FolkWorld #74 03/2021
© Pío Fernández

‘Wall-of-Sound’ of Pipes & Flutes

Fernando Mosquera is a Spanish gaiteiro, a bagpiper, an interpreter of the Galician gaita, but over the years he has become an expert in playing a huge diversity of woodwinds (with and without bag or bellows), but also a powerful arsenal of instruments of all kinds, including hurdy-gurdy or concertina.

He is an artist already familiar in the FW archives, from their previous CDs: ‘Peregrinatio’ in 2011[47] and ‘Outlander’ in 2015.[57] I hope I can find the time to interview Fernando soon and we can learn more about his history of folk music. Even more an adventure in his homeland in central Spain, when even in the capital of Spain, Madrid, trad & folk music have once again become a rarity, surrounded by an ocean of pop, rap, trap,... , or whatever they call it now (and for sure the Covid pandemic does not help at all to improve the situation).


Artist Video Mosquera @ FROG

Indeed, Fernando Mosquera is not a one-man army in this remarkable endeavor. We are talking here about the ‘Mosquera Celtic Band’, Fernando plus at least five other talented musicians: Sara Calatrava (singing in Spanish, Galician, English & Gàidhlig, Scottish-Gaelic). Manuel Briega (violin), Rafael Martínez-Campos (acoustic & electric guitar), Manuel Agudo (bodhràn, Galician pandeireta tambourine, frame drums, medieval percussion, Jew’s harp), and José Alberto Ortíz (drum set). The name of the band remains true to the debatable label ‘Celtic’, a musical genre that hardly dates back to the culture of the original Proto-Celtic tribes that populated the Austrian town of Hallstatt and its surroundings since 12th century BC.

So, as commonly accepted, we are talking here mostly about music of strong traditional Irish & Scottish basis. Maybe also with some Northwest Spanish (Galician) flavor, although this time in their last album named ‘Terra’ (‘Land’ in Galician), even more influenced by music from North America, such as bluegrass. As it is mentioned in the CD booklet: “The Gael-Mheiriceánaigh, or Hibern-American, have ended up being one of the most important and numerous ethnic groups in the USA. Due to the Irish diaspora which took place from 1700 on, over nine million Irish disembarked in the new Promised Land, a bigger amount than the following centuries”.

Terra starts with ‘Dathanna Na HÉireann’ (‘The Colours of Ireland’), a solo of Fernando in the uilleann pipes concert pitch, chanter in D, with the harmonic use the powerful drone regulators. It is followed by ‘Terra’, a vivid folk-rock tune with the voice of Sara Calatrava, dedicated to NW-Spain’s Galicia, the homeland of Fernando’s ancestors, with guest artists: Lluís Gómez (banjo) & Javier Rod (bass guitar). In ‘Terra’ Fernando plays: low, super-low & tin whistle in C, Galician gaita ‘redonda’ (in C), uilleann pipes & hurdy-gurdy.

The third song, ‘The Battle of Dunmore’, seem to look for a musical connection with the Nordic countries, with Fernando playing the Viking horn and the seljefløyte, with the voice of the guest Singer Àdhamh Ó Broin, singer, translator and Scottish consultant (also a Gaelic coach for the TV series ‘Outlander’), and with letters that recall the Viking invasions on the Irish shores and their navigation to the Mediterranean Sea.

Again, Fernando deploys an infinite collection of wind and percussion instruments. Some of them as odd as a reproduction of a clay horn from the Celtiberian town of Numantia (Soria, Spain). ‘The Frontier’ is one of those that may sound most as a Country song, with banjo, guitar and harmonica, but also uilleann & gaita bagpipes. In the song ‘Immortal’, Fernando plays Scottish Great Highland & Small pipes, having Buddy García (dobro, slide & fingerpicking) as guest musician.

There are endless things to discover in ‘Terra’, such as: the Gaelic singing of Gillbride MacMillan in ‘Un solo corazón – Culloden’ (‘Just one heart’), the martial bagpipes & drums of the Galician gaita band Lume de Biqueira in the beautiful ‘Christmas Day’, the piano & Hammond organ played by Fernando Cañizares, the voice of the Irish Diane Cannon in ‘Promise Land’, the dobro & pedal steel guitar of José Mª Santamaría in ‘Para no volver’ (‘Not to go back’), the Irish fiddle played by Dónal O’Connor in the sweet ‘Redhead Lass’, the voice of Carlos Escobedo from the rock band Sóber in the tune ‘El Resto de Mi Vida’ (‘The Rest of My Life’), or the cello & the viola of Ana Pilar Violero and Borja Martín Roldán.

Terra is a tremendous display of folk, Celtic, Americana, rock, you name it,... music, where Fernando’s ‘wall-of-sound’ of pipes & flutes are there to please the ears of any big fan of these traditional, ancient, rustic instruments (like myself).

Mosquera Celtic Band “Terra”, Several Records, 2020

Photo Credits: (1) Mosquera (unknown/website).

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