FolkWorld #62 03/2017

CD & DVD Reviews

The Macalla Orchestra "The Macalla Suite"
Doorla, 2016

www.draiochtmusic.com

In a departure from the norm here, this is music written by Michael Rooney but not performed by him. The suite was composed as part of the centenary commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin,[59] an important step along the path to the independent Irish state established in 1922, after a war of independence and a treaty agreed in 1921 between David Lloyd George and Michael Collins amongst others, so the good news is we have a whole rake of centenaries to look forward to in Ireland. The Macalla Suite was recorded at a live performance in Monaghan - a big plus for me of course - with around sixty musicians on stage. There's a full list of performers on the sleeve, the first such list I've seen where fiddles are clearly distinguished from violins, as this work combines folk and classical players. On the traditional side, you'll recognise some names - Clare Quinn, Paddy Callaghan, Aoibheann Queally, Patrick Ballantyne, Brogan and Orlaith McAuliffe - as members of the up and coming cohort of Irish music virtuosos from across Ireland and the UK. This is a young ensemble, with no household names yet, and judging by the cover photo the classical musicians are of a similar age: twenty-somethings mainly, but the best of their generation if this recording is any measure.
The music tells the story of the Rising from its causes to its aftermath in a series of marches, jigs, airs, reels, and more classical pieces. There are four songs, all over a century old, but the bulk of this CD is new instrumental compositions, from the firmly traditional Scoraiocht Jig to the cinematic Execution which recalls dramatic scenes in Les Misérables, Gladiator, and oddly also Pirates of the Caribbean. The opening air An Tirdhreach Loite seems a little too cheerful, but a more serious edge is introduced by The Workhouse, and by the time we reach the midpoint of Confusion there is an ominous mood in the music. An orchestral string section and high brass fits well with percussion and traditional instruments: fiddles, flutes, free reeds, Irish pipes, banjos, and harps. Lots of harps: Michael Rooney knows his instrument well and uses it very effectively here, in stately instrumentals such as The Landlord and behind songs like Tá an Lá Geal ag Teacht. The music for The Battle is stark and sombre, followed by an eerie Lament for the Dead on pipes. Only with The Queen's Speech does the joy return, marking a reconciled Ireland since the 1990s. The final two tracks blend classical, traditional and modern music in a celebration of Irish culture, culminating in a very fine fiddle reel Spleodar with a céilí atmosphere. For the more classically minded, this suite is split into six movements, but however you carve it The Macalla Suite is a banquet of very fine Irish music.
© Alex Monaghan


Arnie Naiman "My Lucky Stars"
Own Label, 2016

www.arnienaiman.com

High quality banjo music - not a phrase you'll hear often, but in this case it certainly applies. Arnie Naiman plays his own tunes on 5-string banjo, and is supported by a pretty classic old-time line-up: guitar, bass, and two or three fiddles. Some of My Lucky Stars has a quite contemporary feel, but most of it would feel at home on a front porch in Kentucky or West Virginia. Naiman himself is from Ontario, which of course has its own old time tradition as well as many others, and maybe there's a Canadian flavour to his music. It's certainly quite relaxed: Reminiscence recalls the dreamier side of Gerry O'Connor's forays into Americana, and the title track is suitable for star-gazing under those clear Canadian skies. Even Rollicking Edward belies its name, a gentle piece, more of a saunter really.
The pace does pick up in several places. The pagan theme of The Old New Year gets the blood flowing, and South River Dam has a real swagger to it. The opening Catch of the Day is a nice toe-tapping tune, and the medley of Naiman's Slipping and Sliding with the traditional Boatsman is probably the most powerful track here and certainly my favourite. Another one worth noting is Square Peg, a lovely girl by all accounts: this tune was written by Virginian fiddler Jim Childress who plays on a couple of tracks here and has two of his own albums. Arnie's wife Hannah also plays fine fiddle on this recording, as does John Showman, and guitar and bass are expertly wielded by Chris Coole and Max Heineman respectively. Arnie plays a number of different banjos - thankfully only one at a time - in various tunings which are helpfully given in the sleeve notes and seem to be mainly in G, D and A, plus a very peculiar flat key tuning for the final air Jonathan Max. The whole CD is very enjoyable if you're in a mellow frame of mind, and there are some great tunes here for the old time players to learn.
© Alex Monaghan


Ewan MacPherson "Fetch!"
Shoogle Records, 2016

www.ewanmacpherson.com

Here is a man who has been in so many bands that you almost expect him to pop up on other people's recordings, and forget what a fine musician he is in his own right. Player of various stringed things, Ewan MacPherson has also written most of the music here, and is joined by pipers, fiddlers, melodeonists and drummers to perform it. The material reflects MacPherson's eclecticism - much of it would fit on CDs by Battlefield, Shooglenifty, Fribo, Salsa Celtica, Burach and other esteemed outfits which Ewan has graced over the years. Saltus, for instance, is straight out of Fribo's Nordic ice, with Hardanger fiddle and troll drums flanking the guitar. Silver Tongues, on the other hand, sounds like a Malinky number - border pipes for a border tune, Pawky Paterson and old-fashioned slip jigs.
There's quite a strong Balkan feel to much of Fetch - or at least a Shooglenifty take on Balkan music. Brutus the Husky, Red Cyril and Caravan Up North all have those near-eastern modalitoes and rhythms. The Scandinavian muse is strongly represented too, in Cedar Dust and Ranarim's Welcome to Scotland. A bit of oldtime, a bit of English, and a rare moment of calm on Only the Burn is Not Silent: but Fetch still has room for plenty of Scottish influences, from the sort of strathspey Dead End Glen to the storming final reel The Torrents. Although it's over an hour long, this album always seems to go by in a rush and every time something new emerges which makes me want to listen through again, so you may find Ewan MacPherson stays on your playlist for a long time.
© Alex Monaghan


Brendan Hendry & Jonny Toman "Living Roots"
Own Label, 2016

Artist Video

www.brendanhendry.com

This fine South Derry fiddler has teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Toman from Lurgan in County Armagh who just happens to come from an oldtime musical family. The combination of Irish fiddle and Appalachian banjo is an interesting one, and it took me a while to settle into this music but once I'd listened to Living Roots a few times I began to appreciate the intricacies of these arrangements and the complementary styles of Brendan and Jonny. I remember hearing a collaborative concert in the '70s between Boys of the Lough and the Red Clay Ramblers, and being surprised and delighted at how well they combined Irish, Appalachian and Shetland music. This duo follow the same path, but with a more modern approach. There's a considerable amount of post-production magic to add a sepulchral tone to Brendan's fiddle or take the high harmonics out of Jonny's mandolin, as well as layering guitars, dobro, bouzouki, percussion and keyboards from Mr Toman in addition to his banjo and mando leads.
The majority of the tunes here are either from the Irish tradition or newly composed by Hendry and Toman in a loosely Irish style. Jigs, reels, hornpipes and airs such as The Mist in the Meadow, The Crosses of Annagh, The Boyne Hunt and From Rocktown to Boylan's Shore are wrapped in a sympathetic modern country arrangement, often slowed from their usual tempo to give this music a more relaxed and flowing feel. Cousin Sally Brown and Heartland's are more oldtime, as is Toman's reel The Fall which I think is about autumn rather than the casting of Adam and Eve out of Eden - but you never know with American connections these days. Living Roots even has its own Shetland ingredient, Willie Hunter's slow air Love of the Isles, and so the circle is unbroken, back to those early cross-overs between Aly Bain and Bill Hicks, Cathal McConnell and Tommy Thompson. Hendry and Toman have added a few of their own compositions to the transatlantic melting pot, and this CD makes an enjoyable addition to what is still quite a small number of recordings combining Irish and oldtime music.
© Alex Monaghan


Eddie & Luc "Tirade"
Own Label, 2016

www.eddieseaman.com

Eddie (Seaman) and Luc (McNally) play and sing a variety of music from Scotland, Ireland and England. Eddie is one of two fine pipers in the Glasgow group Barluath, and also plays whistles and bouzouki. Luc sings the four songs here, and provides guitar accompaniment. Together they produce a full rounded sound, aided by guests on drums and bass, and a wee fiddle cameo on the final track from Madeleine Stewart. The opening Angry Piper's Tirade, a thumping 11/8 monster by Hazen Metro, sets the bar high: but Seaman and McNally rise to the challenge with several more catchy tunes and a couple of fine songs. Luc tears into his own jig On a Boat, an impressive guitar solo. Eddie does jigs in style too, the classic pipe tunes Jimmy McGregor and John MacDonald's Exercise. Seaman is more of a piper than a whistler, and it should be noted that his pipes produce the most convincing impression of a dying cow that I have ever heard: he must be every Pipe Major's nightmare. Once the beast is up and blawing, though, there's no stopping him: The Ness Pipers, Elsie Marley, and his own James Bruce of Wick are all neatly played. Luc delivers a powerful version of the socialist anti-war song Harry Brewer and three songs from his native Northumbrian tradition: my favourite is Byker Hill, sung straight and gentler than many interpretations, with more of that delicate guitar picking. As a first full-length album, Tirade is certainly something for this young duo to be proud of.
© Alex Monaghan


Floating Sofa Quartet "The Moon We Watch is the Same"
GO Danish Folk, 2016

www.floatingsofaquartet.com

This album is the first one to go on the shortlist for my 2017 Top Ten. A debut recording from a young Nordic instrumental quartet, it combines the best of new and traditional music, technical brilliance and emotional understanding. The opening Midsommerschottish by Danish fiddler Clara Tesch is simply stunning, a delightful melody and an inspired arrangement on flute, melodeon and string bass. The following Queen Tower by Finnish box-player Leija Lautamaja and Sjålaschottish by bassist Malte Zeberg from Sweden are increasingly dark and foreboding, heralding the traditional Danish song of evil stepmother magic The Maiden in Wolf Skin which includes a century-old recording from Jutland. Lösningen, another Zeberg composition, lightens the mood with a gentle jig rhythm before two stately Fane polskas featuring fluter Mads Kjøller-Henningsen on Danish bagpipes. Leija's cheerful Another Day Without Rain celebrates the dry climate of England - not quite sure where she was living, but it obviously wasn't anywhere near me!
A little bit of mandolin and harmonium adds variety to this CD, but most of the enjoyment comes from the energy and passion in the playing of these four young maestros. Their composing skills also help: none of the new music here is shallow or shabby, and the occasional traditional piece fits in perfectly. Drunken Devil is the only totally trad track, three rousing dance tunes from the band's three home countries. Two Tesch compositions bring a more classical feel, but the Scandinavian fiddle tradition still shines through. Lautamaja's Vill Du Flyga? builds slowly to a full sound, the extra half row on her melodeon making all the difference, and her dramatic "disco-folk" reel Hunting winds down gently before Mads' final Kikkebjerget pays tribute to one of the high points of the Danish island of Fane. The fun isn't over yet: judging by The Moon We Watch is the Same, I expect the Floating Sofa Quartet to surprise and delight us for many years to come.
© Alex Monaghan


Trias "Efter Horisonten"
GO Danish Folk, 2016

www.triasmusic.dk

A second album[50] from these Danish fiddlers,[50] now a quartet with two fiddles, double bass and keyboards/guitar, sees them add a couple of songs to their instrumental offering. Pleasant as these are, with guest singer Camilla Skjaerbaek's strong yet gentle voice, two tales of wandering young women don't really define this recording, especially as the vocals first appear on track seven. Before then we are treated to waltzes, polkas, jigs, reels, a spooky slow march, in fact the whole range of Danish dance music. The standard of musicianship from Trias is extremely high, and the compositions by all four band members are a great addition to the Danish repertoire.
Efter Horisonten - Beyond the Horizon - is full of fine music, fiddle-led with occasional mandolin and guitar melodies too. I particularly liked the traditional Firtur med Sving and Christoffer Thorhauge Dam's Offshore Reel. The harmonium seems very popular in Danish music just now, providing drone accompaniment to the lovely air K.E.R.F before Camilla's second song. Evindelighedens Polska, a powerful piece of new Scandinavian music from the other fiddler here, Jonas Kongsted, has no accompaniment except what can be achieved on twin fiddles. After the contemplative Filosoffen, Trias end with another driving pair of reels, one by each of the band's fiddlers, while Søren Østergaard Pedersen and Rasmus Nielsen pound away on bass and keyboards. Efter Horisonten is certainly worth a listen.
© Alex Monaghan


Johnny Óg Connolly "Siar"
Own Label, 2016

Artist Video

www.johnnyogconnollysite.wordpress.com

From Connemara, following in his father's footsteps, this button box-player breaks the mould in many ways. Siar is his second solo CD, and like his first it's packed with his own compositions. This time, all the tunes are Johnny's, from the opening fling Sean Gannon's to the closing waltz An tOilean Aerach. Reels and jigs are few and far between here, at least in the usual sense: there are hop-jigs, hornpipes, strathspeys, airs, waltzes, marches, laments, flings and planxties, and even a classical gigue, but barely a handful of the commoner Irish dance forms. Not that Johnny Óg can't write jigs and reels: his Homage to Rooney is a fine example of the former, and Ríl Sheosaimh recalls the superb compositions of Finbarr Dwyer. The fling Colm's Happy Days could certainly be speeded up a notch for session playing, but beyond that you're looking at a different strain of Irish music from the fast and furious fare of fleadhanna and festival stages. The Connemara Wedding Waltz displays that mixture of simplicity and virtuosity which characterises the playing of Johnny Connolly senior, and indeed unites the west coast of Ireland with the isles and peninsulas of Scottish Gaeldom: great melodies, graceful rhythms, good dance music. It's no great surprise to hear a bit of a Scots snap in the following pair of hornpipe and strathspey, both with strong Ulster associations. Planxty Dordán acknowledges the Irish baroque fusion of that fine all-female ensemble, and indeed Johnny Óg goes further with his own arrangement of a baroque gigue by Arcangelo Corelli, a composer from the Bologna area. Although Corelli definitely visited Naples, history does not tell us whether he purchased a mandolin: Garry O'Briann, on the other hand, has certainly owned such an instrument, although here he sticks to guitar and the larger mandocello. John Blake also strums along, and switches to flute for the reel Blakes of Mayo written in his family's honour. These two guests provide accompaniment on every track except for two laments, and the Corelli piece where Johnny coaxes a baroque-style bass line from the limited left hand possibilities of his B/C box. The final number is a live recording from a tribute concert for melodeon maestro Johnny Connolly senior, and contains the title tune Siar go hInis Bearachain, translating roughly as Coming Home to Inis Bearachain. It's paired with the charming An tOilean Aerach, a fitting note to end on: Johnny Óg's music is indeed a joyful sound, and firmly rooted in his home place.
© Alex Monaghan


Louise Bichan "Out of my Own Light"
Own Label, 2016

Artist Video

www.louisebichan.co.uk

Orkney composer, photographer and fiddler Louise Bichan (sounds a bit like chicken) has put together a fascinating musical and visual account of the intriguing story of her grandmother Margaret Tait who travelled half way across the world and back again to unravel what today might be called a love triangle. Cursed with two eligible suitors at home, she sailed for Canada in 1950 and spent time "out of her own light" to decide between the men who loved her. Along the way she met cousins and made new friends, and even appeared as a singer on CBC radio. Fortunately for us, she did return and married Louise's grandfather, passing her spirit of adventure and her musical talents down to her granddaughter. In a series of evocative compositions based on her own voyage to retrace her grandmother's steps, and a booklet of photographs which answers some wuestions about Margaret Tait's remarkable journey but leaves others open, Louise creates a compelling narrative and a highly entertaining album.
The starting place is Quoyburray, a dramatic and lively piece with hints of pipe music behind the delicate fiddle melody. The untimely death of Margaret's mother, another great singer, is marked by the beautiful track For Myrtle which mixes psalmic vocals with ambient sounds, fiddle and piano. Margaret's suitors Sydney and Ian each get a track, one calm, the other urgent, before a long hypnotic piece which could represent Margaret's inner turmoil. The Ascania is a similarly cinematic composition, commemorating the Cunard liner which took Margaret from Liverpool to Quebec. CBC Winnipeg marks the broadcast of a number of Scottish songs sung by Ms Tait while on her Canadian travels: an archive recording of this broadcast forms an appendix or bonus track at the end of the CD. The return journey features the triumphant march Melville, the romantic Margaret's Walk to the Pier, the graceful and charming Flying Farmer waltz, and the climactic Swanbister named after the Bichan family home. As well as these fine tunes and some excellent playing by Louise and friends, Out of my Own Light really does tell a story in music and images: this is a very absorbing and satisfying album, beautifully crafted, a complex and unusual creation.
© Alex Monaghan


Steeleye Span "Dodgy Bastards"
Park Records, 2016

Artist Video

www.steeleyespan.org.uk

The 50th anniversary of English folk rock group Steeleye Span[25][33][40] is coming closer. Many excellent musicians have passed through the group's ranks, with a major line-up change recently after the departure of long-time fiddler Peter Knight. These days singer Maddy Prior, bassist Rick Kemp and drummer Liam Genockey are complemented by fiddler Jessie May Smart and guitarists Julian Littman and Andrew Spud Sinclair.
Steeleye Span has had its ups and downs, their twenty-third studio album "Dodgy Bastards" is a winner. At the very heart are several felicitous versions of Francis James Child's monumental 19th century collection of English and Scottish Ballads (and to a lesser extent from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams)[49] and its dodgy stories of roguery, murder, love and lust. The "Cruel Brother" (Child ballad #11) concerns an honour killing. It has all the characteristic Steeleye Span ingredients: a dramatic narrative, haunting harmony vocals and a barnstorming electro-acoustic beat. "Two Sisters" (#10) and "The Gardener" (#219) are quite popular folk tales. The scarcely known reiver ballad "Johnnie Armstrong" (#169) and the seafaring ballad "Brown Robyn’s Confession" (#57) exhibit Julian Littman and Jessie May Smart as fine lead vocalists, respectively. (So it's secured that the Steeleye Span story may continue even if one day all original members have left.) Furthermore, Rick Kemp wrote about the skull of Oliver Cromwell and Andrew Sinclair provided the roaring jig that gave the album its title.
The "Dodgy Bastards" sound leans on a compact electric beat and a piercing fiddle. It is rejuvenated, however, with no amateurs but master craftsmen at work.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Roy Bailey "Live at Towersey Festival 2015"
Fuse Records, 2016

Artist Video

www.roybailey.net

Singer Roy Bailey[58] has become a firm pillar on Britain's folk music circuit. He started out in a skiffle band in the late 1950s, later he joined Leon Rosselson's Three City Four as a replacement for Martin Carthy,[42] before commencing a successful solo career. Only recently he joined Robb Johnson on the award-winning "Gentle Men" album.[53] In 1965, Bailey appeared at the very first Towersey Village Folk Festival in Oxfordshire, that has grown into one of England's best-loved festivals. He has become the festival's patron and in 2015 he secretly recorded his annual Monday afternoon concert, because he wanted to release a live album for many years. The concert kicks off with Si Kahn's encouragement "What You Do With What You’ve Got," Roy's signature tune and opener of every concert since the 1980s. The set list features songs from Sydney Carter ("George Fox"), Bob Dylan ("With God On Our Side"), Tom Waits ("In The Neighbourhood") and John Tams ("Rolling Home"). After all, almost a resume of Bailey’s 50 years career. Roy's daughter Kit and his 10 year old granddaughter Molly support the children’s song "Molly’s Garden". His son-in-law Martin Simpson[51] on guitar, besides accordionist Andy Cutting, sits conveniently in the second row to make the Towersey 2015 concert a raving success. Roy Bailey himself is singing, joking and talking, the born entertainer. Though his time hasn't come yet, Roy rightly sings in the last verse of Si Kahn's "They All Sang Bread and Roses":

And 'though each generation fears that it will be the last,
Our presence here is witness to the power of the past.
And just as we have drawn our strength from those who now are gone,
Younger hands will take our work and carry on.

Towersey Festival (www.towerseyfestival.com),[54] is held every August Bank Holiday (25 - 28 August 2017). This year's line-up features Eliza Carthy, The Demon Barbers XL, Jon Boden, Rob Heron, Coope Boyes & Simpson, Hardy & Drinkwater, Blackbeard's Tea Party, Lindisfarne, Roberts & Lakeman, Gilmore & Roberts, Megson, ...
© Walkin' T:-)M


Trio Dhoore "Momentum"
Appel Rekords, 2016

Artist Video

www.triodhoore.be

Besides playing with bands such as Snaarmaarwaar,[55] brothers Koen (hurdy-gurdy), Hartwin (diatonic accordion) and Ward (guitar, mandolin) from Sint-Lievens-Houtem near Gent in East Flanders have established a successful partnership based on mutual understanding and the appetite for demanding old recipes.[52][56] Their latest album "Momentum" comprises waltzes, mazurkas, bourrees etc., sometimes looking to Celtic, Nordic and Mediterranean realms. Everything comes together when a Flemish menuet evolves into a Swedish polska ("Flandinavian"). You can dance to it, for sure, but it is no typical bal folk and the listening experience comes to the fore. The diatonic accordion wanders freely around, the hurdy-gurdy follows reluctantly, imbedded in a musical carpet of soulful guitar picking. For the first time being, the Trio Dhoore has included some songs and put music to lyrics of singer-songwriter Marc Hauman. The topics are well chosen: "Eb & Vloed" is about an abandoned medieval fishing village near Ostend; "Spelemei" explores the connection between instrument builder and musician; "Wat Voorafging" commemorates the band's last five years. With more to follow ...
© Walkin' T:-)M


John Blake, Mairéad Hurley, Nathan Gourley
"The Truckley Howl"
Own label, 2016

Artist Video

www.thetruckleyhowl.com

The legendary Irish piper Seamus Ennis[41] once said about playing traditional music: First you must learn the talk. And then you must learn the grip. And after that, you must learn the truckley howl. He meant that the art of traditional music cannot be taught but must be absorbed by the novice. These three musicians on concertina, fiddle and flute here passed their apprenticeship with flying colours, for sure. Fiddler Nathan Gourley from Boston is a former member of Chulrua[35] and the Doon Ceili Band;[33] recently he released albums with fellow fiddler Laura Feddersen[56] and uilleann piper Joey Abarta.[61] John Blake from London is not only a fine flutist but a skilful accompanist on guitar and piano, having played with traditional group Téada from 2001 to 2004[23][29] and recorded with plenty Irish musicians.[27][42][50] Last but not least, I've seen concertina player Mairéad Hurley from Ballymote, Co. Sligo, when being part of an early incarnation of Irish American group Runa at Germany's annual Irish Spring tour.[41][42] The trio are regulars at Dublin's Cobblestone Pub where they honed their craft and mutual understanding. Their selection includes classic tunes from the last two centuries as well as recent melodies from box player Bobby Gardiner and fiddlers James Kelly and Gerry Harrington. There is a polka as played by piper Willie Clancy which is loosely based on the music hall song "Champagne Charlie," sung at the last public execution in Britain in 1868. There is a "Spanish Fandango," which makes a nice waltz, but displays none of the typical characteristics of this Spanish couples dance. So perk up your ears now and subject yourself to the truckley howl with all your senses!
© Walkin' T:-)M


Tommy Peoples "Recorded at Fiddler's Hearth"
Own label, 2016

www.tommypeoples.ie

Tommy Peoples is coming from the strong fiddle tradition of Co. Donegal in northwest Ireland. In the 1970s he had been a member of the Green Linnet Céilí Band, 1691 and The Bothy Band.[30] He eventually married Mary Linnane, daughter of long-time Kilfenora Céilí Band leader Kitty Linnane, moved to Co. Clare and started a successful solo career.[25][38] Meanwhile Tommy Peoples is back in his native St Johnston in East Donegal. He rarely performs these days due to health reasons, but still composes a lot, with many of his tunes increasing the traditional Irish music repertoire. In 2013 he had received the TG4 Composer of the Year award, in 2015 he published his collected compositions. A rare occasion to sample his beefy Donegal fiddle style is a concert at Fiddler’s Hearth pub in South Bend, Indiana, way back in 2005. It reveals his efficient and even-tempered playing which puts a spell on both live audience and record listener. The concert kicks off with three reels from The Kilfenora Céilí Band[56] repertoire, which Tommy dedicates to their late flutist Paddy (Organ) Mullins, who had died at the age of 92. The selection also includes a couple of original tunes. "Black Pat’s" is a popular reel recorded by Irish group Lúnasa[12] and many others, named after Tommy's first cousin known as Black Pat due to his hair colour. "Pat McHugh’s Reel" is dedicated to guitar player Pat McHugh, who died much too young from hypothermia and had a plaque erected to his memory in Parnell Street carpark in Ennis. The hornpipe "Memories of Clare" has been named out of his immense respect for Co. Clare and its wonderful music, its wonderful people, its history and its ethos of hospitality. "The Fairest Rose" originally has also been a hornpipe but evolved into a 3/4 slow air over the years. The CD reproduces the night at Fiddler's Hearth as it had been, with all its shortcomings. For example, Tommy didn't manage to get into the third part of the jig "Katie’s Fancy" and played its second part three times. Scarcely anybody took notice I imagine. He hasn't prepared a set list, but plays as his mood dictates, and it is a treat to follow his lead and enjoy new routes to age-old grounds.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Connla "River Waiting"
Own label, 2016

Article: Zwi­schen Tra­di­ti­on und Mo­der­ne

Artist Video

www.connlamusic.com

Connla are the latest Irish musical power station, which got together while studying at Ulster University, Northern Ireland. Its five members hail from the cities of Armagh and Derry. They cultivate their traditional roots but adding influences from all over place and time. After a gobsmacking EP in 2015[58] and a recent Live Ireland Award for Best New Group, Connla showcases their full length debut. Besides the album's final track, including Niall Vallely's "Skyhope"[56] and one of the traditional Irish reels called "Jackson's," the tunes have been composed by Ciaran Carlin (whistles), Conor Mallon (uilleann pipes), Emer Mallon (harp) and Paul Starrett (guitar). The sets are driving and powerful and made to dance to, while tracks such as "The Enchanted" are just as enchanting as the title says. As is Connla's vocalist Ciara McCafferty. With the ancient Child ballad "Daily Growing" (also known as "The Trees They Do Grow High") and the contemporary folk songs "The Boatman" (by Mary Dillon) and "Saints and Sinners" (by David Francey), she induces a traditional feel, though the band's take on them is lively and casual, while Ciara's original "Moon and Stars" and "River Waiting" cross over into folk-pop territory. "River Waiting" is a sumptuous debut album displaying many facets and layers. 2017 will be a busy year for Connla, with concerts scheduled in continental Europe as well as overseas.
© Walkin' T:-)M


David Munnelly, Joseph McNulty, & Shane McGowan "3'oh"
Own label, 2016

Article: Zwi­schen Tra­di­ti­on und Mo­der­ne

www.davidmunnelly.com

Well, this a well-known button accordionist from the Irish Co. Mayo, some time ago labelled the Bullet from Belmullet. He made a name himself as a member of several Irish ensembles[27][48][53] as well as the pan-European quintet Accordion Samurai.[46] David Munnelly's latest endeavour is the 3'oh trio, fusing three individual styles into a corporate sound. Munnelly's jiving Irish-American music of the 1920s and 1930s is complemented by Joseph McNulty's energetic Sligo fiddling (credited to his mentor, the late Peter Horan)[44] and Shane McGowan's thorough guitar backing. The latter is familiar with folk, jazz and rock music; Shane has been a member of groups such as At the Racket and Slide, and performed with Sean Keane and Geraldine McGowan, among others. Their collective recording refers to old tunes from Mayo and Sligo, and intermixes some recent compositions (John Carty’s "Seanamhac Tube Station" or Nollaig Casey's "Causeway") and Munnelly’s own ("The Buck from Kielty", "Kee’s Polka"). David and Joseph try to outplay each other with their skills, creating the pleasant atmosphere of a cheerful house party or pub session. Shane McGowan then throws in some hot Django Reinhardt grooves for a change, and picks a sinuous hornpipe on solo guitar as well.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Zoë Conway - Dónal Lunny - Máirtín O'Connor
"In Full Sail - Faoi Lán Seol"
Own label, 2016

Artist Video

www.zodomo.com

"A few years back, we were given the opportunity to play together for a Music Network tour of Ireland. The tour and collaboration was so enjoyable that we decided to continue our musical meanderings and make a recording of some of the music from the tour; songs and tunes from our own tradition and some newly composed pieces. We hope that this recording gives you some sense of the pleasure that we get from making music together."

The three artists in question here are tried and tested traditional Irish musicians with a long musical career. Dónal Lunny (bouzouki, guitar) has been a founding member of bands such as Planxty, The Bothy Band[30] and Moving Hearts; later on he collaborated with traditional singer Frank Harte[7][30][34] and Andy Irvine's multicultural band Mozaik[30][36] besides his own ventures.[37][51][53] Maírtín O'Connor's (button accordion) career has seen him as a member of De Dannan and The Boys of the Lough; lately performing as a trio with varying companions.[22][38][39] Zoë Conway (fiddle) has already come to prominence in her early teens for her vocation of composing sublime tunes in traditional Irish style; at the time being she mostly tours with guitarist John Mc Intyre.[24][50] The album's title tells it like it is: In Full Sail, moving through the waters of traditional Irish music with the whole shebang! The set list includes traditional and contemporary favourites from Irish-American fiddler Ed Reavy to Dublin piper Darach de Brun as well as all-time favourites from Zoë ("Diabolo Lyon"), Dónal ("Tolka Polka", "Ballymun Regatta") and Máirtín ("Trip To Gort"). Quite well known and only few surprises, such as Pipe Major Robert Mathieson's "Desert Storm" reel and the trio's song selection including Robert Burns' "Westlin Winds", Richard Thompson's "Crazy Man Michael" and the traditional Gaelic "Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómhair". However, the strength of the "Faoi Lán Seol" album does not lie in its chosen tunes but its exuberant performance capturing the vigour and vitality of the trio's live appearances. It is a snapshot of what Zoë, Dónal and Máirtín were up to at the time. The Music Network tour must have been quite memorable. Some things cannot be re-enacted, but they can be saved and replicated on disc and record for decades to come.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Caladh Nua "Free and Easy"
Own label, 2016

Artist Video

www.caladhnua.com

Irish group Caladh Nua[40] has its origins way back in 2010, rooted in the traditions of the South of Ireland. They recorded three critically acclaimed albums, "Happy Days",[41] "Next Stop"[45] and "Honest to Goodness",[56] respectively. Album #4 presents a new line-up, with banjo/bouzouki player Brian Mooney (featuring on a number of traditional albums in recent years)[43][48][54] and guitarist/flutist Caoimhín Ó Fearghail (2012 TG4 Young Musician of the Year featured on a number of albums as well),[49][52][52] replacing Eoin O'Meachair and Colm O Caoimh, respectively. The remaining line-up still includes Paddy Tutty on fiddle, Derek Morrissey on accordion and Lisa Butler on vocals and fiddle. The five already have formed a well-rehearsed outfit, spawning snug and cosy vibes. The "Free and Easy" album has a lovely mix of the old (such as the title track which is also known as "Mulqueen's Reel") and the new (from the likes of fiddlers Ed Reavy, Johnny Doherty, Sean Ryan, Charlie Lennon). In particular, I like the exceptional song selection, featuring English singer Alan Bell's (of Fylde Folk Festival) hymn "The Wind In The Willows" and the urban folk song from Cork City, "The Doll In Cash’s Window", as well as the Gaelic language song "Bó na Leathadhairce" (i.e. cow with one horn, yes, that's a poitín still) and an Irish version of the Child ballad "Lord Abore And Mary Flynn". Caladh Nua is not the new port of call anymore; they settled down a bit, they provide a safe harbour and exchanged youthful excitement with maturity and masterly craft.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Lasairfhíona "One Penny Portion"
Own label, 2016

Artist Video

www.aransinger.com

Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola (pronounced Lah-sah-reena, meaning flame wine) from Inis Oírr (Inisheer), the smallest of the three Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, is enrooted in the traditions of her native home. Besides featuring on her brother's album "The Love Token" (2007, she co-wrote "Mighty Dancer"),[33] Lasairfhíona introduced the ancient craft of sean-nós singing to contemporary audiences on two solo albums, "An Raicín Álainn" (2002) and "Flame of Wine" (2005), respectively.[24] "One Penny Portion" is her first album in eleven years, a varicoloured collection of old and new songs, the entire gamut of what Lasairfhíona holds dear. "Éamonn an Chnoic" (Ned of the Hill, the 17h/18th century outlaw stealing from the rich to give to the poor) and "An Chúilfhionn" (the fair haired girl) both are big songs from the Irish tradition. Rather light-hearted and easy-going are Turlough O'Carolan's "Éilis Nic Dhiarmada Rua" (Elizabeth Mcdermott Roe) and the lively "Dó Ó Deighdil Lom". The title track "One Penny Portion" (aka "The Constant Lovers") is a 19th century broadside ballad; whereas "Watch the Stars" is an African American song popularised by Peggy Seeger fifty years ago. Lasairfhíona's own output is in the English language as well. This includes the bittersweet tale of "Reilly the Fisherman", the children's song "She Didn't Dance" and "I Think of Love". The latter a jazzy love song, adding a different mood to the pathetic and poignant. Lasairfhíona's vocals are smartly backed by fiddler Máire Breatnach[44] and harpist Gráinne Hambly,[40] among others.
"One Penny Portion" had been originally recorded way back in 2012. Then Lasairfhíona had been diagnosed with breast cancer while five months pregnant. Now the cancer is in remission and she has a healthy daughter named Cúilfhionn. We wish all the best and hope for much much more to come...
© Walkin' T:-)M


Kevin Rowsome "Cuisle Cheol na bPíob - The Musical Pulse of the Pipes"
Own label, 2016

Article: The Pulse of the Pipes

www.kevinrowsome.com

Besides the Celtic harp, the uilleann pipes is the iconic instrument of the Irish people, with several generations of Rowsomes being its torch-bearers.[26] Kevin Rowsome[21] started playing the uilleann pipes at the tender age of six, taking his first lessons from his celebrated grandfather Leo who had taught Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Moloney and Willie Clancy as well. At the 2016 Fleadh Ceoil Kevin was presented with a Bardic Award from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. "Cuisle Cheol na bPíob" (The Musical Pulse Of The Pipes) is a solo unaccompanied recording and culmination of over five years of research. Kevin had searched the archives of the Traditional Music Archive, Na Piobairi Uilleann and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for miscellaneous 19th century music collections (including Goodman, Joyce, Petrie, etc). He selected rare and unusual tunes, most of them are not in any currently available publication and virtually none have been recorded before. In many instances, Kevin adapted the tunes to suit the uilleann pipes better and breath new life into it. (Kevin's website provides transcriptions of all tunes.) There is an unusual three part version of "The Ace & Deuce of Piping", with all three parts of the long dance beginning and ending with the same sequence of notes. Two wailing airs, "An Buachaill Caol Dubh" (Dark Slender Boy) and "Cois ABhainn na Sead" (By the River of Gems), accentuate both drones and regulators. The album also features Kevin's "Cuisle Ceoil an Bhlascaoid" (The Musical Pulse of the Blasket Islands), a haunting air inspired by the impressive view from the Dingle Peninsula to the Blasket Islands off the Kerry coast. "The Very Man / The Bee in the Bonnet" are a pair of fine reels of Kevin's, exhibiting his trademark regulator rhythms and dissonances. "Cuisle Cheol na bPíob" is a compelling and challenging album; definitely one for the piping enthusiast. And the tradition is safe, both his daughters Tierna and Naoise play a number of musical instruments including the uilleann pipes, making them the altogether sixth generation of uilleann pipers in the Rowsome family.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Laoise Kelly & Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn
"Ag Lorg na Laochra - On the Shoulder of Giants"
Own label, 2016

Laoise Kelly "Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh"
Own label, 2015

www.laoisekelly.ie
www.tiarnan.ie
www.harpandpipes.ie

Irish harpist Laoise Kelly is from Westport in Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland. She had been a founding member of traditional Irish group The Bumblebees. Since their breakup Laoise enjoys a successful solo career, touring and recording considerably. Laoise is one of the pioneers rescuing cláirseach music from age-old clichés of medieval bards with long beards and fingernails. She syncopates, harmonises, does anything to let the harp play the full spectrum of traditional Irish music from graceful slow airs to grooving dance tunes. Laoise's duet partner here is Monaghan piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn. Tiarnán had been one of the founding members of traditional Irish group Dorsa ("The Wild Music of the Gael") and recorded an album with singer Stephanie Makem.[37] Both harp and pipes are the distinctive musical instruments of the Irish nation, defining both land and people with its sights and sounds. "Ag Lorg na Laochra" (i.e. On the Shoulder of Giants) is both a continuation and renewal of an ancient art. Their repertory is as manifold as can be, there are airs ("Fáinne Geal an Lae", "Catherine Ogie", ...), marches ("O’Sullivan’s"), polkas (accordionist Dave Hennessy's "New Roundabout"), barn dances ("Maggie’s Lilt") highlands ("Teelin") and their Scottish counterpart, strathspeys ("Cawdor Fair"), as well the more ordinary jigs and reels. The last tune is the barn dance "If There Weren’t Any Women in the World",[59] and yes, it would be a poorer place without artists such as Laoise. And without Tiarnán as well.

The Ó Ceallaigh (Kelley, Kelly, or whatever the spelling) had been the most influential clan of the medieval túath (nation) of the kingdom of Uí Maine in Connacht, Ireland. Today it is the second most common name in Ireland (after Murphy), its name meaning bright haired or troublesome. A notable chieftain, Tadhg Mór Ó Ceallaigh, was killed at the Battle of Clontarf, where the High King Brian Boru defeated the Vikings. In 1351 William Buí Ó Ceallaigh invited bards and harpers to Gailey Castle on the shores of Lough Ree, Co. Roscommon for Christmas. It is reported that celebrations lasted a full month. This huge historical feast, and the 20th Kelly Clan Rally in Westport 2015 with its motto Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh - Welcome of the Kelly's, inspired Laoise's latest collection of solo harp. There are slow airs, waltzes, polkas, slides, jigs and reels. Every tune has a connection with a Kelly. 17th century harper Turlough O’Carolan composed a lot for various members of the Kelly clan. Composers and collectors include fiddler John Kelly (1912-1988, "Scattery Island") and his son James Kelly,[31] fiddler Patrick Kelly (who is credited with the "Foxhunter's Reel" in A since he often tuned his fiddle AEAE), missionary Fr Patrick Joseph Kelly (1925-2006, "The Rossmore Jetty", "Lough Derg Jig"). Oliver Kelly, Bishop of Tuam, collected "Aisling Na Sí" (Fairy's Dream) and Denis H Kelly Esq collected "Black Rock" for Petrie's 19th century collection "Ancient Music of Ireland", respectively. Fiddler Josephine Keegan named "Kelly's Cellars" after Belfast's oldest pub, established in 1720. Finally, Laoise composed the beautiful air "Cailín Lus an Chrom Chinn" (Daffodil Girl) for her own mother.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Mick McAuley with Colm O Caoimh "highs & bellows"
Own label, 2016

www.mickmcauley.com

Button accordionist Mick McAuley comes from the City of Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland, For years he has recorded and toured with Irish-American supergroup Solas,[32] but always found time to get back to basics.[50][60] Solo album #3 is a stripped-down approach featuring Colm O Caoimh on guitar (Caladh Nua founding member and Frankie Gavin's latest accompanist). “At a time when so much about music is changing,” says McAuley, “both in the ways that we create it and listen to it, I felt that I wanted to record the music and songs for this album in a real and organic way and so that’s what happened. I chose tunes and songs I love, many of which I’ve been playing for a long time and so we went to the studio and had a lot of fun recording them. Hopefully, that comes across in the music. All the tracks capture a moment in time; musical snapshots without any airbrushing.” Mick and Colm have a mutual understanding, and Colm subtly adds to Mick's vigour and virtuosity. Mick McAuley has been digging very deep in the Irish tradition, for example unearthing the "Palm Sunday" jig from O'Neill's tune collection. Further composers include the famous 19th century Scottish fiddler James Scott Skinner and Westport whistle player Olcan Masterson. Mick doesn't shy away from a French musette, Tony Murena and Josef Colombo's "Indifférence", and a Latin waltz, Pixinguinha's "Dominó". Mick himself has composed several jigs and slides, which sit perfectly alongside the traditional "Star Above the Garter" and Liz Carroll's "Liam Child's", and the lovely "Doireann's Waltz". Mick also has his coming-out as a vocalist, and he is well versed with delivering gut-wrenching renditions of the popular Irish songs "As I Roved Out" and "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore".
© Walkin' T:-)M


"This Day Too - Music from Irish America
with Terence, Michael, and Jesse Winch"
Free Dirt Records, 2017

Artist Video

www.terencewinch.com

Not to be confused with Phil Coulter's[62] stage production, a male version of the successful Celtic Women, Celtic Thunder had been an Irish-American traditional music group founded by brothers Terence (diatonic accordion) and Jesse Winch (harmonica, bodhran)) way back in 1977. The band released three albums over the years and became one of the most influential acts of this kind in the United States. Originally from the Bronx, the Winches have become part of the Washington DC folk circuit. This collection of traditional and original music is an embodiment of what it is meant to be Irish-American, featuring Terence’s son, Michael (fiddle), and a dozen fellow musicians from the Maryland / Virginia / Washington music community, such as Tina Eck (flute)[56] and Zan McLeod (guitar).[24][29] There are tunes from button accordionist Billy McComiskey and fiddler Larry Redican (1908-1975), as well as fiddler Ed Reavey (1897-1988) who wrote "In Memory" of legendary Co. Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman. Terence himself wrote the heartbreaking "Childhood Ground" (sung by Eileen Estes, please watch the video with photos from the Winch family archives) and gets downright comical when rewriting the popular music hall song "Lanigan's Ball" which has been played since at least the 1860s. Surely, "Lannisters' Ball" (sung by Belfast singer Seamus Kennedy) is referring to the fictional noble family of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series of fantasy novels and its TV adaptation "Game of Thrones". Quite fittingly, "Lannisters' Ball" incorporates "Brian Boru's March", named after the 10th century High King of Ireland and one of the oldest tunes in the Irish tradition.

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© Walkin' T:-)M

Na Mooneys "Na Mooneys"
Own label, 2016

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Na Mooneys are a family band from the Gaeltacht of Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore), Co. Donegal, Ireland, formed on the occasion of the very last Scoil Gheimhridh Frankie Kennedy (Frankie Kennedy Winter School) in 2013/2014 by Altan's[46] Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh[38] and her siblings. This includes her brother Gearóid (guitar), her sister Anna (whistle, vocals) and her nephew Ciarán[30] (fiddle) of Fidil fame.[42][47] They also invited further members of the extended Mhaonaigh clan, namely Mairéad's daughter Nia (vocals, fiddle), Ciarán's wife Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina and foot percussion)[57] and adopted family member Manus Lunny who has produced the album. Their late pater familias Proinsias Ó Maonaigh (Francie Mooney, 1922-2006), who has a cameo on the album, is the source and inspiration of the group's music. Traditional Irish tunes and four songs in the Irish language learned at the family home, at sessions in Huidi Beag's pub in Bunbeg and at music festivals around Donegal. This is the powerful and vibrant stuff that once made Altan famous, with particular tunes and settings from the local fiddle tradition and a couple of original melodies. Ciarán has composed a rolling march for his wife ("The Cavanman's Daughter"), Mairead a swinging mazurka for a niece ("Mazurka Róise"), and provided a beautiful melody for the almost forgotten Ulster song "A Óganaigh Óig". This eponymous debut album is a sheer delight, splendidly executed.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Maurice Leyden "The Tern and the Swallow"
Own label, 2016

Jane Cassidy "Silverbridge"
Own label, 2016

www.ulsterfolksong.com

Maurice Leyden is a native of Cookstown in Co. Tyrone, but has lived in the Northern Irish capital Belfast since the late 1960s. He is known as an ardent collector of traditional songs from the province of Ulster in the north east of the Emerald Isle. He has published two books, "Belfast City of Song" exploring urban folk songs, and "Boys and Girls Come Out To Play" rediscovering children’s songs and singing games. He also made a contribution to "The Companion to Irish Traditional Music."[47] Eventually retired from a career in social housing, Maurice spends his life full-time researching and performing traditional music. His latest album "The Tern and the Swallow" is a collection of folk songs haunting him since his school days in Armagh where he founded the Dungannon Folk Weavers. More than half of the chosen tracks are songs of emigration and exile. One half are optimistically looking forward with great expectations ("Baltimore’s Fair Plain"), the other half nostalgically looking back to native shores ("The Faughanside"). Some have travelled across the sea to Britain and even America, where they took up a life of their own, and moved back and forth just like the proverbial terns and swallows. Maurice chose to render ten songs without any accompaniment, creating a melancholical and gloomy atmosphere. On further seven tracks he is joined by Andy Irvine (mandolin), Arty McGlynn (guitar) and Dermot Byrne (accordion), amongst others. One of the more uplifting songs is his original "Virtual Lover," set in the modern age but using phrases from 19th century ballads.

Maurice's wife Jane Cassidy hails from Co. Down, but is also living in Belfast now. Since the late 1970s, she has been performing both traditional and original folk songs. She had been a full-time touring folk singer, with two solo albums and some duo records with Maurice under her belt, before launching a successful career at BBC Northern Ireland. "Silverbridge" marks Jane’s fully-fledged reappearance on the Irish folk music circuit. The album features several traditional songs from her local Ulster, such as "Wheel of Fortune" and "Apron of Flowers" (aka "I Know My Love"), as well as Child ballads such as "The Broomfield Wager" (here sung to a more haunting tune than the one handed down) and "Kathryn Jaffrey". The title track itself is Jane's tribute to her grandmother's home in Silverbridge, a small village in the townland of Legmoylin in Co. Armagh. Furthermore, Jane wrote about 18th century highwayman Naoise O'Haughan and Capt. Francis Crozier of Lord Franklin's unfortunate expedition to find the North West Passage, who both haven't got any song yet. Jane herself plays both piano and guitar. She is supported by friends and relations such as Frank Cassidy on bouzouki, Barry Carroll on hammer dulcimer, Joe McHugh on pipes and whistles, Nollaig Casey on fiddle, and Rod McVey on synth and hammond organ.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Mànran "An Dà Là - The Two Days"
Own label, 2017

Article: One of the Best Ideas in the World

www.manran.co.uk

"An Dà Là" (The Two Days) is a Gaelic expression meaning great change, and change is at the heart of the new album which has been nominated in Germany for Best Folk Album. In 2010, Celtic rock group Mànran (melody) brought a Gaelic song into the British charts. In a short amount of time they successfully did outpace fellow groups such as Rura.[57] After a demanding touring schedule and some line-up changes, they managed to record a new album over the course of last year. Though following the rules and regulations and conventions of a Scottish folk rock band, Mànran make a difference. Their first set is called "Fiasco", kicking off with the traditional march "Captain Grant" led by Ewen Henderson's Highland Bagpipes and morphing into guitarist Craig Irving's (Talisk) "Hard to Get" led by Irishman Ryan Murphy's uilleann pipes (ex Cara).[43] The interplay of Scottish and Irish pipes is unparalleled and unheard-of. "Fiasco" is finishing off with Ewen Henderson's "Fiasco alla Toscana", showcasing the entire band featuring Gary Innes (accordion), Ross Saunders (bass guitar) and Scott Mackay (drums). This is intoxicating. Ewen, Gary, Ryan and Craig composed most of the instrumental tunes, with such telling titles as "On the Autobahn" composed while cruising on the German motorway. At the end of the road their German friend Helmut Klein is expecting them, for whom Ewen's "MacLittle's March" is named. Ewen Henderson is also the band's singer. Though he is not the most expressive vocalist, his presentation fits very well Mànran's Runrig-like folk rock style. Ewen's selection of songs includes Gaelic puirt à beul (mouth music), William Livingstone's graphic "Fios chun a' bhaird" (Message to the Bard) about the clearances on Islay, Ailean Dall Dughalach's cheerful "Trod Mna an Taighe ri fear" (The woman of the house's row with her husband), and eventually Scots-born Canadian singer-songwriter David Francey's recent comment on internet and opinion making, "Pandora's Box". For a change, guitarist Craig Irving gives a fine rendition of Californian singer-songwriter Ben Harper's "I Shall Not Walk Alone".
2016 has been a busy year for Mànran, including a stint at Denmark’s Tønder Festival;[60][61] 2017 is supposed to add to their brimming tour schedule.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Carreg Lafar "Aur"
Sain Records, 2016

www.carreglafar.co.uk

Traditional Welsh[39] music group Carreg Lafar[9][23] (which means speaking stones) has been formed in Cardiff way back in 1993. For more than two decades then, they have dealt with the distinct cultural identity of Wales while perking up their ears to the sounds of their Celtic neighbours. This added up to a critically acclaimed ensemble sound. Lead vocalist is Linda Owen Jones with her captivating perfect alto. She is supported by high-octane fiddler Rhian Evan-Jones, fire-breathing flutist James Rourke and piercing piper / pibgorn player Antwn Owen Hicks, the latter being one of the pioneers resurrecting the piping tradition of Wales. The four are made complete by the subtle backing of Danny Kilbride on guitar.[22] Their latest offering is another selection of ten sumptous tracks. The "Aur" (gold) album kicks off with a well-known Welsh folk song about the carefree life of a bird, "Aderyn Bach" (Little Bird), and so is the music followed by two lively slip jigs: lilting and warbling. "Y Cadno" (The Fox) is a nonsense song about a cunning beast. Furthermore, there is a couple of love songs, a lullaby and a Cerdd Dant song, "Titrwm Tatrwm" (pitter-patter), the latter being the Welsh variant of Scottish puirt à beul and Irish lilting. At the instrumental side, Carreg Lafar is full of ideas too. I recommend listening to the "Tom, Dic a Chwrw" set, a prancing jig and slipjig followed by a sprinting polka. Last but not least, "Naid Tros Lannerch" (Leap Over Llannerch) originally is a fast reel in a major key, here arranged as a spellbinding slow reel in a minor setting.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Fara "Cross The Line"
Fara Music, 2016

Artist Video

www.faramusic.co.uk

The Orkneys are a conglomerate of more than 70 islands off the north coast of Scotland. Its signature musical instrument is the fiddle. Here are three lady fiddlers, namely Kristan Harvey (2011 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year and member of fiddle collective Blazin’ Fiddles),[59] Jeana Leslie (2008 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year, who onced formed a duo with Siobhan Miller[37][44] and performed with German group Cara)[43] and Catriona Price (of critically acclaimed duo Twelfth Day).[57] They got together after several appearances as The Chair’s[51] backup, who decided they could make it on their own. Fourth group member became pianist Jennifer Austin, known as support of Fiona MacAskill and Sarah Hayes. Their full-length debut album "Cross The Line" is a fervid festival of fiddle music, deeply rooted in the musical traditions of the Orkneys. The girl's string craft is water-proof, propelled by a steam engine with keys. The band's original tunes freely mix with more or less recent compositions by Larry Redican ("Abbey Reel"), Richard Dwyer ("Beare Island") and Grey Larsen ("Thunderhead"). The popular "Shapinsay Polka" from the pen of John Jackie Sinclair is named after one of the biggest Orkney islands, and accordionist Ian Lowthian has composed the ultimate designation of the all-female quartet, "Shetland Fiddle Diva". The Fara Four yield an awesome vocal group, with Jeana Leslie affectionately leading. First song sounds as if straight out of the music hall, "Three Fishers". Victorian poet and novelist Charles Kingsley inspired Jennifer Austin to write a haunting entourage. Better known are the drinking song "Whisky You're The Devil" (with Bella Hardy’s extra lyrics), Robert Burns' flowery "My Heart's In The Highlands" and Joe South's hymn-like "Games People Play", the latter featuring Siobhan Miller, Mike Vass and many more in the chorus. Eventually, Fara look again to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and the album closes with American folk singer Ola Belle Reed's "I've Endured". I've endured too, but I haven't got enough. Not yet.
© Walkin' T:-)M


Guadi Galego "O Mundo Está Parado"
Fol Música/Boa, 2016

Artist Video

facebook.com/...

During the 1990s folk music revival in Galicia, the band Berrogüetto flourished as one of the most avant-garde ensembles in Spain’s northwest green corner. Guadi Galego was Berrogüetto’s lead singer but she was also very talented when playing the two most traditional Galician instruments: gaita (the local bagpipes species) and pandeireta (Galician tambourine). In 2008, Guadi decided to leave the band and to focus in her career as a solo singer, being then replaced by another powerful Galician traditional artist, Xabier Díaz (singer, dancer, gaiteiro,…). In 2014, Guadi released her first Compact Disk, ‘Luas de Outubro e Agosto’ (Moons of October and August),[56] where we could enjoy the sweetness and the simplicity of her warm voice. And now in 2016, she comes back again, not with a CD, but with a Long Play. Remember? LPs: Those black & shinny vinyl disks that for many modern artists are becoming a sort of retro-cult way to become visible in new (or old) record shops, which keep their business sometimes in neo-hipster neighborhoods. Guadi’s second record is named ‘O Mundo Está Parado’ (The World is Stopped), and yes, it is published as an LP, with a double cover (30x30cm) designed by Carlos Abal (with many pictures showing landscapes and city corners),… and with a CD inside which contains the exact same songs as the vinyl . There will be just 1000 copies of this album published, although of course ‘O Mundo Está Parado’ will be also available in the usual digital platforms. Six of the songs are composed by Guadi Galego, three are written by the before mentioned Carlos Abal, and one belongs to the record producer, Pachi de Garcia, who becomes once again the magician for the sound and the mixing of the different tracks. There is nothing specifically traditional, folk or ethnic in this collection of ten beautiful songs. This is simply a stunning set of deeply sweet and melancholic pop-rock tunes. You can think about them as goldfishes slowly swimming in pond, or like red leafs calmly falling in a steady winter afternoon. Enchanting melodies and poems where Guadi’s voice is harmonically blended with her piano, acoustic & electric guitars (Guillerme Fernández), drum set (Isaac Palacín), bass guitar (Paco Charlín),… Some of the most charming tunes are: “O Privilexio de Soñar” (The Privilege of Dreaming), “Mente en Branco” (Blank Mind), “El Entorno” (The Environment), “Vida” (Life),… This seducing kaleidoscope of acoustic portraits is clearly a new success in Guadi’s post-folk music career.
© Pío Fernández



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