Carnie" were written over the last decade and until recently sold on home spun recordings from Bob's car boot. There is much passion and dark humour on the daily madness of drugs and death. Bob is driven by more demons than Johnny Cash was ever haunted. He took the man's legacy to transfer it into something similar what Shane MacGowan and The Pogues did with Irish music - abhorred by the purists and traditionalists but celebrated by an urban audience. "Love Songs Suck" sounds schmaltzy, there's steel guitars, banjos and fiddles, but you won't ever hear me sing no song about blue skies and brown eyes unless I'm really fucked up ... Hell, the closest thing I even have to a love song is the one where I killed them both. And the hillbilly-silly "Everything's Legal in Alabama" is no real invitation to pay a visit to the Heart of Dixie: weed, shine, pills ...just don't get caught!
But don't get on the wrong track, underneath the surface lies a subtle storyteller. His gruffly vocals can hold a tune, as he can hold his liquor. This truck drivin', gun totin', meth snorting, blue collar, true American hero is just the guy metal kids can flock to, just as they did to Johnny Cash fifteen years ago. Is this American Recordings mark two?[45] Well, this is no legacy but Bob's just at the beginning of an adventurous journey.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Avelaíña "Ciclo"
Zouma Records, 2010

I don't know that much about this Galician group beyond the names of the band members: above all there is the engaging singer Mª Xosé R. Rosales, the driving bagpipes of Alberto Miranda and the jazzy violin of Harry Price, plus guitar and bouzouki player Antón Villanueva, the electrically amplified baixo of Carlos Orcajo and drummer Miguel González. Laid out is a gentle, but energetic folk rock sound like fellow Spanish band such as Divertimento Folk do too,[37] and not as extreme as the Portuguese Dazkarieh (see review above). There is a concept behind "Ciclo", namely catching the different moods of the different seasons in rural Galicia from summer festivals to winter's tranquility. All the lyrics and music have been written by Rosales and Villanueva. "Ciclo" makes a fine rootsy album, which will take me through many a season to come.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Rose Laughlin "House of Memory"
Ramblin' Rose Records, 2011

Seattle based Rose Laughlin is a fine interpreter of traditional song,[35][37] be it traditional or contemporary, Celtic or American. Rose's third CD "House of Memory", co-produced by Kat Eggleston[42] and Kate MacLeod,[42] is a mix of all these. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is an odd choice for a start, moreover the tune is almost beyond recognition. Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty" releases the brakes. Track no. 3 is almost the highlight, the traditional American "Across the Blue Mountains" with Scottish singer/songwriter Jim Malcolm singing harmony vocals.[45] There's ancient stuff such as "Black Is the Colour" and "Shady Grove", "Broom O' the Cowden Knowes" and Robert Burns' "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose". Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and Kate Wolf's "Across the Great Divide" lead to her own song, "House of Memory". A journey through more than 200 years of folk music, and Rose can deliver it all as best as you can get.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Martin Carthy "Essential" [2 CD's]
Topic Records, 2011

Since the early 1960s the English folk singer and guitar player Martin Carthy is one of the most important figures in British traditional music.[45] Following their own 70th birthday last year, Topic Records celebrates Martin's 70th birthday with a Best Of release from the Topic vaults, featuring 34 tracks from almost five decades. The two CDs cover the years 1965 to 2006. Martin Carthy plays solo, with fiddler Dave Swarbrick,[36] with the Watersons,[36] which developed into Waterson:Carthy,[23] and the Brass Monkey ensemble.[39] It's almost traditional song only. His arrangement of "Scarborough Fair" inspired Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's version. "Lord Franklin" became the blueprint for "Bob Dylan's Dream".[45] "Famous Flower of Serving Men" made him win the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Best Traditional Track in 2005. Oddly enough the last track is "The Harry Lime Theme" by Anton Karras of "Third Man" fame.[45] I haven't got enough space here to praise all the highlights of Martin's career and there are plenty. Though I would advise to get acquainted with his entire Œuvre, "Essential" is a good start anyway.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Jubal's Kin "Jubal's Kin"
Own label, 2010

Jubal is a character in the Book of Genesis. His name is Hebrew for ram's horn, every festivity was openend with that instrument. Thus Jubal became the ancestral father of all musicians. It is also the title of a western movie starring Glenn Ford. So here we are, his kin is a Florida based duo, siblings Roger and Gailanne Amundsen (with baby brother Jeffrey on double bass, though on the record it is well-known bass player Byron House on most tracks), rendering Appalachia-infused Cosmic Americana, which of course means a mix of old-time, bluegrass and folk music. "Raleigh and Spencer" opens proceedings, and I'm immediately captivated. How old are they? What did I say? I didn't, and I won't, because I don't wanna frustrate you! Roger plays the guitar and the mandolin, Gailanne plays fiddle and clawhammer banjo. Both sing, and their singing as well as their playing fits like a glove. Blood's thicker than water! There are traditional songs such as the "Cuckoo Bird" and "Red Rocking Chair", A.P. Carter's "No Depression", Dolly Parton's "What Will Baby Be", and a couple of Gailanne's own which are not bad either. And the good news is, they have so much time to become even better and better.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Qristina & Quinn Bachand "Family"
Own label, 2011

Geez, speaking about amazing young musicians. Whereas Jubal's Kin are rooted in the American old-time tradition (see review above), the Bachand siblings from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada build upon the Irish-Scottish tradition. And the very first set of tunes, namely the jigs "Scatter the Mud" / "Noonday Feast" (a tune I only knew from the first Lunasa album[5]) and the reel "Elzick's Farewell" are nearly knocking me out. Twenty year old Qristina puts so much energy and passion into her fiddle playing, and there is no false note to detect. Her fourteen year old brother Quinn on the guitar never misses any beat. He already earned his laurels as sideman of Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac. Their second, aptly "Family" titled album is often on the safe side with the Rakish Paddy, the Yellow Tinker and other fellas. But this doesn't belittles its accomplishments. Their rendition of "Music For A Found Harmonium" and others might become the standard performance to listen to. Fiddle and guitar being in the center, there are guests on accordion, whistles and pipes. Qristina's Irish boyfried Felix Prummel plays the low whistle on Tommy Walsh's waltz tune "Inisheer".[33] Thrown in for good measure are two vocals tracks by Qristina and she is a decent singer too, "Smile or Cry" is a folk pop song by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis, "Red Rocking Chair" a traditonal bluegrass number (which connects the Bachands with Jubal's Kin again).
© Walkin' T:-)M

Runa "Stretched on Your Grave"
Own label, 2011

RUNA[41] are Philadelphia-based Shannon Lambert-Ryan (vocals), Fionán de Barra (guitar) and Cheryl Prashker (percussion), plus piper/flutist Isaac Alderson and fiddler Tomoko Omura giving guest performances. (When they were touring Germany, they were helped out by piper Eamonn Galldubh.)[42] At the start, the "Newry Highwayman" is trotting along nicely. They pay a visit to the "Maid of Culmore", the "Holy Ground" (this here is the Gerry O'Beirne song) and the "Lowlands of Holland". Shannon has enough Irish to deliver "Siobhán Ní Dhuibhir", "Cailín deas Crúite na mBó" and a jazzy version of the macaronic "Siúl a Rún". "Fionnghuala" is the well-known mouth music piece, courtesy of the Bothy Band, but contrary to all those versions and adaptations out there, RUNA make it their very own. Blend out the words and you possibly will not recognise it. That's what I call refreshing. I'm neither disappointed with Dolly Parton's "Jolene" which is blending with the haunting ghost story of "The House Carpenter". So dear reader, give it a try!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Angus Nicolson Trio "Lasses that Baffle Us"
FOTS Records, 2010

"Lasses that Baffle Us" is the debut album from a skilled trio from the Isle of Skye off the Scottish west coast. Angus Nicolson hails from a long line of bagpipers (at least two generations) and was taught by Iain MacDonald and others.[24] The trio is complete with guitarist Murdo Cameron and percussionist Andrew Macpherson, plus some studio guests such as fiddler Allan Henderson.[29] It's not only the lasses that baffle us (which is the title of an ancient pipe tune rearranged by Allan MacDonald),[21] the outfit is not shy from experimentation and putting the old music from the Highlands and Islands in contexts never been before, including Andrew's ethnic drumming and Murdo's weird ideas on the guitar. So this album is rather dedicated to those who were raised on a staple diet of Red Hot Chilli Pipers[45] than your run-of-the-mill pipes & drums band. But that probably is misleading you, dear reader. The Angus Nicolson Trio is no rock band but passionate experimenters. Not everything works so well, but success comes with failure. The album features a selection of well and lesser known tunes. The opening set, all tunes connected somehow to the late Gordon Duncan, is cracking good. I also cherish Iain Campbell's "Miss MacLellan Of Tigh-a-Ghearraidh" and Lt J Allan's epic slow air, march and reel "Lieutenant Colonel D.J.S. Murray". Angus also plays some low whistle, e.g. on the Hebridean song air "Muile Nam Mor Bheann". Eventually, he tackles the classics with the pibroch "MacKintosh's Lament". Big music it is indeed.
© Walkin' T:-)M

De Temps Antan "Les habits de papier"
L-Abe, 2010

Here you get everything that Québécois music is about in a nutshell: response singing, frantic fiddling, cajun & zydeco-like accordion, acrobatic foot percussion. Prove that you don't need a huge orchestra to get a big sound. These three know this, having all played at one time with La Bottine Souriante:[26] André Brunet (fiddle, he's the brother of Le Vent du Nord's accordionist Réjean Brunet),[40] Pierre-Luc Dupuis (accordion), Éric Beaudry (guitar). The trio's second album "Les habits de papier" is generally a take on traditional Québécois music, with some own compositions in the traditional vein thrown in for good measure. It is a tour de force and a rousing performance which gives you virtually no break.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Fil Campbell "Songbirds Part Two - Farewell to Cold Winter"
Glenshee Records, 2011

When Northern Irish singer Fil Campbell did the "Songbirds" TV series and subsequent DVD and CD, nobody would bet on its outcome.[38] Is there any interest in Irish song from the first half of the 20th century, connected to the names of Irish singers such as Delia Murphy, Margaret Barry, Bridie Gallagher, Mary O’Hara and Ruby Murray? Obviously there was, it became a success story, moreover so because Fil tackled these old and worn-out songs with verve, undertook an aesthetic surgery (I won't say plastic surgery, because there is no plastic here) and took it beyond mere nostalgia.
Five years later there comes a sequel. There are still loads of songs well known all over the place and featured in any Irish songbook, but are rarely sung, let alone recorded these days by contemporary Irish trad bands. Right, "The Lowlands of Holland", "My Lagan Love" and "She Moved Through the Fair" are still popular. "The Bonny Boy" (aka "Trees They Grow High") seemingly fell out of favour since the time Donovan did it. Once in a while someone is humming "The Old Maid in the Garrett" or "Seoladh na nGamhna", Thomas Moore's "Farewell But Whenever" is only chanted by tenors. I think I've never encountered "Down by the Green Bushes", and I know "Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry" only from an old song collection. So is the rare "Johnny the Daisy" which I only heard on the TV series, as well as "Connemara Shore", which Fil learned from a gramophone recording of the 1930s and which actually started the "Songbirds" project.
Fil is doing these songs with her warm lulling voice, accompanied by guitar player Brendan Emmett and percussionist Tom McFarland. So is she doing in concert, on the CD she also employed a gang of musical luminaries, featuring fiddler John Sheahan of Dubliners fame, harpist Laoise Kelly, bass player James Blennerhassett, and many others. Don't trust movies that come in numbers, a wise man once said. Fortunatly this mustn't be true in all things of life. So there might be more volumes to come.
© Walkin' T:-)M

John Mitchell & Sofie Jonsson "Western Highways"
Own label, 2011

These are Western Highways in two regards: the duo is living in the west of Sweden, and the west of Scotland features prominently in their music. No wonder since guitar player John Mitchell is from the Highlands of Scotland. He met fiddler Sofie Jonsson in 2005, it clicked (not only musically) and they started performing all around Scotland. She left her bio-chemistry profession all behind to concentrate on the fiddle and Celtic music and a year later the couple moved to Sofie’s native Dalarna. But there definitely is still some chemistry involved, if only for the mutual understanding of the pair. The duo's debut CD "Western Highways" is a romp through Celtic and American musics. It all starts with Lady Nairne's[41] "The Bonniest Lass in a’ the Warld" with Sofie on tender vocals. Here already is the first guest, Christy O'Leary on the whistle. Gerry O’Beirne's "Western Highway" introduces John as the singer, and his selections have a totally different feeling about it. It's almost as if two bands were playing. Well ... almost ... everything is held together by the studio band, namely Ulf Nygårds (dobro etc.), Conny Ohlson (pedal steel) and Bert Deivert (bouzouki). You can see there is some country feel all about it, even more so with songs such as Steve Earle's "Tom Ames’ Prayer" and Dolly Parton's "9 to 5". There are a couple of instrumental sets ("Four Nations" takes you through Scotland and England, over to Cape Breton and back to Ireland in five minutes), a take on Robert Burns's "Green Grow the Rashes", and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Eventually it turned out that the disc finds its way into my record player again and again. Probably pure magic!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Liguriani "Suoni dai mondi liguri"
Felmay, 2011

Liguria, the Italian Riveria, is a region in northern Italy sandwiched between the Mediterranean sea and the Alps and Apennines mountains. It has been a popular tourist destination for a hundred years, offering beautiful scenery and delicious food. Most people don't know, however that there also is some beautiful and delicious traditional music, which is the missing link between south eastern France and Italy's Piedmont and Tuscany. The Ligurians are singer and violinist Fabio Biale, flautist Michel Balatti, bagpiper Fabio Rinaudo (Central French musette pipes), accordionist Filippo Gambetta,[39] and acoustic guitarist Claudio De Angeli. Their mission and concept is traditional music of Liguria and music written in the traditional vein. I'm sometimes reminded of and I like it as much as the music of B.E.V.[12] from the neighbouring area of Emilia and Veneto, but generally this is livelier and more gay, just more mediterranean if you like. It is performed with passion and strong emotions. There also is a thoughful and political edge at times. "Stamattina si va all'assalto" is a song from World War I, arranged by Liguriani for a theatre piece. "O Gorizia tu sei maledetta" relates to the bloody battle over Gorizia (Görz/Gorica). "Sutta a chi Tucca" is a Ligurian partisan song set to a Russian tune. Deeply moving are "Il tragico naufragio del vapore Sirio", an emigration ballad relating to a ship accident in 1906, and "Tiribi Taraba", a popular Genoese song and tongue twister written by Piero Parodi in 1970.
A Land to love is a Ligurian tourist slogan, and that is what "Suoni dai mondi liguri" is - a music to love!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer "Stones on the Ground"
WildGoose, 2011

Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer are at it again![40] They were creating quite a stir with previous recordings and with "Stones on the Ground" I also jump on the bandwagon. The English duo's umpteenth album has some lengthy ballads, however, without it getting boring. The nursery rhyme "Billy Boy" for example is originally a song collected by Cecil Sharp,[26] Jonny (vocals, guitar, accordion, piano) added some original verses. "Lord Randall" of course is the traditional Child ballad which Bob Dylan used as a blueprint for his "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". It actually borrows the formula of "Billy Boy" (or vice versa), with a more gruesome ending. Another fine and less known song is "The Oxford and 'Ampton Railway" about the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton railway opened in 1853 and soon called Worse and Worser line, though the glowing lyrics indicate that it had been written before its completion. The traditional words have been set to a new tune of Jonny's. The songs are interspersed with instrumental interludes written by Jonny plus a couple of instrumental sets thrown in for good measure. Vicki (vocals, nyckelharpa, Scottish smallpipes, flute, whistle) has a Swedish parent and that explains the following tracks: "Herr Hillebrand and Proud Lena" originally is a medieaval Swedish murder ballad translated by Vicki and put to music by Jonny. She also wrote a couple of Nordic sounding instrumental tunes. On Jonny's "Valnötslångdans" she duets with herself, playing smallpipes set in D and A, respectively.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Seán Tyrrell, Kevin Glackin, Ronan Browne
"and so the story goes ..."
Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2011

And so the story goes: Seán Tyrrell is a singer/songwriter with a couple of albums under his belt.[41] Ronan Browne is the grandson of renowned traditional singer Delia Murphy (1903-1971), though became a piper with the likes of Ennis, Clancy and Rowsome being family friends. He played with many outfits such as Cran and the Afro Celts over the years and is heard on film soundtracks such as "Rob Roy" and "Gangs of New York".[24] Kevin Glackin is also around for decades, though he never stood that much in the spotlights. Everybody is a veteran virtuosi of Irish music in his own right. They are close friends for many decades, having toured and played socially since the early 1980s. Pressure from fans and friends and a break in their busy schedules eventually led them making a recording together.
It starts at a rather gentle pace with the set dance "The Hunt", but soon becomes frantic and fiery. The fiddle is messing with the pipes, Seán is often playing the tune as well before getting back to the accompanying role. The sombre sound of his mandocello fits nicely. "The Old Grey Goose" and "An Phis Fhluich" are fine examples of multi-part jigs, showcasing their individual skills. Compare the "Dusty Miller" slip jig or the "Errigal" reel as recorded by Ronan before.[21] So is the lovely air "Paddy's Rambles Through the Park", which I haven't heard for a while. Seán is the bard and storyteller and selected a couple of nice songs: "Man for Galway" and "Mickey Free" have been written by novelist Charles Lever (1806-1872), Seán put some music to since the original tunes got lost (the melody of the former is the traditional "An Spailpín Fánach"). "Dan O'Hara" is from Delia Murphy, "The Quaker's Meeting" from novelist Samuel Lover (1797-1868) and "Cap and Bells" a poem from W.B. Yeats. The tune of the latter is "The Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe" which I haven't heard since the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem did it.
"And so the story goes ..." had been actually recorded a couple of years ago. Now it is eventually put out on Cló Iar-Chonnacht, and Seán Tyrrell, Kevin Glackin and Ronan Browne are inclined to take the album on the road too.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Dartz "Proxima Parada"
Perekrestok, 2009

The Dartz are a folk rock band from St. Petersburg, Russia. It is classical folk rock with its Jethro Tullish touches, or maybe better like those 70s bands as medieval German rockers Ougenweide.[42] The band features the standard rock band line-up plus fiddle, flute and accordion. Their arrangements are well crafted and full of inspiration. The songs are probably all written by themselves. The Russian lyrics are in the booklet, alas with not much use for me because I really can't read any Cyrillic. However, chords are included so you can cover them if you like. The music is only marginally inspired by Celtic traditions as Michael Moll wrote in his review about their 2007 album "Happens Sometimes".[37] So The Dartz definitely made a step forward to an original sound. With repeated listening it is an album that grows on you, I only detest the recurrent longish song introductions which is a bit annoying at times. Please get down to the nitty-gritty more speedily, I say! But apart from this slight imperfection, "Proxima Parada" is a joy to listen to. I'd like to see them on a festival in western Europe like Rudolstadt or Folkwoods in the near future! Bookers where are you?
© Walkin' T:-)M

Hotel Palindrone "Jodulator"
Pocket Sized Sun Records/Hoanzl, 2011

German CD Review

With their fourth album the Viennese quartet Hotel Palindrone continues their success story.[12] Nobody plays like Hotel Palindrone, who are blending their native Austrian background with easter European sounds on one side and western European music on the other. Don't forget Nordic countries and the Mediterranean. Alas, isn't Vienna right in the centre of the continent. It even gets more eclectic with their newly chosen mission of spreading the Alpine Yodel.[43] (It is ironical that the yodler of the band is the northern German Albin Paulus.) It is a crazy mix, there is a great deal of jazzy music and some subtle introduction of electronics. There's polkas and polskas, jigs and muineiras, landler, mazurkas and a suite gavotte. Many tunes have been written by the band members: Albin Paulus (clarinet, bagpipes, Jew's harps, bombarde), Stephan 'Stoney' Steiner (fiddle, nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, accordion), Peter 'Nag' Natterer (bass, saxophone), John Morrissey (bouzouki, guitar, and his particular valisette). "Zingarese" however is a Balkan-inspired tune by Joseph Haydn and "Don't Bring Me Down" from the Electric Light Orchestra (followed by a Kathryn Tickell tune). It has really been a long, long way from this rousing pop song from the 70s to Hotel Palindrone's 21st century Jodulator sound. Modern folk at its best! If you like to stay in Vienna, try this hotel![45]
© Walkin' T:-)M

Tom Kannmacher & Hubert Arnold
"Music of the Gentlemen Pipers"
Own label, 2010

German CD Review

Tom Kannmacher is a German folk artist since the 1960s. He started out singing traditional German songs as well as topical songs of his own. Many German artists of the era did begin with Irish music and abandoned it for their own tradition (e.g. Liederjan).[43] Tom Kannmacher took the other way round; in the mid 1970s he discovered Irish music and the uilleann pipes and he never looked back. Or should I say he looked back farther in time than the rest: only recently his Reel Bach Consort[40] arranged pieces of Johann Sebastian Bach in a Celtic style. "Music of the Gentlemen Pipers" is kind of a sequel; indeed the album is listed at Amazon und iTunes under the classical music label.
With his Reel Bach colleague Hubert Arnold (harpsichord, harp) Kannemann researched music from the mid 18th to the mid 19th century which had been arranged for the then novel uilleann pipes. This is more a less a baroque oboe attached to bellows and bag as a parlour instrument, and its repertoire were mostly not dances and national airs as the featured "Coolin", but opera and art songs. Menuets and gavottes were played instead of jigs and reels. One of the few pieces still played today is probably "Roslin Castle" (see its recording by the Old Blind Dogs).[12] Carolan's "Farewell to Music" connects the worlds of Haendel on one side and descriptive pieces (the Irish equivalent to the Scottish piobachd) and imitations of birdsong etc. on the other.
Kannmacher and Arnold revived 21 pieces from the early history of the Irish pipes, rarely played the past decades. There are instructive sleeve notes about the development of the uilleann pipes and the individual tracks, and I nearly forgot to mention that "Music of the Gentlemen Pipers" is a musical tidbit worth listening to as well.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Korrontzi & Oinkari Dantza Taldea
"Infernuko Hauspoa" [DVD]
Baga-Biga Musika Ideak, 2010

The folk band KORRONTZI puts music to a contemporary ballet that develops a style mainly inspired on the Basque dance traditions. The whole DVD is a series of songs from KORRONTZI’s Basque folk repertoire and the corresponding traditional and modern dances performed by the ballet Oinkari Dantza Taldea. The dance group is most times dressed up with traditional Basque clothing, and the background scenarios are a number of emblematic places in the Bizkaia province, more specifically in the city of Bilbao and the rock of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. The filming is mainly dedicated to the different dance groups, and KORRONTZI takes a secondary role in the visual part of this work. Nevertheless, there are a good number of shots of the band with their different instruments, being specially peculiar the diatonic accordion (‘trikitixa’) played Basque style, the ‘txistu’ and the ‘txirula’ (three holed flutes), and the local traditional hornpipe called ‘alboka’. All those wind instruments (plus Irish whistles and traverse flutes) are played by Iker LOPE DE BERGARA. Not to forget the plucked string instruments (mandolin, guitars) played by Alberto RODRIGUEZ. And the percussions, marimba and vibraphone (small scale substitutes for the Basque ‘txalaparta’) played by Ander HURTADO DE SARATXO. The bass guitar is played by Kike MORA. The DVD is edited together with an excellent booklet of more than 50 pages, with plenty of photographs taken in diverse places in Bilbao’s riverside and coastal areas, with explanatory texts written in Basque, Spanish, English and French, but most of all including the musical scores of each of the 16 songs. Probably the most frequent dance rhythms in the CD are the Basque fandangos, arin-arin, polkas,.... Very colourful and dynamic scenes, displaying the energetic and sometimes almost acrobatic steps of the traditional Basque dances, significantly based on the fast movements of the dantzari’s perfectly straight legs, several times flexibly lifted 180 degrees up in the air. The CD title ‘Infernuko Hauspoa’ means ‘Hell’s Bellows’ in Euskera (Basque language), making ironic reference to the name given decades ago by the Catholic church to the accordion, due to its evil power. With the music of this single magic looking instrument, people was easily provided with quick access to: dancing, the derived physical contact between young men and women, and the rest of well known sinful consequences. Another excellent product of Baga-Biga productions, KORRONTZI, and the leader of these remarkable projects, the ‘trikitilari’ (accordionist) and singer Agus BARANDIARAN.
© Pío Fernández

Ialma "Simbiose"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2011

German CD Review
IALMA is a group of five girls whose parents belong to the latest generations of Galician immigrants established in Brussels, and that have made a significant effort on keeping their connections with their home land in NW Spain through the local Centro Galego, while also participating in the raising folk music scene of Belgium and the Netherlands.[13] ‘Simbiose’ is IALMA’s fourth CD. Their second one ‘Marmuladas’, was already commented by FolkWorld in 2003.[25] IALMA’s approach to folk music remains within the known boundaries: traditional Galician women choir (cantareiras) with pandeiretas (Galician tambourines), supported by traditional and rock music instruments. With this ‘Simbiose’ album, IALMA celebrates their tenth anniversary with 12 songs that display the band’s Galician trad style, but also incorporating some novelties such as the song ‘Na Iauga’ (and the last song ‘Pa’la Catedral’), based on a trad song from Quebec, or ‘Dance like a Galician’ which is a version of the pop song from the 1980s ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ played by The Bangles. IALMA even sings some Medieval music in the tune ‘Ialma Torna’ played together with the Flemish ensemble ZEFIRO TORNA. The song is in fact the Cantiga number 140 from King Alfonso X’s book ‘Cantigas de Santa Maria’ (13th century). IALMA sings together with a large list of band members and guest musicians, both from Belgium and from Galicia. A nice CD full of happy songs, interesting instrumental parts, eclectic repertoire (from Galician folk to rap in one single song: ‘100 Voltas’), and of course the beautiful female voices of the group lead by the always pretty Veronica CODESAL.
© Pío Fernández

Shane Murphy "Open Hearth"
WildCat Recording, 2011

Shane MURPHY (1986) is an American folk singer-songwriter from the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. ‘Open Hearth’ is Shane’s second CD: fourteen songs where he deploys his musical talent on beautiful folk melodies and elaborated lyrics. It is a series of poems where the shiny sound of the acoustic and electric guitars, a very discrete use of the drum set and other instruments, become the only adornments for the display of his powerful voice. I guess that comparisons with the styles and sonorities of popular artists from the 1970s, 80s and 90s such as Tim & Jeff Buckley, or even Cat Stevens, Antony Hegarty, Tracy Chapman, ..., are a rudimentary way to place some reference points for Shane’s music within the broad spectrum of the Anglo-Saxon folk music world. The fact is that his singing and guitar-playing styles are anything but rudimentary. They are complex and effective in the development of intimate, personal, colourful and pleasant musical landscapes. As described in his web page: “... Shane Murphy ... a student of poetry, Spanish literature, and translation, makes the music of a modern minstrel, drawing equally from the foreign and the intimately known. His music is a part and a product of the natural landscape, and of reverence for the same, yet it doesn't ignore the culture of urban life and urban decay...”
© Pío Fernández

Aljibe "Enea – 25 Años"
Own label, 2011

Seven years ago FolkWorld introduced Aljibe as one of Madrid’s leading folk music bands, being located in Aranjuez, a city in the southern border of the province.[29] The fact is that with this CD, although the band celebrates its 25th birthday, the progress achieved in ‘Enea’ (‘Bullrush’) is still remarkable. As usual in their latest albums, the CD compiles a set fourteen songs traditional from diverse places of Spain, Portugal and foreign countries with Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) influences: Castilla – La Mancha, Morocco, Galicia, Castilla y León and Bulgaria. As done already in previous CDs they also include a polka, with all the typical strength of this central European rhythm that arrived to Spain in 19th century, and here Aljibe also adds some banjo with bluegrass sonorities. The last song, ‘Fauno Viejo’, is a long recorder solo performed by Aljibe’s wind instruments specialist, Luis Miguel Novas, who used to be a classmate of the Galician bagpiper Carlos NÚÑEZ in Madrid’s Conservatory of Music. A piece where Luis Miguel demonstrates his talent on recorder playing, starting with some traditional Spanish rhythm that is then followed and ended with the characteristic elaborated Baroque phrasing of this apparently simple but also sensitive instrument. An important guest artist and artistic producer in ‘Enea’ is the Castilian musician Eliseo PARRA, probably one of the greatest sources of creative power in the folk music scene, whose talent has positively influenced many folk music projects across Spain: from Madrid to Castile, Galicia, Aragón, Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia,...
© Pío Fernández

Doa "A Fronda dos Cervos"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2011

The Galician band DOA started in 1973 with musicians that were working in styles such as free jazz, improvised or synthesized music. They were inspired by the work of a wide variety of rock artists and renaissance and baroque composers: King Crimson, J.Hendrix, J.S.Bach, G.F.Haendel, G.P.Telemann,... Even though they made use of instruments such as bagpipes (Galician, Irish), bombard, whistles or hurdy-gurdy, DOA always preferred to walk on a different path than most other contemporary folk bands from northern Spain, that mainly worked on traditional Galician and ‘Celtic’ music. DOA developed its own refined experimental sound, significantly based on Medieval music, and let’s say not particularly interested on getting the audience dancing or even clapping hands. The band kind of vanished around the mid 1980s, and reappeared back in the late 1990s, publishing their fourth CD, ‘Arboretum’ in 2002 (with the Irish fiddler Nora McEvoy), and a first edition of ‘A Fronda dos Cervos’ (‘The Deer’s Forest/Wilderness’) in 2006 (with the singer and cellist Rosa Cedrón). This latest CD, ‘A Fronda dos Cervos’), is a mastered version of the 2006 one, this time with the voice of Susana DE LORENZO. DOA returns to the 2010s Spanish folk scene with a set of ten songs deeply inspired in visual and acoustic landscapes that define one of the characteristic identities of this part of the northwest corner of the Iberian peninsula. An identity where Medieval sonorities and images of green forests almost hidden by the fog, take you back to the days of the troubadours and the ‘Cantigas’ of Martin Codax and king Alfonso X, or the Codex Calixtinus. The original members of DOA playing in this record are: Bernardo MARTÍNEZ (percussions, keyboards), Xaquín BLANCO (gaitas, oboe, flutes), Xoan PIÑÓN (acoustic and electric guitar, lute). The newcomers are the ex-OS CEMPES and BONOVO’s hurdy-gurdy performer Oscar FERNANDEZ and the singer Susana DE LORENZO.
© Pío Fernández

Roi Casal "Maxicamente Vello"
Own Label, 2011

One of Galicia’s top bands from the 1980s, MILLADOIRO, incorporated three young members around 2000: the fiddler Harry C, the guitarist Manu CONDE, and the harpist Roi CASAL who replaced Rodrigo ROMANI (who also was his Celtic harp master). It appears that now in mid 2011, MILLADOIRO has significantly reduced their activities, but it is for sure that since 2009 Roi CASAL has started his own musical career. ‘Maxicamente Vello’ (‘Magically Old’) is the name of Roi’s second CD (the first one was ‘Lendas Douradas’), and it is also for sure that this album is something completely different from the style that Roi had developed before in MILLADOIRO. The veteran band created a new Galician sound, rescuing old traditional songs and adding quite a few sonorities from Irish or Scottish and even Medieval music sometimes. Meanwhile, Roi CASAL prefers to put his skills with the Celtic harp and his voice on a fusion between pop, rock and folk music. Maybe this is not the kind of sound that old farts like myself (so often keen to protect the essences of traditional and folk music against the ‘evil influences of commercial pop’), would easily accept and would expect from someone coming from our always adored MILLADOIRO. But it is undeniable that Roi has decided to make the kind of music that he likes and that probably a good part of his generation considers ‘their kind of music’. And I recognise that after listening to the different songs, I find the global result as very pleasant and with great quality. Specially recomendable tunes could be: ‘Foi o Vento’, ‘Nana para Nuno’, or ‘A Fortuna de Poder Amar’. Roi CASAL sings and also plays Celtic harp, bouzouki and hurdy-gurdy. Silvia FERRE is the female voice in Roi’s band, being the other members: Alfonso MERINO (violin, bouzouki, electric guitar), Manu CONDE (acoustic and electric guitars), Alfredo SUSAVILA (keyboards), Pablo PÉREZ (electric bass guitar and double bass), and Nando CASAL (tin whistle). By the way, Nando is Roi’s father, and one of the founder members of MILLADOIRO, where he also plays: Galician gaita bagpipes, whistles, crumhorn, clarinet and oboe.
© Pío Fernández

Uxía "Meu Canto"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2011

A new release from the Galician singer Uxía SENLLE to celebrate her 25 years folk music career. In ‘Meu Canto’ (‘My Song’), Uxía revisits a number of very popular songs from the Galician, Portuguese and Brazilian music. This album strengthens the approach that Uxía has developed in previous musical projects: to seek a deeper cultural exchange between the countries that share a common linguistic root; the Portuguese language. Galicia’s local tongue shares a significant common history with the one spoken in Spain’s neighbour country. The latest decades of democratic political life both in Portugal and Spain, have facilitated a mutual cultural interest developed by several Galician and Portuguese artists, inspired by the concept of ‘Lusofonía’, that extends its links in literature and lyric to other Portuguese speaking countries in South America, Africa and Asia: Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, Macau,.... Instead of the usual Galician sonorities (gaita bagpipes, pandeireta frame drums,...), Uxía has chosen a Brazilian and Portuguese musical style for the songs in ‘Meu Canto’. The instruments that you will hear are mostly guitars and Portuguese cavaquinho (Sérgio Tannus), mandolin (Sérgio Chiavazzoli), cello (Lui Coimbra), viola Caipira (Júlio Santín), flutes (Marcelo Martins),... The CD was recorded in the Biscoito Fino studios in Rio de Xaneiro, produced by Jaime Alem (also producer of Maria Bethânia), and with the voice of the recognized singers such as Lenine, Socorro Lira and Fred Martins. I find specially interesting Uxia’s versions of popular songs such as: ‘A Rianxeira’, ‘Os Teus Ollos’, or ‘Como la Cigarra’ from the great Argentine folklorist María-Elena Walsh (1930-2011) with accordion played by Thadeu Romano. The last song is the traditional and emotional Alalá das Mariñas, one of Uxía’s favourites and that she has performed before in so many different ways.
© Pío Fernández

Dáfnia "La Ruta Olvidada"
Tecnosaga, 2011

The encyclopedia talks about Daphne as a virgin nymph in the river Ladon in Arcadia, whose name means ‘laurel’. It also assigns the name Daphnia to some small planktonic crustaceans between 0.2 and 5 mm in length. In this case, Dáfnia is the name of a folk music band from the city of Girona (Catalonia NE Spain), created in 2009 by two former members of a progressive rock band with a 19 year trajectory: Amarok. They are the singer Marta Segura and the multi-instrumentalist Robert Santamaría, playing: saz, 12-strings guitar, Venezuelan cuatro, kanun, santur, autoharp, keyboards, accordion, glockenspiel, hang, frame drums, darbouka, bendir, agual, djembe, tabila, octagonal tambourine from Veracruz, davul, talking drum,... The other two members of Dáfnia are: Coloma Beltrán (violin) and Manel Vega (double bass). There are also guest musicians: Manel Mayol (flutes & tin whistles), and the voices of Marie Weckesser, Marta Riba and Nuri Sabate. The start of ‘La Ruta Olvidada’ (‘The Forgotten Route’) reminds you of the sound of the band from Valencia L’Ham de Foc, with its oriental string & percussion sounds and strong female voice. ‘La Ruta Olvidada’ is presented as a children’s tale: a caravan that travels through a sequence of 15 traditional & self composed songs that take the listener thru a number of remote places: La Belle Brune (France-Argelia), Pluff Tizen Tizen (Argelia), Ajde Jano (Serbia), Jarnana (Albania), Bosforo, Catal Hüyük, Canim Tükiyem (Turkey), Svirk Sviri (Bulgaria), Los Guisados de Berengenas (Greece-‘Sefarad’), El Pi de Formentor (Mallorca), La Terra dels Deus (Catalonia). Great musicians and singers working on a very open multicultural concept, that fuses the richness of traditional music from many places around the Mediterranean basin. A kind of southern-European equivalent to the ‘pan-Celtic’ folk music styles developed in the western regions of the Atlantic Europe.
© Pío Fernández

Tabadoul Orchestra "World Wide Wahab"
Westpark, 2011

Va fan Fahre "Al wa’debt"
Zephyrus Music, 2010

17 Hippies "Phantom Songs"
Hipster Records, 2011

Antwerp Gipsy-Ska Orkestra "I lumia mo Kher"
Excelsior, 2011

As always in FolkWorld a bunch of brass related albums. This time from Germany and Belgium. First the Germany based band Tabadoul Orchestra. It was only last summer that members of the famous Schäl Sick Brassband founded this orchestra together with Egyptian singer Dina Gouda and already in early 2011 the debut CD is released. The album is a kind of tribute to the Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab. Wahab died just over twenty years ago and is known for his crossover of several traditional styles, often in a modern setting. The album starts fantastically with the songs Fakrah, El bint el Shalabeya and Ishar. Three songs that show the beauty of Gouda's voice and the strong, professional sound of the orchestra. The (Brass) music has atypical Arabian atmosphere but because of the use of unconventional instruments for Arabian music, the songs get a really nice, fresh sound. It’s funny and a bit surrealistic to hear track four called Ech el BolBol which has a more Bavarian sound, after these wonderful Arabian songs. But strangely enough, the more I hear this album, the more I think it’s a great combination. I don’t think Wahab would ever have thought his music would be arranged in a Bavarian way! Great is Ya ward meen yeshtereek in which the orchestra starts rocking. I’m a bit ashamed to say that even the over the top happy Eurovision song contest-styled track Al Qamh sounds unbelievably great. Even my two years old daughter starts dancing when she hears this. I think that the Tabadoul orchestra released a fantastic debut album. The beautiful vocals of Gouda sound great in combination with the passion, professional and inspired sound of the musicians. Absolutely an album which you just have to love.
Funny enough the Belgian brass orchestra Va fan Fahre chooses the Arabic route as well on their new album called Al wa’debt. And although this Belgian orchestra chooses a whole different approach, the result is as great as with the German orchestra. The Belgians are joined by female singer Aïsha Haskal, who has a bit more fragile voice than Dina Gouda. The Va fan fahre stays closer to the Arabic sound and play with nice, slightly psychedelic, sounds and organ. It has a lesser happy but a more modern sound. Intriguing how they play with the Arabic rhythms and melodies and create a recognizable, but also unique sound. Two very nice albums by two different orchestras but with the same starting point, but with a totally different result.
Back to Germany with the 17 Hippies and their new album called Phantom songs. For already sixteen years this Berlin band is a successful act at festivals and their albums are often full of crossovers between many cultures and styles. This new album shows the many sides of the band, from German songs with light brass sound, French chanson, psych folk sound in Across waters, easy going instrumental parts like Singapore, which has an oriental touch and so on. This album is more introvert than earlier output. It has a strong overall sound with sometimes surprisingly beautiful, fragile songs. German CD Review
And finally back to Belgium, to the beautiful city of Antwerp. The Antwerp Gipsy-Ska Orchestra comes with a new album called I lumia mo kher. This band is far from the subtle sound of the 17 hippies, but drives with full speed. Real Balkan beat music, sometimes nice and sunny but a bit standard, but on several occasions this band brings a fantastic blend between tradition and modern music and hypnotizes me with fabulous tracks. Highlight is the psychedelic Roma project which has the Kocani Orkestar as special guest. This will be one of my all time favorite Balkan beats composition ever. A fine album that will spice up your party of summer festival and shows the fun and quality of a great urban orchestra.
© Eelco Schilder

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