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BRIAN MCNEILL & FRIENDS - The Falkirk Music Pot

BRIAN MCNEILL & FRIENDS - The Falkirk Music Pot
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX383D

Devised as one aspect of Falkirk’s Creative Place Award in 2014, this double CD is an exuberant celebration of the area’s culture and music. The project aimed at engaging local audiences and the wider community through highlighting local artists, and inspiring new talent. It neatly links the famous Falkirk three legged iron cooking pot (hence the name) and the sharing of songs, stories and music.

With extensive input from Brian McNeill (The Lads O’ The Fair is a welcome inclusion), there are songs and tunes about key aspects of the locality – mining, rivers, canals, foundries, markets and even Kelpies.

The sequence of tracks is a marvellous contrast of the traditional and the modern, and includes orchestral pieces, choirs, brass bands, pipe bands, singer-songwriters, fiddles and keyboard. Highlights are three songs from Malawi, exemplifying the best of community singing and call-and-response, a beautifully sung ballad by Sylvia Barnes (The Travelling Nations Pride), a delightful song by two 17 year olds (Train Tracks), and superb solo piping by Emma Buchan. For the listener there is always something different coming up.

Schools - both in Falkirk and Malawi – are also involved, contributing attractive artwork as well as music. A sumptuous booklet with song lyrics and extensive notes is also provided.

The Falkirk Music Pot is an excellent example of what can be done with a Creative Scotland award, and how it can be used to showcase the merits of a local community in productive, creative and integrative ways. The results are beautifully diverse, and inspirational.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.