FolkWorld Issue 32 12/2006

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Peter McCune "Memories Embrace"
Label: Own label; 2005; Playing time: 32:02 min
Peter McCune has been encouraged from an early age to traditional Irish music and song. Twenty years ago his first gig was supporting Andy Irvine (-> FW#23) in the Sunflower Folk Club in Belfast. Subsequently Peter formed the band Innish, comprising him on guitar, vocals, melodeon and harmonica, and further featuring flutist Brendan Mulholland (Craobh Rua -> FW#15) and fiddler Mark Mulligan. When the members of Innish went their separate ways, the band Ailsa, with uilleann piper Wilbert Garvin and keyboard player Barbara Gray, set 18th and 19th century poems from the northern Irish County Antrim to music, rendered in the dialect of that period of time. But most important, Peter went solo again and released his second album "Memories Embrace" with some of his favourite songs and tunes. Peter is in posession of a melodious, earthy voice. His delivery as well as the unhurried ballads reminds me of German singer-songwriter Peter Kerlin and his smart Irish songs at times (-> FW#31). The whole thing is rounded off with a couple of instrumental tunes, Peter being supported by pipes, flutes, harp and clarinet.
Walkin' T:-)M

McDermotts 2 Hours "Live at Ferneham Hall"
Label: Own label; 2005; Playing time: 58:04 min
Nick Burbridge's McDermott's 2 Hour (-> FW#29) live in concert. Recorded at Ferneham Hall, Fareham, in March 2005. Supported by fiddler Ben Paley, bass/banjo/melodeon player Matt Goorney and drummer Dil Davies, we get a best of live of Nick' musical career and songwriting, from the inaugural album "The Enemy Within" up to his latest studio offering "Disorder". Nick Burbridge & McDermotts 2 Hours caught live in full flight is not as polished as the studio recordings, and with all the rough edges (that these songs actually deserve). But here's still some gems with power and thoughfulness. Good to hear that Nick and the McDermotts are back on the track and can be experienced in concert. (Nick Burbridge has also produced a volume of poems; see review in this FW issue.)
Walkin' T:-)M

Gillie McPherson "Our Street"
Label: Own label; 2006; Playing time: 49:58 min
Singer Gillie McPherson hails from Northern Ireland. She started recording in the early 1970s when she was just twenty. Way back she used to finish the six o'clock news with a wee folk song. Nothing happened. Gillie sang pop songs in bars all the while. Ten years later she recorded the theme song of the movie "Dogs of War" (based on Frederic Forsyth's novel) and gigged in a duo with British bluesman Alexis Korner. She fronted a seven piece soft rock band and worked as a dance teacher. But nothing happened. Eventually, Gillie maried a Frenchman and settled in France. This led up to her present Celtic folk band she's touring the continent with (but hesitated to return to Ireland ever since). "Our Street" - which is in Belfast, Gillie sings in abundance about memories - is a path between folk, blues and rock music. Except one traditional song ("Bedlam Boys"), the tracks are all Gillie's own compositions. The songs are convincing, her voice is clear and strong. It could make Gillie a big league player. I would like to say: something should happen.
Walkin' T:-)M

Martin Meehan "Three's Company"
Label: Own label; MM001; 2005; Playing time: 44:46 min
At the time of writing, Martin Meehan stands in the shadow of his brother Peter. Just for the simple reason, Peter Meehan joined the Irish supergroup Lúnasa as their new guitar player (see CD review above). This anonymity is about to end. Martin was born in Manchester in 1978, his family emigrated from Tullamore, County Offaly. He was taught the flute by Peter Carberry, Mike McGoldrick (-> FW#31) and Angela Durkin. After settling in County Armagh, northern Ireland, Martin took up lessons in the Armagh Pipers' Club (-> FW#32). He sucessfully mastered the instrument and played it ever since. He filled in for a couple of gigs with North Cregg (-> FW#29), but was never very fond of touring. Instead he devoted his art to teaching others, and also performed with his wife and fiddler Sorcha in a play by Brian Moore called "The Session". His debut CD "Three's Company" makes no prisoners, like the battering ram of the jig: the faster the better, his most relaxed pace is a set of mazurkas and some slow reels. The support cast features brother Paul, partner Sorcha, as well as guitarists Arty McGlynn, Tim Edey and Donnacha Moynihan (Calico -> FW#17), fiddler Paul Bradley, accordionist Colm Gannon and pianist Caoimhin Vallely (-> FW#31).
Walkin' T:-)M

Mississippi Heat "Glad you´re mine"
Crosscut; ccd 11085; 2005; Playing time: 54:25 min
Mississipi Heat are a band from Chicago founded in 1991 and led by Pierre Lacocque, a real giant of the blues harmonica. To fulfil his vision he was competent enough to look for a singer with the right voice and found her in Inetta Visor, a great afro-american singer from the bands hometown. With them are Steve Doyle and Chris Winters on guitar, Chris Cameron on keyboards, Spurling Banks on bass and Kenneth Smith (whose father ones played for Muddy Waters) on drums. Carl Weathersby [see below] guests on some tracks. While many contemporary artists tend to mix the blues with soul, gospel, rock or what else exists in the world of music, Mississippi Heat stay closer to the blues tradition, modernising it very sensitive. Lacocque plays bright and melodic and with a big tone, the three guitar players bring in their different styles, Visors singing is powerful and expressive and I really like the sound of the B-3 organ Cameron often prefers to the piano. Mississippi Heat recorded a very cohesive album that´s a joy to listen to. Highlights are “Dirty Deal” with great instrumental parts (a call and response solo by Doyle and Weathersby and big unisono lines by harp, organ and guitar), “Heartless fool”, a perfect vehicle for Visor´s Voice, “She ain´t your toy”, the slightly caribean “Jamaican night”, the slow blues “Love will play tricks”, another showcase for Inetta Visor – all these tunes are by Pierre Lacocque himself – and two songs that were written by Denise LaSalle, “Give me yo´most strongest whiskey” and “Real sad Story”.
Crosscut Records, Mississippi Heat
Ansgar Hillner

Mick Moloney "McNally's Row of Flats"
Compass; 7 4426 2; 2006; Playing time: 52:03 min
And it's Ireland and Italy, Jerusalem and Germany, Chinese and Africans and a paradise for rats, all jumbled up together in the snow and rainy weather, they constitute the tenants in McNally's Row of Flats. The maker of these lyrics, Edward 'Ned' Harrigan (1845-1911), had been a New Yorker of Irish extraction. He was brought up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in the neighbourhood of the notorious Five Points (which we all know from the "Gangs of New York" film). With violinist David Braham (1834-1905) he formed a songwriting partnership. They wrote songs and sketches, appeared in theatres and minstrel shows, and became important figures of the late 19th century vaudeville. They even wrote full-length plays by lengthening their stage set and anticipated the modern Broadway musical. Their songs were realistic songs about ordinary people. They introduced ethnic characters - Irish, Italian, Jewish -, depicted lower class American urban life, and brought New York's crowded streets, slums and tenements to life on the stage. "The Mulligan Guards" became their most popular song and, though originally a satire on military, was adopted by brass bands throughout the world. (It is even featured in Kipling's "Kim".) However, what is generally remembered today is Jimmey Cagney's H-A-double-R-I-G-A-N spells Harrigan in the 1942 movie "Yankee Doodle Dandy". Whereas some songs passed into oral tradition ("Muldoon the Solid Man", "Rare Old Mountain Dew", "Are You There Moriarity?"), most disappeared into oblivion. Almost a century later, Irish-born musician, folklorist and academic Mick Moloney (-> FW#24), discovered that the songs had been written within a few blocks of his adopted home. So he decided to bring 14 songs of Harrigan and Braham back to life. Since nobody knows the period sound, Moloney chose to arrange it as contemporary Irish music (ft. John Doyle and Robbie O'Connell) plus Vince Giordano's The Nighthawks to get some flavour of the pit orchestras that accompanied Harrigan. This is not the usual type of Irish music, but new stuff to discover and incorporate into your repertory. So there's no excuse anymore, and if it's only for to know that St Patrick's Day parading was a New York invention.
Walkin' T:-)M

Bruce Molsky "Soon Be Time"
Compass; 7 4432 2; 2006; Playing time: 50:48 min
Bruce Molsky is a fiddler, banjo player, fingerpicking guitarist and singer from the Bronx, New York City. His earliest recordings were straightforward Appalachian old-time music. With time Bruce's art became more eclectic. Lately, he joined Andy Irvine's (-> FW#23) acclaimed group Mozaik (-> FW#30), which mixes traditional Irish and American music and even some east European tunes. "Soon Be Time" is Bruce's sixth solo album, widening the boundaries of bluegrass and old-time. Bruce sings while accompanying himself on fiddle and banjo, his vocal delivery being warm and low. He plays American tunes on the five-string banjo and the fiddle as well as on the finger-picking guitar, he's a master on all three instruments. Bruce is not afraid of tackling "Ruchenitsa", a Bulgarian tune in 7/16 time (picked up from Andy Irvine, whom else), and a waltz from Hoven Droven fiddler Kjell-Erik Eriksson (see review above) on guitar. The general feel though is as if sitting on a southern backporch. At 2005's Tønder-Festival (-> FW#31) Bruce was joking: Old time music is better than it sounds, bluegrass music sounds better than it is. Bruce Molsky is good, better, best. And he's beyond the Appalachians and brought the mountain music into the cities.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Mountain Firework Company "A Rough Guide to Feeling Rough"
Label: Own label; 2003; Playing time: 38:21 min
The Mountain Firework Company is a young bluegrass and band from, no, not from the other side of the Atlantic, but from Brighton in south England. Banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, double bass and drums, the entire instrumentation is there. The "Rough Guide to Feeling Rough", aptly titled, offers a fun band with a share of raw songs, catchy tunes and jaunty lyrics. Not what you generally expect from a country and bluegrass band. Led by northern Irish singer-songwriter Gareth McGahan, they bring a contemporary and non-American twist to the Americana sound. Other reviewers called it a Pogues-folk style (-> FW#22, FW#30), but that's rather misleading. Speaking in musical terms. Maybe it's a distinct Pogues-like aesthetic here. Just a little bit. I can image beer-spilling concerts with the audience having a lot of fun.
Walkin' T:-)M

Chris Murphy "Juniper"
Kufala; 2004; Playing time: 61:53 min
Recently, I was a bit disappointed when I saw Irish-American female fiddle wizard Eileen Ivers (-> FW#26) and heard what she did live. Experiences like that may put you off with the electric fiddle and the folk rock genre. But Chris Murphy makes me a believer again. Chris plays anything: Celtic music, cajun, old-time, bluegrass, jazz and rock. He plays his electric violin through a guitar amp, sometimes sounding like a harmonica or a slide guitar, and is supported by a tight rhythm section. Excellent! Great folk rock album!
Kufala Recordings
Walkin' T:-)M

Sarah Naylor "Play Scottish Fiddle" [DVD Video]
Taigh na Teud; 2005; Playing time: approx. 60 min
"Play Scottish Fiddle" is a video tutor to introduce the intermediate fiddle player to Scottish traditional music and its most important features, and help him become a traditional Scottish fiddle player. Sarah Naylor is a young but experienced traditional fiddler from Uig on the Isle of Skye. Tuition includes six lessons, each representing an example for a particular genre: reel ("Mrs MacLeod of Raasay"), air (Iain McColl's "An Cluin thu mi mo nighean donn"), jig (Neil Gow's "Stool of Repentance"), strathspey ("Braes of Tullymet"), 6/8 pipe march (J Mackenzie's "Portree Bay"), 2/4 pipe march ("Piper's Cave"). Generally, not the most often recorded tunes. Sarah introduces each tune and genre, plays one round at usual speed, breaks up the tune in bars and phrases, plays it slowly, repeats, explains basics, techniques, rhythm, bowing, ornamentations (such as the Scottish snap in strathspey playing). Each lesson is about ten minutes. You should be familiar with fiddle playing, but then it should take only a small amount of time to join in the next traditional Scottish music session. The extras include tips for trouble-shooting, web links, recommended books (see also book reviews in this FW issue for other Taigh na Teud releases), and selected recordings (some have been reviewed by FolkWorld -> FW#10, FW#13, FW#29, FW#29). The booklet also features the tunes written down. Both Pal and NTSC formats are available.
Taigh na Teud
Walkin' T:-)M

Andie Neate "Paper Animals"
Label: Blue-Elf Records; BE002; 2005; Playing time: 40:16 min
Never in my review-writing days has an album puzzled me as much as the third CD by the Scottish singer-songwriter-fiddler-guitarist Andi Neate. Ever since her debut some 17 years ago at London's Mean Fiddler, critics have compared her to Suzanne Vega and Tori Amos, praised her "powerful" and "versatile" voice and lauded her "strong female songwriting." In addition, the press release for Paper Animals promises us a "whole new dimension" to Neate's songwriting.
Well, "intimate, atmospheric and magical" (Peter MacCalman, Acoustic Affair) the new album may well be, at times at least. Her blend of folk and jazz spiced with the occasional trumpet, harp, cello and violin is masterly crafted, and you cannot say she hasn't got "the swing" (on "S.O.S", for instance). Likewise, Andi Neate's songwriting, in both words and music, comes across as faultless, and her vocal style, reminiscent of traditional Celtic singing, is, if not exactly out of this world, then definitely something special and, indeed, powerful. Mind you, there is even this one line from "Fear of Life" which, whenever it gripped me, wouldn't let me off for half a day at the very least...
And yet, Paper Animals has left me at a loss. The eleven tracks seem expertly done, and still their meaning escapes me. There is an unquestionable story-telling quality to the lyrics, which resemble miniature paintings hung on a whitewashed museum wall. But then, what are they all about? "There's nothing brave about being a slave": well, I think I've heard that one before. "You've got so much to give and it's standing right in front of you. It's not called your sex, it's your self-respect": man, we've moved on a bit since the 1960's, or is this the shining example of "strong female songwriting"? --
Fair play to you, Andi, you've delivered an excellent record. But somehow it seems I haven't caught on...
Erik Margraf

Lily Neill "Without Words"
Label: Own label; 2004; Playing time: 60:08 min
American harpist Lily Neill has been born in Washington, DC. She took up harp playing at the age of nine and soon mastered the instrument. She guested with The Chieftains (-> FW#22) alongside the late Derek Bell (-> FW#24). She played for President Clinton when she was just 14 of age. Currently Lily Neill is based in Limerick, studying at the Irish World Music Centre. Her debut solo album "Without Words" presents traditional Irish and Scottish music on the lever harp. Airs as well as dance tunes, some are original. Solo pieces as well as group pieces, welded together with modern and sometimes exotic influences. Lily's technique leaves you breathless and virtually ... without words. And she only started yet.
Walkin' T:-)M

Tony O'Connell & Andy Morrow "Tony O'Connell & Andy Morrow"
Label: Own label; tocam 001; 2005; Playing time: 47:13 min
We wanted to do a proper traditional album. There is a lot of trendy music coming out nowadays; we decided that we wanted a good solid traditional album. If you think of the albums years ago, the good ones that stand out and have lasted the whole length of time are just pure trad; there are no gimmicks or messing about too much. It might not grab the attention as quickly but it does last longer. We wanted to produce something that would last. We wanted to make the best solid traditional album that we could. They did so accordingly. Tony O'Connell and Andy Morrow is a pairing of fiddle and concertina. Andy is the youngest of four brothers of a musical family from Carrigallen, County Leitrim; the eldest being the fiddler of Dervish (-> FW#26, FW#32). Tony originally is from Glin in West Limerick; these days teaching concertina at the Irish World Music Centre at the University of Limerick. They are playing together since 1997 and started recording this album in 2003. Their performance is meticulous, dashing and swift. Many tunes are contemporary, there is even a strathspey, and Arty McGlynn adds some guitar backing to the racing team. The winner regarding concertina and fiddle duets still is the seminal 1979 album by Noel Hill and Tony Linnane from County Clare. There have been other recordings since then, but none snatched the cup away from them. Tony and Andy came along, looked at it, tried and gave their best. They didn't succeed either, but they were close, very close.
Walkin' T:-)M

Bríd O'Donohue "Tobar an Dúchais"
Label: Own label; BOD001; 2005; Playing time: 46:49 min
Gavin Whelan "Another Time"
Label: Tallaght Records; TACD 02; 2006; Playing time: 45:35 min
The Tin Whistle, for many kids the first step into music, for some a life-long passion. They don't get tired to improve on this little, unremarkable instrument. But whoever it is that says unremarkable never really listened to the whistle in the hands of an expert player.
Miltown Malbay in County Clare is Willie Clancy country. Bríd O'Donohue grew up with the music of this influential uilleann piper. Also the likes of Junior Crehan (-> FW#21, FW#30), Bobby Casey and Paddy Canny were still around her. This tin whistle solo recording presents a fine whistle player but well hidden in the west of Ireland, though Bríd is said to be central to most of the musical activities in the Miltown Malbay area. So there is more than a slight chance to catch her in full breath when visiting the place. By the way, the booklet includes notes about the tunes and some photographs celebrating the rich heritage of Clare.
Heading on to the east coast of Ireland. Gavin Whelan is a young whistler and piper from Tallaght, Dublin, and "Another Time" is his second album. He already is regarded widely as an outstanding performer on the tin whistle. His playing is straightforward and eloquent. This is a band album and Gavin is assisted by fiddler Zoe Conway (-> FW#24), guitarist Donnacha Moynihan (Calico -> FW#17), and bodhran player Colm Murphy (De Dannan) amongst others.,
Walkin' T:-)M

Aidan O'Rourke "Sirius"
Vertical; VERTCD072; 2005; Playing time: 52:13 min
Aidan O'Rourke is a fiddler and composer from Oban in the west of Scotland. He is the co-founder of Tabache (-> FW#4, FW#8), and performing with Blazin' Fiddles and Unusual Suspects (-> FW#15, FW#23, FW#31) at the time. Aidan is respected as a prolific writer of tunes in the traditional vein. His tunes have been performed and recorded by groups such as Flook and Wolfstone. However, Aidan's debut solo album is a different matter. "Sirius" is not only traditional music, but jazz, roots and groove, written for a 13-piece band including Irish flutist Brian Finnegan (-> FW#31) and fiddler Charlie McKerron, Danish fiddler Harald Haugaard (-> FW#31), and saxophon player Fraser Fifield (better known as a piper -> FW#31), among others. "Sirius"is a journey - musically, spiritually, and physically. From Scotland to Sweden, Germany to California, wherever Aidan put his foot. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and the key navigational tool for travellers. Aidan O'Rourke is about to make himself a sparkling musician, composer and performer in traditional Scottish music. A star.
Vertical Records
Walkin' T:-)M

U. Utah Phillips "Starlight on the Rails: A Songbook"
AK Press/Daemon; AKA041; 2005
Bruce U. 'Utah' Phillips (-> FW#11) was born May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio (being a fan of T. Texas Tyler, he adopted the stage name U. Utah Phillips). He has been a labor activist, a pacifist, a folk singer, and a storyteller. As a kid he ran away from home, hopping trains, travelling around the country and learning stories, history and music from the people he met. Utah learned to play the guitar and he began writing songs about the hobo life. He met folk singer Rosalie Sorrells (-> FW#31) who started playing songs he wrote. So did Emmylou Harris, Tom Waits, and many others. Utah began to perform professionally and toured the coffeehouse circuit with his folk, country music and talkin' blues. He was nominated for a Grammy for his collaboration with Ani DiFranco (-> FW#9, FW#11). Service in the Army influenced his social and political attitude. I wanted to learn a trade, but all they taught me was how to shoot. What I really learned in the army was how to be a pacifist. Subsequently, Utah ran for the U.S. Senate as a candidate of his Peace and Freedom Party in 1968. "Starlight on the Rails: A Songbook" is a collection of Utah's songs, a career spanning thirty years. It is said that it is the most complete ever released. I just got a promotional copy of 40 minutes, the full set contains 281 minutes with 61 songs and personal reflections about each song on 4 CDs. Suffering from a complaint that makes it difficult to play a proper guitar, Utah performs only on a limited basis. But nobody ever came just to hear you play, Kate Wolf once said. Yeah, it is better to be likeable than talented, Utah often quipped. Asked if he is ready yet to pass the torch, Utah said: No, I'm not ready to pass the torch, I'm not done with it, and you'll have to go through me to get it. The world does not belong to the young, I was here first. But here is an idea: I'll carry the torch, you carry me.
AK Press/Daemon Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Pipedreams "Kick out the Ghosts"
Offbeat; OSO010CD; 2005; Playing time: 50:30 min
Pipedreams, formerly The Jimi McRae Band, is led by piper and ex-street busker Jimi McRae plus bass player Iain McKinna, electric fiddler Kirsty Anderson and drummer Dave Haswell. It is a blend of bagpipe music and rock. The tunes are entirely composed by Jimi and Iain. It's part traditional Celtic type numbers and a homage to pibroch music. But it's a modern rock, new wave, ska and psychedelic soundscape. Sometimes trance-like and mystical, but more often dedicated to the dancers. Jimi is playing the pipes sometimes like an electric lead guitar, including feedback, vibrato and wah wah guitar type effects. He is bending notes and blending pipes with the fiddle. And if that is not enough, he is not only playing traditional Highland bagpipes. Though his set is especially made for Jimi with some specifications to increase the range of notes from 9 to 14, so it is fully chromatic, and improve tuning. He is also playing electronic pipes made by German pipe maker Manfred Deger. You can change key and sound by simply pressing a button, and Jimi is playing through effects pedals. It is said that Jimi is freaking out at live shows with a grand The Who type finale. So, this kind of pipe music is quite different to the usual bunch of kids hanging around the block, and it should certainly kick out the ghosts.
Offbeat Scotland
Walkin' T:-)M

Plantec "Plantec"
Label: Aztec Music; CM 21 26; 2006; Playing time: 49:21 min
Young Breton quartet Plantec plays instrumental music only - with bombarde, biniou, electric guitar, bass and programming. All compositions seem to be original, but in the traditional vein of andros, laridés, suite plinn, valse, scottish etc. However, the arrangements and the sound is ambient and grooving. This is not the typical Breton fest noz music. The tunes sound very medieval sometimes, sometimes have Eastern and klezmir feeling, sometimes leading into jazz territory. Much, much darker than Breton music generally is. I have rather to relate to bands such as Germans Corvus Corax (-> FW#18) or certain Scandinavian bands such as Garmarna (-> FW#26) or Hoven Droven (see review above). So fest noz music has finally arrived in the 21th century.
Distribution: Coop Breizh
Walkin' T:-)M

Jenna Reid "With Silver & All"
Foot Stompin'; CDFSR1731; 2004; Playing time: 42:24 min
Young yet veteran Shetland fiddler Jenna Reid grew up with the Island's rich music tradition. She started learning the fiddle at the age of nine, taught by the late Dr Tom Anderson and the late Willie Hunter (-> FW#2). Jenna started also performing very early, with the Shetland quartet Filska and the all girl group Dòchas. More recently she joined Deaf Shepherd (-> FW#2). Her first solo album is a compendium of Shetland and Scottish fiddling. Jenna attacks jigs, reel and hornpipes with youthful vigour, while her slow air playing is tender and graceful. Jenna is deeply rooted in traditional Scottish music, tunes by Hunter and Scott Skinner (-> FW#25), including a couple of self-composed tunes. The Islands have a natural connection with Scandinavia, even musically, so Jenna isn't shy to tackle a couple of Swedish and Norwegian tunes. And if she would have incorporated some Cape Breton tunes, I would have told you that Natalie MacMaster often came to my mind (-> FW#27). I do it anyway. The accompaniment is subtle, provided by Harris Playfair on piano, Kevin Mackenzie on guitar, Duncan Lyall on bass and Paul Jennings on percussion.
Foot Stompin' Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Brian Roebuck "A Song for Luke"
Label: Blerp Music; BLERPCD004; 2005; Playing time: 76:03 min
The late Luke Kelly (singer of Dubliners fame -> FW#23) is a legend. Brian Roebuck is a Dublin man himself (from Drimnagh precisely), and Luke is his hero since his the age of seven, when he started singing Dubliners songs and playing the banjo. Luke kept him from getting into rock'n'roll. Brian, now based in Manchester, specialised as Luke Kelly cover. Why Luke? He put so much feeling and compassion into his material. Every song he sang seemed to end up as the 'definitive' version. As a folk singer he was awesome, none better. As a character he had charisma. Luke sang his heart out with conviction. He was sincere in his singing. His emotion poured out in every rendition. He believed in his songs. Luke took ownership of them. Kelly gave a voice to the ordinary man in the street. In the sixties he gave us dignity and self-respect. "A Song for Luke" is a collection of classic songs, recorded live in County Cork (because the Guinness tastes far better down there). Brians voice resembles that of Luke. He is joined by fiddler Dezi Donnelly, banjo players Marcus Maloney (tenor 4-string) and Pat Kelleher (5-string; see CD-review above). Well, younger folk afficionados might familiar with Luke's repertory, but no longer be acquainted with Luke Kelly himself. So listen to Brian Roebuck for a glimpse of Dublin's past. The ballads are still present and remain there in the future as well.
Walkin' T:-)M

David Rovics "Halliburton Boardroom Massacre" [CD/DVD]
Label: Own label; 2006; Playing time: 34:14 + 55 min
David Rovics (-> FW#23, FW#26, FW#27, FW#29) is at it again, his 14th album to date. He usually performs solo, on "Halliburton Boardroom Massacre" he is assisted by an entire backing gang again. While Woody Guthrie's (-> FW#31) trademark was This machine kills fascists on his guitar, David's is: This machine kills CEOs. Times are changing, but it doesn't get better, only different. Is there a flag upon your house, and a flag upon your car, and a ribbon on your mailbox with the stars and bars? Do you support the president And the war for oil? Do you think your sons belong There on someone else’s soil? How far is it from here to Nuremberg? In "New Orleans" everybody knew that it could happen. It was in the daily papers. In bold letters was the writ what would happen when the Big One hit. But every year they cut the funding just a little more, so they could give it to the Army to fight their oil war. Paul Wolfowitz is done giving orders to generals. He’s through with ordering the tanks to kill. He’s done with the War Department, now he’s gonna run the World Bank. He said he’d be true to the mission that hunger and want should end. And as all Afghans know he’s a man of his word on that we can depend. So be prepared for prosperity, it’s coming to your door, ‘cause there will be no poverty once we kill off all the poor. But in the end, life is beautiful, and that is where political activism comes from.
A percentage of the CD sales goes to the anti-war coaliton United for Peace and Justice. The bonus DVD features a 35 minute concert at the University of Toledo in April 2006, plus 5 video clips blending live performances in clubs and at political rallys with illustrating background footage. See also the interview with David in this FW issue.
Walkin' T:-)M

Sågskära "Orm"
Drone Music; DROCD043; 2006; Playing time: 61:32 min
"Orm" already is the sixth record of the Swedish group Sågskära, and we just get to know them yet. That's a pity. The six piece ensemble is based in Värend in the county of Småland. It has all acoustic instruments available, from Scandinavian fiddles and hurdy-gurdy to the shawm, and combines medieval drones and contemporary folk music. On the one side, the repertory consists of medieval ballads about dragons and poisoned maidens. Småland fados, they say. "Slottet i Västanvik" (Västanvik Castle) originally is a 16th century German song, "Es liegt ein Schloss in Österreich," though the tunes developed differently in the respective countries. (It probably came to Scandinavia with Swedish soldiers of fortune after the Thirty Years War. It is most famous - or infamous - on the European continent, because it became the tune that the words of "Das Blutgericht zu Peterswaldau" are sung to. The latter song started the rebellion of the Silesian weavers in 1844.) On the other hand, Sågskära play a great deal of instrumental music. Polskas and engelskas (Nordic reels, that travelled across The North Sea apparently), a waltz, a bourré from the Baltics, and a bear dance, a relict of Swedish fertility culture until recently. The booklet is in Swedish and English, so understanding is given. And the music is marvellous.
Drone Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Pauline Scanlon "Hush"
Compass; 7 4435 2; 2006; Playing time: 44:14 min
So come all young men where e'er ya be and listen to my lamentation... Hush now ladds (and lassies as well), Pauline Scanlon is coming again. But it's not all about lamenting, though it has a lot of quiet singing, mainly using her breathy and low voices. Merry popfolk it is, though less pop than Pauline's previous effort "Red Colour Sun" (-> FW#30). Pauline chose 8 traditional songs, mostly Irish or Irish-Appallachian, 2 non-trads (one by John Spillane, the other an original Scanlon), plus "Boys of Barr na Sráide" (which has been written by Sigerson Clifford, -> FW#28, though the booklet tells us trad arr.). This time she brought a steady band into the studio, featuring her fiancé Donogh Hennessy (he just left Lúnasa for good; see CD review above), bass player Danny Thompson, banjo player Darrell Scott (-> FW#28) and bluegrass-country fiddler Stuart Duncan. The last is no big surprise, since the album has been recorded in Nashville. But it is no Nash trash though. So hush now and listen! Farewell my love don't you cry, farewell my dark-haired blue-eyed boy, And when I'm crossing the deep blue sea, I hope in Ireland you'll think of me.
Walkin' T:-)M

P.P. Slaggart "The Ramblings of Dangerous McDaid"
Label: Own label; 2006; Playing time: 45:08 min
Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. P.P. Slaggart (-> FW#28) supposedly found old audio tapes from the mid 1980s in the vault, containing original songs, anecdotes and stories. Said to be the legacy of Daniel George McDaid, alias Red Dan, aka Dangerous McDaid. This colourful character was born 1915 in Tyrone. In his early years he stripped and treated tree bark, onto which his mother would produce copies of bible script, and sold it throughout the North West of Ireland. When his mother died he started travelling. Convicted of theft with violence in Germany in 1937, he was given a choice between prison and army. He subsequently saw war action in France and Russia. At the end of World War II he escaped to Mexico and the United States, returning to Irland in the early 1960s where he disappeared into oblivion. Aha! Slaggart brought the songs of Dangerous McDaid back to life to tell this life story. All laid down in the country rock music genre (best wishes to Johnny Cash -> FW#26). He is supported by a fine cast, including double bass player James Blennerhassett. "The Ramblings of Dangerous McDaid" is not as gorgeous as his debut album "Tales from a Whisky Town", but it has a charm of its own.
Available from
Walkin' T:-)M

Sliotar "Crew of Three"
Label: Idrone Media; imp003; 2005; Playing time: 56:04 min
What first caught my attention was, no, not the music, but the bottle of Jaegermeister liquor amid the band members on the promotional photograph. Simply because the Jaegermeister plant is just a few miles away from the place I live. Well, personally I'm not very fond of the stuff, but would rather prefer a pint of Guinness or a dram of whiskey. Sliotar is a trio from Dublin, consisting of whistler and uilleann piper Ray MacCormac, guitar and bouzouki player J.P. Kalio and percussionist and drummer Des Gorevan. The music is traditional Irish, and this crew of three makes the most of its limitations. They manage to mobilize a bigger and fuller sound than many a band that has twice their size. The instrumental tunes are arranged in a highly original manner, with interesting twists and turns. The choice of songs is excellent ("Wreck of Mary Jane", "I Once Loved A Lass"). "Lord Gregory" is put to a new melody, two songs have been written by J.P. Kalio. Fortunatly, Sliotar's music is not Jaegermeister-like but ... pure strong stuff.
Walkin' T:-)M

Cora & Breda Smyth "%"
Label: Own label; CSBS01; 2005; Playing time: 38:59 min
Sisters Cora and Breda Smyth grew up in a musical family in Straide, County Mayo, north west Ireland (elder brother Sean performs with Lúnasa, see review above). Cora played the fiddle with Eimear Quinn who won the Eurovison Song Contest (see also the following news item), and became a member in Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance". Breda played the whistle at Flatley's Las Vegas version of the show and subsequently in "Feet of Flames". In 2002 she recorded her solo debut "Basil & Thyme”, mixing traditional Irish tunes with samples, loops and electric guitars. Together Cora and Breda are playing their favourite tunes, in duets, but more often each girl has a solo outing. The opener is a swinging, jazzy waltz, but very soon we are treated to straight reels. Lúnasa-like with guitar, bass and percussion, yet less melody instruments. A track like "Maghera Mountains" reminds of Moving Hearts days, while "The Golden Stud" provides fiery fiddling like Eileen Ivers (-> FW#26) in her wildest moments, save going electric in the end. Cora and Breda are backed up by a tight band including guitar player Tim Edey (the man's everywhere these days, see reviews above and below).
Walkin' T:-)M

Solas "Reunion: A Decade of Solas" [CD + DVD]
Compass; 744312; 2006; Playing time: 76:07 + approx. 105 min
Irish-American band Solas (-> FW#17, FW#22, FW#29) stepped out into the light in 1996 and immediately - as Bothy Band re-incarnated - set new standards for traditional Irish music. Originally having thought to do only a one-off project, the band recently had to face its ten year anniversary. A decade that has seen seven albums, a series of line-ups, endless touring and critical acclaim. They were changing, moving into songwriting, pop music and electric guitars. The glorious idea for to celebrate the moment was a spectacular live show in Philadelphia in September 2005, featuring all current and past members. The anniversary (and first live) CD/DVD is a mix-up of past and present Solas: founding members Seamus Egan (flute, banjo, guitar) and Winifred Horan (fiddle), singers Karan Casey (-> FW#25) and Deirdre Scanlan, accordionists John Williams and Mick McAuley, guitarists John Doyle, Dónal Clancy (see CD review above) and Eamon McElholm, plus bass player Chico Huff and percussionists Ben Wittman, John Anthony and Michael Aharon, and a very special guest, Antje Duvekot, who wrote some songs for the last Solas albums. Seventeen tracks are on the audio CD, or 1 hour 45 minutes on the DVD video, including interviews interspersed between the tracks. A light - that is what the Gaelic word solas means - that still shines brightly.
Compass Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Strangeworld "Leap of Faith"
Label: FE Records; FE 1001/CD; 2005; Playing time: 33:28 min
The Hertfordshire based group Strangeworld consists of ex-Shave the Monkey Bryan Causton (strings), whistler/bombarde/oboe player Anna Ardley, violinist Ginette Davis and accordion player Andy Thompson. The instrumental tunes are mostly of own making, but also featured is "La Partida", some traditional an dros, and Yves Barbieux's "Avreel" (of Urban Trad fame -> FW#26, FW#27, FW#27, FW#29). It is original music with part Celtic, part medieval colours. The sound is relaxing and at ease. The "Leap of Faith" album is short but to the point.
Walkin' T:-)M

Svanevit "Gryning"
Westpark Music; 87123; 2005; Playing time: 52:34 min
Erik-Ask Upmark & Anna Rynefors "Dråm"
Label: Westpark Music; 87127; 2006?; Playing time: 50:10 min
Sven Svanevit han rider sig den vägen fram... The quest of the Swedish knights is packed with adventures - musical ones. The Svanevit knights and ladies here are artists known from the groups Faust and Plommon (-> FW#10, FW#20): Anders Larsson (vocals, mandola, mandolin), Maria Persson (violin, recorder), Anna Rynefors (nyckelharpa, säckpipa, drums), Erik Ask-Upmark (harp, säckpipa, medieval bagpipes). The repertory consists of ballads from medieval Sweden, lullabies and chorals, as well as instrumental tunes such as polskas and the polonaise. Acoustic music which is light and feather-like, rather like a peasant's dance than the jaunt of a knight in heavy armour.
Erik-Ask Upmark and Anna Rynefors play as a duo together, too. Both are riksspelman, which is a recognized honour in the field of Swedish folklore and traditional music. Their project is called Dråm, which means drone in this particular Swedish dialect. The interplay of nyckelharpa and (Irish) harp is the beginning of it all. Add to this the drone of Swedish bagpipes (säckpipa) and medieval bagpipes, some hurdy gurdy and some rebec. The music is instrumental only, most tunes originate from the Dalarna area. The music is slow, sad and dreamy, at times a dancing tune is thrown in for good measure.
What can I say? I like both CDs (and I'm no all-time favourite of Nordic bands). However, these are special and excellent. Artists to watch out for!
Westpark Music
Walkin' T:-)M

More English CD Reviews:Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3
Overview: CD Review Contents

To the content of FolkWorld No. 32

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 12/2006

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