Archive for January, 2013



Liz caroll and John Doyle-Nearbye and long ago-Double Play-Compass

Colleen Raney and Colm Maccarthaigh-Lord Franklin-Cuan-Cuan Music

Grey Larsen-The Gathering-The gathering-Sugar Hill


Celtic Voyage-Breton Dances-Celtic Voyages-Gourd

Cathy Jordan-Erin Gra Mo Chroi-Fair Celts-Narada

Arcady-Banks of the Lee-Celtic Love Songs-Shanachie

Tony McManus-Lady Ann Montgomery’s Reel-Ceol More-Compass


Brian McNeill-Scotus-The Baltic Tae Byzantium-Green Trax

Michael Black-Little Pack of Tailors-Michael Black-Compass

Aidan Rourke-Mangestra Beach-Sirius-Vertical

Meav-The Newry Boat Song-Silver Sea-Celtic Collections


Kim Robertson-Loch Tay-Highland Heart-Gourd

Jim Malcolm-Highland Mary-Acqaintance-Beltane

Catriona McKay and Chris Stout-Laebrack-Laebrack-Green Trax

Cara Dillon-Johnny Lovely Johnny-Hill of Thieves-Proper


McCauly and Horan-Serenade-Serenade-Compass

Jeff Moore-King of the Pipers-The Dove’s Perch-Fleagull Records

Mary Jane Lammond and Wendy MacIssac-Air a Ghile Tha Mo Run-Seinn-Factor

Eilidh Shaw-Liz Carrol-Heepirumbo-CD Trax


Karen Casey-John Doyle-Exile’s Return-Exile’s Return-Compass

Ed Miller-Aye Waukin O’-Songs of Scotland-Wellfield

Susan McKeown-The Hare’s Lament-Lowlands-Green Linnet

Dochas-Castle Kelly/Mike’s Reel-The Crossing-Grr Records


Julie Fowlis-Tha Mo Ghaol Air Aird a chuan-Machair

Niamh ni Charra-Strawberry Tree-Happy Out-Sugach Samh

Dougie MacLean-Broken Wings-Marching Mystery-Dunkeld

Calum Alex Mac Millan-Mo Run-sa Mhaighdeon-Skippinish


Kim Robertson-Moving Cloud-Treasures of the Celtic Harp-Darason

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Passing of the Gael

This week has seen the passing of Chris Caswell harp maker and Celtic musician well known to the music community and very much missed. A few words about Chris during the show and the following found poem with his music in mind.


Music is a strange and useless thing, it doesn’t offer shelter from the storm

It really doesn’t ease the sting of living or nourish us or keep us warm.

Yet men expend their lives learning how to juggle these bits of noise and

by their swift illusion … to confound the heart with fleeting and elusive joys

And I am full of quaking gratitude that this exalted folly still exists, that

in a world of dull mood a piper can still whistle in the mist

His notes are pebbles dropping into time, how sweetly mad it is

And how sublime.


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A capacity crowd at the Matheson Theater experienced performance art of the highest caliber Saturday night.   The concert was sold out and extra seats were added, but we still had to turn some people away.  Those who bought tickets in advance were very happy to have done so!

The performance was nothing short of spectacular.  A blend of music and oratory, falling somewhere between concert and theater, it spanned nearly the range of human feeling; from humor to tragedy, tenderness to rage, reality to mysticism, and more besides.  The effects were powerful and exhilarating.

LegendsThe performers were: Patrick Ball, oratory and wire-strung Celtic harp; Lisa Lynne, Celtic harp, Irish bouzouki, and mandolin; Aryeh Frankfurter, harp, cittern, and nyckelharpa.  Essentially, Aryeh and Lisa played instrumental music and Patrick told stories, punctuated by intervals of ensemble playing.  (Which is a little like saying, “Essentially, Michaelangelo’s David is a large male figure carved in marble.”  Kind of an understatement!)  The playing alone would be worth the admission, as the familiar melodies of Irish (and sometimes Scottish and even Breton) music become richly evocative in the complex and densely textured arrangements.  Celtic harp and Swedish nyckelharpa (a kind of keyed fiddle with resonant strings) come together wonderfully in the opening tune, “The Arran Boat.”

Then Patrick begins to speak.  It isn’t really accurate to say that Patrick “tells stories,” or even that he brings stories to life – it’s more that he brings you into the world of the story.  It is a kind of magic.  There were several moments where I was no longer simply watching a performance, but found myself actually experiencing the events Patrick was describing.  Some of the passages are not even stories, in the usual sense; the opening bit, for example, is more a kind of oratory, interpreting the Song (or Challenge, or Boast) of Amergin, the Milesian Druid.  An eyewitness description of a 16th century Irish feast, and what occurred when an ancient harper was asked to sing a particular song, turns from amusing to astonishing to spine-chilling. The piece de resistance, occupying the whole second half of the show, is the Ursula K. LeGuin story, Gwilan’s Harp; and if you can see this performed without being utterly caught up in emotion, get someone to check you for a pulse.

Legends Patrick gesturing

Lisa Lynne took a turn, relating the story of her evolution from a rock bass player to a Celtic folk harper; and when she described her experience playing harp for a child injured in the Columbine massacre, you could hear the entire audience holding their breath.

When I was not caught up in the spell, I was impressed by the craft.  It sounds simple; you two play music, and I’ll tell a story.  But the story and music each have their own rhythms, and to achieve the transportive effect – getting the audience to forget they were watching, and instead become part of the experience – means geting the timing, pitch, and intonations exactly right.  It’s like harmony: the closer you get to the perfect notes, the more sublime the sound becomes.  It is clear these three work hard at getting this right, even as it is also clear that they themselves become caught up in the spell they are weaving.  It is also clear, from the abundant humour and easy grace, that they really enjoy doing this.

At the end, the audience leapt to their feet for a prolonged standing ovation, before the performers returned to their harps for one last ensemble set.   Lisa invited everyone to come down to the stage and examine the harps, even play them, and many took her up on the offer.  Eventually, reluctantly, people departed, perhaps aware that they had witnessed something truly special.

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Playlist 6 Jan 2013


Dougie Maclean “The Osprey” from Fiddle on Dunkeld Records

Julie Fowlis “Lon-dubh/Blackbird” from Cuilidh on Spit & Polish

Fidil “The Pigeon on the Gate: Reels” from Fidil 3 on Fidil

Christa Burch “The Hawk and the Crow” from Love of the Land on CBSV

Set break

Shelley Phillips “The Wood Between the Worlds / The Thrush” from The Wood Between the Worlds on Gourd Music

Silly Wizard “If I Was A Blackbird” from Wild & Beautiful on Shanachie Entertainment

Altan “The Curlew / McDermott’s / Three Scones of Boxty” from Horse With a Heart on Green Linnet

The Outside Track “Blackbirds And Thrushes” from Curious Things Given Wings on Mad River Records

Set break

Kyle Carey “Gaol Ise Gaol I” from Monongah on Kyle Carey

Patrick Ball “Whispering from Another World” from The Fine Beauty of the Island on Patrick Ball

Patrick Ball “The Vanishing” from The Fine Beauty of the Island on Patrick Ball

Set break

The Family Carr “L’histoire De Mon Vieux Coq/the Mortgage Burn, Le Festival De Voyageur/La Gigue Du Plateau Mont-Royal/Set Americain” from The Family Carr on The Family Carr

Altan “Seolta Geala” from Gleann Nimhe – The Poison Glen on Compass Records

Comas “Joe Toms / the Brocca / the Donegal Lass (feat. Sylvain Barou)” from CHARGE on Comas

At First Light “The Pipers of Roguery” from Idir on At First Light records

Set break

Alistair Ogilvy “Earl Richard” from Leaves Sae Green on Greentrax

Duncan Chisholm “Waltz of the Grey River” from Affric on Copperfish Records

The Outside Track “Mountain Road” from Flash Company on Lorimer Records

Breabach “Glasgow of the Big Shops” from Bann on Breabach Records

Set break

Rura “Elliott’s” from Break It Up on Greentrax Recordings

Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac “IF YOU WERE MINE” from Seinn on turtlemusik / Fontana North

Sprag Session “An Dro” from Sprag Session on Sprag Session



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