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THE GLENCRAIG SCOTTISH DANCE BAND - Scottish Country Dances – Ah’m Askin’

THE GLENCRAIG SCOTTISH DANCE BAND - Scottish Country Dances – Ah’m Askin’
Greentrax CDTRAX355

The piano accordion-led sound so beloved of Scottish dancers is still a mystery to most English listeners, but this six piece band is one which has played successfully for dancers from the informal village ceilidh to the strict tempo RSCDS Caledonian ball.  Their rhythm on this their third CD is faultless, and all 16 tracks are related to dances which are fully explained in the notes.  There is little about the individuals, except a few small photos, but their experience of the genre shows clearly, and in particular I’d like to commend Isobelle Hodgson’s classy (not classical!) piano accompaniment, which holds together the accordions of Nicol McLaren and Neil Caul - although it is sometimes hard to hear Gordon Howe’s fiddle.  Still, the overall effect is of great Scottish music, good enough for the band to be deservedly nominated for the 2009 Scots Trad Awards.

To many outside the Scots tradition, including its wider community in England, Canada, Australia, and many other places, this style of traditional music is regarded as slightly old-fashioned and restrictive, but in some ways, this is one of its attractions.  The Glencraig band have no hesitation about using the theme tune from The Pink Panther and Dvorak’s Humoresque for their dances, and it works, surely the real test of a tune’s suitability, so what’s old-fashioned about that?

The Scots diaspora will love this CD, and will have no need for an explanation of the title, a brief traditional conversation (parodied in the 1960s by the late Hamish Imlach) from the dance halls of Scotland...
“Are ye dancin’?”
“Are ye askin’?”
“Ah’m askin’.”
“Ah’m dancin’”...

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.