FolkWorld #53: CD Reviews
FolkWorld #53 03/2014

CD & DVD Reviews

Jim Malcolm "Still"
Own label, 2013

www.jimmalcolm.com

Jim Malcolm became the shooting star of Scottish folk song when playing with the Old Blind Dogs from 1999 to 2006 and replacing their previous singer Ian F. Benzie.[21] It kicked off a successful solo career, and Jim never looked back but followed his own trajectory ever since. Quite similar to the new album of fellow Scottish singer Emily Smith,[53] Jim Malcolm revisited traditional Scots material after performing and recording a lot of original material.[5][15][25][28][32][39][45] Well, it might be a personal concern of mine these days, but I'm really tired of all these inferior 'original' songs lurking around, many in a mid-Atlantic folk pop style with neither class nor originality. There is still such rich harvest to bring in, many traditional songs haven't even picked up or, say, treated properly. No misunderstanding, you can't accuse Jim Malcolm of writing inferior songs. Jim has written some great original songs in his time, the world would be a poorer place without his "Battle of Waterloo," for example.
Anyway, "Still" is an exquisite collection of traditional Scots songs (and, yes, one of Jim's own compositions, the "Forth Bridge Song"). Most songs are more or less familiar characters, the Queen Amang the Heather and MacPherson under the gallows. Some songs have known authors: Robert Tannahill wrote "Erin Go Bragh", Sir Walter Scott adapted "Jock o Hazeldean", Dick Gaughan put the tune to James Hogg's "Both Sides The Tweed". Eventually, the disc finishes off with a music hall song, "The Scot’s Lament," fostering the popular myth that Scotsmen are extremely careful with their money. Jim's treatment is the proper one, though his selection contains few surprises or new discoveries, these songs still sound fresh, or fresh again. There's nothing old-fashioned, guaranteed by Jim's trademark vocals, guitar and harmonica, plus sensitive support from Capercaillie's Marc Duff (whistles), Pete Clark (fiddle) and Dave Watt (keyboards).
© Walkin' T:-)M


Mick West and Muldoon's Picnic "A Scots Chorus"
Claytara Records, 2013

www.ascotschorus.com

Mick West is a well-known name on Glasgow's folk circuit since the early 1980s.[2][35][41] Three years ago he decided to work with a chorus, when realising that a folksong with a good chorus may unlock a non-singer's self-belief in their ability to perform. Mick found the perfect partner in the acapella quintet Muldoon's Picnic, who perform songs from around the world with a particular interest in the American shape note tradition. In mid 2012 they started to explore the harmonic possibilities of the most interesting and representative Scots chorus songs: ballads such as "Bonnie Susie Cleland" (Child #65), "Time Wears Awa" and "The Broom O the Cowdenknowes", but also music hall songs such as "I’ll Lay ye doon" (originally the Irish-American "Muldoon the Solid Man") and the tongue-twister "Mary Mack". Mick West leads; Katy Cooper, Harry Campbell, Daisy Abbott, Sheena Templeton and David Titterington of Muldoon's Picnic wrap up the songs in a soft sound carpet (mostly harmonies in unison but experimenting in "Mary Mack"), without distracting too much from the narrative. Stewart Hardy and Frank McLaughlin[44] gently add fiddle and guitar, respectively, as well as Angus Lyon[52] his accordion and piano and Penny Callow her cello. The "Scots Chorus" project by now includes this CD, as well as a booklet of the arrangements and lyrics for singing groups. Check it out!
© Walkin' T:-)M


Martin McHugh "The Master's Choice"
Own label, 2013

www.martinmchugh.com

Button accordionist Martin McHugh emigrated from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, as a teenager. During the 1960s and 1970s he became anchor and fixture at the lively Irish dance and session scene of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. A great number of budding trad artists has been inspired by his presence and his encouragement. Martin is still an active member of the Irish music community.
His accordion playing - rhythms, ornamentation, ... - is lively and intricate. Just check out the finishing set of polkas - "Johnny Powell’s / Galway Belle / The Sword of St. Columba / Muirsheen Durkin". Martin often uses rather unusual settings of his selected jigs, reels and hornpipes. There's also one slow air featured, "Boulavogue" (best known with the words of a 1798 rebel song),[4] followed by an instrumental version of "The Galway Shawl", a popular song as well and only recently adapted to 3/4 waltz time. Martin's disciple Laura MacKenzie persuaded him to record and added flute, whistle and concertina, Irish born St. Paul resident Dáithí Sproule[46] was employed to back up with his DADGAD guitar and sing the old Gaelic ballad "Mo Theaghlach" (i.e. My Family), not too well-known, I only heard it once from 'Queen of Song' Elizabeth Cronin (1879–1956).
© Walkin' T:-)M


Doolin "Exile"
Own label, 2011

Doolin "Live in Lorient"
Own label, 2013

German CD Review

Artist Video

www.doolin.fr

Yes, even the French are able to make a crucial contribution to (traditional) Irish music. I recognized this several times before, not least with Doolin's previous album "Angels Are Free".[45] The band, named after the musical mecca in Co. Clare in the west of Ireland,[40] features Wilfried Besse (accordion, vocals), Guilhem Cavaille (fiddle), Jacob Fournel (whistles) , Nicolas Besse (guitar), Sébastien Saunié (bass) and Josselin Fournel (bodhrán). Their already third studio album, the band formed in 2005, features a decent mix of traditional Irish tunes, fiddler Josephine Keegan's "Road to Cashel" (better known as "The Curlew Reel", and not to be confused with Charlie Lennon's "Road to Cashel"), some written by Jacob Fournel, and a spirited mazurka by Nicolas Besse. Wilfried and Nicolas also account for three original songs.

Wilfried Besse's "A Night At The Galway" has also been on the set list of their August 2012 performance at the 42nd Festival Interceltique de Lorient.[49] Karen Whitely wrote the words of "Country Love", which Wilfried put to music. Then there's a couple of traditional Irish songs, I never heard of the "Charming Pride", but of course we are all familiar with "When We Will Be Married", "Rocky Road To Dublin" and "As I Roved Out". I actually like the traditional ballads better than their original songs, but that's a question of personal taste. There's more trad besides Gordon Duncan's "Pressed for Time", Jacob Fournel's polkas and another mazurka from Nicolas Besse. Josselin Fournel got the opportunity for a cute bodhrán solo. On a set of reels fiddler Sam Proctor doubles Guilhem Cavaille, on another banjo player Brian Kelly[33] and fiddler Ben Gunnery support the illustrious French sextet.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Leonard Barry "New Road"
Own label, 2013

Article: New Road, New Pipes, New Lease of Life

Artist Video

www.leonardbarry.ie

This is only Leonard Barry's second album after "Mind the Pipes" 11 years ago. Inbetween he moved from rural Co. Kerry to the Irish capital Dublin. Still most of his chosen tunes are from Munster - comprising the southern Irish counties Clare, Cork, Limerick (incl. the Sliabh Luachra area),[42] Tipperary, Waterford -, with a small selection of Sligo/Leitrim pieces. All tunes are trad, besides one reel composed by Hammy Hamilton, the Belfast born flutist who is residing in Cork these days. Leonard Barry plays some expressive solo pieces on the uilleann pipes and is not shy with the regulators. There's two grand slow airs, "Iníon an Fhaoit' Ón Ngleann" (as heard by the Begleys) and "O'Rahilly's Grave". It is no solo piping throughout, duet and group settings feature fiddler Andy Morrow, banjoist John Carty, flutist Conor Byrne among others. The set dance "Planxty Davis" (Killicrankie), composed by Thomas O'Connellan (c.1640/5–1698) to commemorate the Battle of Killiecrankie 1689, features The Unwanted[39] Rick Epping on harmonica/concertina and Seamie O' Dowd on guitar; another set dance, "Mount Fabus Hunt" (Galtee Hunt) introduces concertina/guitar duo Tony O'Connell and Tony Byrne. Unusual versions of the "Apples in Winter" jig (Sliabh Luachra fiddler Padraig O'Keeffe's four-part version) and "The Bog Carrot" reel with a third part added by accordionist Jackie Daly make the pyrotechnics of this awesome uilleann piper perfect.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Yves Lambert "Trio"
La Prûche Libre, 2012

Artist Video

www.yveslambert.com

Button accordionist and singer Yves Lambert is one of the godfathers of the Québécois folk music revival, having been a member of La Bottine Souriante from 1976 to 2003.[9][23] He left to explore new approaches to traditional French-Canadian music and formed Le Bébert Orchestra with young and emerging talent.[33] The Yves Lambert Trio is a pared-down version of the Orchestra, featuring Olivier Rondeau (guitar) and Tommy Gauthier (fiddle, bouzuki, mandolin, foot percussion). The three-piece offers three powerful voices, with Yves taking up lead most of the time. Their lively sound is multifaceted and unobtrusively anastatic. It should be mentioned that Olivier Rondeau puts part of his guitar strings through an effect box to play an octave lower, so the trio is exploiting the whole dynamic range down to the basses.
© Walkin' T:-)M


La Cantinière "La Différence"
La Prûche Libre, 2013

Artist Video

www.lacantiniere.ca

Voyez le plaisir, see the pleasures, is one of the song titles and can also be taken as a motto for this new traditional outfit from Quebec. But what's new anyway?! Frédéric Bourgeois (accordéon, foot tapping), Mathieu Lacas (fiddle) and Frédéric Beauséjour (double bass) have played together in La Volée d’Castors since the early 1990s,[26] and eventually teamed up with guitar player Joémi Verdon in late 2011. Their sound is not too different, but likewise vibrant and spirited. Their repertoire though is particularily taken from the legendary Brien family of the Lanaudière region in southern Quebec, including both epic ballads and party songs. The good news is, and we expected nothing else, that these musical suttlers trade in this rich legacy without starting a massive sellout.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Gillian Boucher "Elemental"
Own label, 2008

Gillian Boucher "Attuned"
Own label, 2013

Artist Video

www.gillian-boucher.com

Inverness County on Cape Breton Island, Gillian Boucher's native country, the name tells where the ancestors of the inhabitants once came from. However, this young fiddler not only plays traditional Scottish/Irish melodies but subtly updates it. Her debut album "Elemental" did become the Roots Traditional Recording of the Year at the Nova Scotia Music Week Award in 2009. The selection of tunes starts gently with the "Summer School Waltz" by Edinburgh fiddler Amy Geddes, followed by a colourful mix of tunes from Brendan Power, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, ... The Norwegian "Rørospols" has been thrown in for good measure. The music is accessible, her fiddle tone is sweet and bright.

Artist Video Five years later, Gillian Boucher's second album "Attuned" continues where "Elemental" wound up. Steel/nylon string guitarist Seph Peters and bodhran player Mark Currie, respectively, are featured on five selected tracks, the other half is pure fiddle. Simple but expressive. There's more traditional tunes, more from Jerry Holland, Andy Thorburn, ... "Sir John Fenwick's" is a Northumbrian waltz, "Neil Gow’s Lament" the beautiful air for the Scots fiddler's second wife. My personal favourite is Gillian's "Asturian Jig Set," kicking off with a muineira from Llan de Cubel, followed by McGoldrick's Farewell to Whalley Range" and Geddes' "Andy's Saltire".

P.S.: The CD release will be followed in 2014 by a DVD live concert recording with tracks from both albums.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Ferocious Dog "Ferocious Dog"
Own Label, 2013

Artist Video

www.ferociousdog.co.uk

The recipe is familiar since The Pogues started their musical crusade in the early 1980's - a punkish attitude to folk music combined with danceable pogo rhythms and singable choruses. Every now and then there comes a band that blows fresh air into a sometime obsolete genre. This is the case with Ferocious Dog from Warsop, Nottinghamshire. Here it is a grooving reggae beat and quite disimpassioned jiffies at times. Ferocious Dog started out in the late 1980's with lead singer/guitarist Ken Bonsall and fiddler Dan Booth. The band split and reformed a couple of times, since 2011 exhibiting a steady rock line-up. Bonsall and Booth have delivered a dozen heartfelt personal and irate political songs, including a take on the traditional Irish American "Paddy On The Railway", carried by the singer's distinctive vocals. Bands such as The Levellers[48] and The Men They Couldn't Hang[25] might be point of references. The self-titled album kicks off with the fast-paced "The Glass," written for Bonsall's son Lee, who took his life suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after fighting in Afghanistan. The instrumental "Lee’s Tune" follows, a track you can dance to, and thus is seemingly the band's message: melancholy and grief, joy and vitality are both two sides of life and Ferocious Dog's art. To put a long story short, this is folk punk you can easily relate to, but with an edge not every band is able to deliver.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Zeptepi "Coming up for Air"
Probe One Music, 2013

Artist Video

www.zeptepi.info

According to ancient Egyptian myths, the world emerged from a lifeless sea. This is called zp tpj, the first occasion. What does such a strange name reveal about a band? Actually I don't have a clue. But anyway, there's two good ears to listen. So Zeptepi seem to be the Australian answer to the Irish/British folk punk rock formula. Vocalist-guitarist Phil Dean founded Zeptepi in Melbourne way back in 2001, wearing out several different line-ups over the years. With half a dozen albums to their credit, "Coming up for Air" is certainly Formula 1, not snail's pace. Hailing from a family of Cornish mariners and fishermen, Phil Dean has a deep love for sea shanties, "Haul Away Joe" and "Bound for Sydney Town" (partly with new music by Phil) are fine examples here. "The Fisherman" is an old English love-turned-into-murder song. "Old Fid" then has been written by Cornishman Bill Lowndes about a retired sailor who once would look down at his hands and say: Every thumb a marline-spike and every finger a fid (a pointed metal spike used to separate strands of rope or wire in splicing and a large tapering pin used to open the strands of a rope before splicing, respectively). Phil Dean supplements these tales of the sea, convicts and murder ballads with his own songs such as "The Swiftsure," a ship captained by Phil's great-great-grandfather, which went to the bottom of the sea way back in 1882. Last but not least, there is a beautiful waltz composed by the band's fiddler Claire Johnstone, and I must not forget banjo player CC Thornley's fiery performance which is distinguishing the Zeptepi sound.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Andy Irvine with Rens van der Zalm "Parachilna"
Own label, 2013

www.andyirvine.com

The musical trajectory took Andy Irvine[23][35][44] [48] from Sweeney's Men and Planxty[30] (late 1960s/early 1970s) to Patrick Street[24] and Mozaik[36] (1980s/90s onwards). He always wanted to do an 'Australian' album, so he took the opportunity while touring South Australia and New South Wales with Rens van der Zalm in the unforgiving winter of July 2012 to record an album in old sheds and schoolhouses. (Check out Andy's The Romance of the Swag Diary!) Parachilna is the name of a small country town at the foot of the Flinders Range (and set location for the feature film "Rabbit Proof Fence"). Andy sings and plays mandola, bouzouki and harmonica, Rens plays fiddle, guitar and mandolin. He took material from his traditional Irish repertoire such as "I wish I was in Belfast Town" about unrequited love and "Come to the Bower" learned from Luke Kelly, as well as Australian songs about the famous bushranger "Frank Gardiner" and the sinking of "The Dandenong" in 1876 (the latter has been set to a new melody by Australian folk punk band Zeptepi, see review above). During his treks through the Australian outback Andy wrote an original song about Antarctic explorer "Douglas Mawson", and eventually Alistair Hulett's[41] "He Fades Away" about the slow demise of asbestos miners is covered. From start to finish "Parachilna" once again is Andy Irvine at his best!
© Walkin' T:-)M


Calum Stewart & Heikki Bourgault "Hunter's Moon"
Own label, 2013

Artist Video

www.calumheikki.com

In 2008 Scottish flutist and uilleann piper Calum Stewart joined forces with Breton guitarist Heikki Bourgault.[46] After a detour of Calum's with fiddler Lauren MacColl[49] the acoustic power duo presents his second album (with simultaneous flute and pipes recorded every now and then). "Hunter's Moon" is a gorgeous collection of Irish jigs and Scottish reels, plus the traditional Breton suite "Le Legende De La Cane" and Calum's original "Schottishe Kerlou". He also composed three other tunes, and put together "Another Winter" with Heikki Bourgault. The centrepiece of this fine selection and splendid performance is a set consisting of 6 tunes: kicking off with fiddler Ruairaidh Campbell's "Michael’s Lament", followed by the traditional jig "The Sailor’s Wife" (sometimes attributed to famous Scottish fiddler Niel Gow), Calum's "An Coire Bhreacain" (The Unsettled Cauldron), Niel Gow’s strathspey "Niel Gow's Wife" and two Heikki Bourgault tunes, "Passagers Nocturnes" and "Reve Agite," respectively.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Gavin Marwick "The Long Road and the Far Horizons"
Journeyman Records, 2014

www.gavinmarwick.co.uk

Edinburgh fiddle player Gavin Marwick(fiddle) co-founded The Iron Horse and later performed with Burach,[32] Cantrip,[24] Ceilidh Minogue,[38] and recently Bellevue Rendezvous.[42] Together with Jonny Hardie he formed a successful fiddle duo which released the albums "The Blue Lamp"[10] and "Moonshine".[52] Not only being a fine fiddler, Gavin Marwick is known as a seminal composer of tunes - in a Scottish traditional-style mould but incorporating different shapes and shades. Reportedly he has already composed 3,000 tunes, some of them have been recorded by the Old Blind Dogs, the Unusual Suspects, Dòchas, GiveWay, Marie Fielding, Liz Doherty, and even Breton group Arz Nevez. He has written dance tunes and slow airs, revealing both joy and melancholy, got inspired by people and places. Gavin's two disc set (and accompanying tune book) "The Long Road and the Far Horizons" features 62 tunes on 27 tracks. He is suported by a 13 piece band, including the likes of Gregor Lowrey and Leo McCann (accordion), Fraser Fifield (sax, low whistle), Aaron Jones (bouzouki) and Claire Mann (flute). It has been a long road indeed, probably rewarding on the far horizons, here and now it is the perfect showcase for a talented fiddler and tunesmith.
© Walkin' T:-)M


David Doocey "Changing Time"
Own label, 2013

www.daviddoocey.com

David Doocey has been born in Worcester, Massachusetts, but is now living in Foxford, County Mayo. The All-Ireland champion on both fiddle and concertina has joined Gráda[42] and the Dave Munnelly Band,[48] "Changing Time," however, is his debut solo recording of pure fiddle music. The CD kicks off with "Martin Wynnes's Reel #2" followed by David's own "Man From Dunblane". A traditional jig set introduces his accompanists, a couple of Dooceys and Dohertys (such as fellow Gráda flutist Stephen Doherty).[51] There's more tunes composed by David, the accompaniment gradually becomes more jazzy and funky. There's an interlude with David's air "Dark Shadows" and his tune "A New Dawn," commissioned for a documentary about the Magdalene Laundries.[25] The second half of the album is traditional again (apart from two of Johnny Og Connolly's), including a set of barndances and some slow reels. Eventually David Doocey is taking up the concertina and squeezing his heart out. "Changing Time" is a classic fiddle album but up-to-date and timeless with its fine execution as if in a trance.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Siobhán Smith "Timing Is Everything"
Own label, 2013

Artist Video

www.siobhansmithmusic.com

Siobhán Smith was born and raised in the Irish community of New York. She played violin in various orchestras, but her passion always had been traditional Irish music. In 2006 she moved to Dublin (Ireland, not Ohio!) and became a full-time trad fiddler, touring with several Irish dance shows. Now her debut album "Timing Is Everything" links both Ireland and America. Start is the song "It Must Be Love" by Don Williams and sung by country singer Alan Jackson, which gradually builds up the pace. Other songs include JT Ely's "Who Will Sing for Me," originally a gospel song taken from Doc Watson,[52] Paul Brady's "Follow On" about the troubles in Northern Irleand, and her own "The Weakness in My Soul". This is a mixed bunch, not too bad, but I'm rather fond of her instrumental sets. First one on the disc, for example, is Beoga's slip jig "Waterboogie",[31] paired with Mike McGoldrick's "Farewell to Whalley Range". Siobhán's mixture of traditional Irish tunes and those from Adam Sutherland, Josephine Keegan, Brendan McGlinchey and Colin Farrell features the support of talented artists such as Seana Davey[44] (harp) and Trevor Hutchinson[52] (double bass). Eventually, she offers some music of her own, a couple of nice melodies, with the old-time waltz "Teardrops on My Fiddle" being the ultimate climax.
© Walkin' T:-)M


The Friel Sisters "The Friel Sisters"
Own label, 2013

Artist Video

wwww.frielmusic.com

Anna, Sheila and Clare Friel are siblings from Glasgow with family roots in Donegal, NW Ireland. End of the year 2013 they launched their debut album at the Frankie Kennedy Winter School, Altan's fiddler and singer Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh expressed some warm words in the CD booklet. The sister trio is a tight and compact outfit, the ethereal harmonies sound gorgeous though take getting used to at times. The old Gaelic song "Tir Chonaill" was sung by their Irish granny, the sisters feel priviliged to be the first people we are aware of to record this beautiful song. The English language songs are better known, "The Blue Hills of Antrim" features Scottish singer Griogair Labhruidh.[36] Besides the songs there are traditional jigs and reels, a set of marches ("Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine / Battle of Aughrim") and waltzes ("Miss Kenny's / Eddie O'Gara's"), respectively, and a highland (the Donegal version of a Scottish strathspey). One or the other I have heard from Altan or another Donegal rooted artist. Altogether the Friel Sisters' debut album is a well-rounded affair, and probably only the beginning of an illustrious musical career I suppose.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Craobh Rua "I'd understand you if i knew what you meant"
BTB Records, 2014

www.craobhrua.com

Traditional Irish group Craobh Rua[15][41] (Irish for Red Branch from Celtic mythology) has been founded way back in the mid 1980s in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Several line-ups later, they are still a force to reckon with and back in business with a splendid new album. With a trademark odd title, their sixth album "I'd understand you if i knew what you meant" is a collection of music and song they use to perform these days. The first instrumental set of slip jigs - "Hunting the Hare / Give Us a Drink of Water / Ellen O’Grady" - introduces the band members - Conor Caldwell and Michael Cassidy on fiddles, Desy McCabe and Paddy O'Hare on pipes and whistles, Brian Connolly on banjo[50] and mandolin, and Jim Rainey on guitar and bouzouki. "I'd understand..." is a mix of traditional jigs, reels, hornpipes and polkas, plus the haunting "Squire Wood's Lamentation on the Refusal of his Halfpence" attributed to the blind Irish Baroque harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670–1738). The first song (Jim Rainey is the band's crooner) is "The Road to Clady" (not to be confused with "Banks of Claudy", recorded by Craobh Rua on their "If Ida Been Here Ida Been There" album). "The Unquiet Grave" is a well-known English folk song. I heard the Gaelic "Na Buachaillí Álainn" (Beautiful Lads) recently played by Clannad;[50] "Weddings and Funerals" then has been written by Michael Sands (son of Ben).[27]
© Walkin' T:-)M


Ten Strings & A Goat Skin "Corbeau"
Own label, 2013

Artist Video

www.tenstringsandagoatskin.com

Ten Strings & A Goat Skin are Rowen Gallant, Jesse Pèriard and Caleb Gallant, and they play - guess what? - fiddle, guitar and bodhrán. Their second album, nominated for but unfortunatly not awarded with two 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards, is a vivacious mix of the Irish/Scottish and French traditions of the East Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. Deeply rooted in traditional music, they have a jazzy approach though, and relate to contemporary trad groups such as the British LAU[50] or the Irish-American Solas.[32] The fiddle-led music is lively and will get you on your feet. The starting "Huginn & Muninn" (the pair of ravens from Norse mythology, the French album's title means raven) by Rowan Gallant is one of the cool tunes written by the band members. This is complemented with melodies from the Quebecois tradition and Simon Jeffes' groovy "Music for a Found Harmonium". The trio is obviously fond of modern Celtic music, there are two tunes from Irish fusion band Kila:[44] their piper Eoin Dillon's[32] "Liffey Reels" and their fiddler Deirdre Armstrong's "Fir Bolg". Songs featured are Cyril Tawney's "Grey Funnel Line", an animated version driven by Jesse Pèriard's rhythmic guitar, "The Night They Moved the House" from local legend and singer/songwriter Lennie Gallant, and a drinking song from the Cajun tradition, "Parlez-Nous À Boire" (Tell Us To Drink).
"Corbeau" is one of the top trad albums of 2013, fetch a copy, catch the trio in concert, or pay a visit to the Old Triangle Alehouse in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where Ten Strings & A Goat Skin reportedly are part of the Sunday session players.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Chris Corrigan "Crooked Mountain Road"
Own label, 2013

www.chriscorrigan.ie

Chris Corrigan was born in Liverpool. After moving to Northern Ireland he started playing the fiddle. Professionally he completed a Tonmeister Music and Sound Recording degree, afterwards working with Peadar O'Riada, Christy Moore, Nomos, Arcady, Mary Black and many others. Currently Chris is Technical Manager of the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast (www.qub.ac.uk). Way back in 2006 he released the album "The Shadowed Gateway", featuring his original compositions performed by friends such as fiddler Liz Doherty[23] and uilleann piper Ivan Goff.[44] This time he takes centre stage, being no mean fiddler himself. The CD kicks off with the traditional slip jig "Kid on the Mountain", the first tune he ever learned on the fiddle, and ends with the reel "Hare's Paw", but 14 out of 19 tunes have again been written by Chris, including a lovely slow jig and his setting of Philip Sidney's 16th century poem "My True Love Hath My Heart". Furthermore, there is the "Kvarnbergshalling" by Swedish fiddler Maria Jonsson[35] and "Terhi and Juho's Wedding Waltz" by Finnish fiddler Esko Järvelä.[52] But I think it not wise to single out particular tracks, "Crooked Mountain Road" is an entity where the proverbial whole is more than the sum of its parts. It is an elaborate studio production, kind of a symphony, rather for the mind not for the dancing feet, with lots of piano, saxophone, trombone and electronic effects joining the traditional instrumentation of fiddle, concertina, flute and pipes. The overall result is catharsis, but don't misunderstand it as petty New Age music.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Various Artists "The Scottish Diaspora - The Music And The Song"
Greentrax, 2014

www.scottishdiasporatapestry.org

Another tapestry has been stitched in the Highlands & Islands! After The Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry[43] and The Great Tapestry of Scotland[50] comes The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, documenting and celebrating Scotland's greatest export besides whisky - its emigrants and exiles. It is said that there are 30 to 40 million people all around the world claiming Scottish descent. The Tapestry was designed by Andrew Crummy and stitched by numerous volunteers throughout the country. Visually it's again unfortunate that not many images are featured in the booklet (not everybody who's interested will have a chance to visit the exhibtion, so here's a suggestion for a forthcoming project, maybe a DVD?), but musically there is a rich harvest on the companion double CD: 39 tracks selected from the Greentrax back-catalogue, licensed from various record companies and specially recorded for this compilation.
The Rovin' Dies Hard sings Brian McNeill[45] in his newly recorded version at the very end, and The McCalmans[41] introduce the subject with their "Scots Abroad". The heroes in question are General Tam Dalyell, explorer Sir John Franklin, gold digger Ewen Gillies, missionary Mary Slessor, conservationist John Muir, whisky maker Elijah Craig (of course from the pen of Robin Laing)[45] and Edinburgh-born, Irish unionist James Connolly. There is an Indian version of Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne"[40] and Australia's unofficial national anthem "Waltzing Matilda"; an Eric Bogle[51] song is presented by wedding and special event singer Coreen Scott. Artists featured are: Siobhan Miller,[44] Margaret Stewart,[36] Jean Redpath,[41] Fiona Mackenzie,[49] Mairi MacInnes,[23] Cathy-Ann MacPhee,[29] Dick Gaughan,[36] Donnie Munro,[52] The Cast,[34] Allan MacDonald,[21] Hamish Moore,[16] Salsa Celtica,[26] Natalie MacMaster,[44] and the late great Alan Mills and Stan Rogers.[50]
All the thematical issues aside, regarding music and song this Greentrax compilation is a gorgeous selection of Scottish music outshining all previous Greentrax samplers in the Tapestry series.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Ar Re Yaouank "L'integrale" [4 CDs]
Coop Breizh, 2013

Artist Video

www.yaouank.com

Frédéric Guichen (diatonic accordion, see review below), Jean-Charles Guichen (acoustic guitar),[50] David Pasquet (bombardes), Gaël Nicol (bombardes, biniou flute, whistles),[9] and Stéphane De Vito (bass guitar)[38][48] were the members of Ar Re Yaouank (youth in Breton). The Breton band was formed in 1986 and sparked a renewed interest in traditional Breton music by exhibiting an up-to-date approach towards playing and performing.Their trademark sound comprised a rock/funk attitude (thanks to bass guitar and electric amplification), a powerful live set and complex arrangements of traditional and original dance music. Thus they paved the way for many contemporary fest noz groups in Brittany. They performed and recorded to huge success and critical acclaim, but eventually called it a day in 1998 (besides a one-off reunion at the Festival des Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix in 2011). In this set of 4 CDs - "Sidwel" (audio cassette, 1989), "Fest Noz Still Alive" (1992), "Breizh Positive" (1995), "Trivet Act" (1997) - you can relive all the power and the glory of a legendary band, and though Ar Re Yaouank might rest in peace, it's members are all alive and kicking.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Fred Guichen "Le Voyage Astral"
Paker Prod, 2013

Artist Video

www.fredguichen.com

Fred Guichen is a Breton accordionist and composer who wrote a musical story about an Astral travel. Tunes about the ocean, persons along the road and places to visit. With craftsmanship Guichen and fellow musicians create a friendly, sunny atmosphere with melodic music with mainly Celtic influences, but also sounds from other parts of Europe and beyond. Guichen shows his quality as a musician, composer and musical storyteller. It’s like sitting at the fire place and he let his listners dream away on his magical stories. For those who like accessible, warm and well played Celtic influenced acoustic music, this is your album.
© Eelco Schilder


Kitus "Eh bien, dansez maintenant!"
Own label, 2013

www.kitus.org

Eh bien, dansez maintenant! ... Well, now dance! ... That's the motto of Central French group Kitus,[44] delivering a tasty mélange of bourrées, scottishes, waltzes and mazurkas. The quintessential bal folk repertoire, and the band is top notch: Fabien Guiloineau (guitar), Yannick Guyader (accordion) Luc Roche (fiddle) and Sylvain Vuidart (flute) will get you on your feet, and when you're eventually tired, you can make yourself comfortable in the armchair and give the disc another spin, since it is a listening pleasure as well. By the way, most of the melodies have been written by the band members, another asset of an already pleasurable and masterly album.
© Walkin' T:-)M


David Rovics "If I Had A Hammer"
Own label, 2013

Artist Video

www.davidrovics.com

2013 had been an eventful year, says David, and the political events had been thorougly documented by the singer-songwriter.[32][44] His 23-song CD "If I Had A Hammer" is a compilation of three albums recorded at different times in 2013,[51][52] which can be streamed and downloaded @ davidrovics.bandcamp.com. Issues include the solar panel trade war with China, the NSA spying on the entire world, the hunger strike of Californian prisoners, the chemical attacks in Syria, the annual dolphin hunt in Japan, and the Wal-Mart strikers. The title track, "If I Had A Hammer", tells the story of Graeme Dunstan found guilty of damaging a helicopter gunship; "Spies Are Reading My Blog" is about David's own adventure being denied entry to New Zealand. In 2013, David has also been working on his topical song database, and the fight continues in 2014 with new songs concerning Scarlet Johansson and Sodastream, Coca-Cola's multilingual "America the Beautiful" Superbowl commercial, the strike action by Portland's public school teachers, and the recent Crimean crisis.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Fabula Rasa "Pörgettyű - Lankattyű"
Own label, 2009

German CD Review

www.fabularasa.hu

Since their foundation ca. 2006, Fabula Rasa - probably a pun on the Latin tabula rasa (i.e. blank slate) and fabula (story) - became quite popular in their native Hungary. Not so outside their country, though I would think that their idiosyncratic and intoxicating take on Hungarian folk music should work with Western audiences too. Their two-disc album "Pörgettyű - Lankattyű" (Gyroscope – Languidscope) is from 2009 but the band is still alive and kicking these days (see review in the German section). Fabula Rasa is no purist trad band but looks to jazz and pop music for inspiration, you might hear motifs and grooves from the Balkans and the Celtic fringe, from the Yiddish shtetl and the Turkish bazaar. Seek it out, it's worth a while!
© Walkin' T:-)M


Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha "Lapland-Balkan"
Playground Music, 2013

Artist Video

www.mrjaakko.com

Once upon a time Jaako Laitinen did work as an archivist in a music library in Rovaniemi, northern Finland. One day he came upon an old LP from Yugoslavia and fell in love with the odd Balkan rhythms. He soon founded the band Väärä Raha (i.e. wrong money), at first playing covers of Russian and Slavic songs, later on writing his own Finnish lyrics and composing original music. Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha recorded two successful and acclaimed albums, the self-titled debut in 2010,[45] followed by "Yö Rovaniemellä" in 2012,[48] and toured the continent from the Polar Circle down to Macedonia. On their third album, the Lapland-Balkan-Schlager group once again mixes Balkan Gypsy music with Finnish humpa, even broadens the palette with Middle Eastern colours. They call it themselves happier, sadder, more international and more Finnish than ever, and this time all band members (trumpet, bouzouki, accordion, double bass, drums) contribute to the songs (I gather mostly about the joy and pain of love). Once again I have to say that Jaakko Laitinen is quite a character, his music highly original, and his band top-notch. But it's not for the faint-hearted!
© Walkin' T:-)M



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