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Private Label DD2CC

Hard core fiddle from Belfast/Donegal and Dublin/Donegal masters, this recording explores well known tunes from the Irish tradition in apparently simple duets, but the raw power of these old melodies is fully exploited on twin fiddles, producing rhythms and resonances which take the place of accompaniment. Both Danny and Conor are Belfast born and have a strong interest in Donegal fiddle music, with Danny incorporating American oldtime influences. This mixture works surprisingly well - listen to the open-tuned version of Boys Of Bluehill, a ‘careworn’ Irish hornpipe also played as a reel under various names in North American fiddle traditions, given a make-over here.

Donegal fiddlers John Doherty and James Byrne are the sources for a pair of waltzes which could equally well come from the backwoods of Virginia. John Doherty's Quare Yolk is one of those exotic-sounding tunes which occasionally come out of Donegal, like the Swedish Jig or the Japanese Hornpipe, perhaps picked up from a visiting player or stolen from well-travelled fairies. We're back on familiar ground with The Irish Washerwoman and The Kesh, a couple of jigs more honoured in the eschewal than the playing, which Conor and Danny resuscitate in a grinding old-fashioned style.

Bagpipe marches, Bunting airs, Bundle And Go, barndances from South Donegal: a great variety of old Ulster music flows from these two fiddles, spiced with an awareness of new music from Ireland and beyond. The Scots connection is also acknowledged on a couple of reels, and there are two of Danny's own tunes here too: a fine slow jig, and his striking bitter-sweet air, The Floating Island. No snapshot of Ulster music would be complete without flute marches, so this duo obliges with The Pikeman and Down The Glen on twin fiddles. Caldwell's Craobh Rua colleague Patrick Davey composed the jig, Headwood Crossing, a session favourite these days, and Conor wrote the final reel, Station Road, both played in a low C tuning which brings back that oldtime feel. Fine fiddling throughout, of course, and the excellent recording facilities of the Irish Traditional Music Archive make North a very high quality album, worth exploring. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.