(Minnie Sessions, Vol 3)

Minnie Sessions, Volume 3

What I'm Listening to Currently

Updated November 2, 2006

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This section is for persons who have already been to these pages and are looking for new items. Many of the albums I am listening to are recent releases which are reviewed on the new CDs page. Here I just list other albums I am listening to. Currently, it seems biased toward Scottish CDs with some Cape Breton and Newfoundland music thrown in.

(Last Leaves) Malinky - Last Leaves (Greentrax 2000) This fine young group is making a splash, having won the Danny Award for new talent at the 1999 Celtic Connections Festival in Edinburgh. This, their debut CD, is an excellent and varied collection of instrumentals plus traditional and new ballads in Scots (often about witches). Particularly striking is Karine Polwart's terrific singing. (Karine is also now playing with the Battlefield Band, and you may have heard her recently on their tour or on BB's excellent Happy Daze CD.) Karine is joined by Steve Byrne who plays bouzouki, guitar, cittern and mandolin and sings; Kit Patterson on fiddle, guitar and mandolin, and Mark Dunlop. Karine also contributes two of her own songs, and her singing on her song "The Dreadful End of Marianna for Sorcery" is electrifying; it is one of those moments that captures the full beauty and force of traditional Scottish music. Hear this once and you too will be a Karine Polwart fan. The boys do more than hold their own with fine playing on the tunes and songs keeping energy hopping along. I also should mention Steve Byrne's lovely singing on a couple of tunes. A great new discovery! (Very highly recommended)
(Minnie Sessions, Vol. 3) Minnie Sessions, Vol. 3 (Tamarac Records, 1998). Scott Macmillan presents the 3rd in this series, this time with Lennie Gallant, Jerry Holland, and Bernard Felix. Whew! These names may not be well known outside Canada's Maritime Provinces,but they are legends there. Deservedly so. Exquisite, every one. Macmillian is one of the most beautiful guitar players I've ever heard. Gallant is a fine singer and song-writer, Jerry Holland is a perfectly exquisite Cape Breton fiddler and tune writer, and Bernard Felix from Newfoundland is a volcano of musical talent that erupts through his button accordion and his stomping feet. One of the prettiest albums I've heard in years, and Felix's playing has more kick than a dozen angry mules. Recorded in Macmillan's house, this is awesome music.
(Transatlantic Sessions 2, Volume One) The Transatlantic Sessions 2, Volumes One and Two (Lismor Iona, 1998). Assemble some of the world's best musicians from different, if related, traditions for a BBC TV special and let them loose in comfortable surroundings. Good idea. Shetland fiddler Aly Bain invites Bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs, Irish/Nashville singer Maura O'Connell, Irish singer Paul Brady, dobro wiz Jerry Douglas, Cajun fiddler extraordinaire Michael Doucet, Irish whistle champion Breda Smyth, American folk legend Nanci Griffith, Capercaille singer Karen Matheson, Roseanne Cash and others, and you know a good time is going to be had. This CD is worth it for Breda Smyth's unbelievable whistle medley alone. Volume Two is more of the same plus Gaelic singer Ishbel McAskill and Sharon Shannon thrown in as if they needed any livening up!
(Rusby & Roberts) Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts - Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts (1995 Pure Records) Rusby has made a big splash in English folk circles with her 1999 CD Sleepless (deservedly so). Rusby afficianados picked up on her talent in this wonderful 1995 CD. Roberts is also an excellent folk singer, and their harmonies together are lovely in thoughtful arrangements with Rusby's characteristic choice of terrific songs. Their version of Suzanne Vega's "The Queen and the Soldier" is particularly captivating, even if the story is chilling.
(Time for Touching Home) The Black Family - Time for Touching Home - (1989 Dara Records). I was slow to stumble onto this album. Francis, Shay, Michael, Martin and Mary are some of the finest solo singers in Ireland. But it is their harmonies that make this album so special. My favorite on this is a terrific a capella version of "Peat Bog Soldiers".
Planxty album cover

Planxty - Planxty (1972, rereleased in 1989, Shanachie #79009). OK, I'm slow. I had listened to The Planxty Connection and didn't understand why people were such fervid fans. Then recently, I gave them another chance with this, their first album, and I understood why. Appearing years before The Bothy Band, for many Planxty was the first commercial trad group that made this music fun. The arrangements with bouzouki, mandolin and uillean pipes were novel then. Christy Moore, the legendary singer, is in fine form here. Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine provide great accompaniment on bouzouki and mandolin. But it is Liam O'Flynn on pipes, playing the finest I've heard him play, that is the heart of Planxty. And now I realize that when they're good, Planxty was wonderful.

(With a Lot of Help from your Friends)

Mary Custy & Eoin O'Neill - With a lot of help from their friends (Celtic Music 1991). I nearly wore out the tape before it was stolen from my car and I despaired ever hearing it again. I was thrilled to find this CD at Tayberry Music. Custy, from Co. Clare, was the initial fiddler in the Sharon Shannon band. O'Neill is her husband and a fine guitar player. Custy's fiddle has an unusual tone that takes some getting used to. However, she is a very fine fiddler and their playing together is wonderful. They are joined on this all instrumental album by Sharon Shannon, Miko Russell, Kevin Griffin, Ian Lamb and Terry Bingham. The playing shines because their choice of tunes is perhaps my favorite set of Irish tunes. Very highly recommended.

(Mighty Session album cover)

Various - An Droichead Beag -- Mighty Session(An Droichead Beag? 1996) Many traditional music lovers go to Dingle, Ireland to seek the real stuff. On my trip there, I went into the Small Bridge Bar (An Dorichead Beag), but encountered more Guinness than music. This CD is what I missed; the album was made to celebrate some of the great musicians that have played there, and some of the "mighty sessions". It is a stellar lineup including Dolores Keane, Sharon Shannon, the great Dingle piper Eoin Duignan, Begley & Cooney, Breandan Begley, Frankie Lane, Matt Cranitch, Donal Murphy, Tommy O'Sullivan and others. The tracks recorded elsewhere are great, but it is the live tracks that bring the house down. Very highly recommended



(Synergy album cover)

Deaf Shepherd - Synergy (Greentrax 1997) This exciting young Scottish band has two highland pipers (Rory Campbell and Malcolm Stitt), two fiddlers (Marianne Curran and Clare McLaughlin ) and several singers/guitarists. The music is generally traditional with the songs in Scots. There is some beautiful harmony singing on this album, but it is in the instrumentals that the band really shines. Lots of energy and lift and the pipes sound great in this group, not overpowering anyone. The more I listen to this album, the more I love it. The only group I can compare them to is the legendary Bothy Band. Very highly recommended.

{short description of image} Jock Tamson's Bairns--A' Jock Tamson's Bairns (Greentrax 1996). This is a re-release of two albums from one of the seminal Scottish traditional bands in the late 70s and early 80s - most of the 1980 album A' Jock Tamson's Bairns and all of their 1982 album The Lasses Fashion. With wonderful singing and instrumentals, this 2 CD set grows on you, and thats a good thing. Highly recommended

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