FolkWorld #49 11/2012

CD & DVD Reviews

Philippe B "Variations Fantomes"
Bonsound records, 2011

Philippe B is a singer-songwriter from Quebec, although that doesn’t really tell the whole story. He is an artist who makes crossover art centered around his music and lyrics. This is his third solo album with fourteen new compositions. Besides his nice, warm voice, he plays the guitar, piano and harmonica and he is backed by a fine band of additional musicians on drums, harmonium, accordion, bass etc. The album starts with a sober singer-guitar part which for a few moments totally unexpected changes into a dreamy kind of orchestral daydream. This opening track exactly describes the soul of this album, wonderful songs with a bit dreamy-psych arrangements which fit the more down-to-earth vocals of Philippe B wonderfully. With elements of classical music, folk and some slight jazzy and rock edges. An album full variation but never chaotic, hauntingly poetic and both modern and lovely retro at the same time. Stop reading this review, start buying the album!
© Eelco Schilder

Aaron Novik "Secrets of Secrets"
Tzadik, 2012

The great Tzadik label, as you might know one of my favorite labels worldwide, comes with a new release by the composer-musician Aaron Novik. Together with a big group of musicians this (electric) clarinetist, percussionist and electronic performer has created a fabulous new album with the typical Novik sound. How to describe this sound to folkies that read this magazine? Take some traditional Jewish ingredients, mix this with rough electric guitars or stunning electronic… or no… take a some beating drums and add some oriental percussion and dreamy violins... no… no…. you should just imagine an old Klezmer LP from the fifties and a rock band accidently time-travelled and landed in the recording studio to create some chaos. Or… no, it’s impossible, you just have to listen and enjoy this magnificent creator of art. Like the alternative, bit controversial style? You will love this. Absolutely great!
© Eelco Schilder

Stockholm Lisboa Project "Aurora"
Westpark, 2012

The third album of this Sweden based band, playing a mixture of Swedish and fado music. After their wonderful debut album and a very nice second one, they come with their best output until now. Where I commented in my review on their second album that I missed at moments the right symbioses between the two styles, the quartet takes revenge with an outstanding album. Fifteen new recordings and all fifteen are sparkling, beautiful and played at a high level. It’s like the vocals of Micaela Vaz only gets warmer and the play of the three musicians in relaxed, well balanced and at moments astonishing. But most of all they really managed to create an album with a perfect balance between the styles and the chosen repertoire. Wonderful!
© Eelco Schilder

Virelai "Fra bølger og bjerge"
Own label, 2011

German CD Review

Thirteen years ago one of the finest Danish Mediaeval influenced bands was founded. Only two years later I bought their danser duggen af jorden album in a record store in Copenhagen and was amazed by their wonderful, almost mythical sound. Strangely enough I couldn’t find much info about the band at that time and to be honest I really thought the band disappeared into the Danish fog. So it was a big surprise to find a new album in my postbox and I immediately had to play it and again this band bewitches me totally with their Mediaeval atmosphere. It’s their first album in six years and the four musicians kept the sound I know from their previous work without copying it. Wonderful female leads by Mia Guldhammer are backed by well played hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, recorders and so much more. With sometime subtle and at other moments stormy percussion this quartet brings both the dark side as the sunny dances in a convincing way. Somehow their musical arrangements are both traditional but of such high quality that it all fits perfectly. A wonderful new album and hopefully a band that will be touring around the summer festivals in 2013 so we get the chance to see them live on stage.
© Eelco Schilder

Drones and Bellows "Fae yoking’time tae lowsin time"
Go Danish folk, 2012

With musicians from Danish, Scottish and German origin, Drones and Bellows is a real international band. My first acquintance with the band was with their fantastic album Himstoun which they recorded together with the dragseth duo. Eight years after the release of that album, I still consider it as one of the pearls in my collection and listen to it frequently. With Fae yokin’time tae lowsin’ time the band comes with a new album full of Celtic/Nordic folk music. Both from traditional origin and written by famous names in music such as Ewan McColl and Arto Järvelä. With the famous tune Bonaparte’s retreat set the band kicks off nicely. This many times recorded tune is played in a strong way and a pleasure to listen to. But, and it’s a bit difficult to admit, the group looses me in the second (the title) song. The lead vocals are a bit unbalanced at a few moments and the song never convinces me. What follows are a few calm, easy going traditional folk tunes and songs. Nicely played, but not with the passion and power I know from their Himstoun album. And to be very honest, also in other songs the (solo) vocals are a bit the weak spot of this album. An album that leaves me with mixed feelings, fantastic musicians that play at a high level. But somehow the musical arrangements are a bit predictable. Don’t get me wrong, you will find some great traditional music on this CD, but it’s not as refreshing, passionate and innovating as their previous output.
© Eelco Schilder

Jon Anders Halvorsen "Komme no heim"
Etnisk musikklubb, 2012

Halvorsen is mainly known for his work with the great Norwegian band Dvergmål and the duo Bruvoll & Halvorsen. With Komme no heim he publishes his first solo album. Twenty-eight traditional songs, sung according to the Kveding tradition. His warm voice is a pleasure to listen to and the combination of solo vocals and songs in which he is backed by traditional Norwegian instruments such as the hardingfele, langeleik and others, is really well done. I also like the short instrumental interludes which make of this first solo album a well balanced, strong sounding CD with beautiful, intimate music.
© Eelco Schilder

Corin Curschellas "La grischa"
Rtunes, 2012

Corin Curschellas is a known singer-songwriter and actress in her home country Switzerland. She has an impressive bio and discography so I feel a bit embarrassed that this album is the first time even I heard of her. But believe me, I’m more than happy to get to know her music. Backed by a strong club of musicians Curchellas recorded a fantastic album which might be one of my favorites of 2012. What a great, both warm and expressive voice. Curchellas is a real storyteller and brings the right nuances in her work, helped by musicians who fully understand her voice and the atmosphere of the songs. With both a great traditional and jazzy vibe, Curschellas and band mixes styles from the Alps and beyond into a very own sound. I hear Balkan influences, chanson and the realm of the mountains. And all of this in such a perfect, well balanced sound that it’s not difficult to conclude that this album is probably one of the most interesting coming out of Switzerland in the last couple of years. It makes me curious to her other albums and make me hope for more work in future.
© Eelco Schilder

Jaywalkers "Early for a Thursday"
101records, 2012

Early for a Thursday is the second album by the UK based trio Jaywalkers. A fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolin, bouzouki, two female voices and a male voice. That are the ingredients of their refreshing bluegrass orientated sound. Twelve new recordings with a sparkling lightness. Strong solo and harmony vocals and ditto instrumental parts make this album a real jewel. It’s a great combination of bluegrass, Americana, folk and contemporary music. It has this beautiful traditional vibe, but sounds perfectly modern at the same time. This is high quality feel good music. It’s like everything works for this trio on this album. The sound quality is great, the harmony between the vocals/instruments is perfect. This are three musicians who have the right chemistry together and the three of them create a wonderful sound.
© Eelco Schilder

Golec uOrkiestra "Koncert Kolęd i Pastorałek" [DVD Video]
Own label, 2009

FolkWorld Xmas

German CD Review

A bit older DVD from the Polish band Golec, a band that was founded in 1998 in a small town in Southern Poland, playing a fresh, open minded mixture of traditional music and rock sounds. DVD is a registration of a concert from 2008 in a beautiful church. The ambiance and the uplifting atmosphere is exploding out of the screen and loudspeakers. With a lot of visual aspects the band knows exactly what the audience wants. Songs they can sing a long, appealing to their own roots and tradition. Interesting how they easily switch from a traditional bagpipe part to soulful folk-rock with drums/horns etc. The DVD contains nice extras including the founders singing at home and showing the beauty of their motherland. A nice, warm DVD that brings joy in the dark days before Christmas.
© Eelco Schilder

Matthias Frey & Basem Darwisch "Cairo Steps"
Jazzline, 2012

Buzuki Orhan Osman "Turkophony"
Golden horn records, 2011

Kat Parra "Las aventuras de passion"
Jazzma records, 2012

Labo Ttega "Emola"
Brambus, 2012

Cologne World Jazz Ensemble "Armenische Tänze"
Own label, 2012

Laïla Amezian "Triode"
Zimbraz, 2012

Tré "Brissago"
Double moon, 2012

A bunch of World-jazz crossover albums for review now. All different, but all jazz and tradition mixed. First the German pianist and composer Matthias Frey with the Egyptian ud player Basem Darwisch. On their album Cairo Steps they play a mixture between oriental and jazz music, or as they describe it themselves; Oriental spirits meet jazz. Together with eleven other musicians on instruments such as the saxophone, bass, nay, violin, cello, table and many more. The duo recorded eleven new compositions, composed by Darwisch mostly. The first track shows exactly why I’m not a fan of this album. Nice oriental melodies are mixed with an out placed kind of keyboard rhythm that kills the whole spirit of the tune. A track like Memories has wonderful work on the ud, but the almost new age a like sounds at the background make it hard for me personally to enjoy. Although occasionally this album contains some nice music, it is a riskless production that devaluate the music into a kind of background oriental lounge music. Not my style, but others might love this.
The German musician from Turkish origin (and Greek citizen), Buzuki Orhan Osman does a much better job according to my opinion. On the bouzouki, lavta and banjo he brings a sparkling mix of jazz and sounds from Turkey and surroundings. Together with a huge band, almost an orchestra, he presents funky jazz music. He is a real master on the strings and has, besides the traditional way of playing, sometimes an almost traditional rock way of touching the strings. In a relaxed way he takes the lead and surprises the listener with a modern voyage through the different styles and tradition. Balkan? No problem! More Anglo folky style? As easy as that! Laid back music that is both modern and rooted in a long history of music. A very enjoyable album with easy-going world-jazz.
Kat Parra is an vocalist from the US who has been awarded best latin-jazz singer for a few times now. On her new album called Las aventuras de passion she sings eleven (more or less) traditional pieces and original material. An album like a bunch of sunbeams. Easy-going Latin and Afro-jazz with rumba, bolero, cha cha and many other styles mixed with a fine jazz combo. Parra has a beautiful voice that fits this easy going summer music perfectly. Music that relaxes the mind and brings this holiday mood, even on rainy Dutch evenings.
The band Labo Ttega takes on their second album called Emola a totally different route. Inspired by the more Celtic and soundtrack kind of styles, they bring a mixture of known traditionals such as The foggy dew and themes from movies such as Schindler’s list and C’era una volta in America. But also Nino Rota’s composition Theme from Romeo e Giulietta and Pat Metheny’s Travels is part of the repertoire. A nice band that would be most interesting hearing as a live band during one of the movies. The arrangements they gave to the music are nice, music is played at a high level. But some of the tunes are recorded so many times by other groups and so well known, that it needs a more adventures way of playing to really convince me. Nevertheless a nice album with nice music.
The Cologne World Jazz Ensemble was founded four years ago and with Armenische Tänze they released their debut album. On violin, piano, bass and percussion they play their interpretation of eight traditional Armenian tunes. On two tracks they have a guest appearance by Koryun Asatryan on the traditional duduk. This ensemble changed the ancient sounds of the beautiful traditions of Armenia into a light-footed world jazz which might be very suitable for the Western ears, but I personally miss the emotions and richness of the Armenian tradition. It’s nice, moody exotic-jazz, but I would have preferred a less accessible approach.
Laïla Amezian is a singer from Morocco who mixes the Maghreb tradition with jazz music. Together with Anja Naucler on cello, Stephan Pougin on percussion and two guest musicians, Amezian brings her own interpretation of a few traditional songs and original compositions. With her powerful voice she mixes beautifully with the well-arranged jazz music. On this album she shows the many aspects of her voice and challenges the musicians to follow an alternative and not the most predictable road. Wonderful is the combination of vocals and cello, but also the trumpets and flugelhorn of guest musician Larent Blondiau add some extra flavor. All of this completed with subtle percussion and a strong album is born. A well succeeded crossover album by a wonderful singer and great musicians.
To Switzerland now, a trio called Tré and their album called Brissago. One of the more jazz orientated albums, but with a nice traditional Alpine elements. On drums, tenor saxophone and trombone this trio brings music with a smile, well played music in innovating musical arrangements. But more for the jazz lover than for the more tradition orientated listener.
© Eelco Schilder

Kat Parra "Las aventuras de !PASÍON!"
Own label 2012

Californian singer/songwriter Kat Parra produced her new album, a terrific mix of original songs, covers and traditional Sephardic songs, together with Wayne Wallace. Each of the 11 tracks has an individually adapted line-up, reaching from string arrangements to horn sections or percussion driven a Capella songs.
She starts off with the Puerto Rican bomba "Iko Iko" (James "Sugar Boy" Crawford), arranged by Wallace who also plays trombone in a three piece horn section. Drums, bass and congas create the intoxicating pace and piano, horns and rhythmic choir singing accompany Kat's virtuoso vocal performance. "Dieziocho anyos" is a beautiful Sephardic song, arranged by Wallace with acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, percussion and an up-Beat marimba groove. My favourite song is "La comida de la manyana", a Sephardic rumba obalatá arranged by Kat and Michael Spiro, one of the three batá and percussion players accompanying her breathtaking a Capella duet with Mochi Parra. Kat Parra delves deep into Sephardic culture and her interpretations are hauntingly beautiful arranged. "Yo m'enamori d'un aire" is a mesmerizing traditional ballad showcasing Masaru Koga on shakuhachi flute, Dana Pandey on tabla and Renata Bratt on cello creating the sound for Kat's passionate singing. She also presents original songs like "Oye papi", a cha-cha featuring a brilliant Jazz line-up and powerful vocals. The CD ends with a theme by Eric Satie, "Gymnopédie N° 1", and Kat added her own words introducing the tender piano ballad "Man on a wire", arranged by the pianist, Murray Low.
Kat Parra is a brilliant Latin Jazz vocalist, a gifted songwriter and an innovative performer of traditional Sephardic music. For her fourth album she invited some first class guest musicians to create a wonderful mix of sounds.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Tupelo "Dirty Money"
Crashed Music, 2011

This Irish band was formed only four years ago and with this debut album, released late 2011, they bring their music out in the open. Not just another traditional Irish folk band, but an Americana/country etc. orientated quintet that brings sunny and well played acoustic folk. With an almost traditional bluegrass/country line up including banjo, harmonica, bass, fiddle etc., they play nice original songs. Uncomplicated debut album with fine US orientated folk music. Must be a party to see them live.
© Eelco Schilder

Tupelo "Dirty money"
Crashed Music, 2011

Dublin based acoustic act Tupelo released their debut album with 14 original tracks written by James Cramer (lead vocals, banjo, guitjo, acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano, percussion). In addition to Cramer the band features Paul Murray (acoustic guitar, bodhràn, mandolin, backing vocals), Damien McMahon (double bass, backing vocals), Kevin Duffy (fiddle, mandolin, backing vocals) and Tim Condron (alto, baritone and tenor saxophones).
They start off with the intoxicating pace of "Bad man", a brilliant song with incredible acoustic groove created by fiddle, saxophone, double bass and string instruments as well as great singing. The title track is an up-beat country song with fine fiddling and guitar playing and "Figure it out" a rhythmic love song showcasing beautiful singing as well as awesome solos. Further highlights are the sad patriotic hymn "I'm an Irishman" or the two completely different versions of "Railroad"; the first being another up-beat country song with great choir singing and the second an intoxicating blues brought forward with outstanding musical skill. They end up with a hauntingly beautiful ballad, "My family's land".
"Dirty money" is an exciting roots album offering beautiful original songs recorded by excellent musicians and singers.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Annie Grace "The Bell"
Gracie Records, 2011

Highland born singer, songwriter and actor Annie Grace (vocals, Scottish small pipe, whistle) released her second solo album with six cover versions, one traditional and three original songs. Emerged in the Glasgow folk scene she found brilliant musicians for the recordings in Jonny Hardies' (guitar, fiddle, viola, vocals) ancestral home. Aaron Jones (10-string guizouki, guitar, vocals), Aly McRae (guitar, ukulele, harmonium, piano, banjax, euphonium, saw, fiddle, vocals), Kevin McGuire (double bass) and Nigel Hitchcock (alto sax) joined in.
Kirsty McGee wrote "Sandman", a creepy lullaby and cool slow blues showcasing Annie's hauntingly beautiful voice, and terrific banjax, double bass, guitar and saw playing. Together with Austin based Aimee Bobruk she wrote the mesmerizing title song during Burnsong 2011; her passionate singing is accompanied by fiddles and guitars. The pipes lead to the dramatic traditional folk song "One morning in May", fiddles, guitar, guizouki and singing are awesome. The album also offers a live set simply called "Tunes" showcasing three contemporary tunes by Fred Morrison, Angus MacDonald and Gordon Duncan brilliantly played on small pipes, guizouki, guitar harmonium and fiddle. Annie dedicated the mesmerizing piano ballad "Little bird" to her daughter Kirsty and "Show me the road" by Harvey Reid stands out with intoxicating Bluegrass rhythm and great singing together of the guys. Scottish poet Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850) wrote "The Exile Song" and the four musicians bring the sad ballad forward perfectly. The CD ends with a cheerio song, also written during Burnsong 2011 by Stevie Palmer, Tim London and Annie herself, accompanied by euphonium, alto sax, strings and great backing vocals.
Annie is a brilliant singer, songwriter and musician and together with some excellent musicians she recorded in a relaxed setting some breathtaking tracks.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Fling "Fling"
Own label, 2011

The Galway based band Fling recorded 6 original, 5 traditional tracks and one cover version for their self-titled debut album, Trevor Hutchinson (Lunasa) mixed it, Derek Murray (The Stunning) was co-producer and a few brilliant guest appearances made my expectations fly high. Fling are Liam Carroll (guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, charango, vocals), Maeve Kelly (whistles, mandolin, backing vocals), Liam Conway (guitar, mandolin, banjo, backing vocals), Pauli Smith (double bass) and at the time of the recordings Des Harrington (drums), by now he's replaced by Ger Flynn.
There're only three traditional songs, my favourite is "Shady grove" with Steve Wickham (Waterboys) on fiddle. Fine guitar playing and Carroll's singing are accompanied by mandolin, drums and bass, Wickham joins in with brilliant fiddling and Kelly and Conway add some great backing vocals, a breathtaking finale. "Bottle opener" is a vivid instrumental by Kelly named after a house in Shanghai, featuring awesome playing by guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle, whistle and Terry Cooke on drums. Co-producer Murray plays piano accordion on "Ballyshannon bends", an intoxicating tune with accelerating pace reminding of a hair-raising journey through Donegal. Joe Walsh's hauntingly beautiful slow air "Inisheer" is brought forward on whistle accompanied by virtuoso finger-picking and Carroll remembers his time in Buenos Aires on "Puerto del sol", an up-beat dance tune with galloping drum rhythm. Other highlights are Kelly's "Streets of Vigo", another up-beat tune named after a town in Galicia showcasing virtuoso soli by the band or the traditional "Atlantic swell", the very first tune the guys played together.
Fling bring a fresh wind into the Irish music scene, they are excellent musicians, great singers and their self-crafted tunes are brilliant.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Duplets "Leverage"
Pond Chicken Music, 2011

Book Review

The Duplets are Gillian Fleetwood and Fraya Thomsen, two excellent singers and harpists from the Scottish Highlands. For their second release "Leverage" they recorded 12 traditional, original and covered tracks, alternating song and tune.
Robert Burns wrote the socialist words for "A man's a man for a That" in 1795, Gillian and Fraya sing it adagio, accompanied by hauntingly beautiful harp music. They continue with an airy "Irish set" and Fraya's rhythmic song "Surtsey", both showcasing their brilliant interwoven playing. Gillian wrote the mesmerizing "Paris" and her breathtaking singing wavers over the enchanting sound of the two harps. There are two harps and two voices, but these gifted musicians create an incredible sonority. Another highlight is a traditional set featuring two versions of "Jenny Nettles" and the up-beat tune "Jock MacKay's". The last set "Old harp, new harp" was recorded on two Briggs harps, built in Glasgow in the early 1990s, and includes two traditional slow airs as well as two original tunes. The sound of the rare harps is unique and their playing extraordinary.
The new album of The Duplets is a masterwork of harp music and certainly one of my favourite.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Be Good Tanyas "A Collection (2000-2012)"
Nettwerk Productions 2012

German CD Review

Frazey Ford, Trish Klein and Samantha Parton formed The Be Good Tanyas in 1999 in Vancouver and after three CDs they chose some of their best original, traditional and covered songs to release a brilliant collection of songs, 69 minutes of old time Country, Blues, Soul and Gospel music.
They start off with two Americana songs, the original "Draft daughter's Blues" and the traditional "In my time of dying", both accompanied by virtuoso banjo, guitar and percussion playing. Frazey and Samantha share the role of the lead singer and Trish adds her beautiful harmony vocals. Former member Jolie Holland co-wrote "The littlest bird" with Samantha, a rhythmic song in songwriter style. They also added two brilliant cover versions: "Waiting around to die" (Townes van Zandt) is a hauntingly beautiful ballad with the melancholic sound of the blues harp and "Light enough to travel" (Geoff Berner) a rhythmic country song with great singing together of the three ladies. Banjo and fiddle accompany Samantha's mesmerizing singing on "Dogsong" and "Junkie song" is a jazzy ballad with wonderful playing together of guitar and trumpet as well as great singing. Other highlights are the traditional "Rain and snow" or Frazey's "Ship out on the sea", intoxicating Blues rhythm and soulful singing. They end up with a new track, "Gospel song", a perfect showcase for Frazey's bluesy timbre.
The music of The Be Good Tanyas is unmistakeable, I love their authentic sound, the sophisticated song-crafting and their individual style. Listen to some samples at!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Sliotar "Fine Friends"
Idrone Media, 2012

More than a decade on the go, Dublin-based trad / folk-rock band Sliotar[32][37] presents their fifth album with all the ingredients we are familiar with: the gripping pipes and haunting whistles of Ray McCormac, supported by the driving rhythms and mesmerizing grooves of DADGAD guitarist J.P. Kallio and drummer Des Gorevan. There's well-known reels such as "Fermoy Lasses" and "Rakish Paddy," but most tunes have been composed by MacCormac and Kallio. The dynamic delivery capture the energy of their live performances.[40] I suggest to listen to the "Tinkering on the Bridge" set to form an opinion. Kallio's catchy songs tend to be radio-friendly folk-pop ditties, which is fashionable, but don't really grab me. I'm more fond of a vigorous performance of the traditional Irish "May Morning Dew," Ray McCormac seems to be the vocalist, which excels all versions I've heard before. The "Fine Friends" album eventually finishes with the title track, the popular song "Fine Friends and Companions," suggesting that the trio will be with us for some time to come, and that's a good thing.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Damaris Woods "With a Banjo on My Knee"
Own label, 2012

The album aptly kicks off with a vaudeville version of Stephen Foster's minstrel song "Oh Susanna" ... oh don't you cry for me, I've come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee. Damaris Woods, the tenor banjo player with Derek Warfield & The Young Wolfe Tones,[43][43][46][49] seemingly has a disposition for odd intros before delivering the real thing, which is a bit tiring at times on her solo debut. Thankfully these gimmicks are done in the second half of the album with the best tracks yet to come, when turning towards mostly Irish jigs and reels, but also Percy French's "Little Bridget Flynn" and Turlough O'Carolan's "Carolan's Receipt". I'm particularily delighted with a gorgeous take on "The Rocky Road to Dublin" with Derek Warfield on vocals. General Custer's signature tune, the "Garryowen" march, is the link between these Old World music with the Americana of the album's beginning ("Blackberry Blossom", "Duelling Banjos", "Le Reel De La Main Blanche"). Damaris is supported by an army of friends, especially brother Jim Woods' button accordion (husband to fiddle player Liz Doherty).[23] So minor complaints aside, this is a fine banjo album from a multifaceted and daring instrumentalist. With 18 tracks and more than 70 minutes and an extensive booklet featuring comments on the tunes and songs and even a short history of the tenor banjo, it offers anything you might fancy.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Kieran Fahy / Jacques Pirotton "The Emigrant's Lament"
Magno Music, 2011

Irish fiddler Kieran Fahy[34] is a founding member of the Belgian-based Celtic band Shantalla.[46] This time he teamed up with Belgian jazz guitarist Jacques Pirotton. However, don't expect any crossover album, Pirotton plays understated support to Kieran's raw delivery of Irish fiddle tunes. The album title "The Emigrant's Lament" already suggests a restrained and casual approach, and the duo rarely speeds up. Inbetween Donald Shaw's "Calum's Road" and Hammy Hamilton's "Kerfunten Jig" is a nice selection of jigs, slides and hornpipes, a barndance thrown in for good measure, as well as the alluring Donegal air "Paddy's Rambles Through the Park" and Turlough O'Carolan's "Eleanor Plunkett" (the first tune they played together and immediately struck a mutual understanding). Kieran puts down the fiddle once to take up the viola, and also lilts the set dance "Ace & Deuce Of Pipering" accompanied by Stephan Pougin's cajon. Jacques as well is given the opportunity to shine on the fine solo guitar piece "Ardennes," written by himself.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Lyy "två"
Dimma, 2012

The Swedish band Lyy joined forces five years ago.[44] Singer Emma Björling is also a member of the vocal group Kongero[48] and toured with the recently dissolved folk band Ranarim.[44] Probably Ranarim is best to draw a comparison. Emma has a bright, very characteristic voice. Riksspelman Anna Lindblad (fiddle) and David Eriksson (nyckelharpa, hurdy gurdy) play lively and spellbinding tunes, while Petrus Johansson (guitar) and Martin Norberg (percussion) put a tight groove underneath to create some intricate arrangements. The overall sound is trad going contemporary with an inherent pop sensibility. "två" is their second album (well, the title says it all) featuring traditional songs, some dating way back into the Middle Ages, sometimes with additional verses, sometimes with music by Lyy, sometimes entirely original. A polka from the Auvergne and the old-time tune "Whiskey Before Breakfast" are thrown in for good measure. The booklet includes the original lyrics and English translations of all songs.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Jamie Laval "Murmurs and Drones"
Own label, 2011

Jamie Laval's "Murmurs and Drones" is an elaborated piece of work, not an accidental sequence of tunes and sets, but one entity where every tune has its place. It starts with an orginal melody composed by the American artist, followed by a set of Donegal reels. More original tunes lead into traditional Québécoise reels, then Scottish strathspeys and pipe marches and Irish pieces to find a convincing conclusion with another Jamie Laval air. Three years in the making, "Murmurs and Drones" is the quintessential work of a classical trained violinist who became a devoted Celtic fiddler: a narrative of occasionally epic dimensions, the fiddle tunes put into a framework featuring guitar, bass, mandolin, smallpipes, cello and tablas (e.g. Robin Bullock).[27]
P.S.: You might also purchase a 24-bit high-definition version of the album.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Jesse Ferguson "The Parting Glass"
Own label, 2011

Jesse Ferguson is the self-proclaimed Bard of Cornwall (i.e. Cornwall, Ontario; and though he is now based in Cape Breton) and an interpreter of classic rock and folk music. His second album deals with Irish, Scottish, Canadian and American songs about parting. Apart from the "Scarborough Settler's Lament" (which I never heard before) and his own song "The Sun Set on My Love" the songs are familiar and popular. Jesse Ferguson raises a Parting Glass, says Farewell to Nova Scotia and the Lakes of Ponchartrain, boards the Bonnie Ship the Diamond to take the Rocky Road to Dublin and sit by Loch Lomond and Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore. He asks himself Will Ye Go To Flanders?, but eventually ends up in South Australia. "The Parting Glass" is a fine selection of popular ballads, folk songs and shanties, simply but lovely arranged (I especially love the mandolin which adds some spice) and beautifully rendered.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Roche & Breugnot "Sauvage Central"
Tomme Fraiche/AEPEM, 2012

Cyril Roche plays the diatonic accordion, whereas François Breugnot mainly plays the fiddle (and sometimes the banjo) in the trad-raggamuffin-band Le Comité. Their duo recording shows as well that the music of the Auvergne and Limousin regions of France (Massif Central) might be aged but can be performed in a new and exciting manner. Supported by guests on cabrette, the local type of bagpipe (Michel Esbelin), further bagpipes (Ivan Karvaix) and Hammond organ (Jean-Michel Plasse), the setting is as lively and powerful as the neo-traditional music of the Celtic countries. They are not shy from experimenting and playing games. Starting with tunes composed by François Breugnot there are traditional bourrees, mazurkas, scottishe and polkas, as well as contemporary dance tunes in the traditional vein. Eventually, Laurent Cavalié has composed the song "Catarina," sung here by himself.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Dermot Byrne & Floriane Blancke "Dermot Byrne & Floriane Blancke"
Own label, 2012

From the Inishowen peninsula in the north of Ireland, Dermot Byrne (button accordion, melodeon) is a member of the popular Irish trad group Altan.[42] Born in Paris and studied in Bordeaux, Floriane Blancke (harp, piano) started out in jazz and classical music before getting caught by the Irish music virus and becoming accompanist of the likes of Seamus Begley, Sharon Shannon etc. The pair met around the Galway session scene in 2008 and immediately struck a mutual understanding. Rural Donegal and urban France - what can we make of this? Their duo album is an eclectic mix. There's Irish jigs and reels, Turlough O'Carolan's "Mister O'Connor, the ancient Irish air "Amhràn Na Leabhar" (Song of the Books) and Scots fiddler Scott Skinner's "Mathematician", Brendan O'Reagan adds some bouzouki and electric guitar. Flat picker Chris Newman's Baroquesque jig "Sore Point" (inspired by a Fernando Sor tune) and Breton guitarist Soig Siberil's "Kishor's Tune" are the link to some French and Québécoise waltzes and musettes from the pen of Michel Peguri (the popular "La Bourrasque"), Michel Faubert ("La Valse des Jouets") and Marc Perrone respectively. Guitar work is done here by Tim Edey and Frank Kilkelly. Eventually, there is a beautiful slow air written by Floriane, and she does a great job on the one vocal track, Annie Voisin's love song "La Clairière". Based in Kinvara in the west of Ireland these days, Dermot and Floriane play music that is seemingly easy and undemanding, but - if you open your ears and become mixed up in - at the same time delicate and ecxiting.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Andrew MacNamara | Orla Harrington | Jim Higgins
"Flagstone Memories"
Own label, 2011

Once upon a time... The story goes that Irish dancers prided themselves with their skill to dance on table tops, half doors removed from their hinges, even pieces of flagstone removed from their place in front of the hearth. These are the memories of hearth, home and traditional house dances with this seemingly so simple recording. On first sight. But don't let it deceive you. There is excellent musicianship behind the dazzling fiddle of Orla Harrington (who toured with Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance), the tight button accordion of Andrew MacNamara (who played with the Tulla Ceili Band) and the sympathetic percussion and piano accompaniment of - occasional Altan percussionist - Jim Higgins. Straight forward traditional Irish music but full of life and energy. The tune selection is rooted in East Clare, many are taken from reel-to-reel tapes only recently discovered in the Harrington's attic. He subsequently sought out other old recordings. The opening jig "The Knights of St Patrick" I have never heard played, though I've seen some stave notes once. Tunes such as the "Skyman's Jig" and the "Cloonagroe Reel" are also rarely performed. Of course, there's the old and familiar as well such as "Banish Misfortune" or "Far From Home" coming straight out of Captain O'Neill's collection.[49]
© Walkin' T:-)M

Kyle Alden "Songs from Yeats' Bee-loud Glade"
Own label, 2011

There have been quite a number of William Butler Yeats' poems set to music, indeed they really seem to be made to be sung,[45][46] though probably never like this before. Kyle Alden is a San Francisco based singer-songwriter and has played guitar with first-rate Irish musicians (e.g. Tommy Peoples, Paddy Keenan). When touring with The Gas Men in the West of Ireland, Kyle also paid a visit to Yeats' haunts at Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee and got hooked: I was struck by the innate musicality and songlike qualities of many of Yeats’ poems. He put thirteen poems to new music, both the popular done many times before ("The Lake Isle of Innisfree",[28][35] "The Song of Wandering Aengus")[33][43] and the lesser known, of which I especially fancy "Colonel Martin and "Brown Penny". ("The Cap and Bells" has also been set to music by Sean Tyrrell.)[45] With support such as fiddler Athena Tergis[34] he created songs that sit somewhere between folk and country music. You probably never heard Yeats linked to this musical genre. Yeats and Americana? Yeah, it fits like a glove, which is helped by Kyle Alden's tender and compassionate vocals, catchy tunes and empathetic arrangements. It is most refreshing, and the best Yeats I have heard in a long time (sorry, Mike Scott!). After all, Kyle Alden succeeds with both a delightful folk and country album and a gorgeous selection of William Butler Yeats settings.
© Walkin' T:-)M

The Raineys "The Raineys"
Pavee Point Travellers Centre, 1956/2006

The Raineys were a family of travelling musicians, who rode in a pony-and-canvas-covered cart from cattle fairs to horses races in Connemara during the summertime, earned their living from playing traditional Irish music and passing the hat round. (The book cover of Ciaran Carson's "Last Night's Fun" had the Raineys on it; singer-banjoist Margaret Barrett is a born Rainey.)[38][45] In 1956, English professor Tony Knowland, who feared that the folk tradition was in danger of being swamped by pop music, captured the playing of local musicians and also recorded the Raineys on a reel-to-reel tape-recorder in Freeney's Pub, Letterfrack. The Travellers human rights NGO Pavee Point has digitised the tapes, mastered and released them commercially for the first time only recently. The fiddle had barely a square inch of varnish on it, Prof. Knowland observed, there was a hole in the belly, and the bow was strung not with horse-hair but what looked like carpet-thread, fastened to the heel through a cotton-reel nailed to it. The brothers Paddy 'Big' and Stephen 'Spare Parts' Rainey played fiddle music, both in unison or harmonising, with a raw tone, an emphasized rhythm and rather fuzzy melodies. Each set gradually kicks off, the music flows on and on when the groove has been established, and eventually suddenly winds up. Their repertoire consisted of well-known tunes, mostly reels and a few jigs. They seem particularly fond of waltzes. "The Woodlands of Loughglynn" is not only performed as an instrumental tune, but also sung by Bridie 'Biddy' Rainey (of whom is said that Dolores Keane learned from her) over the vibrant fiddles. This is the kind of singing utilised in the pub over chatter and laughter or outdoors busking. On the contrary is her delicate and truly spell-binding rendition of "Katie Daly" (compare it to Carmel Gunning's recent rendition)[36] which casts aside any straight-forward rhythm, groove and metre, and unveils a true and brilliant artist.
© Walkin' T:-)M

We Banjo Three "Roots of the Banjo Tree"
Own label, 2012

Book Review

We all need more banjos in this world ... this smart trio makes out of bluesman Guy Davis's song "We All Need More Kindness in This World". We Banjo Three consist of three young, but very accomplished (tenor) banjo players in one band and heading for a sound that is uniting both past and future of the instrument. First of all, Enda Scahill is a highly respected teacher who published two banjo tutorials[34][47] besides his participation in various musical enterprises.[34] His WB3 joint venture includes two of his former students, the brothers Martin and David Howley. (Enda himself taught Martin the tenor guitar and David the mandolin, while his student Johnny Harty taught both the banjo, so Enda considers them his banjo grandchildren.) With fiddler Fergal Scahill,[48] fellow banjoist Gerry O'Connor[30] and others they start their musical journey in Ireland with two of Martin Wynne's reels, but immediately cross the Atlantic for some old-time and bluegrass reels and polkas, black-face minstrel tunes and songs such as "Gonna Write Me a Letter" by North Carolinan banjo player Ole Bela Reed and "Tie Me Down" by Cape Breton guitarist Allister MacGillivray. Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll's "Air Tune" is somehow the link to return to Ireland and some dance tunes and Gerry O'Connor's gorgeous banjo tune "Time to Time". It is essentially an Irish take on American music, genres that grow from the same tree but took some different paths in their development. The possibilities of three banjos is quite astounding - you can hear main melody, cross picking (similar to the Scruggs style on the 5-string-banjo) and chordal backing - played with panache and gusto, but quite important as well very entertaining and much much fun.
P.S.: You can find the old-time/bluegrass reels "Bill Cheatum" and "Sail Away Ladies", the polka "Over the Waterfall" and the minstrel tunes "Poor Old Liza Jane" in part 2 of "The We Banjo 3 Tune Book - 40 Solos for Irish Tenor Banjo".
© Walkin' T:-)M

Alalé "Breakfast in Mayo"
Own label, 2011

In the city of Galway Irish and Spaniards mingled for centuries. Little wonder that there once again is a group of Spanish people and one Belgian-Irish in the west of Ireland that play Irish music, however, with a twist that not only considers Spanish but ethnic, jazz and rock influences as well. The current line-up is Gabriel G. Diges (flute, whistles. electric guitar, bouzouki), Stephanie Swanton (fiddle, vocals), Esteban Moreno (guitar) and David Cardona (percussion). To be exact, their second album "Breakfast in Mayo" has several guest musicians on most tracks, who make quite an impact by all means, e.g. uilleann piper and former band member Ciaran O'Donghaile. Alalé's[38] lively sound and powerful groove starts in Ireland and Scotland with some traditional and original tunes. It is followed by a traditional Galician rumba (with an intro composed and played by the late Fergal Walsh who co-founded Alalé in 2006), more tunes from the pen of John McCusker and Ivan Drever, and a set of self-penned tunes in the traditional Irish vein using flamenco rhythms. The result is a powerhouse which makes me yearning for one of their live shows. On the other hand, I wrote this several times in this FolkWorld issue, the songs are state-of-the-art, contemporary but somehow unexciting folk pop pieces though it initially sounds interesting: "Requiescat" is an Oscar Wilde poem, "Lullaby for a Sailor's Child" is from Sam Henry's collection "Songs of the People," both with tunes from Stephanie Swanton.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Sylvain Barou "Sylvain Barou"
Aremorica Records, 2012

Breton flutist Sylvain Barou started playing at the age of 12 and, ironically, with Irish music inspired by Chieftains flutist Matt Molloy.[48] Breton music came afterwards, but then Sylvain was taught by Jean-Michel Veillon who almost single-handedly invented Breton flute playing. These days he performs with groups like Comas[32] and Guidewires,[40] and recently formed a trio with Irish musicians Donal Lunny[37] and Pádraig Rynne.[32] The oldest track of his solo debut was recorded way back in 2006 with John Doyle and Liz Carroll,[39] the bulk however only recently featuring an extensive list of sparring partners such as guitarists Gilles Le Bigot, Ed Boyd and Paul MacSherry, bass player Alain Genty, Greek lyra player Stelios Petrakis, cister, oud, tablas, ... Celtic folk'n'fusion: Besides Irish and Breton music Sylvain looks into other musical traditions: Greek and Bulgarian pieces, Asturian alboradas, an Afghan song tune, a composition from French-Iranian percussionist in Persian style (for Sylvain Breton music sounds quite oriental at times) ... To cut a long story short: these are fine tunes, the arrangements are inventive, the performance(s) flawless.

Dónal Lunny has this to say about about Sylvain Barou: I think of him as a mountaineer. Not only is he avidly interested in music from every corner of the world, but he also seeks out challenges; peaks of musical achievement which can normally only be accessed by musicians who have been born into their particular culture, and who have served arduous apprenticeships in their chosen disciplines. Reaching these heights demands a degree of musicality one encounters only occasionally.

© Walkin' T:-)M

Dan Gurney "Dan Gurney"
Own label, 2011

Dylan Foley "Hup!"
Own label, 2012

Traditional Irish music on the button accordion, nothing more, nothing less, simple arrangements with only Brian McGrath on piano (currently with De Danann) bringing Dan Gurney's B/C Paolo/Soprani and the tunes into the foreground, which is a selection of more or less familiar traditional Irish tunes, including a successful attempt to play the majestic ancient air "Sliabh Geal gCua" on the box. Now in his mid-20s, Dan has an Irish ancestor somewhere in the family tree. The New York native started playing at the age of 7. He was taught by the likes of Monsignor Charlie Coen, Joe Derrane,[44] Billy McComiskey[47] and John Whelan,[11] and won the Eastern U.S. Fleadh Cheoil six times, and three bronze medals at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. His musical pedigree includes stints with Lissa Schneckenburger’s band[38][43] and Matt and Shannon Heaton.[44] Dan Gurney made the right decision to simply walk into a recording studio with pianist Brian Mc Grath on a rainy August day in 2011. I wanted the music to be laid-back, not rehearsed, because if it’s too rehearsed, the tunes don’t have as much life in them or as much spontaneity. We went into the studio hoping for the best, and something just clicked. Three and a half hours later both walked out with a full tape of 15 sets and 33 tunes, the result though unrehearsed leaving nothing to wish for.

When not playing music, Dan runs a website streaming live concerts from venues around the US: You also might find him at sessions at Lillie’s, 11th Street, and the Brass Monkey, New York, often performing with a young guy called Dylan Foley.

Indeed, New Yorker fiddler Dylan Foley (who helds a residency @ The Dubliner on Main Street, Poughkeepsie, every last Sunday of the month from 5 to 8 pm) considered to make a duo album with Dan but eventually went on his own encouraged by Dan's solo effort. At the tender age of 20, Dylan already became All-Ireland champion three times, in May he won the senior fiddle competition at the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh. He started taking classical violin lessons when he was eight years old. Later he studied with siblings Rose Flanagan (ex Cherish the Ladies) and Brian Conway,[40] following in the musical footsteps of Irish-American fiddlers Michael Coleman and Andy McGann.[34] The "Kilteery Pier" reel by Brendan Mulvihill opens a fine selection of traditional and recent tunes: Paddy O'Brien, Richie Dwyer, Tommy Peoples ..., including the Carolan planxty "Charles O'Connor", the slow air "Dark Eyed Susan" and a set of two reels in the rare E flat. Dylan's performance is animated and flawless. "Hup!" also features Josh Dukes on guitar and bouzouki and Brendan Dolan on piano.

Check out Dylan Foley's session with Dan Gurney @ YouTube!

© Walkin' T:-)M

Colm Gannon "The Rights of Man"
Own label, 2012

The Boston Connemara Man (born in Boston of Connemara parents) did win the All Ireland competition in 1994 on the button accordion and afterwards moved to his father's place in Ireland. He toured with the Riverdance show for four years. Recently he recorded on the soundtrack of "The Guard" (starring actor Brendan Gleeson). An album with fiddler Jesse Smith and accomponist John Blake[42] is followed now by "The Rights of Man," this time supported by De Danann's Alec Finn on bouzouki and Ringo McDonagh on bodhran. The tune selection is a synopsis of important and influential music from his childhood days until the present. On the other hand, Colm also took a closer look to old cylinder and 78 rpm recordings to seek interesting material. Besides the run-of-the-mill jigs, reel and hornpipes (of course featuring the most famous of all hornpipes, "The Rights of Man"), there's a three-part version of "Morrison's Jig", a pair of flings, and the slow air "Amhrán Na Trá Báine". Colm plays with a sweet and alluring tone, highly ornamented with continuous triplets and rolls, without shaking off a straight-forward rhythm and groove.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Tri Yann "Le concert des 40 ans" [2 CDs & DVD]
Coop Breizh, 2012

Sonerien Du "Seizh !!"
Coop Breizh, 2012

Try Yann, Breton's musical ambassadors par excellence, are 40 years on the road. The Breton folk rock band had been founded in 1971 by Jean-Louis Jossic, Jean Chocun und Jean-Paul Corbineau, hence they called themselves simply Tri Yann an Naoned, the Three Johns from Nantes.[4][46] For the 40th anniversary the eight band members (and several guests such as Le Bagad Brieg) played the Lorient fishing port in August 2011. The set list included old and new material, and all the big hits, both traditional ballads and original songs, such as "Si mort a mors", "Kan ar Kann", "Le Loup, le Renard, la Jument de Michao," and "Dans les prison de Nantes" (Tri Yann sings in French, not in Breton) and their take on the Scottish "Ye Jacobites By Name". The concert is available as double CD, DVD and CD/DVD package. The video (including a half hour documentary) shows a colourful carnival and hullabaloo - you might argue about the group members' outlandish stage costumes -, where the audience's spirit and morale never gets down - even with the low temperatures and the pouring rain of one of Europe's worst summers in recent years.

Breton fest noz group Sonerien Du has also been founded way back in 1971, so they were celebrating their 40th anniversary as well. They got their name from two 18th century musicians from the Bigouden area who were unjustly hanged instead of two highwaymen because their dance music annoyed church and authorities. Legend has it that whoever touched their bodies left on the rack became immune against the plague. Lucky bastards! And a fortunate omen for Breton music at all! Especially with this top group who play traditional Breton music with rocking grooves and fiddle (played by Claude Ziegler), biniou (Chim Cadudal) and bombarde (Julien Tymen) battling with electric guitars, keyboards, programming and drums.[43] This concept has been taken over since by many other Breton bands. In 1986 the group introduced the heart-bagpipe logo from Fanch the Hénaff (originally it was created for the group Bleizi Ruz[9] who refused it), which is also on the cover of this new record, titled seizh, simply because the band has seven members these days. It is an irresistable mix of both traditional and self-written songs, traditional tunes (ridee, laride, ...) and those composed in the traditional vein (scottish). A real pleasure to listen to, but also with infectious grooves to dance to.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Skrömta "Swedish Handicraft"
Tongång, 2011

Seemingly Skrömta is a household name on the Swedish folk circuit, though I haven't heard their name und music before. The band had been founded way back in 2002 in Stockholm, walking somehow in the footsteps of Scandinavian fusion bands such as Hedningarna,[49] Garmarna[26] and Hoven Droven.[48] Skrömta is a local expression from the northern province of Angermanland, their main musical inspiration, denoting a goblin or a troll. Today's line-up consists of Matti Norlin (nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy), Frida K Eriksson (fiddle, flute, vocals), Robban Zetterquist (guitar, lute), Mårten Korkman (double bass) and Kalle Källman (percussion). Besides a Kvarnpolska from Jämtland and a Polkett från Tåsjö from Angermanland, tunes and lyrics have been written mainly by Matti Norlin, who is also known as a slide guitarist and blues singer, based on dance grooves such as polska, schottis, polka etc. with some contributions by Frida K Eriksson and one by Robban Zetterquist. Their different musical backgrounds - rock, jazz, classical music - infuse their neo-traditional songs and dance tunes with limitless energy. Their motto is: folk music rocks! Indeed, it is. Furthermore, Frida K Eriksson turns out to be a fantastic vocalist. Swedish handicraft second to none!
© Walkin' T:-)M

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